When No Response Is a Response – How to Know

Dating 101
24 Dec 2022
10 min read

You’ve had a few dates with someone, and you are interested – very interested. In between those dates, you have been talking on the phone and texting each other. Now all of a sudden, you get no response from a text for a full day. So, you call and get their voicemail. You leave a message – something like “Are you okay? Haven’t heard from you today.” Then, you get on their social media pages only to find that they have been active all day. What’s the point? And what to do? Let’s try to understand here why they don’t respond.

No Response = Silence

Let’s be clear. No response = silence. Whether it is someone not responding to you talking when you are with them, or someone failing to answer your messages or return a phone call, no response says something. Being silent is a response of some kind.

The crux of the matter is this: Why is there no response, what is the message being sent, and how do you deal with it? And this is especially true if the rejection comes from someone you care about.

And while this is the most important “no response” issue for you right now, there are some broader perspectives on this whole getting no response thing.

When No Response Might Be a Smart Thing

Let’s leave the whole relationship thing for a minute and speak about when you or others might want to respond with quietness rather than verbal or printed words.

  • ‘No comment’: Politicians often respond with “no comment” statement. They don’t want to have their opinions on the record in case they come back to bite them or anger some of their supporters or donors.
  • ‘No’ to manipulation: People may try to trap a person into saying or texting something negative about someone else. So, someone doesn’t respond to them for protection.
  • ‘No’ to conflicts: No response might be a very smart move when there are personal conflicts among friends or family members. Emotions will run high. Taking a side means no rejection neither the willingness to bite you later. That’s just a pause.

So, yes, there are times when not responding is the best strategy. But let’s take a look at other reasons for people (especially someone you are dating) not to respond.

Beware that no response means different things

Reasons (and Excuses) for No Response

There are many they happen not to respond to your message or talking – legitimate and not so much. If you eventually get a response, consider that response in light of the person providing it. Here are some of the most common.

Related reading: Characteristics of a Cheating Woman: Pay Attention

“I’ve Been So Busy with Work, I Haven’t Even Checked My Messages or Voicemails.”

If your “squeeze” has a very demanding career and often works long hours, this could be genuine. If you finally get a response along with apologies and a date proposal, then you may be inclined to believe them.

Nevertheless, there is a lot of “breadcrumbing” going on in the digital world. When you get this reason often, it may be that your dating partner has another more important romantic partner and is using you as “backup.” Consider this a strong possibility, if there are long pauses between contacts.

If your dating is online, and you have only chatted thus far, you may want to accept this reason as plausible, especially if your date has already told you that they have a highly demanding job. On the other hand, you don’t really know how many “matches” your date has and may be communicating with.

Best advice? Accept the excuse for now.

And while the work reason can be valid, remember this fact: we always find time for the things we really want to do. Overall, “too much work” can be a bit flimsy (unless you are currently working for Twitter).

They Aren’t Interested and Don’t Know How to Tell You

This is really common. It takes courage to tell a dating partner that you don’t want to date them anymore. And lots of people cannot bring themselves to “shoot” someone else down by being blunt and saying they’re done. And so, you spend time messaging and get nothing back, even after expressing that you have feelings for them.

This silent person believes your dating relationship is over. They just don’t tell you outright.

They Don’t Know What to Say or They Need Time to Process

There are plenty of reasons for this type of answer failure:

  • They’ve been burned by a previous partner and are hesitant to make a move to respond. This bad experience may result in their rejection now; if you’re still interested, be patient and don’t push too hard.
  • You may have come on a bit too strong, and they don’t know what to say in return at the moment. They don’t want to end the conversations, but they need time to think through what to say. If you drop your strong statement in a face-to-face situation, you may actually get a blank stare. Talk becomes awkward.
  • If you make a strong statement in a text, they may not reply for a while. They need time and some space to process what you’ve said. Be patient; don’t bombard them with more texts or calls. Not getting immediate reply text messages does not necessarily mean that they’re not interested.

Don't strive for person's attention

How Will You Handle a No-Response Response?

This is totally up to you. But before you choose what you think is your best response, take a look at these suggestions.

1. Prepare Yourself in Advance

You might want to assume that the other party is not responding on purpose and that it is because they are no longer interested, are just breadcrumbing you, or don’t have the guts to directly tell you that it is over. If you get into this mindset upfront and start thinking about the prospect of moving on, the blow to you (or your ego) won’t be quite as bad. Most long-term romantic relationships don’t end this way, so chances are you are not in too deep yet. While it will be painful, it will also be easier to recuperate.

2. Do You Want to Follow Up?

Remember, you don’t want to seem desperate. And, if you do follow up too soon, you might be putting this person on notice that you are. So, think about how long you should wait before you send another message or voicemail.

On the other hand, there might be a real reason for the silence, and one more communication might just spark a new conversation that includes the reason.

Whatever you decide to do regarding this follow-up, if they still remain silent after that, it really is time to move on. Get your head and your heart in gear.

Related reading: The Making of a Sexual Goddess

3. How About a New Topic?

One way you might get the other person’s attention is to start a new conversation with that contact. Instead of asking why you haven’t heard from them or expressing your displeasure (that might start a real argument), try to spark a conversation on a new topic. Here’s a quick example:

You happen to know your current flame has a passion for Chinese food. So, you send a message saying, “Hey. I just found out that there is a new Chinese buffet opening up next week. A friend and I are going to try it out. I’ll let you know what I think.” This has actually sent a couple of messages:

  • You are not relying on only them for your social life. You’re going with another friend and don’t sound so desperate.
  • You have piqued their interest. Now they may want to know more about this – like where it is and the name.
  • You have set the stage for another contact – you’ll let them know what you thought about the place.
  • If the person just has difficulty knowing what to say about your relationship, this gives them a comfortable and entirely different topic to talk about.

4. Consider the Possibility that You Are Messaging at Bad Times

This can be especially true if you are dating online and in different time zones or, if you have already been dating physically, that you are just contacting at bad times for them. There is nothing bad about asking a question like, “When is a convenient time for you to chat?”. If you still get no answer, consider the lack of response means they just aren’t interested. In this case, the term “no response is a response” holds true.

5. Know When to Just Back Off and Move On

This will hurt, especially if you have pinned some big hopes on the relationship (even if it is in the early stages). Continuing to reach out to this individual and start a new conversation just makes you look desperate or, worse, can put you in the category of stalking. In most cases, they will just block you. That “no response is a response” has just moved to a new level.

“It can be painful, but think of how much more painful it will be if you spend even more time on them only to find out that what you suspected was true.”ʼ

Crystal Jackson, therapist

So, Let’s Just Lay It All Out Here: Step-by-Step Instruction

No response is a response. Let’s be clear about that. And it can be a pretty loud response if someone you are dating is not answering your usual means of contact. So, let’s summarize the major points you need to think about.

1. Consider Their Perspective First

If this happens early in a relationship, consider that your dating partner has legitimate reasons for not answering you. You don’t know enough about their schedules, the other demands on their time, the difficulty they may have with expressing themselves, etc. Feel free to take the initiative and ask them.

2. See If No Response Repeats

If you send a second message (or even a third) and still get no answer – even if you change the topic to something totally “non-threatening” – then no response is a response. It says, “Please go away,” or “I am really just breadcrumbing you for my own selfish reasons.”

If you send a text message and simply say, “I want to talk,” the no response is a response that says, “I don’t want to.” Consider this a pretty powerful response that encourages you to make that the last message you send.

3. Observe Your Possible New Conversation

If they do respond at some future time, check if response is genuine and not just because they are in between date partners right now. You should feel comfortable having new conversation. If not, at least hold off responding, so you don’t seem to be desperately waiting for them. Ignoring them the way they ignored you is not all bad.

4. Act Accordingly If There Is No Response Again

If your “interest” is not responding after a second message, deal with it honestly. Make your response a powerful message. Speak to yourself honestly, ask for and actually hear the advice of friends – most are likely to tell you that no response is a response. Rely on their support to keep you from seeking any more communication or answers from this individual.

The very best thing is to move on, so do it. At least for now.

5. Give Them a Final Chance (If You Want to)

If they eventually want to start talking again, watch how you respond: don’t do it immediately and watch your words. Be a bit aloof and certainly not so eager to hook up again. Make a statement that you are really busy but will get back to them when you can.

And then wait, no matter how tough that may be. Let them get no response from you and watch how they react. Most likely, they will show their true colors by continuing to pursue you or by going “radio silent” again.

When there is no response, it's time to move on Time To Move On Advice GIF - Time To Move On Advice Dont Get Stuck GIFs

6. Move On with Dignity

When you get no response over and over again, you may be hurt and miss talking to them, especially if the dating has been going on for a while. But you need to take responsibility over your feelings.

Above all, don’t become a “stalker” of their social media posts and conversation with others. When you see things you don’t like, you may be tempted to send angry messages. Stop yourself there; you won’t get them back this way. But be angry if you were patient for too long – revealing your true emotions may help you feel relieved.

7. Try Something New

When their silence becomes constant and you get accustomed to it, move on with your life. Remember: we can’t make people want relationships with us. And all of the messages in the world are not going to change that. Communication in relationships is really important – but not when it is only one-sided.

Don’t take this failure mean that there is something wrong with you. You had a dating life before they came along; when you try online dating on Hily, you’ll see how many people will run to respond to you with something positive and pleasant. Just try one more time – and prove yourself wrong.

8. Learn the Lesson

With time and new love adventures, you’ll see that you just have put too many eggs in this one basket and were hanging onto any response you can get. Stop it. There is nothing wrong with you; you just made a wrong choice once. That’s the experience you can you to make a strong statement to yourself that others will keep finding attractive about you in the future.

So Yes, No Response Is a Response

You have done all that you should, but not gone overboard, and still, the response that you want doesn’t come. Are you going to shrivel up and keep waiting for that response? Of course not. There’s a huge dating world out there.

Relationships Author
Geoffrey Williams
After taking a required Intro to Psychology course as an undergrad, I have never looked back. Since my doctoral program, I have specialized in adult relationship therapy. Through my studies and clinicals, I wrote several articles for professional journals and currently in the midst of writing a book.

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