Reasonable Text Reposnse Time In Early Stage Dating
February 22, 2015 11:49 AM   Subscribe

Assume you've recently started seeing someone, and it's been going well. If A texts B a day or two later with a proposal for the next date, what is a reasonable amount of time for B to respond? And more importantly, if a day or two goes by without response, what is the correct protocol?

It's really the second question that personally drives me batty and which prompted me to ask the question. On the one hand, people get busy, sometimes A or B might be out of town for a bit, people miss texts or neglect to respend when they mean to. So, some kind of follow up is reasonable, right? But --- and I suspect I may be over-sensitive on this point --- I hate, hate, hate feeling like I'm bothering someone, like I'm being pushy and demanding and chasing them when they're not interested. I mean, on the one hand, if you have a nice date with someone, text them to set up another, they don't respond and you end up never speaking to them again...well, I guess it couldn't have been a nice a date as you thought it was, really. Or maybe something crazy happened in their life or maybe they're just a flake. So is a straight one-for-one policy the best way to go? You send one text, if they never answer you don't make a second attempt? That also seems drastic, and kind of uptight, demanding an exact tit-for-tat at all times. I feel like I need some exterior perspective on this, because I can easily drive myself round the twist trying to figure this stuff out.
posted by maggiepolitt to Human Relations (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Everyone will have different answers for this based on personal expectations and there is no One True Way. So I can only give you my personal opinion. If someone wants to see you again, especially in the heady first dates period, they will be waiting for your text and checking to make sure they haven't missed one. If they don't reply they're not that interested so move on - forget the people who are too busy and hold out for someone who is excited to see your name flash up, thinking "Yess!" and not "I'll get back to them sometime". If someone I was interested in were to text me then I'd reply pretty much asap - not in a needy way, but in a "why play games?" way. If I want to see them, and they ask to meet, I reply and agree. No "wait a day or you'll seem desperate" BS. YMMV
posted by billiebee at 11:59 AM on February 22, 2015 [33 favorites]

For me, regardless of whether I'm texting someone I'm dating, just friends with, family, or even just an acquaintance, if they haven't responded to me in two days, I'm pretty annoyed. I would definitely follow up to confirm that they received the text.
posted by firei at 12:03 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, if you're willing to drop the relationship entirely over an un-answered text, you literally have nothing to lose so there is no reason not to pick up the phone and say "Hey, I was wondering if you got my text about the circus and if you had any interest in going."

I would not use a failed method of communication to follow up; if there was no reply to a text, don't follow up with a... text.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:04 PM on February 22, 2015 [32 favorites]

If you don't get a response after a day or two, I would send a follow-up text after 3 days or later. I've seen people advise that it's okay even to send a 3rd text, but nobody ever says okay to send a fourth. For me, personally, I would send a 2nd but not a 3rd, but YMMV.

I would be more concerned that either my text did not reach them, or theirs did not reach me, or something along those lines than anything else. I had this happen to me once and wondered what was going on, and found out much later that the woman in question had tried to send a voicemail and it did not go through. I wish I'd tried once more.

I would not worry about whether you're bothering them. If it's really bothering them and they're interested, they will take this as a sign that they need to communicate better, and if it's bothering them and they're not interested, they will let you know rather than continue with the pocket veto.
posted by alphanerd at 12:06 PM on February 22, 2015

Don't overthink this. If B doesn't respond to a post-date text within a day or two, A ought to go the old-fashioned route and DIAL the number to follow up with a real phone call. Voicemail is likely. Then A says something along the lines of, "Hey! Had a nice time the other day. Just wanted to follow up on my text from Tuesday and suggest we get together again soon. Give me a call, and in the meantime have a great day."

And leave it at that. A texted, A called. If B doesn't respond in a timely manner post date in any way whatsoever, B is an inconsiderate jerkā€”or dead. Or lost his/her phone and any memory of how to reach A in some alternative fashion in order to be considerate.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 12:12 PM on February 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

Just as a data point, day before yesterday, my phone suddenly delivered a week's worth of texts to me from a friend all at the same time.

It's not the first time I've seen texts go missing or be delayed, but this is by far the most extreme example. Anyway, the lesson here is what DarlingBri points out: texts, and even their follow-ups, just aren't a reliable enough method of communication to make decisions over.
posted by tiger tiger at 12:21 PM on February 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

maggiepolitt: "So is a straight one-for-one policy the best way to go?"

Correct for what? Best for what? My "rules" are basically meant to minimize my anxiety because I'm the kind of person that can take a half hour to write a one sentence text if I'm crushing hard on someone. To that end, I text them once, remind them once a few days later, and then assume they weren't interested in dating if they don't respond.
posted by yaymukund at 12:34 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would say that one follow up is generally appropriate if you don't get a response to a text within a day or so, with one caveat: if you texted after the first date, and the first date was a result of online dating, or being set up by friends, or you otherwise didn't know or meet the person prior to that first date, then send one text and if you don't get a reply let it go.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

While everyone has their own rules, seeing as you're both adults you can try them a second time if you like and add something like "If you want me to buzz off I hear you... it's just that I hope that isn't the case, and I haven't heard anything at all."
posted by mr. digits at 1:17 PM on February 22, 2015

I was tortured last year by someone I hadn't even met yet, but was just talking to from a dating site, and the thing that killed it was his insane insistence that I answer texts in a time period HE deemed reasonable. Even though I am not much of a text person and even though I often do not even have my phone on me on a non-work day. The idea that some have proposed here that if someone doesn't respond to one text they aren't interested is, to use the technical term, bat-shit-insane. As you pointed out, OP, someone may not have even received your text, they may have received it and thought they responded but didn't. Or they may, like me, literally have no idea where their phone even is because they aren't tied to it like much of the world seems to expect these days.

As for how you deal with not receiving a response to your text, you could go about it in a variety of ways. You could try another method of communication, like email or voice (I am much more of an email person, and would respond to that quicker). You could send one follow-up text, perhaps adding a piece of information so you don't feel like you are bugging them (for example, "hey, that movie I invited you to, it might be better to go to the 7:30 showing") or you could just wait for them to communicate with you at some point, maybe about that text, or maybe not.

Whatever else you do, please don't punish someone for not sharing your personal beliefs about how and when messages should be responded to, unless you are in a relationship with someone and have explicitly agreed that A person will respond to B's texts within X amount of time.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 1:28 PM on February 22, 2015 [12 favorites]

You should just do whatever works for you. And investing emotionally early on by freaking out over texts is not very good for you emotionally.

If someone doesn't respond, and you have 1 nice date and you're already super hyper invested and sending follow up messages, I'd get scared off by that.

Seriously, there's a slight chance some weird might have happened, but if he hasn't returned your text, it's far far far too early to be chasing after this one person for a second date. Go make plans with other guys, date around before you get so hopeful and hung up on one person that you're anxious about them texting.

Confession: I'm a ghoster, when I'm not particularly interested in the person I've gone out with. I'm pleasant, I tend to have a good time, and sometimes the guy is very interested and I'm just not but I'm going to be nice and still put in effort to be friendly and nice. Lots of ppl think it's wrong to ghost, but I think ghosting is kind, especially if it's just been 1 date. I definitely prefer ghosting and being ghosted on. Sometimes I can't articulate why I don't like someone. Sometimes I don't want to confess that their hairstyle reminds me of Larry's from Three's Company or they give me a bad vibe.

If I don't text back or call back or decide to just block them for not getting the hint from my ignoring their messages, it's not my job to spell it out for them. And it's better for them too, because I'd just end up feeling sorry for not liking them and struggle with possibly making some guy angry or even maybe violent by hurting their ego. some folks aren't great at emotional management and it's hard to tell who it could be.

So go on more dates. If this guy's interested, trust me, he'll let you know. He may be interested in a person he went out with or met after your date and is preoccupied. Other ppl are different but if I wasn't responding to a communication attempt, I'd want that person to respect my space and not demand explanations or put me in the position of having to explain myself when I'm trying to focus or do something else.

So just go on dates with other guys, assume he can't be bothered right now for whatever reason, and maybe he'll catch up with you later. Or maybe he won't. After one or two dates, you shouldn't get so focused on one person, or maybe take the time to assess what's driving this need to hear from him.
posted by discopolo at 2:10 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I can't believe I'm suggesting this, but maybe call them? I tend to miss a lot of texts because I don't really get my phone so well.
posted by medeine at 2:17 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think it's okay to follow up to an unanswered text about a second date, but I wouldn't do it after just a day or two. I'd do it after about a week.

(But my best friend and I routinely ignore text messages from each other for days, so YMMV - I'm not very text-oriented despite being 24.)

Just one other thing:

While everyone has their own rules, seeing as you're both adults you can try them a second time if you like and add something like "If you want me to buzz off I hear you... it's just that I hope that isn't the case, and I haven't heard anything at all."

This reads passive-aggressive to me...almost like a little guilt trip about the lack of fast textual reply. If I weren't interested in someone I'd have told them so shortly after they first texted me about another date, and I wouldn't like the implication that I was doing the immature fade-out thing. So for me, a follow-up text like this one would get a polite "Eh...thanks, but no thanks" type response from me.

In other words, be casual with your one follow-up text. For me, it might say something like - "Hi - any interest in getting that drink?"
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:20 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I confess that I have yet to even come close to being able to do this, but: use your words. It's absolutely okay to say -- especially if you've already established text-based communication -- "I really prefer same-day responses to texts. You can also feel free to call me, if that's easier."

It's okay to have your needs about this stuff. And it's okay if other people don't meet them. If they don't, they probably aren't really right for you.

People who like you are NOT going to be put off by being asked, politely, for timely communication. Besides, if they're not prompt now, it's not going to magically get better.
posted by gsh at 2:31 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Dang. Texting for a date?

I think that whoever is inviting ought to dial the object of his/her affections and ask. Then you know where you stand.

I think texting is one of those low risk ways of contacting people, and frankly, I think people worth gambling on. So I'll call and then I'll leave a message. If I don't hear back, I assume you're not interested.

The converse is that I expect to hear back, even if I don't do the inviting. If you're interested in me, and you don't hear from me, you have enough confidence to contact me first.

Texting, or messaging on Facebook or whatever is a bit too nonchalant. It smacks of minimal effort. I think dating should involve effort.

But if I texted a guy and didn't hear back, I'd assume he wasn't interested and I'd move on. Let him surprise me. If he IS interested, he'll text me soon enough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:33 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'd assume they'd lost interest, but I'd send one more text to be sure as occasionally texts can go missing: "Hey not sure if you got my last text, but I'm keen to catch up again, let me know if you are too". If I didn't hear anything I'd cut my losses.
posted by lifethatihavenotlivedyet at 3:45 PM on February 22, 2015

1-4 dates in and you propose the next date via text with no response? they're definitely ghosting you. i know that there are text and phone flukes out there but the probability that your text went unanswered because it didn't get to their phone is like .0000000001 percent. note: am not a scientist sooo..... maybe don't like, take that as straight up fact.

i would send one follow-up after your initial next date proposal, something casual like "hey, i've still got friday open if you do!" or along those lines. if there's still not a response, they're not interested. move along.

if you've been on more than 5 dates then my next move would be to call. and i say that as a person who hates calling people.
posted by kerning at 4:54 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Texting, or messaging on Facebook or whatever is a bit too nonchalant. It smacks of minimal effort. I think dating should involve effort.

I prefer being messaged online or texted (if I've directly given my number to the guy) rather than being called. I'm actually pretty outgoing and like interacting with people and dating, but a sudden phone call just puts me on the spot, especially if I'm worried that sounding tired or not particularly perky or happy will make them think I'm not enthusiastic to see them.

Or if some creeper called, I honestly would say okay just so not to embarrass him and get one of those disproportionate responses, then have to figure out how wheedle my way out it.

Also, text conversations are pretty revealing. If the guy sends a dick pic, you don't actually have to be blindsided when he pretends to be nice in person or over the phone and then decides he can grope your thigh at dinner because he's paying for dinner. If he just sends the dick pic or tries to dirty text you before, you don't have to waste time on getting dressed up or getting your hopes up and then dashed.
posted by discopolo at 5:37 PM on February 22, 2015

So I highly recommend sticking to texting until you've seen him a few times and get a better idea of who he is.

Good luck. Be safe, and don't be too trusting or hopeful at the beginning.
posted by discopolo at 5:41 PM on February 22, 2015

My husband initially asked me out by email - an email which I never got. Luckily for us, he asked again the next time we saw each other. So I vote for making one more attempt.


Texting is for confirming details or quick updates to people you know well who can determine your inflection without a voice. For someone you don't know well, call.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:01 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's not unusual for a random text to go missing for a few hours or days. One my sis sent me - in the middle of a conversation - didn't appear until a month and a day later, complete with the original date. Clearly, texting tech isn't perfect.

Call with your follow-up. Say something along the lines of, "Not sure if you got my text, so I just wanted to check in and see..." yadda yadda yadda.

You have your answer, you're both on the same page, no crossed signals... it's all good. And it's a much more personal connection than you made with just a text, anyway.
posted by stormyteal at 8:58 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the range of responses, guys. I will say that the advice to call feels weird to me...I only phone family really, at this point, and would never simply call a new acquaintance out of the blue. I don't even really call old friends unless I've arrived somewhere where I'm supposed to meet them and can't locate them. At this point, if my phone rings, I assume it's my parents, and if I saw a friend's name come up I'd assume something terrible had happened. And honestly, I don't even consider myself remotely the most phone phobic person in my circle.
posted by maggiepolitt at 9:21 AM on February 23, 2015

One time I called this woman who seemed really into me for a date. She didn't call back. I was mightily confused. Two weeks later my phone rings. She was out of breath, having just carried her bags from an emergency trip to Africa. She saw my message as she got in and called me RIGHT AWAY to apologize and tell me that she VERY MUCH WANTED to go on a date with me.

One call, that's all, then drop it.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:27 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I would strongly disagree with advice to call - this depends very much on age (possibly other factors too?). I'm 28 and everyone I know under ~35 would be extremely taken aback and weirded out by a phone call to ask someone out. Texting in this case, and most others, is not only acceptable but strongly preferred in my peer group (with facebook messaging or email being the second-most common). Phone calls come off as demanding and high-pressure, requiring the recipient to drop everything to answer, whereas texts/emails are more casual and can be answered wherever and whenever it's convenient. People my parents' age do tend to prefer phone calls, though, and seem to have a more "formal" approach to dating in general. So keep in mind the age of the people giving this advice vs. whatever age group you're in.

Re: the actual question, I don't really think there's a universal protocol, even within a particular peer group. Some of my friends/past dates have responded to texts instantly or within a few min, others tend to take 2-3 days, but most are somewhere in the middle. I'd say anywhere from instant to half a day is totally normal and nothing to worry about. If it's longer than a day, they're either not big texters (in which case maybe ask them if they prefer another medium), they're not interested (or subscribe to that weird idea of deliberately waiting on texts), or something else is going on with them - lost phone, friend just died, working crazy hours, got appendicitis, their partner discovered their plans to cheat, who knows. It's really impossible to tell.

I would suggest early-on in a relationship, text once after a day or two to followup, and maaaaybe after that emailing them or messaging on facebook or the dating site (if applicable) if you really like them, but after that, mentally giving up on them, trying not to get too annoyed about it. Maybe they reply later, in which case sure, go out with them if you still want to. Maybe they were fading on you, in which case no problem, you're not dwelling on it.

Later on in a relationship (like a few weeks/months) I'd bring it up casually like "so you're not a big texter, huh?" and try to figure out whether the problem is texting specifically or if they just don't want a lot of communication in general, and then you can figure out how to solve that problem (if it is one) together.
posted by randomnity at 10:55 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

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