How long should you wait for a text back?

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Let’s say you meet someone, you click, or so you think, then you shoot them a text. Then…no response. Okay, it’s been 30 minutes, no big deal. Okay, it’s been a few hours, no need to panic. Holy crap it’s been 3 months, I wonder if they’re dead (or more likely, just an asshole). We’ve all been there right? I will freely admit that if I text someone and I don’t get a response, the creative part of my brain betrays me a bit. Even I, the person who prides himself on Indifference, often ask myself “Was it something I said?”. Maybe they just didn’t get my text? Maybe they did get it, but because they couldn’t think of a response because I’m so witty, they’re mulling it over. Maybe they did see it, and then forgot about it. WHAT IF THEY WERE ATTACKED BY A BEAR OMG I NEED TO MAKE SURE THEY’RE ALIVE!

Seriously though, if you’re waiting for a response on a text, it can feel anywhere between teeny-tiny bit uncomfortable or life-shattering, especially if the text back that you want to get is from someone you’ve just met who you fancy. Because ghosting is fairly common these days, I’m sure many of us, myself included, often wonder if you haven’t heard back from someone you texted because they’re busy, or they’re ghosting you. So, how long should you wait before you text them back to find out what the deal is?

Let me say this, never seek out an answer if the worst case scenario for that answer is going to hurt you. Let’s say you’ve been dating a woman, she’s everything you ever wanted in a partner, and suddenly she stops responding to your texts. If you asked why, and the worst case scenario you can think of would pain you more than just not knowing, maybe don’t ask. Humans seek enlightenment, and it’s why we’re (sometimes) awesome, but some knowledge is better left unlearned.

Anyway, I think that the length of time you take before circling back to someone is directly proportional to your relationship with them. There are other factors like their work and personal schedule, but your relationship to them, to me, is the biggest factor. If you’re married and your spouse sends you something that is legitimately urgent i.e. “Hun, where are you, the baby has a fever and we’re going to the ER”,obviously your time-table for circling back is MUCH shorter than the person who went on a mediocre date with someone and wanted to see if they wanted to go on another mediocre date. This advice is going to be general, because I can’t account for every single job/personal schedule that is outside of the standard 9 to 5, 40 hour work week but here’s something we can all agree on: There is no one alive right now who works 24 hours a day, every day, of every week, of every year. You would literally die if you never slept, so PRO TIP: sleep sometimes maybe? There are some people who work 16 hour days 5-7 days of the week, but chances are good you’re not dating them because…I mean how would you even find time to date them, you know?

Okay that out of the way, here’s some basic guidelines for when you can send a follow-up text to a unresponded text, based on your relationship to the person:

Potentially Romantic

If you’re potentially romantic with someone, i.e. you’re about to go on a date with them, or have already been on a date with them but aren’t “dating”, your timeline is definitely going to be the longest timeline. Some people lose interest during the texting phase before they even go on a first date, and that’s just a risk you take in our modern dating climate. But, whether you’re close to a person or not, you deserve some sort of response. I’d say if you haven’t heard back after you texted them, and would like to remain in contact, you can text back after 7 days. If you tentatively planned a date and you haven’t heard back from them, you can text them the night before or the day of the date to confirm if you’re still meeting. That holds true for any relationship status. If you’re planning to meet at an appointed time and place and you haven’t heard back from them, day before or day of you can send a follow-up text. If they don’t get back to you after that, no need to ever circle back again.

Dating

I’m using dating here to mean that you both are consistently going on dates, but aren’t in the relationship phase just quite. This sort of relationship status usually comes with a lot of anxiety. How interested are they, really? Is this going to lead to something more? Are they still seeing other people? What’s worse, it’s not like you’re in a position to say “this is the amount of communication I need” because it’s not like you’re officially in a relationship, you’re just sort of seeing each other and feeling things out. In this case, if you haven’t heard back from a normal text within let’s say 3-7 days, feel free to send a follow-up text. As I mentioned before, if it’s the day before or day of a date, and you haven’t heard back from them, shoot them a text (if you want to, obviously).

Relationship

Barring any sort of crazy schedule where one of you works in 24 hour shifts then has a couple of days off, if you haven’t heard back from your partner within 24-48 hours, that’s an issue. If I’m in a committed relationship with someone, and I sent them a text and didn’t hear back from them within 2 days, I’m just straight up going to assume they fell off of a cliff…which is weird because NYC is oddly devoid of cliffs, so like, where did you even find a cliff to fall off of? Did you take a trip to the Hudson Valley without me? Well then we are through Becky!

Married

Yo, if you don’t get back to your spouse within 24 hours, expect hell. Seriously, expect straight up biblical plagues to assail you. Locusts in your coffee, only 5 likes on every new Instagram post you make, really horrifying stuff.

Good Luck Out There.

Demetrius Figueroa

Demetrius is a sex, dating, and relationship writer based in Brooklyn.

3 thoughts on “How long should you wait for a text back?

  • October 7, 2016 at 4:51 pm
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    Good overview. The Bhavagad Gita says, paraphrasing of course, that ‘you’re entitled to the action, but not the outcome/results/fruits of the action’

    However….like you cover, there comes a time that you mayyyyy be entitled to a response, even if it’s negative.

    Reply

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