Thinking "my boyfriend never texts me back" is a frustrating feeling.

If Your Significant Other Never Texts First, Here's What It Means

A deep dive into a frustrating situation.

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Regardless of whether it means confronting an awkward issue head-on or initiating sex, one of the biggest relationship frustrations can come from feeling like you’re always the first one to instigate anything. The same goes for texting — after all, it is the most common way we communicate now. So when your boyfriend or girlfriend never texts first, it’s only natural that it might trigger some insecurities or perhaps just cause straight-up irritation. Does it mean you're not on their mind as much as they are on yours? Or is texting just not really their thing?

“When you’re irritated that your partner never texts you first, it’s because your expectations are not being met,” explains relationship and etiquette expert April Masini. “This is frustrating. If your partner never texts you first, and you feel that texting first means loving or valuing you more, you’re going to feel disappointed.”

Disjointed communication is never a great thing to have in any relationship, but just because your SO tends to not initiate messages doesn’t point to anything nefarious — on its own, anyway. To get to the bottom of this texting problem, let’s dive into some potential reasons your partner never sends that first text.

They Have A Busy Schedule


To start, don’t immediately panic about your partner not being the initiator in most text convos. If he or she never texts first, it’s not necessarily a sign that there’s something wrong with your relationship, according to Masini. There could just be outside forces at play.

For example, your partner’s job may play a significant role in why they're not sending the first text. You may have the luxury of shooting them your favorite TikTok videos or randomly checking in during the afternoon just to see how their day is going. But, if they hardly take breaks or work in an environment that gives them limited access to their phone, they’re obviously less likely to reach out or respond in a timely manner.

“You can't expect your partner to always be available to instantly respond to you whenever you message them. Yes, it's possible [that your partner] may not want to speak to you right now, but it’s also equally possible that they are busy. It's very easy to glance at your phone and read a text when you are in the middle of something, but it may not be as easy to pick up your phone and respond,” Eric Resnick, online dating coach, previously told Elite Daily. “It might not be an issue, especially depending on when it happens during the day.”

Of course, circumstances play a big role in determining why your girlfriend or boyfriend never texts first, and some things are out of their control. But not paying attention throughout a longer period of time without reason might be a sign that your partner doesn’t see you as a priority in their daily life.

"People can get pulled in many different directions, and it’s possible your partner is very busy and has a hard time managing all of their commitments," Jonathan Bennett, a relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, told Bustle. "Still, people usually make time for what they value. If your partner has time and energy for family, friends, hobbies, and work, you have to ask why [they] can’t make you feel like a priority, too."

They’re Just Bad At Texting

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Does your partner tend to send short, to-the-point messages over text? When you text about making plans, do they tend to call you instead of responding over text? Have their friends jokingly complained about how bad they are at responding? If so, there’s probably no reason to take their habits personally — they may not initiate conversations over text simply because they’re bad at texting in general.

Of course, there are situations in which texting is simply more practical — like if you’re trying to lock down plans before you leave work. But depending on your partner, they may prefer to chat over the phone or in person when it comes to other kinds of interactions, especially more meaningful ones.

“Some people are just not natural texters,” says Masini. “They are more about being in the moment and they are all about who and what is currently with them — not what their phone or computer screen is saying or beckoning. This isn’t a fault. It’s just a personality trait. Not everyone takes to texting the same way. And some people find texts impersonal and insulting.”

Still, even if your partner is just a bad texter, noticing that you’re the only one who texts first or being left hanging on read can be frustrating because it brings up feelings that the relationship is unbalanced, as dating coach Connell Barrett previously explained to Elite Daily.

"Texting is a form of communication, and in any healthy relationship, there should be a fairly equal exchange of communication," Barrett said. “If you feel upset by being left on read, it's because you feel that you're giving more to your partner than they're giving back to you.”

Another reason why your partner may not be initiating conversations over text is that they’re used to you taking the reins. Basically, if you’re constantly checking in with them, you may just be beating them to the punch, and maybe even suffocating them with your endless communication. So before you fire off one of your typical messages, give them a chance to send that “good morning” text or post-work text to ask how their day went.

They’re Not That Interested In You


Perhaps the most common fear that people have when their partner isn’t taking initiative over messages is that they’re just not invested in the relationship. This could definitely be a possibility, particularly if the person is hardly ever reaching out early on in the relationship.

“When someone you’re with isn’t texting you first, it could be a warning sign that they’re losing interest,” adds Masini. “This is especially true during the first few months of a relationship when the relationship really is not solid — it’s exploratory! You’re both probably feeling different things about each other and the relationship, and either or both of you may even be playing the field. If someone texts you first, the relationship may feel more real and more solid.”

The same principle also applies even if you’ve been in a relationship for some time. When you start to notice that your partner isn’t curious about you anymore or doesn’t inquire about your activities and thoughts, it might be a sign that they’re losing interest in the relationship as a whole.

“If someone makes statements that don't beg a response, that's a pretty good sign they're not into you,” Traci Brown, body language expert and author of Persuasion Point, previously told Elite Daily. “People will ask questions or send messages that require a response if they're into you.”

What To Do If Your Partner Never Texts First

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It’s important to remember that texting first isn’t the only sign that someone is interested and invested in you. If your partner has mentioned being swamped at work or they seem to be averse to texting in general but are still making an active effort to spend quality time with you, there’s no reason to panic about the fact that they aren’t initiating messages. That said, if it is really bugging you, you can definitely do something about it. The solution is to simply communicate your needs and expectations with your partner.

“Don’t assume your partner knows you’re frustrated,” says Masini. “Articulate your needs and your expectations. Let your partner know how lovely it would be to hear from them first when texting. You may be surprised to know they didn’t even realize this was ‘a thing’ for you!”

It’s best not to expect your partner to automatically understand your needs, and not just in regard to texting, but to all things. Masini advises keeping in mind that your partner may need some specific direction, especially if they’re not really an avid texter by nature.

“If you tell your partner that you’d like to hear from them first, you may not get results that are as successful as if you tell your partner that you would love to hear from them before 10 a.m., or before you go to bed at night — or something specific,” Masini explains. “You may be surprised to learn that your partner doesn’t understand exactly what you want, intuitively, even though you think they do. Then, give them at least a week to make a change. You’re asking them to do something that they may not naturally do.”

Hopefully, once they know that a simple text to say “good morning” or ask how your day is going will make you feel good, they’ll make more of an effort to be the one to reach out first. That said, Masini stresses that at a certain point, you may need to accept that your partner simply doesn’t have the same texting instincts as you do — and that’s OK.

“If you need a lot of texting attention, look to friends and family,” she advises. “Sometimes a great partner isn’t everything at every moment, and if all else is going well, but your partner never texts first, let yourself be the one to do the adjusting.”

All in all, you shouldn’t suffer in silence if your partner’s texting habits are bothering you. The best thing you can do is bring it to their attention, and then hang back and give them a chance to initiate. Try to remember that while it may be annoying that your girlfriend or boyfriend doesn’t initiate text conversations, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re less invested in the relationship than you are. If their texting habits have stoked some deeper insecurities about your relationship, it might be worth exploring what other fears are at play. Otherwise, remind yourself of all the ways they show they care outside of digital message bubbles.

Studies Referenced:

Silver, L., Huang, C., & Taylor, K. (2019). In Emerging Economies, Smartphone and Social Media Users Have Broader Social Networks. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks/


April Masini, relationship and etiquette expert

Eric Resnick, online dating coach

Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating

Connell Barrett, dating coach and relationship expert

Traci Brown, body language expert

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