Should you wait to text a guy back?
Waiting To Text Back Someone You Like Isn’t A Great Idea — Here’s Why

Put the timer down.

by Sydnee Lyons and Hannah Kerns
Originally Published: 

Anyone who says they don't play the texting game is lying. You know the one. It's when you're texting with someone you're interested in but one or both people are waiting to text back for a few minutes or even hours instead of replying immediately. It's a tactical game that keeps you both on your toes. So, yes, asking yourself questions like “is he waiting for me to text him?” and “how long should I wait to text him back?” and “is she playing a game with me right now” is normal, but choosing to semi-ghost them could send the wrong message. (Pun intended.)

In a dating world plagued with ghosting and zombieing, it’s not surprising people have built up their defenses to prevent getting hurt. It’s even less surprising that not texting back right away is one of them. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Elite Daily, “There is the perception that responding too quickly shows too much interest, too much 'desperation,' and too much need. Waiting conveys that you have other activities that are more pressing.” He continues, “This is truly a game and we never really know why someone waits to text back unless they tell us why they waited.”

It sucks to be the one waiting around for a text back, especially if you’re genuinely interested in someone. Waiting means you have too much time to think about all the possible reasons they might be temporarily ghosting you. Should you be worried when you haven’t heard back in some time? Klapow says, “It's all about patterns and circumstances. Is this a person who always takes a long time to respond? Do they typically go hours [or] days without a response? … A person who takes days to respond is a person who either doesn’t care enough about your message, is disorganized, or has so much going on that even instant communication isn’t possible with them.”

But what does it look like on the other end? Does not texting a guy back make him want you more? Does responding to a girl too quickly become a turn-off? Do they even care about how long it takes you to text back? These responses might give a little insight.

Some People Worry If They Don’t Receive A Text Back


Overthinking texts is nothing new, and if you’re making someone wait for a response, it’s possible that their mind will go straight to the worst-case scenario. One Redditor explained their thought process when someone goes AWOL: “Did they read it? Are they OK? They must think I'm bugging them too much. I should go do something else. Wait. Was that my phone? Nope. OK. It’s going to be OK. OH! THREE DOTS. THEY'RE TYPING. HIT SEND. ARE YOU WRITING ME A NOVEL?! WHAT. WHY DID THE DOTS DISAPPEAR. Did you drop your phone in the toilet?”

Obvi, waiting for a text back from the person you’re interested in is a big deal to some people. According to Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, nationally honored psychotherapist and author of the new book Training Your Love Intuition, “[T]here aren't any little questions at all when it comes to dating and relating." In fact, it's understandable to fear not wanting to appear too desperate, or not wanting to give off the wrong impression of what physical intimacy you're ready for, or not wanting the other person think you're not interested in getting together, she says. "This [texting] dilemma ... is an important communication decision about you, your feelings and situation, and respect for the other person.”

Not Everyone Cares About Texting, Though

But not everyone is paying that much attention to their phone (or the timing of your texts). Another account on Reddit explained, “I usually forget about it until my phone dings with a response.”

This kind of perspective makes sense. I mean, think about it: the person you’re texting could just be busy. There’s no reason to take their slow response as a personal affront. "Don't rush to conclusions if this is the first time it's happened. People do get busy and life can get in the way. Some people are just talkers rather than texters,” dating coach and relationship expert James Preece previously told Elite Daily.

“Normal” Texting Habits Vary From Person To Person

Evidently, not everyone has the same take on a texter who takes a while to respond. Jason, 28, tells Elite Daily, “I personally think she’s either busy or doesn’t want to seem to eager to reply. I have a friend who always thinks this means the girl's not interested in him, though. Meanwhile, I’m too focused on what her response will be as opposed to when it’ll be.”

A “normal” reaction really depends on the person who’s waiting on the text, not to mention the person who is sending (or not sending) the text to begin with. According to Wish, “Yes, there are emergencies, but for most people, the response comes within a day or two.” But even if it takes a little longer, that doesn’t mean your relationship or situationship is doomed. “Use your judgment,” Wish adds. “You might even know that this person is going through tough times ... Not hearing back right away is not always about you.”

Texting Patterns Depend On What You’re Talking About


Everybody has different texting styles, so if you’re noticing some inconsistencies, that’s totally normal. For a lot of people, their texting time has more to do with the topic of conversation than their level of interest in you. One Redditor sums it up, “I really don't like long drawn out conversations through text. If we're making plans, I'll respond immediately. If a girl likes to text me all day, I'll take my sweet time replying so that we never run out of things to talk about and I can still do things besides type on my phone all day.” Fair enough.

It’s Tempting To Read Too Far Into Your Texts

Others tend to spiral when their texts go unanswered, reevaluating what they sent to make sure it was OK. “Depending on the person, I'll criticise every word as being the reason they haven't responded yet,” a Reddit account explains.

Others really don’t mind the wait time, as long as they hear back from you at some point. Brent*, 22, explains to Elite Daily, “I don't think about it at all. I don't really care as long as she replies eventually.”

A Delayed Text Response Can Mean A Lack Of Interest

Others think that if they’re waiting to hear back, you just don’t like them that much. “I pay attention to when a girl replies because too long and without a reason just feels like she's not into it,” Anthony*, 26, says. If you are playing the waiting game, keep in mind that not everyone likes waiting. There’s nothing wrong with replying a few hours later, especially if that’s your texting style, but make sure you’re still showing interest in other ways (especially if you want to keep the relationship going).

Waiting to text someone you’re interested in is a risky game because you’ll never know for sure how they might react. Plus, it can easily create a texting pattern full of lags and awkward segues. As Preece explained, "It's common to wait a period of time to reply in order to give the impression they are in demand and so, they don't come across as being too keen. The problem is when the other person takes equally as long to respond. This leads to a very stilted conversation that risks both parties losing interest." Not ideal.

At the end of the day, playing games typically doesn’t lead to long-lasting, trusting relationships. And you want someone who wants you for you — not the timing of your texts.


Joshua Klapow, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show

Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, nationally honored psychotherapist and author of Training Your Love Intuition

James Preece, dating coach and relationship expert

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