If Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend Takes Hours To Text Back, Here’s What It Means

In the age of instant everything, waiting for a response from someone you're dating can feel like it takes ages. It's natural to wonder what it means if your boyfriend or girlfriend takes hours to text back. And if read receipts are involved, it's normal to feel like you want to get a haircut, move to Paris, and never look back. If you're seeing someone new and you love spending time together, it can be confusing to try to unpack their texting style. You get along so well IRL, you have the same sense of humor, and you know they like to talk to you during the day. So, why does it take them a decade and a half to reply to "How are you?"

"In the early days of courting, we're continually looking any red flags that signal a 'break in the pattern.' This is the time when delays in text messages make us worry. What are they thinking? Are they pulling away?," NYC relationship expert Susan Winter tells Elite Daily. "But when in doubt, ask. New daters are nervous daters. If you like them, it's worth an honest conversation."


Your boo may not understand how you like to communicate, especially if you're in a newer relationship. And if timely responses are important to you, it's OK to talk to them about it. "If delays become routine, speak to your partner about the fact that it makes you feel unimportant and devalued," Winter says. "Ask them to be mindful of your feelings, and to respond within a reasonable amount of time." Expressing how you feel when your partner doesn't respond on time can help them understand how to best communicate with you. In fact, according to Winter, your partner may learn from your texting style how to best communicate. "If you're prompt in returning text messages, your partner may learn to follow in your footsteps. You've set a protocol for responding that encourages them to do the same," Winter says. "The precedent you set will be the precedent that remains." If you respond instantly no matter what, your partner may take the hint that they're expected to do the same. If they don't seem to adapt to your texting style, it may be time to talk IRL about it.

According to licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson, when navigating phone etiquette with your partner, it's important to remember the role of texting in a relationship. "Don't expect texting to to build or foster your intimacy. Texting should be primarily for logistics and flirting, not big important conversations," Richardson says. Being mindful to use texting as a short tool to check in during the day, rather than as a primary source of communication, can knock texting stress before it builds. Of course, if your partner's delay in response is making you feel upset, Richardson emphasizes how important talking IRL can be.

"Discuss what your texting wants and ideals are in person. Let you partner know what it means to you and how it feels to know that you can connect with them during the day," Richardson says. "You are far more likely to get your needs met if you help your partner understand how you feel instead of just telling them what they are doing wrong." If it means a lot to you that your partner reaches out during the day, framing the conversation around what makes you feel loved and cared for can take some pressure off your partner. "When together, you can tell you partner that it means a lot to you to be able to reach out to them during the day. Making demands rarely yields the desired result," Richardson says. Rather than accusing your partner of not caring about you or of intentionally not replying on time, stating how cared for you feel when they reach out can make them feel appreciated and seen in your relationship.


If you've been seeing your partner for a while and have developed a strong sense of comfort, a delay in response may be nothing to worry about. "When couples are comfortable with each other they don't feel as much of a sense of urgency," Winter says. "You'll be either seeing them or talking to them later in the day so this text can then be discussed." If you see each other frequently, your partner may be waiting to speak with you in person about whatever you texted about. Taking a while to respond then, could just mean they're busy at work or school. "Delays in returning your text message may mean nothing. Your partner could be with a client, driving a car, or tied up in an important meeting," Winter says. "If your relationship is secure and you know that your partner is committed to you, a delay may simply mean they don't feel your text message requires an urgent response." If you know your partner gets totally stressed at work or if Wednesday is the night they get dinner with their dad, it may keep you stress free to text them less when you know they're busy. If you're secure with your partner, your partner taking a while to get back to you doesn't mean anything is wrong.


Of course, if you're feeling like you want to establish some texting boundaries, it's OK to talk to your boo about texting regardless of how secure you relationship is. "Set a list of priorities and rank them according to value and urgency: You could have a code to begin your text that means 'this is urgent and I need your full attention and quick response.' The dog is really sick, my father is in the hospital, I've been injured, etc." Winter says. And if you're texting your partner about something time sensitive, according to Winter, it can be a good tool to set a time frame for your partner to respond. "For example, 'If we want these reservations, we must reply by 4 p.m. I need your answer,'" Winter says.

It's natural to wonder what it means if takes your partner hours to respond to your texts. Of course, your partner taking a bit to reply could mean nothing more than their own busy schedule. If their delay makes you upset, try talking to them in person about your communication needs and how you best feel cared for. You deserve to feel supported in your relationship, IRL and on the phone.