To say the date went well would be the understatement of the year. The conversation was easy and engaging, the chemistry was clear, and the compatibility was downright undeniable. It was such a perfect evening, in fact, that you bravely text them to let them know what a fabulous time you had (and ideally line up a second date). Minutes go by. Minutes turn into hours. Your date never texted back, and admit it: You’re freaking out. There’s no denying that it’s super frustrating when you don’t get a response after a date. But why is it to maddening? And what can you do about it?
According to author, relationship and etiquette expert April Masini, it’s mainly upsetting when a date doesn’t text you back because it can stoke some serious insecurities.
“Lots of times people have a great date. As the date ends, they each promise to be in touch and text when they get home or the next day. One of them does, and the other is silent. This is a form of ghosting, and it leaves one person watching the phone, waiting for a text, and second-guessing the entire date and the relationship,” she explains. “Frustration builds. That turns into anger. Self-doubt may loom.”
Masini noted that it can be particularly frustrating when this happens after your date indicated they’d be in touch.
“It feels like your trust has been violated,” she says. “When someone doesn’t do what they say they’ll do, it makes you second-guess their character — especially when you don’t know them very well. This is more likely to happen on a first, second or third date.”
She also pointed out that a non-response feels tough to swallow if you made future plans during your last date.
“One person’s awesome date is another person’s last date,” she added. “So if one of you thought the date was the beginning of a life together and the other just put on a party face and knew this was going nowhere (but said things to make the other person believe there was a future together) that lack of next day text is like a cold glass of water thrown in your face.”
Decades ago, when our parents were dating, they got used to waiting until they got home to call someone back or listen to their messages, and waiting for someone to call when it was convenient. They had to be patient after a date. Nowadays, as texting has become increasingly prevalent in our daily lives, we’ve become accustomed to expecting an instant response. In a 2013 interview with anthropologist Natasha Schüll for Nautilus, who studies how immediate gratification factors into gambling addiction, Schüll noted that participating in machine gambling (like slot machines) is very similar to texting.
“You come to expect an instant outcome, and you stop tolerating any delay,” Schüll said. “When you’re texting with someone you’re attracted to, someone you don’t really know yet, it’s like playing a slot machine: There’s a lot of uncertainty, anticipation, and anxiety. Your whole system is primed to receive a message back. You want it — you need it — right away, and if it doesn’t come, your whole system is like, ‘Aaaaah!’ You don’t know what to do with the lack of response, the unresolved outcome.”
In other words, it totally makes sense to enter panic mode when you don’t hear back for even 20 minutes after you text your date — because texting automatically conditions you to expect a speedy response. Before you spiral into a panic, however, it’s important to remember that there are many reasons why a date may not have texted you back yet. Masini pointed out that in some cases, it’s not an issue of disinterest — it’s not even personal. Some people simply have incompatible schedules or texting habits.
“Some people think that you should respond to a text within an hour or two,” she said. “Others think it’s okay to respond within a day or two. If you’re not compatible in texting timeliness, you’re going to run into frustration and communication problems.”
This is why Masini advises being patient whenever possible.
“Sometimes you’re with someone who normally waits a few days or even a week, after a date, to text,” she says. “They may have a demanding job and work schedule. They may be playing the field. And they may have had a great date, want to see you again, and just haven’t gotten around to texting for good reasons. If you give them a little time, you can get to know who they are as a texter.”
So, what should you do if you still haven’t heard back from your date and it’s making you anxious, irritated, or uneasy? If you felt strongly that you had a connection with this person, Masini recommends giving them one last shot. “Give them a call and say you had a nice time and would love to hear from them again. Don’t use your one shot to berate them for not texting you first. Just assume they had problems reaching you, got sick, or had a car accident.” Once you’ve reached out again and still haven’t heard back, Masini recommends accepting that rejection as a gift.
“When someone doesn’t get in touch, it’s likely because they’re not into you, and while they may have bad manners, they’re giving you free information that can save you time, energy and money! When someone isn’t into you, move on. Don’t try to knock down a closed door.”
Alas, in the immortal words of T. Swift: Shake it off. There’s no denying that it’s frustrating when you don’t receive a text back from a date. The good news is that you don’t have to wait around forever. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to reach back out one more time. Once you’ve done that, you can rest assured that you gave them the benefit of the doubt, and that the ball is in their court to respond.
Remember: There are countless reasons why someone may not be texting you back, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they didn’t feel a connection, don’t like you, or don’t want to see you again. Once you accept that, the lack of a text response may be easier to swallow. The best thing you can do is be patient, give your date a second chance, and keep in mind that if it's meant to be, you'll get that text back — and when you do, it will be oh so satisfying.
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