.How to Deal with Unresponsive Texters

Let go of your textpectations.

Hello! I am a bi girl dating a new person (it’s been about six weeks, but very casual). I like this person quite a lot, but she is, shall we say, not very good at responding to texts. I am mostly okay with this, but it seems like a 24-hour-or-longer wait time for a simple yes or no question is excessive. And I am, of course, reading too much into these very slow responses (Is she blowing me off? Is it something I said? Etc.) and wondering if I should just stop texting her at all. Should I? I should also say that I am generally a mellow texter, in that I will shoot off one and then wait for the person to reply before texting again.


It’s cool, ST, or as my mom texts, “it’s B-).” Not everyone’s a big texter. It’s not a reflection of your personality (necessarily) or how much a person wants to see you naked. And also, maybe count your blessings, because in my experience most queer girls cannot — will not — ever stop texting you, and if you try to take so much as a phone-free bathroom break, you will return only to find twenty increasingly panicked texts asking, “Where R U???” accompanied by a picture of a menacing Vegenaise jar. It’s best to not take text-response time as an indication of some deeply ingrained personality flaw, in other words.

We are constantly barraged with ways to communicate — sometimes people get fed up and don’t want to deal with yet another beeping, buzzing distraction. Or they see the text, but then are immediately pulled away by some other inanity of modern life — a Buzzfeed quiz purporting to tell you what kind of cheese you are, a Twitter notification, a Facebook message, an Outlook message, a Gchat, a ping, a zing, a ding-your-Hot-Pocket-is-ready.  

I don’t think you need to quit texting her cold turkey, but you should probably let go of your textpectations around when/if she’ll respond. If it’s urgent, communicate in some other way — I know, talking on the phone is the worst, and most times I would rather attend an adult baby convention in prison than talk to another human telephonically for two minutes, but sometimes it is effective! I’ve read, anyway. Don’t call me.

Also, some people have better things to do than find the perfect flirtatious emoji to accompany a suggestive text. (I don’t know any, but surely they exist.) Here’s a possibly terrifying suggestion — if you are really concerned, then ask her about it (not over text).

I crowdsourced your question to the unwashed masses known as my Facebook people (I’d say “friends,” but when one is Facebook-connected to an ex-girlfriend’s ex-roommate’s cat, the relationship lines get a little blurry.) A few of the reasons that someone might be unresponsive to an otherwise delightful text included: “I’d rather talk than type if it requires more than a couple word answer,” “I’m old and forgot where I put my phone,” “Smartphones have made me a worse communicator because I can’t compartmentalize as well anymore, i.e. ‘I am now checking email, and then I’ll look at Facebook.’ It’s just all flying around all the time and so I’m more likely to just knit and ignore it all,” “trying to be present in the actual moment,” “driving,” and even “sore wrist.”

But also many resented the notion that they had to be accessible at all hours of the day — and that is a hard point to argue with. Smartphones have made us into human tracking devices expected to drop whatever we’re doing to discuss the minor plotlines of Friends episodes or to respond to that weird dream you had involving Steve Buscemi’s excellent collection of cheese knives. As a friend put it, “I completely resent the expectation that I should be reachable and obligated to respond within an hour or two. It robs one of being able to live in the moment and makes us slaves to our iMasters.”

The next time you’re out canoodling with your lady, have a casual chat about her preferred methods of communication, and adjust accordingly. Remember a hundred years ago when no one had phones and we all had to sit around with our needlepoint and wait to die from dysentery? I don’t know where I’m going with this exactly, except to say that it gets better! Except when it doesn’t. Some of us relish the fact that we can exchange hundreds of cleverly crafted sentence fragments with digital images of well-placed fried shrimp all the live-long day, and some of us do not. Try not to read too much into a delay of textual gratification — it might just mean she has a life. And so should you. Viva la textistance!


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