Don’t you hate it when a guy you’ve been talking to for weeks, or even months, suddenly stops replying to you? Have you been ghosted or was he in a car crash? What’s going on?
I can’t tell you for certain what’s going on, but I can give you some of the most common explanations and help you decide which one might be true for him. I’ll also show you the biggest mistakes you can make when he stops replying. Let’s get started.
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Let’s start with one of the worst reasons that he might have stopped replying to your texts. There is a chance that he’s ignoring your texts because he’s not interested in you anymore.
Honestly, this sucks. It’s an awful way to treat someone and it keeps you in limbo wondering whether it’s really over or whether there’s something else going on that you don’t know about. You’ll probably have all kinds of thoughts running through your mind about why he doesn’t want to talk to you anymore.
In reality, there are lots of different reasons why he might have moved on. He might have met someone else and he’s focusing all of his energy on her. You might have said something that didn’t sit right with him and he’s uncomfortable being around you.
He might have just realized that there’s no chemistry between you or that you want different things out of life.
All of those could be good reasons to decide that you’re not going to stay in touch with someone, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ok for him to just ignore you.
In any of those situations, he could have gently explained that he’s no longer interested in a romantic relationship between you and that he hopes you find someone amazing. That would have been the kind and polite way to deal with things. Instead, he’s chosen to be hurtful.
A guy who starts ignoring your texts all of a sudden because he’s playing hard to get is only slightly less awful than one who ghosts you because he’s not interested anymore. Playing hard to get isn’t an honest or authentic way to approach a relationship. It’s childish and manipulative.
Studies have also consistently shown that it doesn’t work.
Remember that a guy who is playing hard to get still wants to be with you. He’s ignoring you with the deliberate intention of making you more determined to be with him.
Rather than being open about how he feels about you, he’s making a deliberate decision to make you feel confused and insecure because he thinks it’ll improve the chances of him getting what he wants out of the relationship.
Rather than focusing on the fact that he really is into you, concentrate on the unethical way he’s happy to go about it. He’s showing you that he can’t be trusted. Believe him about that bit (and almost nothing else).
From the explanations I’ve given above, you’d be excused for thinking that I’m hardline about people always having to text people back immediately. Sadly, that’s not even close to accurate. I’m a dreadful texter and one of the main reasons for that is that I genuinely forget.
If your guy is anything like me, he’s constantly super-busy and has a million things to do every day. He might be driving, focusing on a complicated conversation, or dealing with a difficult customer at work. He can’t text you back straight away, so he tells himself that he’ll do it later.
Unfortunately, later ends up being much, much later. Because he’s read your text message, he doesn’t have the reminder telling him that he has unread messages. He rushes from task to task and might only realize that he meant to reply hours later. In my case, it’s often in the middle of the night.
Rather than try to compose a text then (and maybe even risk waking you up), he promises himself that he’ll talk to you first thing in the morning. Predictably, he’s forgotten by the morning.
Another reason that he might not reply to text messages from you is if you don’t actually ask him any questions that he thinks he has to answer. You might think you’re starting a conversation while he assumes you’re just letting him know something.
For example, you might say “I’m thinking of you.” You’re hoping that he’ll reply to tell you that he’s doing the same, but he might not. He might just think “Aww. That’s really nice.” Because you haven’t asked a specific question, he doesn’t realize that you’re looking for a reply.
This is often the case with guys who are really busy or who don’t like just chatting over text. From his perspective, messages are just a quick way to pass on essential information. For a real conversation, he’ll wait until you’re talking in person.
This is less likely to be the explanation if he used to text you more previously, but it is still possible.
Some people don’t like chatting over text but they’ll make the extra effort in the early stages of a relationship. Once they feel comfortable with you and they’re seeing you in person more regularly, they don’t feel the need to carry on.
I’ve already mentioned him being busy a few times in this article and I know that you might be thinking “It only takes a few seconds to send a text.” Surely he can’t be that busy?
That’s an entirely valid point, but it does miss some of the mental and emotional effort that goes into texting someone. If you like sending texts and find it easy and rewarding, you might not recognize the effort that it can take other people.
Sending a text message, even just something quick and affectionate, takes something psychologists call executive function.
He needs to stop what he’s currently doing (which incurs something called “task-switching costs”), read your message, think about what he wants to say, choose the right words, check whether what he says might be misinterpreted (which involves trying to think about it from someone else’s perspective), and then send it.
If he’s just sitting watching TV, that’s not a big task. If he’s trying to deal with something complicated or juggling a lot of other tasks in his day, it can actually feel like a lot. And that’s just the mental aspect. There’s also an emotional component to consider.
Sending texts can feel like a bigger task than the amount of time it actually takes.
It’s a little bit like doing laundry. Laundry doesn’t take much actual time and effort. You put it in the machine and then move it to the dryer a while later. Eventually, you fold it and put it away.
You might only spend 10 minutes physically handling clothes, but you’re still ‘doing laundry’ all day, keeping track of it and remembering to do the next stage.
If he says he’s not replying to texts because he’s so busy, he might not be exaggerating.
Another factor that can make a guy want to ignore your texts can be if you send too many messages. You might have a set of expectations for how often you text your girlfriends (and the etiquette you use), but he might have different expectations.
For example, some people are absolutely fine with sending 4 or 5 short messages in one go. Others find that incredibly annoying and prefer one longer message. You might expect to have a text conversation every day while he thinks that you’ll only message when you have something the other person needs to know.
If he feels overwhelmed by texts, he might stop replying for a while as a way to try to get you to calm down. That’s not a great way to handle the situation. He should just ask you directly instead. It can be understandable though.
He might also ignore your messages because he assumes that texts aren’t especially important. This is usually more likely if he’s a bit older, for example in his 40s.
We all have our own assumptions about how important different types of communication are and what they’re going to be used for. This influences how we use them. For example, if you were in the hospital after an accident, you’d probably call your parents rather than email them.
If he assumes that people will make calls, rather than texts, for anything important, he might feel perfectly comfortable ignoring texts for a few days or even weeks.
You might see this as a sign that he’s not good at texting, and that’s reasonable. Really, though, it’s about him preferring to use texts differently from you. It might be something that you need to compromise on together.
Sometimes a guy will ignore your texts because he’s angry with you. This puts you in an incredibly difficult situation because you can’t fix the problem or repair the relationship without talking about what’s going on.
When he ignores your texts because he’s angry with you, he’s doing one of two things. Either he’s trying to calm down or he might be giving you the silent treatment. There’s a huge difference between those two.
If he’s trying to calm down, that’s a good thing. He’s taking responsibility for his own emotions and trying to deal with them. He’s taking himself away from the situation so that you can talk about things properly later.
If he’s giving you the silent treatment, that’s not good. When a man gives you the silent treatment, he’s punishing you and avoiding talking about the problem. He doesn’t want to work through what went on and build a stronger relationship. He just wants you to change.
How can you tell the difference between calming down and the silent treatment? Most guys will tell you if they need space to calm down. Calming down will usually only last for a couple of days.
Importantly, once he’s calmed down, he’ll be willing to talk about it. A guy who has been giving you the silent treatment will usually just come back as if nothing happened.
Remember how I said that sending texts can be too much for him if he’s really busy? The same is true when he’s struggling emotionally with something. This isn’t usually anything to do with you. He just doesn’t have the emotional resources to talk to anyone right now.
This is more common for introverts than extroverts, but lots of us feel the need to pull into ourselves when we’re stressed and upset. If he’s dealing with something difficult, he might need to do the emotional equivalent of building a blanket fort and not letting anyone in.
If a guy is scared of commitment or has an avoidant attachment style, he might start to pull away emotionally when he realizes that he’s really falling for you. This can include taking longer to reply to your texts and even not replying at all.
This is a form of self-sabotage. He cares about you and he wants to be with you, but he’s scared of being in a committed relationship and so he does things like ignoring you and damages the trust between you.
If you think this is what’s going on, check out my article on how to get him to commit for more advice.
If he stops replying to your texts, don’t keep sending more and more messages. This isn’t going to help anyone. If he’s been dealing with something difficult, you’re just making it harder for him to reach out once he can. If he’s not interested anymore, you just look clingy (even though you only want to understand).
Instead, leave gradually longer and longer gaps between messages. Tell him that you hope he’s ok and you’d love for him to reach out. A week later, let him know that you’re still thinking of him and hope he’s ok. Reach out again after a month.
The sad truth is that you can’t possibly work out what he’s thinking from the complete silence he’s giving you. You simply don’t have enough information to be able to know what’s going on. It’s tempting to think about it over and over (psychologists call this rumination), but that’s not helpful.
Rumination is bad for your mental health. It contributes to depression, anxiety, and more. It also doesn’t help you to problem-solve. Try to distract yourself or set aside a specific amount of time to ruminate before moving on (use a timer).
When he does get back in touch, it’s tempting not to mention how his ignoring your messages made you feel. You’re so grateful to have him back in your life and you don’t want to rock the boat. This isn’t great for a long-term relationship between you.
Be honest about your feelings, but try not to focus on blame. Use I statements to help him understand the effect that his silence had on you.
When he does get back in touch, try not to assume that he was being deliberately cruel. Rather than yelling at him and getting angry, try to be curious about what was going on and why he felt the need to pull away.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t be angry. You should be angry if he was giving you the silent treatment or playing hard to get, for example. Just make sure that you know what was going on before you decide how to respond.
I’ve said that you shouldn’t text him constantly or ruminate on why he’s gone quiet, but those aren’t easy things to do. Make life easier on yourself by staying busy and trying to keep your mind off him.
Take this opportunity to try out a new class or pick up a new skill. Even just starting to watch a new series you’ve been looking forward to can help reduce your temptation to fixate on him.
If he still hasn’t replied to you after a few weeks, it might be time to consider moving on. If there are problems in a relationship, they’re only going to get resolved if you talk about them and work on them as a team. If he goes quiet when things get tough, your relationship probably isn’t going to work.
If he comes back later and tells you that he was dealing with something difficult, you can make a decision then about whether you’re willing to give him another try. If he was going through a rough patch and didn’t reach out, he should appreciate that he couldn’t expect you to wait indefinitely.
If a man calls you after ignoring you, it’s a good opportunity to talk to him. Ignoring him back is just going to make a bad situation worse. Answer his call but don’t let him avoid talking about why he’s been ignoring you. He might even have a good reason.
If you’ve texted someone who keeps ignoring you, try to take it as a sign that they need some space. Send a single text to say that you’ll give them space but you’d like to talk to them when they’re ready. Keep busy to avoid texting again.
There are lots of different reasons why a guy might start ignoring your texts. Some of them are a really bad sign for your relationship while others are just practical issues or you having different expectations of how often you’ll message each other.
Don’t assume that you know what’s going on for him but do set boundaries around how you expect to be treated. If he’s right for you, you’ll be able to work it out together.
What are your experiences with guys who stop replying to your messages? Are they always ghosting or do you know some who’ve had good excuses? Let me know in the comments and remember to share this article if you found it helpful.