Radio Silence: No Message Back IS a Message, Ya’ll


MESSAGE SENT, no response received.

We’ve all been here, on Tinder, on our phones, with email, OKCupid, Tumblr, etc. etc. When it involves romance or romantic possibilities with someone of our preferred gender, it becomes a very vulnerable and uncomfortable place to sit and wait. We go through a whole range of emotions: anger, fear, sadness, WTF, forget him/her, this is BS, what’s wrong with me?!, should I send a follow-up message?, I’m a catch!, and on and on and on. Sometimes, a response comes. Their phone was broken, they accidentally deleted the app and didn’t receive a notification, they’ve been busy, they were traveling — anything plausible enough for us to forgive them in hopes that it was a one-time issue. Other times, no response comes and the emotional roller coaster continues as long as we decide to stay on the ride.

That’s the piece so many of us struggle with: getting off the ride and recognizing when it’s time to let someone go, whether it’s a person you were really hoping might ask you out or someone you’ve been on several dates with who suddenly went AWOL. Rejection is one of the hardest things to face because vulnerability, loss, and hurt feelings come with it. It’s not pleasant and no one is going to argue with you on that. But there are two very different ways to handle yourself in these scenario of ignoring or disappearing. Neither of them is particularly easy, but one maintains your dignity and self-respect and one most certainly does not.

The people who stay on the ride often end up reacting in ways we’ve all seen captured in screen grabs from online dating sites or text message exchanges that end up going viral. More often than not, it’s males who reacts with the most hostility when they’re ignored. We all guffaw at the viral post of the dude freaking out when he doesn’t get a response back from a date within 24-hours. Everyone is guilty at least sometimes of interpreting disinterest as a personal attack on self-worth, but it does seem that men have the tendency to be more vocal about it. Maybe it’s gender roles, or maybe it’s society. Who knows? It’s clear when someone is dangerously overreacting and possibly has real issues, but it’s also a reminder of how very difficult it can be to deal with rejection. How does a pretty even-keeled person cope, then? By holding onto this:

No message back IS a message.

In other words, when enough time has passed for there to be a reasonable explanation of radio silence, you need to receive THAT message. This person is not interested. NOT “This person is a jerk” or “This person doesn’t know what they’re missing”… just: This person is not interested and it’s best for both of us to move on. It’s also best to do the move-on shuffle without giving into the temptation to put in your two-cents about how a relative stranger was raised or by making other disparaging comments. That’s how you end up in an online article looking like a crazy person.

If you don’t trust me and my “no message IS a message” mantra, you can a least trust Maya Angelou and Oprah, right?!

“When people show you who they are, believe them.”

 Oprah and Maya talked around this gem in 1997. If someone isn’t responding to your message, they’re not interested. There’s no room for interpretation– they are giving you a clear answer. Listen and move on.

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