It happens all the time, but it never gets any easier—you meet someone nice, start up a conversation, and everything seems to be going well …
But suddenly it’s three days later, and your match, the cool new person who loves Arabica coffee and thinks your hair looks cute, hasn’t replied back to your last message! What’s going on? Are they not interested? When is it appropriate to panic if you feel you’ve been left hanging?
We hear from customers with this issue on their minds every day. And sometimes, when they’ve reacted in haste, mistakes are made that can’t easily be taken back (such as closing a match, or writing a panicky follow-up message). So before you do something rash, take a breather and think for a moment about all the reasons you might not be hearing back from someone. Here are some tips to help you cope when you’re wondering what’s what from a wayward match:
Tip #1: Remember, this person has an entire life outside of eHarmony.
When we’re waiting on replies from someone, it’s easy to fret when things don’t seem to add up. “We’ve been writing to each other about every other day, and now it’s been four days! He’s two days late! Where is he?”
What that equation misses, though, is that even for the most dedicated eHarmony member, eHarmony is only one small part of their entire life. And sometimes they will need to be away from the service. Life’s interruptions sometimes attack quickly, without leaving the other person time to let you know what’s going on with them. Minor emergencies, such as a sick child, a sick computer, or a sick car, can make getting back to a match virtually impossible in the short term! And we haven’t even talked yet about how much time and energy can be taken up by work.
Tip #2: Not everyone has the same expectations about what’s “normal.”
Remember the olden days? Well, probably not, but you’ve seen them in movies: there was once a time when the rituals of dating were codified. Boys were expected to call girls two days after a date if it went well, and after three dates, they’d be going steady, and he let her wear his varsity jacket. Stomachs still had butterflies in those days, and hearts still got broken, but you knew where you stood, and whose turn it was to do what.
But even before online dating and the internet, dating rituals had already become more complex than they were for Wally and the Beav. And now we’ve added a layer of complexity that everyone is still navigating: how do we act confident but not disinterested, polite but not clingy, civil but still romantic, in an era when we’re meeting people for the first time online?
We wish we could give you an answer, but we’re still figuring it out ourselves. Nobody knows! And one of the things people don’t have consensus on is on what is appropriate and what is not. In your mind, a prompt reply might be the only polite and rational thing to do, but from the other person’s perspective, writing back to you too often might be impolite. They may even worry about how they seem to you, whether they’re being too pushy or “eager,” which brings us to the next tip…
Tip #3: Your matches may be just as excited, or nervous, as you are.
Dating humbles us all. Nurses and mountain climbers, CEOs and bikers—even people who have nerves of steel can get tongue-tied when it comes to meeting someone they may be romantically interested in. That goes double if it’s their first time using eHarmony or their first time dating in a while.
The chances are good that the person on the other side of your conversation has a whole host of feelings about talking to you. And they may need a moment to weigh how they feel, not just about you but about themselves and where they are in their emotional lives. Our advice is, let them have that moment! Often, a person who needs a short break from communicating will come back even more invested in the conversation. On the other hand, it’s true that sometimes people do decide they are not ready to date, which brings us to our final, least fun point to hear (but it’s true)…
Tip #4: All conversations have to end sometime.
Every day, conversations that began right here on eHarmony, just like the ones you’re having with your matches, go on to become excited phone calls, budding relationships, and even marriages!
However, whether conversations on eHarmony lead to exchanging phone numbers (or vows!) or not, eventually the communication has to end. And for every one communication that goes well and leads to meeting outside of eHarmony, several communications conclude with a decision, made mutually or individually, that the conversation needs to end.
When this happens, sometimes a match will decide to send a final email explaining that they have decided not to talk, for whatever reason. And sometimes you’ll log on and find the match is closed, indicating that person has moved on. But it’s also true that sometimes—not every time, but sometimes—people who have decided not to keep communicating will sometimes simply not reply back. And the more matches you talk to, the more likely it is that at least some communications will end this way. So…what can you do while you’re waiting? Hopefully we’ve convinced you that there are many reasons why a match won’t communicate, and that you should never panic or expect the worst! But how long is long enough to wait, and what can you do not to feel powerless while you’re waiting for a response?
Tip #5: It’s okay to follow up. But give it some time, and just do it once.
Though you can send a thousand follow-up emails to a person in eHarmony Mail, we recommend sticking to one follow-up email if you’ve been waiting on a reply from someone. A rough rule of thumb is to wait one week before sending a follow-up message. And when you do send the follow up, be brief, and never pushy: “Hi there! I’ve really enjoyed our conversation so far. Let me know if you’re free to talk some more!”
Notice how the above language avoids putting any burden or onus on the other person. When writing to a wayward match, avoid using the word “you,” as in “where have you been?” Instead, use “I” or “me” to talk about how you would like to hear back from them.
Tip #6: Give yourself a time cushion. And then let yourself let go.
There is no one rule for how long to wait for a communication, just like there is not just one type of man or one type of woman. But here’s our general guideline: if you haven’t heard back from an important match in a while, set yourself a timeframe—a day, a week, or whatever seems best. And if that day comes without a communication you should consider the match “over” and move on.
Giving yourself a timeline doesn’t mean you have to close out the match; it’s okay to leave a door open to future communication. But set an expiration date on how long you’ll care about hearing back! This will give you a stronger sense of control, and that will bring definite piece of mind. You might even set other goals on that day, such as communicating with five new people on eHarmony, or playing yourself a little fight song to remind you to “move on!”
In conclusion, we know it’s hard to wait for a match to communicate, and even harder to decide you’ve waited long enough. But it’s a natural part of the dating process to go without hearing from people from time to time. Stay calm, give yourself and the other person space to communicate, and remember: whether a match gets back to you promptly or not, you are still in control of your dating experience. Make sure to stay positive and take charge, and you’re sure to have many great communications!