Why Do People Stop Replying to Online Dating Messages?

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You’ve been sending emails back and forth after meeting using an online dating service. Things are going great! The emails are getting more in-depth, you’re sharing more about each other and a first date seems all but certain.

Then they suddenly stop responding. What’s going on?!

One Reader’s Experience with Disappearing Responses

Below is an email I received recently discussing this very situation:

I have been corresponding with someone on a dating site for a couple weeks. We were emailing each other every other day, and he expressed clear interest in me, with compliments, longish engaged emails, even a hint already in the last one he sent that he might want to meet (we live far apart this would be no small feat).

I feel like I did something and I can’t figure out what it is. The last email I sent to him was nearly a week ago, it was rather long (several paragraphs, I was answering all his questions, offering thoughts and new questions, like in a real conversation) and included a couple compliments to him which I had not done before though he was offering them to me. We’ve been conversing about different meaningful subjects, he asked me to talk about them, so it’s not as if I’m beating him over the head with my thoughts. And yet I think I may have overdone it as I haven’t heard from him in nearly a week, though he’s been on the site. I don’t want to come across as obsessive, or bother him, and I want to be pursued rather than chase him on the computer.

What can you recommend I might say/do to regain his interest or just confirm that he’s still interested without seeming desperate? I don’t understand why he would have meaningful conversations with me, even mention he might want to meet, etc. and then just stop responding. What do I do? I’d at least like to have some closure if he doesn’t want to talk to me anymore.

I’m going to try to keep as much as my original reply to this reader in this article however I wanted to point something out: this situation can happen to anyone and it is not uncommon. In this article, I’ll discuss the topic in a way specific to her situation but the advice still can apply to anyone, even if your details differ.

Trying to Understand What Went Wrong (and Why Often Nothing Did)

This is a real guessing game whenever I hear about this situation. I’ll tell you that it’s normally not a great sign mainly because of how easy it is for us to quickly communicate in today’s world and how encouraged we are to do so when we’re interested in someone. When I was excited to talk to a woman I could barely wait to write my next email and actually had to force myself to pause sometimes.

Are Long Emails a Risk?
In this case, I would think it’s unlikely that you did something wrong. When we’re exchanging long emails with one another in online dating, we’ve passed the point where a long email is risky. Long email risky on your first contact? Yes, often it is. However, once the long emails start I believe the (unspoken) social contract has basically been signed and continuing to write long emails it totally acceptable. So the length isn’t something you should worry about.

Can Compliments Scare Someone Off?
The second different you pointed out was that you complimented him. Compliments can go either way. For example, if I wrote a woman said that I thought she was very pretty, that seems safe. If I wrote her and said that I think she’d be a great mother, that often is not fine. Both are compliments but in one case it could scare her off. So I guess it depends on what you were complimenting him on. Often women are very sensitive to avoid scaring guys off when they date online and given some concerns you express in your email along these lines, I would be surprised if your compliments were the problem.

A More Common Explanation
Above, we’ve discussed two possible reasons on why someone would stop responding although honestly we’re starting to inspect the situation with hyper-sensitivity. We’re looking for any possible difference to explain why the person we were talking to disappeared. Your situation will likely vary but my thoughts are generally the same: some tiny detail on the difference in your last email is often not the reason.

So all this talk about what I think isn’t the problem might make you wonder if I have any guesses on what IS the problem. My best guess would be that it is a combination of the nature of online dating and also any areas he may have been concerned about in regards to building a relationship (in this case the distance between the two of you although it could be anything). With online dating it is common (and even encouraged) to be talking to many people at once. A more common possibility for why this is happening could be:

  1. He really likes you and enjoyed communicating with you.

  2. He continued to reach out to other women which is common with online dating.
  3. The distance between the two of you is a concern for him. Again, distance is only one possible reason in the grand scheme of things. For other situations it could be having different religions or beliefs or just something as simple as not feeling a strong connection as quickly as he expected.
  4. He started talking with another woman who he also liked but lived much closer (or shared his religion or that he connected with quicker or whatever).
  5. At this point he’s thinking it would be a better bet to try pursuing the woman closer but at the same time he doesn’t want to hurt you so…he just disappears.

Now I’m not saying this is what happened but I think this scenario is more likely the cause than compliments or long emails. There are any number of things that could happen but I do believe that if he wanted to pursue a relationship with you, he would be. Barring a major emergency, a guy is not simply going to stop talking to a girl out of no where (or vice versa). It doesn’t mean he’s lost all interest in you…more likely he has found something that interests him just as much but is more accessible (closer in this case) to pursue.

Responding to This Situation
All that being said, I think it’s very reasonable for you to reach out to him. I wouldn’t recommend a frontal assault though. That is, I would just come out and say “Why did you stop emailing me?!” I would recommend a simple, pleasant email asking how he’s been. Something along these lines would work fine:

Hi So-and-so,

How have you been doing? Things have been great here although very busy! (Insert something here discussing some part of your life that you’ve discussed with him in the past that you can give an update on). Well, I hope things are going great.

And honestly, you could send an email like this after a few days. You don’t have to wait weeks. I understand not wanting to come off as obsessive or desperate but honestly an email after a few days is neither of these things.

I think one of three things is likely to happen if you send an email like this:

  1. He won’t respond.

  2. He’ll respond but he’ll feel more distant in your communication.
  3. He’ll respond and apologize for not being in contact.

For the first or second case, that would cause me to believe even more in my theory that he has started talking with someone else. In these cases, I think writing an email requesting some closure is totally acceptable. However, be sure you want to walk down this road. There’s no recovery from an email like this (you’ll be asking questions like “Did I say anything wrong?” or “Can you tell me what happened?”). This email isn’t about saving the relationship anymore, it’s simply about understanding what happened so you can learn for the future.

If, on the other hand, he apologizes for being out of touch with you then there is still a chance but I would be cautious. There is very little excuse for him not to have contacted you, even if only to tell you he was going to be very busy anhttp://www.datingadviceguy.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpd couldn’t communicate much.

We live in a world that makes communicating easy so, even if he does apologize, this whole situation should be counting as a strike against him in your mind and cause you to approach the possibility of a relationship with him with more caution.

Insulating Yourself from this Situation
I don’t have any secret on preventing this situation from happening. It happened to me more than once (twice that I can remember although I know it happened more often than that). While there is no trick to preventing this 100% of the time, there are steps you can take that will cause this situation to matter a bit less.

Specifically, if you’re not already, I think you should be trying to talk to multiple people at once. Many people make the date-a-lot-of-people argument but I make it for a different reason than most. Primarily, it makes these types of situations much easier to handle and they are much less of a bother. You’re more comfortable, you have more opportunities.

Is it ever easy to have someone you like simply drop off the face of the earth? Never. But a full dating schedule definitely lessens the sting. Maybe you already are doing this and that’s great but more than a few of my readers try to treat online dating like old fashion dating (one person at a time) which doesn’t work as well.

At the end of the day, if we’re interested we’re going to respond. When the responses stop, it is often a bad sign but don’t assume you’ve done something wrong. The reasons for stopped communication might simply be out of your control.



About the Author:

Brad initially struggled with online dating but over time became quite successful using it. He met his wife using online dating and has been giving advice and helping people improve their results since 2007. He has written a Free Online Dating Guide to help others find success with online dating. You can learn more about his personal experience using online dating and running this website here.


  1. David Allen  April 29, 2011

    I think your assessment is pretty good. In any case, we must not take this personally. I have experienced several of these “disappearances”. Who knows what the cause is? Who cares, really? unless I really am doing something crazy. She could have your best friend read her messages if she wants an outside perspective on what she says and how she says it. But really, as you say, in the modern dating world, a flowery email is not much of a committment from someone who is articulate.

    I like how you suggest a pleasant email. He may have felt like it was “her turn” or something and be wondering why she is not contacting him. I don’t know the details. I also like your caution about if he apologizes. People who send signals of ambivalence have conflicts. And we ignore those hints at our peril. Maybe he is really terrified of true intimacy or tends to feel over-responsible, and he feels safe with emails. And he is beginning to realize he has to stop emailing or meet (scary!). Or what you suggested (met someone closer, easier) seems much more likely to me.

  2. B  June 22, 2011

    My personal opinion is that he lost interest and most likely like Brad said, found someone closer and more accessible. From personal experience, I know guys email various women on dating sites and often they have a couple that they really have their eyes on! So most likely he was also having email exchanges with other women that were closer to him and rather than continue emailing you, he just wanted to disappear. My problem is…why would send long emails to you when he was probably interested/emailing other ladies closer to him
    ? It seems like he was leading you on, which is selfish on his part.

    Personally Ive disappeared also (stop emailing/chats out of the blue) because I simply wasnt interested and usually that is within a couple of short emails. I would never lead a person on with long detailed emails just to knowingly disappear. I suggest asking him why he stopped emailing you… and if he doesnt reply or gives you a nonchalant reply, move on because that definitely means hes not interested. Hes being careless about his effect on you, provided that he came off as interested just to disappear.

  3. ming on mongo  September 30, 2011

    Like David Allen mentioned, folks “communicate” in many ways, and if they seem unclear or ambivalent, or even just polite but still un-engaging… they’re also communicating that just as much as anything else in their emails. And for whatever reason he dropped off, while receiving a polite explanation might feel more desirable, in reality many of us just find that becomes an opportunity for someone to reply back with an argument… or worse! Much better (and safer) to usually just let things come to a quiet end.

  4. Louis  February 1, 2012

    Okay, well how long should one wait before email cut off is affirmative and focus should be put elsewhere? I have been talking to this girl for 1 1/2 weeks I met at wal-mart over email, we met on a real date 72 hours ago. While 24 hours later I sent her another email . It has been over 48 hours and I still have not heard back. Should I wait another day to send an email and how long should I wait after that one before moving on?

    Bottom line is how long should anyone wait before moving on?

  5. Brad  February 4, 2012

    Louis – my recommendation is to date multiple people at once if you are able to. Up until the point that it becomes clear that both people are interested in being exclusive, I encourage people to keep their options open. So my opinion is that you shouldn’t be waiting at all.

    I talk about this in this article: Dating Multiple People (and why you should be doing it)

    • Gee  September 24, 2015

      I have tried online dating for nearly two years now and have met seven guys both interesting and may be the boring ones too.
      All of them at the end just disappear yet I don’t see any reason for them to cause our communication flows really well and things seem to be moving on in the right position.

      At the end am badly hurt cos I remain lonely all over again.
      Its so unfortunate that by nature I can’t date more than one man at a time even online where he would not know if I did.

      I’m actually at the point of giving up cos nothing ever worked out for me.

      please help

  6. m  August 26, 2012

    How about if he already planned to meet you, with specific details on where and when and how long?

    I have met this guy online…we don’t really get to email but we chat like once or twice a week when we started…he told me firsthand that he’s cannot chat as often…but lately, after leaving offline messages to him, I would just get a paragraph about him saying that he miss me…and now it’s almost 3weeks that I haven’t heard from him…

    Can men really be too busy to chat? By the way he’s online profile is not active since we started talking…I’m really confused…I like him a lot…but I’m not sure if he’s true…

  7. Rosi  October 21, 2012

    We talk email each other almost 6 weeks , we everyday flirts to each other too . But why he doesn’t ask me out

    • Brad  October 28, 2012

      I’d start dropping hints about meeting Rosi. Try something like, “I’m going to be out your way this Tuesday – want to grab a coffee?” You can keep it casual which should avoid putting pressure on either of you…but six weeks is way too long to not have met in my opinion.

  8. Slink  December 9, 2012

    I’ve been using online dating sites for 10 months now. After 1 month I got lucky and ended up meeting a girl. Unfortunately, she wasn’t my type but we spent the day together, had fun and I let her know how I felt in a considerate way.

    Since then, I’ve contacted well over 100 women, most of which do not look at my profile. When someone does respond to my messages (even more unusual!) they will typically stop talking to me randomly after around 5-10 messages have been sent. I’m never out of line, never rude, or overly nice. I just ask them about their hobbies, and tell them about mine. Ask if they’re well etc.

    I seriously feel like I’m wasting my time here. People always say you should never contact more than one woman at a time, but imagine if I hadn’t? I always respond to women, even if I’m not interested and I’ll let them know, trying to be as nice as possible and am stil willing to chat with them. I just wish people would show me the same kind of behavior. If they don’t like me, I’d wish they’d just say.

    Too mant times I’ve just been left, waiting for weeks for them to respond to my last email… Bad luck I guess!

    • Deedee  January 18, 2015

      I typically stop emailing with men after 3 or 4 messages if they don’t initiate a phone conversation and then hopefully a date. I’m not interested in a pen pal so I think you are taking too much time for the next step. Just my experience.

  9. Brad  December 9, 2012

    Sorry to hear that you’re struggle Slink. I am currious – who are the people saying you should never contact one woman at a time? That sounds like a bad idea to me.

    • Slink  December 14, 2012

      Honestly I can’t remember, it may have been the intro video from POF, or just something I read when looking for a decent site. But yes, I say go all out! Increase your chances by sending more messages!

  10. David P  May 9, 2013

    My own view, and from experience, is that there are a lot of frauds out there who will lead you on just for the fun of it, then suddenly drop you. I have just had that with two 2 women (I can’t prove that the they ARE women! – in fact I suspect that they are the same person) with whom I had a series of detailed emails and arranged to meet, only to find just a couple of days before the planned meeting that my emails to her were undeliverable – and when I tried using my other email address, I got no reply.

  11. luke  May 18, 2013

    Hi Brad, great article, which sadly I needed. As a comment, I think this sentence is a typo. “That is, I would just come out and say “Why did you stop emailing me?!””

  12. Robert  June 11, 2013

    Hi Brad, I found your article insightful and very instructive.

    I have been pretty unsuccessful with the dating site I am on. After I browse various photos of women , I eventually come across one that I like so I send her a simple greeting like: “Hey!”, “Hi, how are you ?” or “How’s it going?” I send the greeting to a bunch of girls to help improve my chances of meeting someone. However, only a few respond and only some of them actually like me.
    So I am polite when I message these girls, I don’t ask them many questions on the first two chats, nor do I reveal too much information about myself, and I’m not rude. But after 2 or 3 messages we send back and forth to each other, I don’t hear from them anymore. They “disappear” like you say, and I an left not knowing what happened and that makes me feel inadequate. I sometimes get hurt by this because I feel rejected which also makes me a little upset since acceptance for us is so important to us humans. Do you have any advice for me? Thanks!

    • Brad  June 20, 2013

      Hi Robert – one piece of advice right off the top of my head: don’t start off with “Hi” or “Hey”. Women get lots of emails and most guys use that very subject. Imagine if you opened your inbox and you had 25 emails that all had the subject “Hi” and you had one email with the subject of “I love XYZ too!” (where XYZ is something you talk about in your profile). Which email would you open first?

      I’d also say be willing to ask questions early on. Asking questions isn’t rude – you should be learning about one another after all. I worry that some of the disappearing you are seeing might be women who feel like the conversation isn’t leading anywhere.

      Hope it helps!

  13. Zoie  March 6, 2014

    Hi Brad,

    I have been trying online dating for about a 6 months now and not really finding many prospects to email. I finally came over a profile that I was very much interested. I emailed him. He emailed immediately back. He sounded very interested in his email and in fact he said: ‘I am glad you found me!’ ‘Hugs!’
    It was late at night when I got his email and I emailed him back the following morning. It was a short email attempting to start a conversation. He mentioned he traveled a lot, so I told him I love to hear more about your travels. He mentioned something about his profession on his profile that he deals with politicians and stock brokers, so I wrote him that I am looking forward to hear more about it and asked him what he exactly do and explained to him what I exactly do.

    It has been 3 days and got no response back. I know that he read my email. And I also noticed that he hasn’t been online since he read my email.

    Like the other woman here, I don’t want to sound pushy while emailing him again and I also know that if a man interested in a woman, they usually know how to get that woman and they don’t normally give 3 days of breaks between their emails. So, I am now wondering what went wrong in one email and in one day that this man who sounded so excited one day and turned off in the next.

    Any feedback -from anyone is appreciated.

    • Brad  March 8, 2014

      It’s really hard to say that something went “wrong”. I understand that it seems like something went wrong but he might just be busy or very slow to respond or absent minded. Now something *might* have gone wrong but nothing you describe makes me think you did anything wrong. So maybe he’s started talking with another woman: that’s not your fault but it could have happened. Or it could be any number of things…but we can really only guess.

      That said: DO NOT write him and ask him what you did wrong. That will kill the conversation forever. Instead, I’d wait until you reach a week and then write him one more time and say:

      “Sorry I’ve not been in touch – life has been super busy! Hope your week has gone well.

      You can see a full article on why I recommend this in this article:


      I’ve seen this advice worked repeatedly so I hope it helps your situation!

  14. Jay Cool  December 9, 2014

    Same thing happened to me just now. I am basically broken.

  15. Rob  June 20, 2015

    Here’s something that hasn’t been mentioned: if you are in the middle of a conversation back and forth and the person just disappears without saying they’re done talking to you, it’s rude…and it tells you something about that person’s character. I don’t care that most people just stop texting in the middle of a conversation when they feel like it or don’t respond to an email because they’ve moved on. If you don’t have the courtesy to say, “goodbye” or “I don’t feel like talking anymore,” something is wrong with you. If someone just disappears without explanation after seemingly positive conversation, consider yourself lucky.

    • Willow  May 22, 2016

      Thanks Rob! That’s what I try to explain to my mind! 🙂 I should feel lucky, he obviously has no respect for me and probably has a messed up emotional life… Better for me not having him around.

      I’m in the exact same situation as the lady who wrote the letter and trying to heal my heart since a week. I really like this man, we have a lot in common (childhood, past, tragedies, way to elaborate stress, taste in food and movies, some hobbies, etc.), we both are attracted also physically by the other. I have no idea why he disappeared, but I’m glad he did (despite my broken heart). Since he ghosted me I had the opportunity to think… And I found out that many positive things came out from this weird situation: I’m still able to have a crash on a man (haven’t happened for ages!), I’m actually ready for a relationship, I have a LOT to give and I’m able to accept what the other offers, with a little effort I can feel pretty again, I picked up my past passions/hobbies and I enjoy my own company finally! 😀 At this point I’d say: if he doesn’t want to be a part of the awesomeness I am… It’s not my bull, not my bullshit! 😉 I have options.

  16. eric bahrt  June 21, 2015

    I sent a few emails to a Thai woman (I’m living in Thailand) and she always answered me. But she always tells me she has a young son and wants to take things very slowly. Once when she took a while to return my email she said it was because of her son.
    Perhaps I made a mistake by twice asking her if she lived with her parents or had brothers or sisters. She wouldn’t answer those question. Maybe she was offended because many Thai women exspect foreign men who marry them to take care of their entire famies. But I just wanted to make conversation
    Because of her limited Englsih it reached the point where there wasn’t much more to say other then “How are you”
    I still feel pretty bad she hasn’t answered me in over a day and I’m pretty sure she won’t answer me at all. I never met her so I shouldn’t take it personally. Should I move on?

  17. fred warren  June 21, 2015

    We must know the same girl.ame problem

  18. Pauline  November 5, 2015

    Hi, I met a guy online and we’re talking about 4-5 months now. Just a couple of days he message me and I didn’t got a chance to reply to his messages because I was sleeping the whole night. I think he got mad at me. We have a 15 hours time difference. When I replied to his messages I got no reply from him for 2 days now. Was there something happened to him? Please help, I can’t get rid him on my mind or should I forget him totally? Thanks

  19. Rose  November 10, 2017

    I’ve read all the messages of advice and those who have endured pain from on-line dating.I’ve been on many different sites off and on and find they are basically all the same.I’ve been stood up,lied to and alot were only interested in sex which I refused to give.I find men complicated and most do not want to get married.I’m against common-law as that proves lack of commitment,stability.I know a friend who travelled 3 hours every week-end one way,rain or snow to see his girl-friend for 2 years.She now lives with him.These days one has to be so careful what they say or how they say it to a potential partner or they hit the ground running.Why is political correctness so important?
    I prefer the “old days” of dating.People did not sweat the small stuff and there was alot more respect for us women.
    I am 67,retired R.N.,attractive,healthy,independent,etc and have not found one man who wants a relationship in the 7 yrs I’ve been on dating sites.I look at it this way,I’m not a quitter,desperate,needy.I feel one day I will have a great man in my life.
    Good luck to you all–don’t give up!!

    • Pam  December 29, 2017

      Rose,I am a woman much like you just a few years younger.It seems to be mission impossible but I too keep hoping for the companionship, friendship, love, etc. of a suitable gentleman. Like a needle in a haystack, isn’t it!.

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