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Why would someone suddenly stop talking to you? You might have been friends for a long time and thought that it was a solid friendship. They used to respond to your messages quickly, but all of a sudden, it’s radio silence.Perhaps you’ve met just recently but felt that there was a potential for a solid connection. In either case, it’s a jarring experience when you reach out to someone after what you thought was a pleasurable meeting, only not to get any response back.
It’s easy to blame ourselves and assume that we’ve done something wrong. When someone “ghosts” us with no explanation, it can make us anxious and paranoid. We might go through all our interactions in our mind, trying to analyze them. We might get the urge to send message after message, regretting our words each time we don’t get a reply.What does it mean when someone stops replying to us? Did we do something to upset them? Why aren’t they telling us why they’ve decided to cut contact? We can drive ourselves crazy with these questions.When someone stops talking to us with no explanation, we can’t be sure if it’s something that we did. After all, it might have nothing to do with us. However, if this has happened to you several times in the past, it’s worth examining.
Reasons for people to stop talking to youIf someone has stopped talking to you, it could mean many things: they might be busy, overwhelmed, depressed, angry at you, or disinterested in continuing a relationship for another reason. When we don’t get an explanation, it’s up to us to try to figure out what happened.Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to understand what’s going on:
Are they going through something right now?Some people want to be by themselves when they’re going through a hard time. It could be that they aren’t comfortable asking for help or are simply feeling overwhelmed. Depression can make people think that they shouldn’t reach out, out of fear of being a burden. They might think that no one can understand.
If this is the case, you can send them a message that you’re around if they need anything, but don’t push too much. Give them space. They’ll talk to you if and when they’re ready. Some people eventually reconnect but opt to ignore the reasons that caused them to disappear in the first place. Pushing someone to talk about difficult topics might scare them away.Some people tend to “disappear” on their friends when they enter a new romantic relationship. Don’t take it personally – this is their personal tendency and says nothing about you.
Is it just you?If you have mutual friends, it can be worth asking them if they’ve heard from the person who has stopped talking to you. You don’t have to share the whole story. If your friends have heard from this person, don’t ask them too many questions. They probably won’t feel comfortable getting involved. Just knowing whether you’re the only person your friend has stopped talking to can give you enough valuable information to go by.
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Could they have been hurt by something you’ve said or done?Sometimes we make jokes that hurt other people. Someone else can understand our playful teasing as a hurtful jab. Remember that everyone has different things that they’re sensitive about. Certain topics are “off-topic.” It could be their weight or something not directly related to them, like jokes involving rape or using sexist or racist stereotypes.Can’t think of anything specific that you may have done? This situation might be “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” For example, maybe you made a comment that wasn’t supportive but wasn’t that bad – in your eyes. However, if you’ve made such comments in the past, your friend might be unwilling to put up with it anymore.
Are you coming on too strong?When we meet someone we click with, it’s easy to get excited. We might message the person again several times after an initial meeting. Some people might feel overwhelmed by receiving many comments or discussing feelings at the beginning of a friendship. Were you usually the one messaging them, or did they initiate conversations?
Did you have a relationship with substance?Were your conversations of the “what’s up?” “not much” variety, or did you have concrete plans for a meeting? Sometimes we can try to keep in contact with someone by messaging them regularly, but the conversation lacks substance and doesn’t develop. We might try again and again, but our conversation partner might prefer to take a step back.
Have you been considerate about your friend’s feelings?Perhaps you haven’t done or said something specific in your last meeting, but have made yourself less attractive as a friend by not being considerate about your friend’s needs.Some examples of things that might have made your friend decide to cut contact include:
Being consistently late or changing plans at the last minuteIf your friend feels that you don’t take your plans seriously, they will conclude that you don’t respect them and their time.Not showing interest in their lifeMaybe your friend mentioned something that they were going through, but you never asked them about it. Perhaps they felt that your give-and-take was more “take” from your end. We must show our friends that we care about what they’re going through.Being emotionally demanding or using your friends as therapistsFriends should be able to lean on each other for support. However, your friend shouldn’t be your sole support. If your friend felt that they always need to be available for you, it might have gotten too much for them. You can work on this by developing emotional regulation tools through yoga, therapy, journaling, and self-help books.We recommend BetterHelp for online therapy, since they offer unlimited messaging and a weekly session, and is much cheaper than going to an actual therapist"s office. They are also cheaper than Talkspace for what you get. You can learn more about BetterHelp here.
Talking about others behind their back.Even if you’ve never said anything bad about your friend, they might have doubts if they hear you talking poorly about other friends. If you find yourself gossiping, criticizing others, or sharing other people’s personal information, your friend might be doubting if they can trust you.
These are some examples of behaviors that might have been “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. Your friend might have decided that you aren’t the kind of friend they want in their lives. If you recognize yourself in any of these behaviors, outlook at this as an opportunity to learn. We all have unhealthy behaviors that we can “unlearn” if we open ourselves to the possibility of change.
Should I contact someone who stopped talking to me?
Have you tried to contact them several times already?If you’ve sent someone several messages and they ignore you, it may be time to give up. Maybe they just need a break and they’ll come back, or perhaps they’ve decided to cut contact for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s better to cut our losses and move on.
Do you think you’ve done something that has upset them?If you can think of something that you’ve said or done that might have been hurtful, you can contact the person and say something like, “I realize that this comment I made might have been hurtful. I apologize for that. Hurting you was never my intention.”Make sure not to minimize a person’s feelings or justify yourself too much. Saying, “I didn’t mean to hurt you with my joke. You shouldn’t be so sensitive”, or “I’m sorry about what I said, but you were the one who was late, so you should have known I’d be upset,” are not proper apologies.
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Is it a pattern?Even if someone cuts you off for reasons that have nothing to do with you, that doesn’t mean that you should keep contacting them or be there when they return. You deserve relationships that will make you feel safe and respected.If someone stops responding to you for extended periods with no explanation, tell them that it bothers you. If they don’t apologize and attempt to explain and make amends, consider if this is the type of relationship you want to have in your life. A true friend will make an effort with you.
When someone stops responding on Tinder or other dating appsSometimes people stop replying to use on Tinder or other dating apps. Again, there could be many reasons for this:
They didn’t find your conversation interesting enoughThe way you interacted in conversations is one of the only measures that you can try to control. Your interaction should feel like an easygoing back and forth. That means that there should be a mix of answering and questions. Try not to make it look like an interview, though. Add some details, rather than just giving short answers. For example,
Q: I study engineering too. What are you interested in?A: Green engineering. What about you?Now, instead of just leaving it at that, you can write a bit more so that your conversation partner has something to go on rather than just asking you a different question. You can write something like,“I like the idea of helping people design more eco-friendly houses. I think I’d prefer to work with private clients, rather than big companies. I’m not sure yet, though.”Remember that your conversation is an opportunity to get to know each other. You can use gentle humor (no “negging” or anything that can come across as rude) to get a peek at each other’s personalities.
Don’t start the conversation with a simple “hey.” Try to ask about something in their profile, or share something that you’re doing, or perhaps a joke. Don’t make comments about someone’s appearance early on, as that could make them feel uncomfortable. You can read more specific advice about how to have better conversations on online dating apps.
They’ve met someone elsePerhaps they’ve gone on a date with someone else before they could get to know you. Many people will stop conversations on Tinder after the first few dates with someone until they have a better idea of whether that relationship will work out or not. In cases such as this, it isn’t personal, just a numbers game and luck.
They’re taking a break from the appOnline dating can be exhausting, and sometimes you just need a break. Someone who has been doing dating apps day-in and day-out for a while might find themselves starting to get bitter or jaded. They might use those feelings as a cue to take a break and come back more refreshed.
You just didn’t clickSometimes you’ll say all the right things but to the wrong person. Your joke that your conversation partner found distasteful might have been hilarious to other ears (or eyes). It sucks that people just stop replying, but most people don’t feel comfortable writing, “I’m not getting the impression that we would get along.” Remember that it can take a while until you find someone you’re compatible with, so don’t give up.
Things to RememberIt’s normal to go through periods where we don’t talk to people. Life happens, and a friend we used to talk to daily might become someone we catch up with every few months. A low frequency of contact doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t consider you a friend.Sometimes relationships end, and that’s OK. Let yourself mourn the relationship and what could have been, but try not to dwell too much or blame yourself.Every relationship is a learning opportunity. Life is a continual journey, and we are always changing. Take the lessons that you’ve learned from these interactions and apply them to future interactions you will have.Don’t beat yourself up. Even if someone has stopped talking to you because they don’t find you interesting or you’ve done something to upset them, it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you.You’ll meet more people and have other relationships. It always hurts when we lose someone in our lives, but this isn’t the end. We can’t fully plan what will happen as we go through life. We will meet more people and make new connections.
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Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages Socialpro’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.