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Being Left on Read: What It Really Means When They Don’t Text Back

Anyone who has dated in the last 10 years knows how much it sucks getting left on read. You don’t have to take it lying down. Here is what to do about it.

Getting Left on Read

If your messages to a certain someone are always being left on read, is this a sign you’re being ghosted or ignored by someone?

Are you being stood up on your phone?!

If you’re not sure what we’re taking about, being left on read basically means that a message you sent has been read by that person, but they haven’t replied to you. Scathing. Brutal. Ouch!

Getting left on read is sort of the modern version of being stood up. It sucks. You don’t get an excuse or a reason or closure. And it can really make you feel bad about yourself.

As someone who has been left on read a time or two, I can honestly say I feel your pain. This is why most people turn off their read receipts. Most people that leave them on either don’t know or don’t care.

And that is what hurts. When you text someone and they read it without responding, it feels like you’re bothering them. It feels like they don’t care about what you said and don’t want to hear from you.

When you don’t get a response to an unread message, there are so many possible reasons for it. But when you actually know your message was seen and read without a response there really is only one reason, and it sucks. 

[Read: What does it mean when someone’s ignoring your texts on purpose?]

Why does getting left on read hurt so much?

Simply, because it hurts your ego. You carefully craft a perfect text, you smile to yourself because you anticipate a fun conversation or some witty banter or flirty text in return as you hit send. And then, absolute silence. You’re a bit disappointed because they haven’t “seen” your text, so you wait patiently.

A while passes, and the next thing you know, you see your text has been marked as “read” and yet, you haven’t got a reply from them.

Being left on read hurts, because just for that moment, you realize and believe that the person you texted doesn’t value you as much as you value them. And worse, they don’t even think you’re deserving of a response.

I mean, you both know each other right, are you that insignificant that they don’t think you’re even worthy of a simple response that takes a few seconds to compose? [Read: The raw psychological effects of being ignored by someone you like]

The age of social media semi-stalking

It feels far worse, when you don’t get a response and you’re left on read. But you scroll through your social media account to see that this “friend” is active on social media, maybe even posting pictures or updates of their life!!

Really, anyone would see red and fume if they were in your place. So if you’re feeling a surge of shame and insult wash over you, you’re not wrong for feeling that way.

One one hand, social media is a blessing. But it can also ruin a perfectly good friendship or even a relationship.

With social media, not only can you talk to anyone, no matter where they are in the world, but you can also *whisper it* semi-stalk the apple of your eyes without them even realizing it! Until it is used against you, you’re left on read, and you’re left wondering what is happening! [Read: How to stalk on social media and find just what you’re looking for]

Want to know where they were last night? Check their Facebook! Want to sit and gaze at them in wonderment? Check their Instagram! Want to know what’s bugging them right now? Check their Twitter!

But how are you supposed to feel when they’re active everywhere but in the one place which matters to you – in your text bubble that’s been left on read?

[Read: How to respond like a grown-up when someone ignores you deliberately]

Why you’re being left on read

Put simply, if someone isn’t answering you and it happens more than once, I’m sorry, but take this as a negative sign. Yep, they’re ghosting you, they’re not interested. And if they do text you back a few days later after they’ve “seen” it, they’re probably rolling their eyes and typing something lame and dry, just to keep the peace.

It’s harsh, I know. In a way, you should be grateful this didn’t happen directly to your face. That’s the other great thing about social media, you can hide behind it. It gives you a certain sense of false security. When it comes crashing down, okay, it hurts, but you can weather out the storm a little and hide until it passes.

[Read: The psychology of ignoring someone – Why we do it and ways to fix it]

Back in the day, we sent texts and wouldn’t know whether they’d been seen. Now technology has advanced to the point where you can see that the message sent, delivered, and oh, wait, they’ve read it!

It’s wonderful when you see their picture show at the side of the message, or the tick turns blue. You wait for a few seconds, surely those little dancing bubbles are going to turn up in a second, telling you that they’re typing a message. So, you wait. You wait a little more. Then you decide they’re probably busy, and that’s why you’re being left on read. You wait until the evening, still no reply.

Ouch, once more.

You wait until the next day. If you have no reply by then, face the very real possibility that they’re simply not going to reply because they don’t want to.

Okay, I admit, there is the slight possibility *very slight* they’re not replying for another reason, a completely acceptable one. Perhaps they’ve been sick and couldn’t reply and then forgot about it. Maybe they planned to reply, got sidetracked, and it slipped their mind. Maybe they lost their phone. Maybe their battery died. Maybe they met with an accident. But you know this, don’t you? The chances of any of this happening are infinitesimally low.

Honestly, maybe they just don’t want to text back.

[Read: The clear signs you’ve been ghosted and how to deal with it]

Ask yourself: Are you being left on read on purpose?

I know getting left on read seems like a simple thing. You would think you would know if you were left on read. But, sometimes it isn’t that simple.

You could technically be left on read, but not with the same rudeness that you think you were. Some texts or messages just don’t really need a response.

Think about your messaging style. Do you respond to every message? Do you always have something to say? How many times have you read a text and not responded? I do it at least once a day.

When someone doesn’t ask you a question, sometimes the conversation dies down and there is nothing else to say. [Read: How to handle the annoying wait when someone doesn’t text back for days]

So, before jumping to conclusions, take a look at your last text. Did you say “lol”? Did you ask a question? Were you in the middle of a conversation or was it the end of a conversation? Think about if a response was really necessary or are you just second-guessing yourself? You don’t need to overanalyze every time you think you’re getting left on read by someone. [Read: When she doesn’t text back – why girls do that and what you need to do]

What should you do if you get left on read?

Okay, it may seem like getting left on read is just something you must endure. It is just a part of dating in current times. People no longer say they aren’t interested or even make up a bad excuse. Just getting left on read is now the new norm.

But, you do not have to put up with it, and you do not have to let getting left on read get you down. If you’ve been left on read, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.

1. Don’t double text

No one’s phone glitches and sends a text twice, so don’t double text. Also, don’t text them on “accident” pretending it was meant for someone else. And certainly, don’t reach out on other platforms just because there’re active on it. If they’ve ignored you in one app, what’s the chance they’d be looking forward to seeing your text another app?!

I know you want to get them to respond. It is human nature. But, it is not worth it. No matter how rude they are for not answering, it is not worth embarrassing yourself. If they wanted to answer, they would have. [Read: The basic rules to play it cool with double texting]

2. Relax

Try not to get in your head so much. Sometimes, getting left on read is just that. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It doesn’t mean they are ghosting you or ignoring you on purpose.

People get busy. Maybe they read it and then forgot to respond or got distracted by something. Just let it be. If they want to talk to you, they will reach out eventually. Getting left on read by someone does not have to be as horrible as it sounds.

3. Text someone else

Instead of focusing on the person not answering, text someone else. Texting or talking with someone that gives you the attention you want and appreciates what you have to say will not only take your mind off of being left on read, but it will feel way better. [Read: How often should you text someone? 17 must-know rules of texting]

4. Let them know how you feel

We wouldn’t always recommend this, but if you are repeatedly getting left on read by a friend or even your partner, you should let them know how that makes you feel. We know it is just a text message that went unanswered, but your feelings about being left on read are valid and completely acceptable.

They may think it isn’t a big deal, but if you tell them how it makes you feel, they can take more care in the future to make sure they answer. [Read: Why do guys come back when you ignore them? The mind games of men]

5. Forget about it

It can be hard to just let it go and move on, but it is really one of the more healthy choices to make. Instead of decoding why someone would leave you on read, dwelling on what it means or worry about what this person thinks of you, let it go.

I know it is easier said than done, but if you can do it, it will give you a lot more confidence moving forward. Not everyone is a good texter. Not everyone will like you or want to talk. And that is okay. As long as you are happy with yourself, getting left on read does not have to affect you. [Read: Dry texting and the real meaning behind those one word responses]

6. Ask them to turn off their read receipts

This is a decision you really have to make, but it could help you. Now, some people may not know they have their read receipts on and others leave it there for a reason. But, if you can’t help but feel hurt by being left on read, ask them if they can turn them off.

There is a downside to this because then you won’t know if they are ignoring you or just haven’t read your message, but that can be better sometimes. So, it really depends on what you think would be easier for you.

Now, you can’t ask a random person or a new crush to do this, but if you have a close friend or a partner you feel comfortable with, they should work with you to make sure you’re not upset. [Read: How to stop feeling ignored by someone you love]

7. Take the hint

I hate being this harsh, but sometimes this is the way the world works. I wish everyone would just say what is on their mind and let you know if they don’t want to talk, but that just is not the case.

By not answering or worse, by leaving you on read, this person may be sending you a message. They may not just be busy or forgetful, they may want you to get the picture without having to say anything. Yes, it is a coward’s move, but it still happens. It doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

So, next time you find yourself getting left on read, maybe just take it at face value. It is a form of rejection and that sucks. Once you accept it, you can move on to someone that answers their messages, or better yet turns off their read receipts!

[Read: Why do narcissists ignore texts and do the selfish things they do?]

What should you do if they’re really nice in person but leave you on read on text?

This is a tricky situation to be in. And I’m sure you’ve experienced this with a friend or even a partner.

You text them, probably even ask a question, they read your message, but they don’t respond. And hours later, or a couple of days later, you bump into them, and wonder of wonders, they’re as warm and friendly as they’ve always been!

You’re obviously going to be confused. If they’re ignoring you, why are they being so nice in person? Was this all a mistake? Did you just overthink it? If this ever happens in your life, here are a few things that can help you know what’s on their mind.

1. They’re gaslighting you

Oh, they thought they texted you back and forgot all about it? Poor them! Or are they saying they never received your text? Or worse, that you two spoke on a call immediately after you texted them? Maybe they’re just trying to confuse you into accepting that it was somehow your fault. [Read: How to spot gaslighting and stop them from manipulating you]

2. They genuinely forgot to reply

This can happen to the best of us. We open a text message, read it and something comes up just as we’re about to type a reply. Stuff happens, life gets in the way. But how often does it happen? That’s what you need to think about.

3. They didn’t think it was worth a reply

Of course, maybe they could have just sent an emoji to end the conversation, that would have been easy to interpret. But just leaving it on read, well, that hurts, but maybe your text didn’t deserve a reply.

4. They were busy

They opened the text, read it, smiled to themselves, and got back to work. They were busy, and didn’t think the text required an answer. Maybe it did, but maybe to them, it just wasn’t as important.

The right thing for them to do here is to at least text a quick “busy, will call soon” or “stuck at work, text you soon”. It literally takes all of 3 seconds to hit send on that. But ah well, maybe they’re just a little less empathetic than you. [Read: How to stop being so sensitive all the time]

5. They’re using you

Maybe they didn’t expect to bump into you in person. But they did. So now, instead of bringing up the awkward conversation of why they ignored your text and left you on read, they’re playing it cool by being extra-nice and friendly. They want to stay in touch with you, because you offer something of value to them. But they probably couldn’t care less about you. [Read: Real friends vs fake friends – 21 ways to instantly tell them apart]

6. They’re controlling you

A narcissist knows how to blow hot and cold like the back of their palm. If someone leaves you on read, and behaves like you’re making a big issue out of nothing, there’s a good chance they’re conditioning you to accept it. They’re training you like a circus animal to learn to accept their shitty behavior by downplaying it.

And soon enough, they’ll condition you to believe it’s okay when they ignore you, and you just have to learn to put up with it. [Read: 15 signs a friend is using you and draining the happiness out of you]

7. They’re fake

Fake people do this all the time. They ignore your texts, and you do the same to them. Being left on read is something neither of you ever talk about. If you’re not fake, and your friend is, perhaps, you’re setting yourself up in an unhealthy relationship, and it’s time for you to let them go. [Read: How to recognize fake people instantly and stay away from them]

Are there any other possible explanations to being left on read?

Let’s face it, as much as you may realize that being left on read is a bad sign, you may be convinced there’s some other legitimate reason for it. And you know what? Maybe there is. But what should you do about it?

Should you send another message?

There may be a very unique reason why you’ve been left on read. In that case, how do you feel about sending another message?

It’s a borderline topic. Firstly, does it make you look desperate? I think it depends on the content of the last message. You could follow it up with a joking remark, “hey, did you get lost?” or something sincere like “hope everything’s fine out there!” or something akin to that. However, they could take that either way.

Play it cool,  and go for it, if you’re just not able to hold yourself back from sending that second text. But say something casual or funny, instead of accusing them *even if you’re bristling with rage inside!*

Put simply, if you’re being left on read, what harm is one more message? However, if you’re still being left on read after message number two, STEP AWAY FROM THE MOBILE DEVICE!

Seriously, more than two texts being left on read, it’s a serious message that they really don’t want to talk to you. Continuing to message beyond that point is a little desperate. In fact, it’s very desperate. Don’t be that person.

Being left on read due to anger

Have you had an argument with someone and your messages are being left without reply? What should you do in that case?

It depends on the argument: who was to blame, what was said, and whether you should apologize.

The chances are they will calm down and reply, but in their own time. After message number two, wait it out. Don’t give up hope, because it’s likely you will get a reply after a day or two. But, don’t keep pushing. Some people need space when they’re angry. Once left alone for a short while, they see sense, come around, and messages flow once more.

If you need to apologize for something you’ve said or done, and your messages are being left on read, there is one important message you should send as a final point. Apologize! Say you’re sorry and then leave it. Allow them to work it out and come back to you in their own time. [Read: The guide to help you grow up and face life like an adult]

The last word on being left on read: Don’t waste time on people who don’t reply

If someone leaves your messages without a reply on a regular basis, walk away! Don’t waste a second more of your time on someone who can’t even be bothered to send you a quick reply!

Let’s be honest, texting someone a quick update takes a few seconds these days. We can all type so fast that a paragraph takes 30 seconds.

When you look at it that way, the excuse of being too busy is a poor one. It basically means they didn’t deem you important enough to reply to, or they simply couldn’t be bothered. Neither excuse is acceptable, it’s just downright rude. [Read: Why did he stop texting me back? 13 rules you should follow]

Even if you don’t want to speak to someone, even if you’re not interested in them romantically, it’s courtesy to reply to them and make it clear, right? Am I just being old fashioned here? [Read: How to text a girl who stopped responding and win her attention back]

It’s embarrassing when someone leaves more than one of your messages without reply. Don’t embarrass yourself more by continuing to hold out hope, and certainly don’t send them one more message. A quick message might only take 30 seconds to type out and send, but that is 30 seconds of your time they don’t deserve. Do something more deserving of your time.

It’s also possible that they will reply to you when they see fit, i.e. a week or maybe more later. Maybe when they’re bored of whatever was taking up their time before. What should you do then? Leave them on read instead! But if you can’t bring yourself to being so mean, text them back a very short reply and try to end the conversation with them. They’re just not worth your time, are they?

[Read: Why do ghosts come back? An insight into the mind of a ghoster]

Getting left on read is one of the most confusing and upsetting parts of modern dating and communication. But you can learn to take it in your stride, and remember that it isn’t a reflection of you, but of the cowardly person who chose not to text you back.

[Read: The science behind craving them more when you feel ignored]

If you’re being left on read, it’s a pretty clear sign this person won’t reply to you any time soon. Nobody is too busy to acknowledge another person. Don’t waste time hanging around and waiting.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...