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Auntie SparkNotes: Radio Silence and Text Etiquette

Auntie SparkNotes: Radio Silence and Text Etiquette

By kat_rosenfield

What does it mean when your crush ignores your texts? Auntie hates to be the bearer of bad news, but... —Sparkitors

Dear Auntie,
I have read many Sparknotes articles about texting and texting etiquette, but there is one aspect of texting that seems to have been neglected: The choice to not text back. I am very confused as to the acceptability of this choice as well as to what sort of message it sends.

I met this guy at jazz camp over the summer, and attempted to flirt with him many times. I thought I was getting positive body language--he always smiled at me, and his eyes sort of lit up when he saw me, yadda yadda. At the end of the camp, after my oh-so-subtle hinting, he finally asked me for my number. And then he didn't call. For months. I finally pulled a totally creepy maneuver: I commissioned my friend (who goes to his school) to sort of, you know, remind him. Finally, he texted me. Here's the thing, though: After that, I always initiated the text conversations, and after some conversation, he just stops answering them. I really want to know if he is just not into me, because I would hate to annoy someone like that. I don't want to be That Pesky Girl Who Just Doesn't Get It.


When I asked around for advice, people told me that his "radio silence" shouldn't discourage me. However, I'm not completely convinced. Texting for a while and then going MIA is my habit when confronted with an overzealous texter who won't take a hint. I feel conflicted about this, too: When I continue to text a person that I would rather run away from, I feel guilty for leading them on. When I ignore the texts, I feel that I'm being impolite. So that brings me to my two main questions (if you're still with me, Auntie):

1) Does he like me, or does he want to be left alone?
2) Is it rude to ignore someone's texts?

This may not seem very important, but perhaps other Sparklers share my confusion. I really want to improve my communication skills and manners, and I don't want to accidentally annoy, offend, or hurt anyone.

Oh, Sparkler. Um... well... er... oh, balls.

He's just not that into you.

And now, please excuse me while I gargle with baking soda until I get the horrible taste of cliche out of my mouth.

But unfortunately, that is the best and most concise way to describe what's going on here—and the thing is, I think you know it. It's just that you're so anxious for it not to be true, you're holding out for even the slightest possibility that, unlike everyone else on the planet, this guy prefers to signal his interest by... um, acting completely uninterested.

Which, let's be real, he is*. (I'm sorry! Sad face.) After all, you said it yourself: you recognize his behavior as exactly the same thing you'd do if you'd rather not be in touch with someone. And while some people love to claim that guys and girls are inherently indecipherable to each other because they're just so emotionally different, the truth is that it really isn't that complicated. We all speak human. And in this case, as a human, you know what rejection looks like; it's just a question of picking up what he's putting down, even if it's unpleasant.

*Although I should note, for what it's worth, that this doesn't mean you misread your at-camp flirtation—it just means that, in the interim, he lost interest. It sucks, but it happens.

So from now on, trust your gut on this one and back off—and that also goes for any future text-based interactions where you seem to be putting in maximum effort and getting minimum (or no) return. It means exactly what you think it means. And despite what your friends said about being undiscouraged by radio silence, I can say with 99% certainty that a person who never initiates contact and barely replies to your messages is not, in fact, trying to send you a coded signal of undying love. (And even if he were, why on earth would you want to date such a socially backward doink?)

Oh, and about that other question: is it rude to ignore someone's texts? Well... sometimes? After all, some texts don't require a response, and every conversation has to end eventually. And really, what do you do when someone keeps obliviously blowing up your phone despite your repeated attempts to more subtly dissuade him—and when, as you've discovered, texting back can be seen as encouragement? It's a conundrum.

Which is why, personally, I respond to the people I want to converse with by texting back... and to the ones I don't by finding them, in person, and smacking them across the face with a three-pound wet salmon.

Or, y'know, by texting back something like "Busy" or "Can't talk," and then ignoring whatever comes next.

But that's just me. How do you guys handle your unwanted texts? Ignore? Reply? Self-immolate? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at advice@sparknotes.com. You can also find her on Facebook.

Topics: Advice
Tags: auntie sparknotes, camp, texting, rejection, flirting, textiquette, jazz camp

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About the Author
kat_rosenfield

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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