Those of you who are regular swipe-app users — your Tinderers, your Bumblers, your OkCupiders — will be familiar with two nearly simultaneous and almost always contradictory emotions.
The first comes when you match with someone: the giddy high that accompanies your two pics dancing across the screen, Tinder’s celebratory “It’s a Match!” with that sassy “M.”
There’s also Bumble’s “BOOM,” which might as well just say, “YOU GUYS SHOULD BANG.” You think, “Maybe this is the one! The one who’s going to change everything.”
The second sensation comes shortly thereafter, as you try to craft a perfect-but-totes-chill opening message to this new potential life partner. “Hey, how’s your day treating you?” is my boring default, as I don’t want to invest too much or seem too eager.
Because the reality is that the likelihood that this human will write you back is closer to nil than my checking account, and that, my friends, is saying something.
But why? Why won’t they just write you (me, us) back? I’ve assembled the comprehensive list of explanations for when you’ve matched with someone who looks perfect but who ends up completely ignoring you.
1. Your conversation just didn’t spark
True, the full extent of your attempt to communicate with this new, exciting person is no more than a few words, but maybe deep inside those words was a blaring siren of awkwardness that sent up more red flags than the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. They just know.
How to fix it: Be yourself. If you’re going for more than a quick hookup, there’s no use hiding your obsession with house plants or weird beers — it’s all going to come out eventually. Save time by showing up authentically. If they don’t like it, pssh, you don’t want them anyway.
2. They can smell your desperation
I mean, if the NSA can turn on our camera phones without us knowing, surely Apple has devised a way of transmitting how much you desperately need this embryonic relationship to work.
Secretly, you don’t want to have to deal with Aunt Sheila’s probing questions about why you’re still single at your cousin’s wedding in June. But clearly, Jordan can tell just how badly you want it, and is accordingly running, screaming into the night, in the opposite direction.
How to fix it: Do the inner work and get to a place where you don’t need someone else to complete you. You are not one half looking for another half — you are already whole.
3. They’ve made a horrible mistake
This one rates highly in the likelihood department because we’ve all been there. Your thumbs are swiftly flicking through faces, then suddenly something weird happens with the angle of your hand or the touchscreen has a mini seizure.
Then, all of a sudden, you’ve matched with Taylor, a perfectly nice-looking grave-digger who you’re just not excited to suck face with.
4. They were drunk when they swiped right
At the beginning of a date, there are those people who make you think, “I don’t know if I’m really into this.” Then, a beer or two in, you’re like, “I really love the name Flannery for a girl and Clayton for a boy.” Why shouldn’t the same thing hold true for swiping under the influence?
In their defense, I don’t know how I’d feel about getting a message that was like “OMG I’m so sorry I was totally wasted when I swiped right on you,” so maybe silence really is the best answer here.
5. They swipe right on everyone and see who swipes right back
I didn’t know until recently that this is a thing, but it seems pretty sh*tty.
6. They’re sadistic and cruel
This one time, I matched with a guy who was cute or whatever, but not slack-jawed-accidentally-walk-into-a-post pretty or anything. I sent him a friendly, harmless, “Hey Nick, how’s your weekend going?” and he wrote back, “No.”
“No… what? No weekend?” I asked innocently. He sent me an animated gif of Homer Simpson backing into a hedge. I sent him an animated gif of Oprah looking happily confused at the 2015 Oscars. He sent me a gif of a weird cartoon spider shaking its head, then blocked me.
Let me just say that this guy — who must have swiped right on me at some point — was giving me a hard rejection via gif. I mean, I’m a damn Fulbright Scholar. Needless to say, I had a few glasses of wine following that interaction. I think I earned them.
7. They’re already married and forgot to deactivate their profile
What happens when you’ve found the one? Is there a button somewhere in these apps that says “I’m all good! Take me out of the mix” we can press?
I know I’ve never seen one, not that I’ve had cause to look. So, I’m just going to assume that there are some number of faces I’m seeing of people who are happily ensconced with their future spouse already.
The internet seems divided on what happens to your account if you stop using your swipey app but don’t delete your profile. And the idea that Jamie never wrote back because he’s busy getting married to Royce is somehow easier to stomach than the idea that he just DGAF.
8. Their friend was swiping for them
I’ve covered in full the various pitfalls of this exercise, when my friend Teresa started swiping right on guys that weren’t my type.
9. They died
According to the US Census, there are 7.7 billion people in the world. In America alone, the CDC says 7,708 people die every day. If Tinder is estimated to have 50 million global users (the exact figure is hard to find), there are bound to be a few ghosts in the mix — that’s just math.
10. They got distracted and forgot about you
This one is lame because you can’t actually hate the person for it, but — especially for that guy who looked kind of promising — this can be frustrating as hell.
11. The biggest, best, least satisfying, and most likely reason…
They’re just not right for you. No one wants to hear it, but even though Tyler was super handsome and wrote a witty profile and swiped right on you, it’s not a good fit.
A match who can’t be bothered to write back to a personable, friendly message isn’t worth the data you used to download their photo. It doesn’t make them suck any less, but maybe it will make their silence just a little less hurtful.
With one third of marriages now starting online, it’s safe to say these platforms aren’t going anywhere.
Every time you get rejected, it’s easy to take it personally. The truth is, though, there are any number of reasons that you never heard back from that beautiful bae-to-be. From swiping-while-drunk to letting their friends take the reins for fun, it may not have anything to do with you.
But if it does, and you’re told so, reframe your thinking. It’s like exposure therapy, right? It’s getting used to something that sucks, because all of us will face rejection at some point. The more often you feel it, the more normal it becomes — and the easier it is to move the heck on.