No Response is a Response

While probably not quite popular enough yet to be considered a cliché, the phrase “no response is a response” is a mighty popular one when it comes to the world of online dating. In this article, we’re going to talk about what that phrase means, how you should (and should not) interpret it, and whether or not that means you should do anything (like send a second message).

The Meaning of No Response is a Response – Definition

Before we start breaking this phrase down, let’s talk about what it means by definition. No response is a response means that the other person’s silence (not responding) is actually making a bigger statement than if they had sent you a message.

Here’s an example. Hypothetically imagine that a company has a major scandal of some sort. If the CEO of that company doesn’t come out and make a statement, that actually says a lot. It could say they’re guilty, they don’t care, or they’re too busy to worry about their customers. So, by not responding at all to what’s happening, they are in fact making a statement.

More simply put, silence can speak volumes.

A young African-American woman waiting for a response to an online dating message

How No Response is a Response Pertains to Online Dating

The most popular usage of this phrase pertains to online dating (or just dating in general). What does it mean when you send a message and don’t get a response?

Start By Ruling Out Extenuating Circumstances

The idea that no response is ALWAYS a response is untrue. Sometimes the reason that someone doesn’t send you a message back is based on something unrelated to how they feel. For example, they might be busy, they might be having problems with their online dating apps, or something happened in their personal life that has taken priority over responding to all of their messages.

Don’t Apply the Phrase to First Messages

The phrase no response is a response should not be applied to the first couple of messages you exchange with someone. If someone doesn’t respond to your first message, it might be because they’re just not interested (which could be construed as making a statement) or maybe they don’t have a premium account and can’t respond. The latter is much more common than the first and does not fit with what this phrase means to say.

Make Sure you Give Enough Time for This to Apply

It’s also important to make sure that you’ve given the person plenty of time to respond. If it’s just been a few hours or even a few days (when you’re first starting out), that’s not long enough. But the second you’ve given them plenty of time and you’ve gotten no response, it’s probably safe to start making some assumptions about what their lack of response really means.

When It Comes from Someone You’ve Been Talking to For a While

When you are talking to someone for a while online or maybe you’ve even moved over to texting, the phrase starts to carry a lot more weight. If you’ve ruled out the extenuating circumstances and you’ve given them ample time to respond and you still haven’t heard anything, here are a few things that could mean.

  • They’ve met someone else. – Sadly, this happens a lot in online dating. But on the bright side, if they’re that fickle and didn’t pick you first, they’re probably not someone you want to be with anyways.
  • They’re upset about something you said. – Take a minute and read back through your last message. Did you say something controversial? Did you call them something they don’t like? Did you make a politically charged statement? Did you give a stance on a hot-button issue? Some people will immediately show they are upset by going quiet. This is probably the most intense form of no response really being an actual response.
  • They’re not great at written communication. – Some people are just awful at text or messaging conversations. If this happens to be the case, look to move towards meeting in person!
  • They’ve lost interest. – This one should actually be completed to say they’ve lost interest and aren’t man or woman enough to tell you. Often referred to as ghosting, this, unfortunately, happens from time to time. But the good news is that if you learn they’re not the type of person you want to be with early on in the process, it protects you from wasting time and getting hurt worse later.

Does No Response Mean a Rejection?

While the technical answer to this is probably a yes, it’s not the right way you should be thinking about it. A rejection implies that there is something wrong with you. However, when someone doesn’t have the maturity to respond to your message, the issue is with them. So, yes, no response probably means they’re no longer interested for one of the aforementioned reasons, but it should not be taken as a rejection or a statement there is something wrong with you.

Ways to Limit Getting No Response

  • Send better first messages. If you’re sending crummy first messages, the likelihood you’re going to end up researching no response is a response again is high. Here’s a great guide on how to send awesome first messages.
  • Ask questions. You’ll see in that guide we just linked that one of the best things to do is ask some sort of question (not a yes or no question) that gives the other person a great and easy way to respond. This is super helpful if the person might not be the best at conversation online.
  • Don’t be offensive. We could go a million different directions here, but we’ll simplify it. If you wouldn’t say it in front of your mom, don’t say it in the first few messages. Additionally, don’t assume that everyone you’re talking to agrees 100% with your views on politics, life, and the world. It’s okay to uncover these differences, but do it from a place of learning and not imposing your views as if they are law.
  • Only message people you should be. If someone has in their profile that they’re only looking for friends and you message them about having a serious relationship, you probably won’t get a response. If someone has in their profile that they only want to date men under 35 and you’re 50, don’t send the message.

To Send or Not to Send a Second Message?

When you get no response, especially early on in the online dating process, the big question is whether or not you should send another message. We’ve definitely heard plenty of stories where the second message was an absolute waste of time, but we’ve also heard stories where the extra nudge really got things going.

If you’re interested in learning the answer to this question, check out our blog post on how to decide if you should send a second message or not.

No Response is a Response In Other Contexts

Online dating is not the only realm where this phrase is used, though, it is the most popular. You’ll also hear this come up in several other contexts. Let’s take a quick look at some of those now:

Established Relationships

A lot of the concessions about timeliness and first messages go out the window when you’re talking about responses with someone you are actively dating in an established relationship. When you get no response, you can probably assume that they’re not happy with you. Keep in mind, though, the lack of communication, especially in an established relationship, is never a good idea. If you’re mad, talk it out. Don’t just assume that not responding is going to get your point across.


In the world of business, no response can speak volumes, especially during negotiations. Where it gets tricky is that the time between responses can be a lot longer, so it’s much harder to tell if it’s no response or just a delayed response. Still, they always say that the quiet party in the negotiation usually wins, so if that’s your realm—start looking into the power of silence.

Event Invites

Ever invite someone to something and they just don’t respond? When that happens, that’s usually someone’s “nice” way of saying they aren’t interested. Take this as a statement as such, and don’t waste your time with a follow-up.


For some reason, friends can sometimes be the boldest when it comes to not responding. Generally, if we’ve ruled out the extenuating circumstances, this almost always is our friends trying to make a statement. When it comes to what they’re saying, it will be very situational-dependent. However, the one constant is that it’s going to be some sort of a negative response or disapproval.

How Do You Deal With No Response?

The answer to this question is going to be heavily situationally dependent. In other words, there is no right answer across the board. However, we can give you some suggestions that may be able to help you decide how to respond to no response in a few different contexts.

Remember that all of these assume you have already ruled out extenuating circumstances and have given the appropriate amount of time for them to respond based on the context.

Online Dating

If someone doesn’t respond to you, consider sending a second message. After that, though, if they don’t give you the time of day, don’t give them the time of day either. Just delete the message thread and move on to someone new.

Established Relationships

No response needs to be addressed short and long term in an established relationship. For the short term, find out why they are upset. If this requires you to pry a little, it’s probably best to get it out in the open. For the long term, though, discuss how no response even to make a statement is not healthy communication. Decide together to be better about communicating even when things go wrong.


You’ll have to have a little more patience here than with someone you are in an established relationship with, but you still need to get to the bottom of why they didn’t respond. One of the best ways to do this is to simply ask, “Did you get my last message?” If they just respond, “Yes,” and nothing else, you can follow up by asking, “Do you have any thoughts on what I said?”

Photo of author

Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.