“Should I Respond to Out-of-the-Blue Texts of Desperation?”

text message

I have a recurring dating dilemma. I meet a guy and he asks for my number, sometimes we go out and sometimes he never does ask me out. Almost always the man just stops talking to me after maybe two weeks; sometimes months go by and I’ll receive a random text of desperation: “Hi, what happened to you? I had so much going on in my personal life at the time, but I’m ready to pursue you if you are still single.” I can’t tell you how many times I have received this text. I want to tell the guy to kick rocks, but I never do. I just take a bow. Should I ever give a man the time of day if he wasn’t willing to do that for me? — Taking a Bow

Well, before you do anything, you should know that “had so much going on in my personal life” is usually code for: “had a girlfriend” or “was dating someone.” Sometimes there might be something non-dating related to the “personal” side of personal life, like a crazy roommate who believes he’s the “true prophet of jehovah” (any long-time readers remember that one?) or crippling and embarrassing debt, or a serious injury or illness, like cancer. And while those are all reasonable justifications for not calling someone for a date, you shouldn’t be asking women for their phone numbers if you know you aren’t in a place to date. Which is why I think most of the time when someone asks for a number and then doesn’t follow-up (or follows up for one or two dates and then disappears), it’s because he or she is entangled in another relationship and not truly available, either emotionally or physically (or both). I’m sure some people even ask for phone numbers knowing they are going to dump their significant others imminently and want to have potential prospects lined up for whenever they get around to doing the dumping.

As for whether you should respond to these men’s out-of-the-blue attempts to connect or re-connect with you after ghosting you weeks or months ago, it depends on what your initial impression of the guy was. Did you otherwise like him and feel genuinely sad that he disappeared or didn’t follow-up with you? If so, it might be worth a quick reply along the lines of: “Oh, hey. I’m still single and open to being pursued, but only if the person doing the pursuing is truly available.” And then the ball’s in his court. If he ghosts you again or fails to, you know, actually pursue you beyond just trying to hook up with you, then delete and block his number and MOA.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. i wouldn’t bother even replying if somebody ghosted me…..its cold and there is a risk they will just go and do it again….there are so many other potential guys out there to give a chance to….those guys that are cowards and pull the disappearing act don’t deserve the time of day….my opinion and how i would handle it

  2. LW, I wouldn’t have hard rules about this. I don’t think it is desperate. I think it is all about timing. I wouldn’t make it a huge thing. Write back, ask if he wants to meet up and call it a day. I wouldn’t go if it was 2 AM and he is asking you to come over but otherwise, why not.

  3. I think sometimes it means they weren’t really single/available at the time, but other times it means they just weren’t that interested, and now they’re trying to recycle some of their “options” that weren’t so appealing the first time around. There’s no reason you can’t respond if you really want to, but someone who faded on you once is pretty likely to do it again, as I think Cdobbs said above.

  4. It might just be me, or does the statement “I’m ready to pursue you if you are still single” makes it sound like you’re a goal or an object rather than a person. Or it makes it sound like you should be honored that he has time for you now, as if you were waiting in a queue.
    I’d say MOA, to be honest. I don’t think he really wants a relationship with you, if that’s what you want.

  5. Wendy is right, there’s nothing really wrong with responding to the texts. But honestly I say MOA. If somebody has you and doesn’t try to keep you, why would you want to be with that person? On very rare occasion there might be a really good excuse (grandma passed away, got laid off, etc) and if he apologizes for disappearing and genuinely wants to make it up to you, go for it. But keep putting yourself out there and you are going to meet someone who is so captivated by meeting you that he’ll do whatever it takes to keep you around. And that’s going to feel a lot better than taking back someone who was just bored and hitting up old numbers on their phone.

  6. Seriously? Seriously! says:

    FWIW, 3 weeks ago, a guy who once ghosted me got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.

    (With lots of pre-proposal conversations, of course)

    I met a guy who was amazing on paper last August. I was seeing someone else, but casually. We had an amazing date, even though I was falling for the other guy, who was as unavailable longterm as you can be for me(divorced, never wanted to get married, didn’t want kids, etc.). I was a little distracted, but we went on a second date, which was fine, but not great. I texted after saying that I had a great time and have a great weekend. He responded…nothing. Never heard from him. No “thanks, you too”, no nothing. I thought that was so rude.

    Fast forward to Halloween — I had finally ended it with the other guy, and went to a halloween party, and boom, there he is. Rather than being awkward, I went up to him to say hi. He said hi and apologized for never having texted me back, and we chatted for a little while. I texted him later that night saying it was good to see him. He asked me out again. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Although we actually ran into each other, rather than just a random text, if you liked him and/or he was a decent guy, defintely go for it! Go out again! Timing is everything. We talk about our first second date, our second first date, and it’s all just funny now. I still make fun of him for not calling me. But that gives our story even more of a “meant to be” feel, which can come from a second try.

  7. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    I wouldn’t rule out these guys for the reasons everyone above mentioned. If you liked him then and want to see if it goes anywhere this time, pourquoi pas?
    In related but unrelated news, this just happened to me. A blind date that went really well (but who never called) reached out out of the blue yesterday. I have no idea why he never called. And with blind dates, arranged by a mutual friend, it’s possible he wasn’t single at all or whatnot but met me out because, you know, the mutual friend arranged it and whatever, blind dates are no big deal and there’s no expectations. Anyway, I just got a message from him yesterday asking if I want to go out again. He suggested meeting for Bikram and then going out for breakfast. What’s the etiquette when you’re, like pregnant, with someone else’s child, but otherwise, single – and not showing yet? It feels wrong. Plus, I don’t want to do Bikram, especially on a date. No one – NO ONE – looks good, or smells good, doing Bikram.

    1. Wait, you’re pregnant? When? What did I miss? Congratulations! Hope it will all go well!

    2. Avatar photo Mr. Cellophane says:

      Wait a minute. Isn’t this the plot of some completely forgettable movie?

      1. Yes, I think this was the plot of something, a move or a TV show. I know I’ve seen it but I can’t remember what it was, or how the characters resolved it. Guess you’re on your own, AP!! FWIW, I’d never do yoga on a 1st date, esp Bikram. Or any exercise. On any date.

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Oh wait, is it with J.Lo. and she gets artificially inseminated and then meets a guy… Oh, The Back-Up Plan! That was killing me.

    3. Sunshine Brite says:

      I think there’s a Bravo show that might help. There’s some show called something like Pregnant and Dating. But if it is a Bravo show, proceed with caution with the advice and help parts.

    4. Dan Savage says disclosing can be an excellent filter when dating. If you liked the guy, meet him for breakfast and tell him what’s been going on since he last saw you. If he runs for the hills, better he tells you now rather than later?
      Also I miss Bikram, I live too far from my cheap and cheerful place now to do it in the mornings and everywhere is so expensive!

      1. Rachel Green went on dates when she was preggers with Ross’ baby. Who knew Friends could have real life applicability?!

  8. inkyboots says:

    FWIW part two, I was working at a coffee shop about 5 years ago, a guy asked for my number, we texted a few times and then I ghosted him (mostly because I started going to school 300 miles away). And then he came back to that same coffee shop 4 years later when I happened to be working, and now we’re married! So I would say, keep an open mind.
    But it sounds like you’re not interested in these dudes, and that’s okay too – if you haven’t invested a lot of time in them, I personally think just bowing out is the right way to go. Just my two cents.
    Plus, if Mr. Inky had called me out for ghosting him, we definitely would not have reconnected years later.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Oh great story! And I agree, calling someone out for ghosting at that early stage – I mean, it’s not even really ghosting, right, if you never went out? – is really presumptuous because there could be a number of good reasons why he didn’t call other than he wasn’t interested – but even if that’s the reason – who cares, you’re not required to go out with everyone. And not being interested then doesn’t mean they’re not interested now. So, all of that to say, um, what inky said.

  9. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

    I dunno a guy who ghosted me then came back a month later really broke my heart when he did it a second time (after two months of very intense dating). If you give one of these guys the time of day make sure you really have your shit together and are ready to have them do it again.

  10. bittergaymark says:

    Eh, people DO get busy. To those of you that don’t — well, then you must all lead dismal boring lives where you just wait by the phone for a man to call. The attitude of this LW is all so very “i’m a special princess” to me. And it rubs me the wrong way. People like this are always running around commanding/demanding respect and proclaiming rather loudly that they are always to be treated a certain way. In the end? Eh, most end up alone and NEVER even come close to figuring out why — when to the world at large it’s hilariously obvious. 😉

  11. TheGirlinME says:

    Meh, as someone that has had each guy (to the dude); who has ever taken a walk, come back with regrets.. Take it with a grain. Enjoy the ego boost and move on. Talk is cheap, hon. Hope you guys don’t flame me for the heteronormative turn of phrase. “Boys play; men stay.”

  12. It depends. If it was someone you really liked, then it might be worth hearing their reasons. Maybe they were just megabusy, or maybe they were just making sure that the loose ends from their last relationship were all tied up before seeing you again.

  13. Or maybe he’s an international spy that’s just returned from secret spy stuff?! Exciting!

  14. I’m totally going to get slammed for this…but if every single guy that you are texting/talking to/dating ghosts you after a date or two, perhaps there’s a reason? I don’t mean to sound like a jerk because I’ve totally been that girl (he’s TOTALLY the one, I can tell after two dates!), but I’m just speculating.

    More speculating: are you never, ever putting in the effort to reach out to them after these dates? I’m not much a “Rules” girl and think that if you’re interested, take the initiative to reach out!

    Also, like Bitter Gay Mark said, people do get busy. Or like Nookie said, maybe they’re all spies.

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