He’s Online But Not Responding To Your Messages—Here’s Why

Seeing your messages go unanswered while the guy you’re seeing is double-tapping Instagram posts or has the green dot next to his name on Facebook Messenger can be both confusing and frustrating. Some reasons for his lack of response may be perfectly accidental, of course. But there are others that may mean that his silence is intentional. There are many possible explanations for why he’s not responding to your messages even though he’s online. You may not want to hear some of them, but you probably need to.

Which of these applies to your situation will depend on a variety of factors. Only you know how things have been going and whether or not there’s really anything to worry about. Pay attention and most importantly, trust your gut. It will tell you everything you need to know and more.

Why he’s not responding to your messages even though he’s online

  1. He’s just not that into you. We need to get this out of the way right now. If he’s online but not responding to your messages, it could very well be that he’s just not as into you as you are into him. He doesn’t really want to have some long, awkward conversation about it. By ignoring you and just getting on with his day, he figures you’ll take the hint. Why don’t you?
  2. He’s talking to other women right now and you’re not a priority. If you’ve only just started “talking” or even casually dating, it stands to reason that you’re not the only one in his life right now. Just because he’s online doesn’t mean it’s to respond to your messages. He could very well be talking to one or more of the other women that he’s seeing simultaneously.
  3. He’s busy and doesn’t have time to talk. Yes, we’re all glued to our phones 24/7. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have lives to live. If he’s in a work meeting, taking care of a parent or child, taking a class, etc. then he’s not going to be texting you every five seconds. Try to chill out a bit and give him some time to get back to you.
  4. He’s a game player and wants an ego stroke. Guys are notorious for playing hot and cold, especially early in a relationship when they’re not 100% sure how he feels about you just yet. He could be online but not responding to your messages purposely. He thinks that the longer he ignores you, the more desperate you’ll get and you’ll just keep chasing after him. Nothing makes a guy (or girl!) feel better than feeling wanted. Don’t even give him the pleasure of an ego stroke. He’s just not worth it.
  5. He’s arrogant and assumes you’ll wait for him. It’s not like he has so many more important things going on. He just doesn’t feel like messaging you back right now so he’s not. If you’ve been really clear about how into him you are and he’s not feeling as strongly, he might assume that you’ll just be there waiting for him when he’s bored or can actually be bothered to get back to you.
  6. You said something that annoyed him. If he comes online without responding to your messages, think about the last text you sent. Did you say something rude or in some way offensive? Did you overreact to something he said or try to call him out on behavior you didn’t like? It’s very possible that he’s ignoring your texts because he’s annoyed at you at the moment. He either wants time to cool off or is trying to punish you for any alleged wrongdoing. Immature, yes, but it happens.
  7. He’s already talked to you today. It seems weird to say that a guy who likes you wouldn’t want to talk to you 24/7, but men’s brains work in mysterious ways. He might fail to respond to your messages if you’ve already exchanged a few texts today and that’s enough for him. Especially when you’re only casually starting to see each other, he probably won’t want to be attached at the hip (or at the smartphone) and is putting some boundaries in place.
  8. He’s out with the guys. No matter how much a man likes you, he’s not going to want to sacrifice time with his bros to be huddled up in a corner chit-chatting with you via text. He could be posting photos of guys’ night on his Instagram page or looking up the address of this bar that he and his friends want to hit up and isn’t actually around to talk. Don’t assume you know what he’s up to just because that green little active button has appeared beside his name.
  9. He’s just chilling and isn’t really in the mood to socialize. When you have a million things on your plate, sometimes the last thing you want to do is answer the constant pinging that comes from your inbox. Even if the guy you’re seeing is really into you, he might just need some time to mindlessly scroll through memes and not worry about answering anyone (including you) for a couple of hours. Different people have different capacities for how much digital communication they can handle in a day. He might be at his limit by the time you message him.
  10. He’s trying to make you want him more. Yes, sometimes not responding to your messages is a strategy, though the end result may not be what the guy intended. He may be following the mentality of absence (or, you know, lack of response) making the heart grow fonder, unaware that it’s probably just making you irritated and anxious. This doesn’t mean his behavior is acceptable, though. If he’s leaving you on read for a day at a time, that goes beyond “taking a while to respond” and enters into “being super rude” territory.
  11. He doesn’t know what to say. Have you ever been so into someone that you didn’t want to freak out and send something embarrassing that would scare them away forever? Well, you’re not the only one. Read your last messages to him and ask yourself if they’re mostly tame or involve a complicated question or introduce a potentially in-depth conversation. If you’ve sent a relatively deep message, he might just need some time to think about how to reply to it.
  12. He’s just scrolling around social media and doesn’t feel like talking. Just because he’s “active” on Messenger doesn’t mean he’s goofing off on social media. A lot of people are required to use Facebook and even Instagram for work purposes. He may have just hopped online to chat about business with a potential client or post something for the company he works for. Maybe he’s just carrying on a conversation with other friends or family members. Either way, there’s no need to panic (yet) just because he’s taking a while to get back to you.
  13. Your last message didn’t warrant a response. A conversation can’t be carried by one person alone. So, if he’s not responding to your messages, that’s it. If your last text to him was something like “OK” or “That’s cool,” he might have interpreted that as you not being interested in chatting anymore. Make sure your messages indicate you want to keep the conversation going. Ask questions. Give thoughtful replies. And if you feel like the discussion is falling flat, change the subject. Otherwise, you can’t get upset when he gives up.
  14. He actually missed your messages. The “maybe his phone is broken” excuse is something we’ve all tried to convince ourselves of when a guy hasn’t replied to us, but honestly, technology isn’t infallible. Apps malfunction and don’t send notifications, messages get buried under more messages, and bad service can prevent messages from coming or going through. If this really does seem like a one-off incident and isn’t a regular occurrence, just wait a while and see if he seeks you out. He might realize that he just needs to update his app.
  15. He doesn’t want to seem needy. Just as you may not want to seem like you’re staring at your phone waiting for his texts, he might want to appear desperate either. We’ve all heard horror stories about guys who take things to the next level and send ten messages in a row to a girl they’re into, and the man you’re seeing might really really not want to come across as “that guy.” Striking that balance between appearing clingy and appearing uninterested is tough, and he may be worried about looking like he has nothing better to do than stare at his screen waiting for your next message to come through.
  16. He thinks you’re being needy. How many texts have you sent him in a row? Do you guys ever take a break from messaging each other? Have you been chatting nonstop for the past 12 hours? Maybe you’re being a little clingy, maybe not. Still, it doesn’t hurt to take a step back. Make sure you’re not overwhelming the guy’s inbox. If you’re double-texting him every time he takes more than a few minutes to respond, just wait a while. He’ll get back to you when he’s ready.
  17. He’s in the middle of something important. He wants to respond to your text. But since his mind is elsewhere right now, he thinks it may be better if he waits until he has more free time before he strikes up a conversation. He doesn’t want to send you a one-word answer or be distracted. So, he says nothing at all until he’s sure he can engage fully.
  18. He can’t figure out how he feels about you. While it’s possible that he’s simply not into you, it’s also possible that he’s online but not responding to your messages because he hasn’t quite figured out how he feels about you. He likes you, but how much? He doesn’t know, so he’s trying to take some time to figure that out before taking the conversation any further. Of course, he could be a mature adult and actually communicate that, but that would almost be too easy. Instead, you’re left in texting purgatory wondering what the hell is going on.
  19. He is, in fact, ignoring you. Sorry, but sometimes, your biggest worry is the truth. It might be that he’s ignoring your messages on purpose. If this happens regularly, he’s probably just not as into it as you are. Whether he just doesn’t think of you as a priority or has other women he prefers to message instead, he certainly doesn’t deserve for you to be wasting your time and emotional energy waiting for him to reply.

Keep this in mind if he’s ignoring your texts even though you know he’s read them

It’s super frustrating when you’re taking time out of your day to reach out and he’s basically ignoring your texts. It can make you wonder what you’ve done wrong. He must not like you as much as he says he does, right? That’s likely not the case, but you still want to know where you stand so you can figure out if you’re panicking for no reason or if you should just cut your losses and move on.

At the end of the day, if your messages are going unanswered, he either isn’t in a position to talk to you or simply doesn’t want to right now. While you don’t want to jump to conclusions and hightail it to Crazytown because it’s been radio silence for two hours, you also don’t want to kid yourself into believing that there’s some totally reasonable explanation for why he hasn’t messaged you that isn’t just simply “he’s not feeling you.” Sometimes the most obvious explanation is the truest. Occam’s razor and all that.

You also have better things to do than to sit around agonizing over whether or not he’s going to come to his senses and message you back or if he’s done with you for good. Where are you in this situation? What about your self-worth, your dignity, and your self-respect? You shouldn’t have to chase him, first of all. And you certainly shouldn’t have to feel full of despair because you know he’s online and basically doing everything but talking to you. The best thing you can do here is to block and delete him and move on to greener pastures. If it was right, it wouldn’t be this difficult. Especially not this early on.

If he messages you later, he does. If not, you’ll be just fine. You have a life to live in the meantime. If he’s not smart enough to want to be part of it, that’s on him. Don’t waste another second of your time stressing about it. Easier said than done, but practice makes perfect.

Diana is a writer and waitress living in Tennessee with her "fur family" (two cats and a ferret). When she's not working, you can find her hiking, cooking, or taking really long naps.