So, You've Been Left On Read. Here's How To React.

Texting and social media have significantly changed how we meet and connect with people and even fall in love. The option to instantly send someone a message has many benefits but can also cause some snags, thanks to the read receipt feature. You send a text via your phone's carrier or social media, and when the recipient opens it, a word or phrase instantly appears under your text to let you know your message has been read — unless they've disabled the feature.


Seeing that receipt on your screen might leave you giddy if the person is a new potential love interest, but what if they don't reply right away? What if hours go by without a response? At some point, you're going to have some reaction. After all, being left on read could mean a number of things, but before you drown yourself in a pool of "what ifs," consider these tips on how to react.

Have some patience

Although a read receipt confirms that a digital message has been opened, it doesn't necessarily mean it's been read. So if you're on the sending end, don't automatically assume you've been ghosted just because you didn't receive a response within minutes of seeing the read receipt. Instead, try just being more patient. After all, responding too quickly could send an unwanted "I'm needy and readily available" signal to the sender that could jeopardize the relationship moving forward. That logic goes both ways, so keep in mind that the recipient may be intentionally waiting to reply because they're interested in you and want to give you their full attention. 


And, of course, there's always the possibility that the person is genuinely too busy to respond immediately. Or, if your message was a text, perhaps they forgot their phone at home right after receiving it. Don't overload your mind with the possibilities; just wait longer before entertaining the potential reasons for the delay. 

Try to stay positive

If a couple of hours have passed since receiving a read receipt, it's natural to start wondering why you haven't gotten a response. Patience goes hand in hand with optimism; keeping this in mind will give you peace while you wait, even when you begin to consider other possibilities. 


How many times have you opened a text or social media message on your phone and then gotten immediately distracted by something else before actually reading the entire message? It can happen to anyone, including your special someone, and it's certainly possible that hours will go by before they'll read your message, regardless of the read receipt timestamp. 

It's also conceivable that the recipient read your message at work and cannot respond right away. Or perhaps they want to be sure they have more time to respond meaningfully or more than just a few words. Avoid thinking the worst. Instead, try to relax and stay positive with your thoughts, especially if only 10 to 20 minutes have passed.

Take a phone and internet break

If you're struggling to stay positive and be patient, you may benefit from separating from your phone for a few hours — if the message you're waiting for is a text. If at work, leave your phone in your car so you won't check it every five minutes or send a second message prematurely. If you're at home, leave your phone and drive somewhere, assuming it's safe to do so. However, if you're awaiting a reply via social media, you may have to separate yourself from your phone and the internet to get the same positive results.


Whatever you decide to do, just find a way to physically separate yourself from your phone for a while to provide a mental separation. This can keep you from obsessing over that text thread. Being away from your phone is also a great way to force you to be patient and mentally healthily detach from mobile technology. It can reduce stress, according to University of Wisconsin Health psychologist, Shilagh Mirgan, preventing you from feeling enslaved by a piece of metal.

Distract yourself with something else

Sometimes all you need to keep worrisome thoughts and stress at bay is to find a healthy distraction. Find an activity that you enjoy to fill your time. Do you like running? Go for a 5K jog to give yourself at least half an hour of technology-free time, or make it a 10K to double the time. If you're not a runner, consider riding a bike instead or find another exercise or activity that will keep you busy for at least 30 minutes. The longer, the better.


You can read a book, watch a movie, hang out with friends, deep clean your home, run some errands, take a nap, rearrange your furniture, or do some gardening. Going someplace you've never been or doing something you've never done may also help keep your mind off the unanswered message. The goal is to be so enveloped in the activity that you will completely forget the message, at least temporarily.

Consider the risks of sending another message

Perhaps you've been patient and positive, stayed away from your phone, and filled your day and evening with enjoyable, distracting activities. However, it's been 30 hours, and you still haven't received a reply. At this point, attempting to break the silence and get some answers by sending another message may be very tempting. Your friends might discourage doing this because it could make you look clingy or desperate, and the recipient may even see the back-to-back messages as pesky. But on the other hand, if you have confidence in your decision and a "glass half full" mindset, by all means, send a second message.


First, ask yourself if you're mentally and emotionally prepared for the worst-case scenario if you send another text. Are you prepared to be left on read again or to receive a negative response? If the answer is yes, you can try sending another message, but if another day goes by without a reply, don't try for a third time.

Call them

As many would agree, calling someone who's left you on read is one of the most ballsy things you can do. It's not for the faint of heart; although risks are involved, there could be a positive outcome. Of course, this is only an option if you already have the person's number or have been messaging with an app that allows internet calling, like Messenger or Snapchat. If they answer, that could be a good sign. You could directly ask why they left you on read or inquire lightheartedly if you don't want to make things uncomfortable. You can also choose not to bring it up at all. In a perfect world, the conversation will go well, there will be a reasonable explanation for why they didn't reply, and the relationship will become what you want it to be.


But if your call goes straight to voicemail, it could mean your call's been rejected, or their phone is off. Leave a message if you're comfortable, but be prepared for a negative outcome. You may never get a callback and be left on read forever. This could be seen as double rejection, so if you think there's even the slightest chance this will bother you, don't call.

Move on

Kudos if you've allowed days to pass without contacting the person who left you on read. But this is where you may have to accept the hint you've been given; there's a good chance the person isn't as interested in you as you are in them. Perhaps you hit it off in person, but things changed when the conversation shifted to private messaging. It's also possible they met someone else and don't want to hurt your feelings by telling you.


It may not be easy to accept, but if they wanted to continue the relationship, they probably would have contacted you after receiving your message. There's no magic number for how long you should wait before moving on, but the general consensus is three days. If they haven't responded in three days, it's safe to assume you've been ghosted — it's time to move on. Keep your chin up, dust your shoulder off, and keep living life.