We all know what I’m talking about. You met them in a bar, in a class or club at school, maybe even in the doctor’s office. You had a connection. Not just a good conversation, no—they’re the one. You can feel it. Your suburban fairy tale, manic pixie dream person that you’ve been waiting for. You laugh, you flirt, you pretend everything they say is riveting conversation. If you have long hair, you’re probably making use of the signature hair flip. And then, you seal the deal. You gave them your number.
And now, my friends, we play the waiting game. We stalk our phone, listen for the sound that tells us that our fairy tale is unwinding. You might even hear from them, and start another fascinating conversation about both of your days. In the meantime of waiting for a response, or even that first text, you might start planning the wedding—picking out the colors for the bridesmaids, drafting toasts with references to that bar or restaurant you met in, ending with cliches like “And to think it all started with one cup of coffee!”
And then you get silence. Yea, we’ve all been there.
Now, my fellow romantically-disgruntled readers, this isn’t the situation you were hoping for. And worse, you’re probably waiting for me to tell you how to create another magical conversation when they greet you with silence. How can we resurrect your magic fairy-tale ending? The truth is, my friends, I don’t know. I’m not here to tell you how to get them back, mostly because it’s a secret that few know, and are apparently not willing to share with the rest of us. But I’d like to tell you how to learn from silence.
Are you the one with their number? Then give them a text!
I’m not a believer in the “don’t-text-first” philosophy. If you’re interested in someone, mixed signals will only skew your feelings. In an era riddled with “love at first swipe” —from Tinder to my personal favorite, JSwipe, —you need to take some initiative to make a conversation happen. Even a simple “hello!” will remind someone that you’re still here, and you’re curious enough to keep talking. If you’re confronting silence, it’s okay to let the conversation go when it no longer suits you, just like a real relationship. However, if you’re in those early stages and you think there’s potential, there’s no harm in taking action.
But what if I keep trying to make conversation and I’m hitting a brick wall?
Well, first, I hope this is metaphorical. Still, it’s okay to admit that the initial spark was just that—one spark. Sometimes that’s not enough to get a second or third date. Worse, maybe you even liked them a lot and were hoping for more than just texting. However, if the other person isn’t interested, you need to respect yourself and what you’re looking for, and know when to move on. There’s always going to plenty of people who want to talk to you, because you must be fantastic in some way. If you spend all your time trying to get this one person to fall in love with you, or at least express interest, you’re going to miss out on a lot of other great people.
But I really liked them, and our conversations have been great before! I think I can make it work.
This is where we always tend to find ourselves — we don’t like to move on. We don’t like to waste our time on people who don’t return the effort, so we try to force that effort out of them anyway. We also don’t like to let go of what could become a missed opportunity. That’s not what I want you to do. There’s a difference between “stop talking when they don’t answer” and “respect yourself enough to know when to move on”. If you’re willing to wait out the silence before the first text, or if you’re going to keep sending buzzwords until you find a conversation starter, I’m sending good vibes to help you. But, if everything I’ve said sounds all too correct and you’ve been waiting a good part of the semester for them to show interest, it’s time to find the next target — eh, I mean, love interest.
But what’s wrong with just holding out for them? What do you mean by “respect yourself”?
Wow, you’re full of questions! This is a concept I’ve been struggling with, as one of VocaLady Magazine’s resident single ladies. It’s very enticing to make an account on multiple dating apps, find your matches and wait for the conversations to flow. When this doesn’t happen, it’s frustrating. However, the best thing we can do is live and learn from the hurt that comes from a failed conversation, a lack of interest, or the static silence that tells us there won’t be a “second date”.
When this happens to me, I ask myself how different reactions would serve me in the future. Can I throw a fit and get upset when they won’t talk to me? Yes, of course I can! But I’d hate to let strangers have more leverage in my self-esteem than I do. Instead of doing self-destructive things, I turn to a cliche that my mother, sisters, and friends are happy to bestow on me—it’s their loss. We need to respect ourselves enough to move past relationships, conversations, or strangers that don’t serve to help us to become the best versions of ourselves.
So what do we do?
Learn what you’re looking for in another person, whether it be someone to walk down the aisle towards, or just to spend the night with, and go look for the people who make you happy. When they don’t text back, don’t take it to heart. Take it in stride. Find someone better to talk to.