We’ve all been there. Staring at our phones, willing them to light up with a text from the person we like.
We spend painstaking minutes crafting the perfect text, we hit send, and then we read it over and over again, wondering when those little bubbles will appear. (Don’t even get me started on when the bubbles appear, then disappear, then appear again, then disappear for good.)
Who among us hasn’t gotten fed up and relegated her phone to another room, to try and stop herself from obsessing over when a text will appear? (I call it putting my phone in time out.)
But let’s be real. When this happens, it’s almost invariably a bad sign.
A dude who is really into you will text you back in a timely fashion. He just will. It’s not that complicated.
Only once did a situation like this turn out well for me, way back when my boyfriend and I were first dating.
We were texting while I was on the train, and when I got home, the conversation abruptly stopped. I couldn’t figure out why he hadn’t responded to my last text and got super bummed out, finally putting my phone under the covers in my bedroom for the rest of the evening to avoid looking at it.
Hours later, he texted me good night, but his tone felt a little icy, and I didn’t know how to respond.
The next day, we talked (remember actually calling people on the phone?) and it turned out he’d texted me a picture and it hadn’t gone through to my phone because I was on the train. When I opened up iMessage on my laptop, sure enough, there it was.
The whole time, he thought I was the one who hadn’t responded. He told me he was so upset, he’d put his phone in time out as well! We laughed and bonded, and all was well.
But that was once. A fluke. Every other time, when a guy has taken long enough to text me back that I got a stomachache waiting, it meant he wasn’t that into me. Let’s not jump to conclusions without doing some research, though.
Here’s what the timing of his return texts means, according to the experts: Reddit commenters.
If he texts you right away
This is a tough one. It could be that he’s very into you, or he might be very into his phone. Then again, he might simply be polite.
“I have my phone with me almost always so I respond quickly to everyone,” explains Reddit user keanex.
Most of us have our phones by our sides or in our hands pretty much 24/7, and some people are just very conscientious about returning texts.
If he texts you in a half-hour or less
If he takes a little more time, it could mean that he’s even more into you than if he replies right away.
Explains Reddit user 12_bald_turkeys, “After reading text from girl I’m like: just play it cool, man, just take it easy. You don’t have to respond right away. Give it a half hour or something man. I know you know what you wanna say but just take it ea… oh f*** it; just send that s***.”
And, says an anonymous user, “Girls that I’m interested in, everything I utter I become self-conscious of, therefore cleverly tailored flirts (processing time takes 10+ minutes), going through tens of pages in my YouTube favorites to find that one funny video to share… It’s exhausting.”
I mean, it’s kind of adorable when they try to impress us, isn’t it?
If he texts you after an hour or two
After an hour, and definitely after two, you’re probably getting annoyed.
But your crush could just be a deep thinker, like our man rowenseeker here says, “If I’m looking for a relationship, I’m actually going to spend way more time thinking shit through. It’s like playing chess for me and it’s making it very difficult to actually have a normal conversation with the girl. I’m always second guessing if I answered the right thing, choose the right words.”
We feel your pain, dude. Go ahead and hit send.
If he texts you more than a few hours later
Hard to say, but probably not a good sign.
As pylon567 reminds us, “Once they stop speaking and you continue to, it’s not a good look. Plus, they could be playing games. Pretty much everyone has their phones on them.”
Reddit user DarkangelUK gives a longer dissertation: “If it’s a girl I’m interested in, then I’ll make the effort. I have a sort of etiquette where it should be back and forth; if I sent the last text then I expect her to send the next text. If I’m not interested i’ll usually find a text with no question in it as an excuse to not text back hoping she takes the hint.”
If he texts you the next day
Ugh. Seriously, dude? My instinct would be that this means it’s not happening. But perhaps that’s not always the case.
“I am a bad texter at all times,” explains user Crayshack. “In fact, I have not even looked at my phone in several days. For all I know, a girl could have professed her undying love to me two days ago and I haven’t seen it yet.”
And jacobtg adds, “To be honest, some men are just not really into texting. You shouldn’t always put too much into it!”
Hope springs eternal…
Elizabeth Laura Nelson is a Commerce Editor for First For Women and Woman’s World. Her work has been featured on Elite Daily, MamaMia, SheSaid, and more. Follow her on Twitter.
This article was originally published at SheSaid. Reprinted with permission from the author.