Why do some people take very long to text back?

Does receiving a slow reply mean that you’re being ignored? Or that the person does not like you very much?

Meagan Goh
Meagan Goh

Afraid of cats, but learning to be brave. Would rather live in a fairytale.

Published: 22 December 2020, 5:46 PM

There are many qualities to look into to determine if someone is a good or bad texter. Some of which includes – the ability to maintain the right tone, ability to ask the right questions and of course, replying timely.

If you ever went MIA (missing in action) and had your friends thinking something happened to you, but in reality were just taking your time to reply to them… welcome to the bad texter club. 

I am very guilty of this. In the past, my friends would get frustrated at me for not replying but if you ask them now, they would probably tell you that they’ve already gotten used to it. 

But I think I can safely say that my response time has really improved as compared to the past, where I could take up to a few weeks to reply to a friend’s message. 

We spoke to three youths to find out the possible reasons why some tend to reply to texts slower. 


Evangeline Low, 18, thinks that people who reply slowly are often lazy. 

“I think these people are just lazy. Lazy to go on their phones, lazy to press into the app and type a response back,” she shared. 

She added that some may have seen the notifications but did not have the urge to reply immediately. After a while, the messages may have slipped their mind completely.


Things tend to slip your mind easily when you procrastinate and make excuses for yourself. PHOTO CREDIT: ADRIAN SWANCAR VIA UNSPLASH


“When this happens, they are either too lazy or cannot be bothered to press into the app to check. Notifications also wouldn’t pop up again unless the other party double texts, so they end up forgetting to reply to the person,” she said, laughing. 

Evangeline considers herself as a good texter. She usually does not take more than an hour to reply to anyone’s messages. 

“I honestly don’t put too much thought into replying messages. If I happen to be on my phone or online and see a message coming in, I would just press on it and reply instantly,” she said. 

When asked if there is a difference in response time when replying to friends compared to her family, Evangeline said that there is a slight difference as she tends to reply to her family first followed by her friends. 

“This is usually the case but I will also look at the content of the message. If my friends send over something urgent then I would reply to my friends first, so it really depends.” she said. 

Evangeline likes getting replied to instantly which is why she does not take her own sweet time to reply to others as well. She believes that everyone should not look into response time too much and reply to their messages as soon as possible or when time permits. 

Context of the message

For 19-year-old Isaac Wong, he believes that people’s response time is based on the context of the messages. 

“Whether the text is from close friends or not, or if they say something that you don’t know how to answer or you don’t really know how to continue the conversation, then you’ll probably take a longer time to reply,” he said. 

He added that it could be a habit for some people as well to reply slowly, especially those who have a larger social circle, because they have an overwhelming number of chats and messages. 


It is common for those with many chats to reply slowly because they’ve missed your messages. PHOTO CREDIT: DANIEL KORPAI VIS UNSPLASH


Although response time is not very important to Isaac, he makes it a point to reply to others within 15 minutes. 

“I think it is a responsible thing to do, especially if someone is waiting for your reply. They would probably be expecting an almost immediate reply or quite a fast reply, so I think it’s a responsible and polite thing to do.” he shared. 

When asked how quickly people should reply to texts, he believes that there is nothing wrong with taking as much time as you want to reply, as long as it does not exceed a day. 

“It’s fine if you take a few hours to reply, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. But I don’t really see under what circumstances would require someone to take more than one day to reply, unless you’re overseas then that’s a different story,” he said. 

Like Evangeline, Isaac also thinks that people who reply slowly tend to procrastinate more as they’d rather find other things to do than text back. However, he understands that everyone has their own lives to live and thus, he believes that we should not be too pressed over how fast or slow someone replies to us. 

“It’s ironic how technology is so advanced now but people are still replying slowly. Though replying does not require a lot of time, I think we should all still be reasonable with our expectations,” he said. 

Prefer other modes of communication

Then there are those who prefer a chat over a phone call, rather than texting, according to 19-year-old Caelyn Teo. 

“Some people are just not good texters at all, they would rather meet online than [have] you constantly text them to ask them things. I have a few friends who tell me that they’d rather call instead,” she said. 


Phone calls can create stronger bonds than text-based communications. PHOTO CREDIT: FEZBOT2000 VIA UNSPLASH


For Caelyn, response time is not important to her when it comes to casual conversations with her friends or family. 

“I don’t expect them to reply to me immediately because I know that they’re busy and they should be given the freedom to reply me at any time they want.” she shared. 

However, when it comes to work-related matters, especially things that require group effort, she would expect everyone to make themselves contactable.

“Group chats that have a special purpose, [such as] to plan for something, if your response time is very long then it shows that you’re irresponsible and not interested in being a part of this committee or project,” she said. 

Caelyn generally takes about five minutes to reply to texts. However, when she’s busy, she takes up to six or seven hours to reply. 

She believes that response time shouldn’t be used to determine your relationship with someone because it really doesn’t mean anything – something important to note, considering how many can be very affected by the response time. 

“In this age where technology is so advanced, we are able to check whether this person has already read our message and because of that people are easily affected by this single tick or double tick thing. It is really a problem because this would take a toll on their emotional wellbeing,” she said. 

A message Caelyn would like to bring across, from one youth to another, is that you shouldn’t allow someone’s long response time to affect your mood no matter what. 

Everyone has different takes on why some people reply slowly to texts. If there’s one takeaway, that would be that response time, no matter long or short, is really of not much importance.

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