Why Do Women Disappear When You’re Emailing Them?

a frowning man sitting on the couch looking at his laptop

Dear Evan,

What’s the deal with engaging in e-mail conversation with women, things are going fine, and then out of nowhere, for no reason, they fall off the face of the earth? I really don’t get that and think that women do it much more than men. Thoughts?



Tons of thoughts, Matt. First, a related story:

I have a client who is a super-busy career woman in her early 40’s who has a thousand things on her plate. Still, she manages to squeeze in a little online dating and coaching because falling in love is important to her. One day, she announces that she’s fed up with Match.com. Specifically, there’s this one man who seemed interested in her. He told her he was going to call her, but didn’t. He later emailed to apologize – he got busy at work. This wasn’t a sufficient explanation to my client. A thoughtful man would have found a way to make it happen. Then I pointed out to my client that she was a very busy person herself. And that she has had to cancel appointments with me because of her super-packed schedule. And in that moment, it hit her like a ton of bricks, that despite her intelligence, kindness, and self-awareness, she was a complete and utter hypocrite.

I’m not mocking her at all. We’re all hypocrites in that we expect people to treat us better than we treat them. Then we go around squawking about how poorly everybody else in the world treats us. We all hope to be forgiven for our minor indiscretions (“I’m busy”, “I’m late”, “I forgot”), but we don’t want to do much forgiving ourselves. Especially not to total strangers.

Matt’s email has inspired me to write a longer piece on this for Match.com, but here are a few of the perfectly reasonable reasons that a woman (or a man) might not write back to you.

She’s busy
She’s just not that into you
She no longer has a subscription
She’s seeing a bunch of other people
She got serious with someone else
She’s out of town on business/vacation
She’s got personal issues – health, family, etc.

But ultimately, it doesn’t matter why a person disappears. If you didn’t do anything wrong in your email exchange to drive her away, there’s nothing to learn from the situation. Just accept the fact that you’ll never know what’s going on in a stranger’s head and move along.

And the next time you choose to stop writing to someone, ask yourself if you owe them an explanation. I’m guessing that you don’t.


Your thoughts?


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  1. 1

    As a woman who has vanished many a time on e-mail exchanges, I can assure this gentleman its not personal. Not to excuse our rude behavior, but if he’s e-mailing a pretty woman, then chance are 5-10 other men are e-mailing that woman in that day alone. Keep it up for a week and that’s a lot of men, most of whom all are good guys, to keep on top of. So sometimes men just get lost in the shuffle. I would suggest that if he gets lost in the shuffle, try e-mailing again a week or two so later.

    1. 1.1

      Brilliant reply – I’ve been in that situation, on tenterhooks, and then she disappears.   But that is because someone more attractive has come along.   No harm done – no harm no foul, just feel bad about it for a day and then move on.

  2. 2

    I ignore men who email me when they are out of the age range (or other personal stats) I specified as being very important to me. I just delete their emails. I also delete men who email me multiple times too quickly as in, they contact me one morning to say hi. Then again the same day or the next morning and say hi again and am I there, etc. etc. I also will answer a man’s email, then ignore him for a couple of days after he answers me. This is not really a game, it’s a test. Since most dating sites don’t screen for criminal backgrounds, alcoholics, guys with stalking or violent dating behaviors, etc, it helps to know if a guy will get really verbally aggressive with you if you do something slightly annoying, like ignoring his email for a couple of days. Of course, I probably weed out a bunch of nice guys who just think I am rude and then delete my answer when I finally do reply to them. But, I know of at least a couple of cases where I avoided a potential stalker and a guy with some pretty obvious anger management issues. I wish the dating sites in North America would start doing what one matrimonial site in India is doing (I think it is Shaadi.com that does it): incorporate a voluntary certification program, where the client submits documentation proving they are who they say they are, that their police record is clean, etc. etc Those profiles of the certified clients get a special icon or star next to them, so the people contacting them know they are dealing with an honest person who went the extra mile to prove they are clean, crime-free and trustworthy. That would make a good impression on me, and I probably would answer emails more quickly from men who had that kind of “seal of approval” on their profiles.

    1. 2.1
      Jeromy P

      Though I understand your concern for safety, sanity, and transparency, I am also concerned about a giant national database that would collect our dating records and be tied to the US government. Facebook requires identity verification now and has access to hundreds of millions of people’s vital records, which should alarm privacy advocates. Essentially, there is another angle to consider other than security and transparency, which is right to privacy from ‘big brother’.


      A happily married guy who found love online.

  3. 3

    I would like to thank Vicki for her email. It is completely honest and she is not likely to get any rewards for her account of her behavior.

    Vicki is right, it is the wild west out there as far as online dating goes. There are people with “anger management” issues out there. There are also people out there who get legitimately offended by being treated with authentic rudeness.

    Honestly, I am offended by what Vicki had to write. However, I do find what she had to write to be very useful to know.

    I am going to decide to look at it in a positive light and look at it truthfully.

    Those little tests, like intentionally disrespecting someone to see how they will react do work for women who online date. They also work for the men. The men may get temporarily offended, but they also avoid wasting their time with people who would do such things.

    1. 3.1

      Setting up those “little tests” is called playing games. No room for that in a relationship. Intentionally disrespecting somebody is no way to start a relationship.

  4. 4

    Boy, I hope I never run across Vicki on a dating site. But I don’t think it would matter, because she would inadvertently eliminate me before she ever really got a chance to know me I’m sure.
    What Vicki calls a test is what men know is a game. We call it games, you can call it whatever you want. I also call it being f’d with and I can smell it a mile away. For me, a woman who engages in that kind of behavior is one I don’t want to spend time with, because it indicates an unbalanced prejudgment of character. And who wants to be judged haphazardly? It also indicates a behavior that is likely going to happen in many other areas of a relationship with that person. No thanks.
    The fact that she just deletes emails without reading them is disrespectful and rude. Women always, yes always, want a guy to spend time writing an elaborate, or at least pretty well thought out, funny, charming, email message. But then some, like Vicki, are indiscriminate in their trashing of a man’s effort. So, what happens is, men start to say to themselves, at least I do, “Why bother? Why is this woman or the next different or worthwhile enough for me to spend my time writing a well though out message?”
    So what if he’s out of your age range or other “preferences”? Give the guy your attention for a minute and validate his effort. It shows respect, even if you never talk to him. You never know who you may have passed up indiscriminately who may just have been your perfect match of all time but maybe one year off of your preferred age range. What a shame to miss out.
    There is always the block function to weed out the ones who are too aggressive or needy for your tastes. I use the block function too, and its usually when I have sent an email to someone who’s profile I enjoyed reading. I then see that they have viewed my profile, but they never write back, even just to say “Sorry, but I don’t think we’re compatible.” I really could care less to see them in any future searches. It’s like walking up to someone and saying “Hi, I’m so-and-so, how are you?” and then having that person scan you up and down and then walk away without a word. Would you do that in real life? No? Then don’t do it in real online dating. The best and most fun relationships I have made in online dating occurred when both parties had no insecurities about when and how often emails were sent. There is always stuff to talk about with people who enjoy each others company.

    1. 4.1

      We want the guys we are looking for to email us. If she specifically states in her profile that she wants a man who is no older than X years, that is her prerogative. Maybe to you, it’s a matter of courtesy and you feel you are somehow owed a moment of her time because you reached out, even though you ignored  her preferences (or didn’t bother to fully read through them). Is it her fault if you are not her type when she specifically states what it is she wants? Do yourself a favor – read a woman’s profile through thoroughly and respect her limits. If you do not meet her preferences, you have no business wasting her time (or yours!). Look for the people who are likely to want YOU. Maybe it is a little shortsighted to not want a guy who’s a year or two above the stated age range, but did you ever think that maybe to her, one year outside her preference is one too many? I myself have gotten emails from dozens of over-40 guys when my upper age limit is 40. And even that’s a stretch because I really prefer a guy within 3-5 years of my age (32) either younger or older. But I expanded my preferences because, you know, there might be a really great guy for me  who just happens to be 38 or 39. She’s not wrong for wanting what she wants, just as you aren’t wrong for wanting what you want. The trick is to look for  the women her age who would be open to dating you. Look for the ones who would want a guy who fits your description and don’t waste  your time chasing someone who doesn’t want you.  And you can’t equate real-life situations with online dating ones –  it is not the same thing when you say hi in person and you get the brush off. You’re taking it too personally if you really think that.

      1. 4.1.1
        Mr fixit

        This is really idiotic behavior.   I personally have been ignored by women who have said they won’t date guys over 7 years difference to their age online, yet when I go out to a party, bar, club, I have tons of young girls hitting on me some are even 15 years younger and have no idea that I am much older than I appear.   You can’t go by age. Look at JLo she is 44 and hot and looka young and most guys wouldn’t know she’s over 40 unless they asked.

  5. 5

    I’ve had all kinds of online experiences. I get guys who do not respond back after a very short email contact, and guys who do not respond back after you’ve spent months of time with them IRL and online. It’s called life, and it’s something you expect when you go online. The only commitment it takes to be online is time; anything past that is icing on the cake. You should NEVER expect a response, in my opinion. I am constantly amazed how personally everyone takes this very impersonal medium. It is a CLASSIC environment for the realtionally-challenged person to gravitate towards. If you encounter an honest, decent person who is honestly into you, consider yourself massively blessed and do everything you can to treat them nicely, without getting so hyper-involved that you make them think you’re deranged with glee to have found someone nice on the net. I know there are tons of men and women out there right now who are getting their hearts broken and their egos offended by someone else’s decision to walk away from the machine, but if you want a relationship, and you’re dead serious about it, go hang out in your local cafe long enough and regularly enough, and you’ll find someone with whom to strike up a conversation and get to know for real. Meeting someone IRL worked for a very long time (and for your parents); it can work for you! The rest of us have time, commitment, and intimacy issues, and being online is NO GUARANTEE of anything. As I always like to say when I haven’t heard from a guy for a day or more, no promissory note came with this arrangement. Best cure for this? Have a life and live it, and consider online stuff a side-note to that life. In other words, don’t take it seriously, and don’t expect much, and you’ll save yourself a LOT of stress and anguish.

  6. 6

    another thought: let’s be realistic (and completely honest) here. We automatically sort people out in real life. All the girls you’ve immediately dissed in real life–would you give them your time online, either? If a girl isn’t physically appealing to you in real life, and she sent you an email on a matchmaker type site, would you respond, and by doing so, give her false hope? If you do, you know what you’re up against, right? Possible weeks of stringing someone along you have no real intention of ever being with…. same thing applies for women. Point is, we ALL sort out who we want to be with. Take any rejection the way it was meant: not personally, but as the ultimate answer to the question of “does she have any interest in me?” If you don’t hear back, the answer is likely, no. Women eliminate men for a lot of the same reasons men eliminate women: physical attractiveness, lack of ambition, bad attitude, life problems… guys do it to women all the time!

  7. 7

    Brian, I am laughing at that: I won’t have time to blow you off personally. That’s very funny, and sadly, quite true. Hey, I’ve been inundated by email responses. You don’t have time to respond to all of them; you just don’t. Call it a human failing, but if you get more than 100 responses to a post in a couple of days, it gets kind of crazy. I do try to respond to as many as I can, but I have had to put in my profile, sorry, I just don’t have time to respond to everyone’s email.

    1. 7.1
      Not Likely

      You’re full of poop, pericles… Even a porn star that has  Scarlett Johansson’s lusty, gorgeous looks doesn’t get MORE  than 100 responses to their dating post in a couple of days; not even if they are showcasing “The Beaver”  in their pics. Post your pic instead of that Crayola Crayons drawing and let us be the judge of how sought after you are cuz right now all of your drivel sounds like unicorns and fairy porn, my dear.

  8. 8

    I think the combination of Vicki and Rusty shed a vast amount of light on the situation. Vicki ruthlessly dumps inappropriate approaches, the terminally over-eager, and screens for unsafe daters through minor ‘rudeness’. Rusted considers it all as being “f’d with” and becomes quite angry. While I’d rather not be treated either way, the behavior from both sides goes a long way to explain why online (and real-life) dating can step outside what most would consider common decency.

    I recommend we practice the golden rule-don’t do that which we don’t like. How long does it take to fire off a “sorry not interested’ or a “too busy to answer now” note.

    I’m not sure how to handle the terminally hot, but perhaps putting something honest in their profile like, “I’m really hot right now so if you are less than a perfect 10 yourself, I won’t have time to blow you off personally”


    1. 8.1
      Mr fixit

      I would just like to state that due to the rude selfish obnoxious behavior of most American women , I started to online date with foreign women.   I can tell you the difference is stark.   Much more pleasant kind compassionate less selfish and also no attitude whatsoever.   It seems only US and UK girls have an unusually astronomical distorted opinion of their self value.   And these are not women who need green cards BTW.   They are happy where they live and have no intention of leaving. This is probably why most women can’t find a boyfriend in NYC because guys realize they are not marriage material and so they use them and leave.   Unfortunate but true.

  9. 9

    Dear Pericles,

    Thanks for taking the time to blow me off personally. I think your “sorry, I just don’t have time to respond to everyone’s email.” is a humane way of dealing with that.

    Would I be correct in assuming this is not 100 qualified date inquiries? If they are, wouldn’t you be doing your admiring crowd a favor by tending to them and leaving the rest of us to spend our non-dating time to haggle these issues out? How about a referral service for the left-overs?


  10. 10

    hahahaha!! sorry if that sounded cruel. It really wasn’t meant to be. When I first got started, I really did respond to every single email. Every single one. And i got back grateful replies. I was happy to do it. But as time went on, it became clear that not emails really need a response, not all the time.

    I think the onus is on the person who is answering the ad to make their response interesting, unique, somewhat special. If you’ve heard, for the thousandth time, “hey cutie, how’s it going? pic attached” and nothing else, you tend to ignore that email, especially if there are a lot of typos or misspellings.

    A guy who takes the time to write a well-thought out email, just a few lines but clearly not intended for the masses, but for ME, always gets a response. 😉 I’m not the devil in disguise. Just merely human.

  11. 11

    I just didn’t want to blow you off… at all. Not my intention. ;-))

  12. 12

    Dear Pericles,

    Cruel? I was being flippant. As a 50-somthing guy I am not deluged with more interest than I can follow up on. Yahoo makes it easy to send “nothing” messages with their “Ice Breakers” Sample: Wink!

    In my generation, the man was supposed to do the asking out for dates so that approach can ease the feelings of wanting to follow the traditional pattern yet show interest.

    While I tend to look upon “nothing messages” as uncreative and uncommited, I will always fire off a reply, based on how I feel about their profile. The response factor is much less than the ones who actually respond to my profile so I don’t spend a lot of time on them. People with no photo or totally generic profiles get a request for a photo and more information. They never respond.


  13. 13

    I’ve had guys email back time and time again, just seeking verification or closure, I think, even after I’ve made it clear that I’m not interested. Some just can’t believe that you would turn them down. I’ve had more than a few get angry, which I find interesting, because this is the point in any online connection where you have the least invested. You’re right Selena, you’re better off knowing right from the start that the other person really isn’t interested. It’s way less cruel than stringing someone along, which I don’t have the time or interest for.

    Having said that, I’ve had the best fortune in terms of finding people I’m interested in not on any dating sites, but on forums where I have a real interest in the subject being discussed. For one thing, it’s not a dating site, so you can get to know people as they interact with each other, and you can learn a lot more about them than you can on a dating site, where everyone’s trying to be on their best behavior (for awhile). When you see how someone interacts with others, even in writing, you get a very strong idea of who they are in real life.

  14. 14

    If I emailed someone and they never responded I would think, “Okay they aren’t interested.” Something I’d rather find out from the get-go rather than after dating for weeks, a couple months, when I might have become somewhat attached.

    While Vicky’s strategy may work for her, I have to wonder why a man would ever email her again after she blew him off the first time. All around, it seems like a less productive way to meet people who might be interested in “you”.

  15. 15

    Dear Pericles,

    I didn’t think you had blown me off. I was discussing the concept in general. For a person whose profile says you don’t have time to answer all your email, you are being remarkably generous with me.
    I think part of the problem is that I tend to use humor and sarcasm, that isn’t always obvious on the page. Throw in a bit of exaggeration to illustrate a point and what I say may sound like I am offended.

    I find your posts to be carefully thought out and as diplomatic as possible considering the subject. No more appologies needed.


  16. 16

    wait!! what if I WANT to apologize… ;-)) just kidding! Yes, it’s AWFULLY easy to not be able to get one’s tone across… and there are no silly smilies offered here, to mitigate anything that might come off wrong. May need to start a whole new thread, entitled, when are smilies inappropriate or something… how to get your relationship past smilies… ;-)) oops. that one just slipped out.

  17. 17


    I’d be interested in these forums you describe. Do you have any to recommend, or where to look for them?


  18. 18

    well, Selena, it depends on what you’re interested in. I’m interested in a number of subjects; have been on various forums, some because of academic work. So, figure out what you’re interested in, or something you’d like to discuss more about, google the subject, and see what comes up. Sometimes you have to dig a little bit to find a forum that’s of interest to you; in other words, you’d have to look (like on this site) for the blog or some part of the site that indicates people are talking to one another about something you like to discuss. The one site that was quite miserable and no fun at all was an agony aunt site in the UK; everyone was WAY too depressed to be interested in hooking up!! ;-))

  19. 19

    Thanks Pericles for the suggestions. I’ll be keeping them in mind.

  20. 20

    Well I have one more aspect to throw into the mix–the ones who are what I call “terminally into the fix.” What I mean by this is–they want the thrill of a new relationship, of the chase, of the excitement–but when it comes time to pony up and have a relationship that might actually require some work, they disappear like a puff of smoke . . . some people use the term “serial dater” to describe this, but specifically what I mean is a man who writes, you talk on the phone, and he even uses the dreaded “L” word prior to meeting–but then when it comes to dating, going out, driving a distance to meet, he’s not so into it all of a sudden. It’s fantasy, that’s all, and I think that on some level online dating attracts those types of people. I’ve learned the hard way that a guy that comes on wayyyyyy too strong in the beginning and uses certain key words and phrases–well, let’s just say it’s easier to cut them off early than to deal with the fallout.

    I think maybe there should be a site for people who just want a fantasy relationship and not the real thing–oh, wait a minute, there already is–it’s called “Yahoo Messenger” or “MSN Chat.” 🙂

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