Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Since the days of sending Taylor Swift lyrics on our middle school AIM accounts, we’ve spent countless hours pouring over our cell phones with friends in an attempt to decode and analyze confusing text messages. You’re probably no stranger to frantic Googling in order to figure out how to reply to a text message from a guy or girl you’re crushing on, who’s just sent you the most conflicting relationship signals. No matter how much better we’ve gotten over the years of discerning tone on the Internet, there’s always a dry response or a misplaced emoji that will make you pause and exclaim, “What does this mean?!”

Knowing how to communicate in a relationship is one of the key skills that will allow you to move past the honeymoon stage and feel confident in becoming fully cuffed — or maybe even develop a more serious, long-lasting connection. But when you’re giving your all and the person on the other end of the screen is doing the bare minimum, you might get discouraged about how they really feel about you. Luckily for you, we’ve recruited those who know best to weigh in on the issue. With the help of some professional relationship experts, here’s your guide to decoding some of the most common types of confusing guy texts you might get when you’re in the flirting stage.

1. The Noncommittal Text

“I might be going.”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“I’ll let you know.”

Are they simply indecisive, or do they have you on the back burner?

What it means:

According to Patrick Wanis, Ph.D., a relationship and trauma therapist, when someone is evasive about what they’re doing later, it isn’t always because they have so many plans and just can’t decide — unfortunately, it might be you they can’t make up their mind about. “Often when someone hasn’t made up their mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re noncommittal,” he tells Her Campus. “It really could imply something worse, such as, ‘I’m waiting for the bigger, better offer.’”

Dr. Carole Lieberman, M.D., M.P.H, a licensed psychiatrist, agrees. “What they really mean is that they’re hoping for a better opportunity to come up,” she tells Her Campus. “If they don’t find another person to do something with (whom they like better), they’ll settle for you.” Try your best not to take this personally; it likely says much more about them than about you, and you shouldn’t let it influence your own self-esteem. Though, if you’re stuck on what to say that won’t turn the situation sour, don’t fret.

How to respond:

Attempt to make the non-committer commit. Say, “Let me know when you figure it out!” or even ask, “What else do you have going on tonight?” Assertive, yes, but it’s the best way to coax a direct answer from the evasive texter. And if they still don’t give you a specific answer, don’t waste your time on them.

2. The Rain Check Text

“Sorry, can’t tonight.”
“Too much work to do.”
“Maybe next week?”

How much work could they possibly have? And if they were sincerely interested in you, would they really let it get in the way of seeing you?

What it means:

They really could have too much work to do, or they could be out of town visiting grandparents, or they really might be way too tired after work to see a movie. “But, on the other hand, they’re being particularly vague about making future plans, so they’re not all that enthusiastic about seeing you,” Dr. Lieberman says.

If your crush wants to see you, it’s fair to assume they’ll want to go well out of their way to ensure that it happens — after all, if they really have a crush, shouldn’t they like you enough to put in the work? While you don’t want to immediately assume the worst when someone can’t keep a date, this type of message should make you wary.

How to respond:

According to Dr. Wanis, your response should be straightforward. “The best way to respond to this is to say, ‘Okay, I’m available Wednesday or Thursday, which day [works for you]?’” he says. “You’re now giving them an option.” If your crush is interested, they will probably willingly agree to make alternative plans and (hopefully) keep them.

3. The Flake-Out Text

“Sorry I missed your text!”

You texted. They didn’t reply. But now they’re apologizing for it. Is it sincere, or was their oversight intentional?

What it means:

With all the emails, texts, tweets, and DMs you’re flooded with on a daily basis, there is a chance your text escaped their notice. But if seeing your name on their phone doesn’t immediately grab attention, chances are they might not regard you as a top priority.

The fact that they acknowledged the lack of response shows that they do have some courtesy, but only enough to respond when it’s convenient. It’s more likely that, instead of truly missing your text, your crush was evading a conversation they didn’t feel like having at the time — or didn’t want to have altogether — and claimed to have “missed” your text as a handy excuse.

How to respond:

Play it cool. If you truly believe they did not see your text, you can respond with a simple “no worries!” or “it’s ok!” However, if you feel they aren’t making your conversation a priority, then make sure they know that they’re not a priority of yours: “Oh, don’t worry about it. I forgot about it!” Your flippancy might just make your person-of-interest step up their game. 

4. The One-Worded Text


What does it mean when your crush has suddenly morphed into the driest and least articulate of conversation partners?

What it means:

Dr. Wanis says there are three reasons someone might send this type of message: “One, the person is sincerely busy. Two, they’re stressed out. Three, they don’t really care that much,” he says. While Dr. Lieberman points out that there are occasions when one word will suffice, especially if your crush is in the middle of something else, she says one word responses “could also mean that they just don’t think you’re worth the effort of texting more.”

Just like with the rain check text, your crush could be otherwise occupied. But if they were really into you, you’d probably be able to get a little more out of them than “sweet” when you tell them about your day, even if they’re in the middle of playing Fortnite for the 19th hour.

How to respond:

Instead of trying to pull teeth to get your crush to talk, the best way to deal with this lackluster energy is to take the hint. Wrap up the convo and try them again later when they’re a little less distracted and, with any luck, a little more talkative. 

5. The Delayed Text

You: [2:14 p.m.] “Hey, what are you up to?”

Them: [8:27 p.m.] “nm, just watching the game.”

You asked how this week is going and they say that it’s going really well, thanks… five hours later. What’s with the time delay?

What it means:

They could be busy, they could be distracted, they could be at work or in class or driving or on an airplane or on the moon. But they could also be playing games. Taking their sweet time to respond to you — if they’re not offering up a reason for the lag without your prompting — may be your crush’s way of telling you that they have better things to do and that holding the conversation is not a great concern.

How to respond:

It’s tempting to prompt someone with a “Hello?” or “Are you there?” or the ever desperate “?????” but it’s best not to acknowledge the delay. Them not responding to one of your messages is far less humiliating than not responding to eight of them. And though you’ll want to play games in return (“Okay, so for each hour they made me wait for a reply, I’m going to wait for two hours to reply to them…”), you should give a relatively prompt reply once they respond again. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and two people playing games can make for a conversation that gets nowhere fast.

6. The Booty-Call Text

[10:45 p.m.] “Yo. What’s up?”

[12:30 a.m.] “You back yet?”

[1:15 a.m.] “U up?”

Chances are if any sort of text like this is sent after dark, they don’t want to know “what is up,” but rather if you’re down to hook up. Do you go for it?

What it means:

Christine Hart, a dating coach, tells Her Campus, “If someone is interested in a serious relationship, they are not going to send booty call texts at 3 a.m. Adults know better than that. Also, if a person is interested in pursuing a serious relationship, they do not send you texts like: ‘sup?’ or ‘where you at?’ or ‘you awake?’”

Dr. Lieberman agrees, saying that responding to a booty call is to relinquish control of the relationship. “They obviously have no respect for you if they thinks all they have to do is text you to get you to give them whatever they want,” she says. There’s nothing wrong with having a casual hookup, if that’s actually what you want out of these interactions. But if you’re looking for a relationship, the booty call is not the one to pursue. This person might be perfect for some consensual, detached, late-night fun, but you probably shouldn’t hold your breath for this person to take you out on a date.

How to respond:

If a hook-up buddy isn’t what you’re seeking, then make it known. The best way to express your disinterest in these types of texts? Silence. “You can let a person know you refuse to take their messages that late by ignoring them,” says Dr. Wanis.

7. The Unprompted Sext

Do we even need to explain this one any further?

What it means:

So, someone’s unsolicited requests for photos or unexpected confessions of fantasies could be expressing a strong attraction to you — or they’re simply attempting to satisfy arousal through some naughty texting with the first person that came up on their contact list.

Whether sexual come-ons are a reflection of their attraction to you or a reflection of their horniness, your crush should always get your consent and read the room before sending such an X-rated message. Harmless flirting is one thing, but you may not want to go further with someone before you’re in a committed relationship. Whatever choice you make, it’s most important that they’re respecting your boundaries — if this text completely bypasses your comfort level, take that as a red flag.

How to respond:

Just like the booty call, there’s no reason not to reciprocate if you’re not looking for anything serious. But if you want a partner who’s on the same page and moving at the same pace as you are, ignore these texts. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief — and a lot of anxiety about composing the perfect “sexy” reply.

Hart says that if a person is interested in a serious relationship, their text message to you will read more like this: “Hey (name), are you free this weekend? I’ve got passes to…” or “Good to see you at (event) last night! What are you up to this Friday?” The messages will be respectful, direct, and express the desire to make definite plans with you in the future.

The bottom line: If a person is really interested, you won’t need to hire a cryptographer to figure that out. Someday people might stop playing games (is it different in the post-college dating scene?), but until then you’ll just have to use intuition — and a little advice — to decipher all their confusing text messages.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Corinne Sullivan is an editorial intern at Her Campus. She is in her senior year at Boston College, majoring in English with a Creative Writing Concentration. On campus, she cheers at football and basketball games as part of the Boston College Pom Squad and performs as a member of the Dance Organization of Boston College. She also teaches spin classes at the campus gym and contributes to the BC branch of Her Campus. Corinne loves the beach, all things chocolate, and is unashamed of her love for Young Adult Fiction. You can follow her on Twitter at @cesullivan14.