How Long Should You Wait to Text Back Your Ex?

Should I respond to my ex’s text/email is a question almost everyone trying to get back their ex asks him/herself at least once.

In my opinion, as a rule of the thumb, it’s always courteous or polite to respond to all correspondence from an ex you are trying to get back with.

Would you want your ex to ignore your text, email or phone message? Of course not.

Leaving your ex wondering if you received his/her text/email or if you are ever going to respond will make your ex to start questioning your motives/motivations. He/she may think he/she said or did something “wrong”, and that’s why you abruptly went silent. Someone who thinks your abrupt silence is a result of something they said is likely to emotionally disengage/pull back. It’s a human instinct to self-protect.

That said, rushing to hit the reply button is not always the wisest thing to do, let alone the healthiest thing to do if you have needy and clingy tendencies. Your ex will not see it as you being courteous or polite, but as you being needy especially if you continue to text multiple times until you get an answer. If your ex is an avoidant, you may end up pushing him or her further away.

Sometimes it works to your advantage to respond right away, other times it’s best to wait a few hours/days, and some other times there may be no need to respond at all. The trick is knowing when and what to respond to right away and when and what to wait before responding.

Here are just a few instances when it works to your advantage to:

1. Respond immediately/promptly.

  • When the subject of the text/email is urgent.
  • When your ex sends you an emotional bid for connection.
  • When your ex asks you a personal question.
  • When your ex asks for your help.
  • When your ex sends you well wishes (birthdays/holidays etc)..
  • When your ex says something sweet/supportive/inspiring etc.
  • When there is emotional momentum.

It’s especially important to respond promptly when your ex sends an emotional bid for connection. They’re reaching out or sharing something that’s important to them with the hope that it will be received, understood, acknowledged and/or valued. And because emotions and feelings are involved (and we all know how fleeting they are), it means that the window to respond/emotionally connect is limited.

For example: You send a text asking about his/her day, and your ex responds that he/she had a bad day at work. If you wait hours or days to ask “What happened?” or “Tell me about your bad day?”, the likelihood of you getting a response back is almost zero. By not responding in a timely manner you not only missed the opportunity to emotionally connect at the time your ex needed/wanted to connect, you may have also unwittingly communicated that how your ex feels/what kind of day they had isn’t that important to you.

Promptly responding to an emotional bid for connection is one way of telling your ex he/she is valued, his/her time is valued and, his/her participation in keeping the lines of communication open is valued.

It’s also important to respond promptly to maintain the emotional momentum you’ve spent so much time and effort creating.  Some people think leaving your ex guessing is a great move, but what they don’t realize is that human beings by nature tend to negatively perceive what they don’t know. The “unknown” scares the majority of us, and our first instinct is to go into self-protection mode. Some exes don’t respond back for days or at all after this.

Sometimes, even “sorry I was busy…” can’t get back that momentum once it’s lost. You have to start building momentum all over again.

But since it’s not always possible to respond right away (e.g. you’re at work/busy, driving, not able to get to your phone or you may need more time to gather your thoughts), don’t panic if you can’t respond immediately. If you need longer than 6 hours to respond to a text or 24 hours to respond to an email, simply send a quick ‘I’ll get back to you later!’ text (give a time frame if you need to). Most grown-ups are understanding and will appreciate it when you treat them like grown-ups, like they matter and their time matters. They’ll even respect you for it.

When to Wait A Few Hours Or Days To Text Back Your Ex

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