Those of you who are regular swipe-app users—your Tinderers, your Bumblers, your OkCupiders—will be familiar with two nearly simultaneous and almost always contradictory emotions. The first comes when you match with someone: the giddy high that accompanies your two pics dancing across the screen, Tinder’s celebratory “It’s a Match!” with an “M” so sassy that it should come with a parental advisory, or Bumble’s “BOOM,” which might as well just say, “YOU GUYS SHOULD BANG.” You think… “maybe… maybe this is the one! The one who’s going to change everything!”
The second sensation comes shortly thereafter, as you try to craft a perfect-but-totes chill opening message to this new potential life partner. “Hey, how’s your day treating you?” is my boring default, as I don’t want to invest too much or seem too eager. Because the reality is that the likelihood that this human will write you back is closer to nil than my checking account, and that, my friends, is saying something.
But why? Why won’t they just write you (me, us) back? I’ve assembled the comprehensive list of explanations for when you’ve matched with someone who looks ~~perfect~~ but who ends up completely ignoring you.
1. They’ve made a horrible mistake.
This one rates highly in the likelihood department because we’ve all been there. Your thumbs are swiftly flicking through faces, and then suddenly something weird happens with the angle of your hand or the touchscreen has a mini-seizure, and all of a sudden, you’ve matched with Taylor, a perfectly nice-looking grave-digger who you’re just not excited to suck face with.
2. Your conversation just didn’t spark.
True, the full extent of your attempt to communicate with this new, exciting person is no more than a few words, but maybe buried deep inside those words was a blaring siren of awkwardness that sent up more red flags than the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. They just know.
3. They were drunk when they swiped right on you.
There are those people who at the beginning of the date make you think, “I don’t know if I’m really into this,” but then a beer or two in, you’re like, “I really love the name Flannery for a girl and Clayton for a boy,” so why shouldn’t the same thing hold true for swiping under the influence? In their defense, I don’t know how I’d feel about getting a message that was like “OMG I’m so sorry I was totally wasted when I swiped right on you,” so maybe silence really is the best answer here.
4. They swipe right on everyone and see who swipes right back.
I didn’t know until recently that this is a thing, and it seems pretty f*cking horrible. It’s less “he’s just not that into you” and more “he’s just a total douchebag.”
5. They can smell your desperation.
I mean, if the NSA can turn on our camera phones without us knowing, surely Apple has devised a way of transmitting how much you desperately need this embryonic relationship to work, if only so you don’t have to deal with Aunt Sheila’s probing questions about why you’re still single at your cousin’s wedding in June. Clearly, Jordan can tell just how badly you want it, and is accordingly running, screaming into the night, in the opposite direction.
6. They’re sadistic and cruel.
This one time, I matched with a guy who was cute or whatever, but not slack-jawed-accidentally-walk-into-a-post pretty or anything. I sent him a friendly, harmless, “Hey Nick, how’s your weekend going?” and he wrote back, “No.”
“No… what? No weekend?” I asked innocently.
He sent me an animated gif of Homer Simpson backing into a hedge. I sent him an animated gif of Oprah looking happily confused at the 2015 Oscars. He sent me a gif of a weird cartoon spider shaking its head, and then blocked me.
Let me just say that this guy—who must have swiped right on me at some point—was giving me a hard rejection via gif? I mean, I am a goddamned Fulbright Scholar. Needless to say, I had a few glasses of wine following that interaction. I think I earned them.
7. They’re already married and just forgot to deactivate their Tinder.
What happens when you’ve found the one? Is there a button somewhere in these apps that says “I’m all good! Take me out of the mix!”? I know I’ve never seen one, not that I’ve had cause to look… so I’m just going to assume that there are some number of faces I’m seeing of people who are happily ensconced with their future husband already. The internet seems divided on what happens to your account if you stop using your swipey app but don’t fully eradicate yourself from it—i.e., delete your account—and the idea that the reason Jamie never wrote back is because he is busy getting married to Royce is somehow easier to stomach than the idea that he just DGAF.
8. Their friend was swiping for them.
9. They died.
There are 7 billion people in the world. Every day, 151,000 people die. That’s roughly .002 percent of the world’s total population. There are 10 million daily active Tinder users. .002 percent of 10 million is 200. So every day on Tinder, there are 200 new ghosts in the mix. That’s just math.
10. They got distracted and forgot about you.
This one is lame because you can’t actually hate the person for it, but—especially for that guy who looked kind of promising—can be frustrating as hell.
11. The biggest, best, least satisfying, and most likely reason: They’re just not good enough.
Yes, no one wants to hear it, but even though Tyler was super handsome and wrote a witty profile and swiped right on you, a match who can’t be bothered to write back to a personable, friendly message isn’t worth the data you used to download their photo. It doesn’t make them suck any less, but maybe it will make their silence just a little less hurtful.