For example, that cute girl you met at a party, who you got the number of, may have decided that she’s no longer interested, and simply not reply.
Equally possible though, is that they haven’t replied because they’re simply not interested. It might be tempting to suggest that these kinds of social dynamics simply don’t merit this much thought – an emotionally healthy person will simply forget about it till the next time they consider messaging a person.
An alternative phrasing is to suggest that these kinds of dynamics apply to people who ‘playing games’ and that socially mature people communicate honestly and in an upfront manner.
I think both of these arguments are dismissive and don’t appreciate the complexity of human social interaction.
A quick google of terms like ‘sometimes I forget to reply’, ‘when they don’t text back’ reveal plenty of results and memes about the subject, which suggests that it’s a wide spread experience, and is thus worth theorising about. In online dating, not replying to a first message is the accepted standard that says ‘not interested’.
If the other party is following this model, if everyone was following this model, then it would work quite well.
The problem is, not everyone may be aware of etiquette to suggest the alternative, and instead for example be too shy to suggest the date alternative themselves, or be assuming that the other will continue to initiate requests.One could be honest and say ‘I’m not attracted/interested in you’, but that can be quite an awkward conversation, and lead to further awkward interactions in the future.Instead, one uses ‘Sorry, I’m busy that night’ and hope that they get the hint, and the lack of explicit rejection allows the parties to continue interacting in a platonically friendly way.Add into the mix an optimism bias, which is seems likely that men have in regards to their attractive appeal, and you can have a situation where the person whose reply has gone unanswered will interpret it as a ‘they’ve forgotten’ rather than as a ‘they’re not interested in me’.Similarly, receiving an ‘I’m busy’ reply can be ambiguous.This creates quite a clear communication protocol: The person asking for a date: If you ask for a date, (or have a date cancelled), do not ask again, it’s up to them to suggest an alternative.The person being asked for a date: If you’re unable to to make it on that day, or you have the date arranged by have to cancel – then if you’re interested in dating that person it’s up to you to immediately suggest an alternative date.It’s important to acknowledge here that it’s possible that when someone hasn’t replied they may be perfectly interested in whatever relationship it is you’re seeking, but have forgotten/got busy/are feeling depressed.I know personally I tend to stop replying to messages when I get depressed, and it’s not because I don’t like the person who’s messaging me.This is more appropriate where you know the person in real life.For example a mutual friend or a colleague asking you to coffee or a drink after work.