Ask Single Dating Diva: Dating Waiting Game (Why They Didn’t Call Back)

We’ve all been put in the position of the dating waiting game. You know the game. You go out on a great date and then wait for them to call you back, or you send them a message and wait for a response for what seems like forever, or you reach out one way or another and are stuck waiting for something, ANYTHING. You wait by the phone, you check it often, you have your friends call or text to make sure it still works. You know you’ve done it. I won’t lie, I used to be guilty of this too. Not only does it give you anxiety, it can ruin your day or week. So what do you do? How do you deal? I’ve been asked this question on several occasions, and, experienced it myself. Here’s what I advised one reader.

dating-waiting-gameDear Single Dating Diva,

I’ve been dating with no success for many years. Time and again I meet men who I get along with but it never really ends up in anything but anxiety. Sometimes I get the call back but most often times I do not. My question is how long do I wait for someone to call back? Does the 3 day rule still apply to call back after a date? Should I just text them without waiting for them? I’ve sometimes taken the initiative and other times I haven’t with the same result.

Am I doing something wrong? I’m so frustrated at this point it’s driving me crazy. What do I do? Help!


Dating Waiting 

Dear Dating Waiting,

Thank you for your question. I completely can relate and understand your frustration. We’ve all been there, I’ve been there. I know how much anxiety it can cause a person. The problem isn’t them, though, it’s you. How so? It’s how much weight you’re attaching to this callback and the emotional investment you’re making too early on. The answer lies in focusing on the process NOT the dating outcomes. How so? Well, I’ll explain.

Dating Waiting Game: Let’s Get Real

When you go on your first couple of dates it’s easy to get carried away if you really get along with the person and click. Add chemistry and attraction to the equation and you’re done for. That’s when your standards and logic go out the window and in flies expectation, excitement, impulsiveness and irrationality. Why is that a problem if you both really like each other? Well, in theory it shouldn’t be, but, realistically it matters a lot. When you get caught up you lose sight of what’s really happening and see things how you want them and not always how they really are. So when you have a great date with someone, you expect them to call back, because they had a great time too. Right? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. You really don’t know.

Many people are serial daters who enjoy that initiation part. They are addicted to the excitement that comes from meeting someone new and clicking with them on the first date and the fireworks that they want to do it over and over again dating multiple people. This isn’t everyone, but there are many out there who are like that. There are also others that just went home and realized that perhaps you weren’t the right one for them or they went on a date with someone else and clicked more with them than you. You don’t know, that’s the thing, and you probably will never know.

Dating Waiting Game: Should I Contact Them

dating-waitingI am a big believer in sending a “thank you text” the next day after a date, especially if I had a good time and see potential. I will usually send a text or message to say: “Hi. I just wanted to say thank you for the coffee and great conversation. Take Care, Suzie.” Yes, as a woman it’s OK to contact them the next day. It’s polite to say thank you and paints you in a positive light. Just don’t make it a big conversation or send anything lengthy or be clingy or over text. Send your brief message and leave the ball in their court. I asked many men what they thought of that, if it was a turn on or turn off and they said that either way it’s a positive thing. It will open the door to date two or shut the door completely. If they like you they will take it as encouragement to proceed. If they weren’t interested anyway they will be cold or vague in their response (if they respond at all) but what’s important is that you were polite and reached out. You didn’t throw yourself at them, you were just thanking them. So, in my opinion, it’s a win-win for you.

Truth is that if someone wants to be with you it doesn’t matter what you do they will still want to be with you, so don’t beat yourself up about anything you do. Enough with the “play hard to get” bullshit. We’re not kids playing games, we’re grown adults. If I like someone I tell them. Why not? If he can’t handle it or it “turns him off” then too bad for him. He obviously isn’t as in to me as I thought he was. I believe in giving people their space and enjoying the process of dating, but not making him chase. I do believe in having my own life and not dropping my life for them if I just met them and they haven’t even committed yet (that just turns out disastrous on the most part). I also believe in not turning them away just to make them sweat a little or make them jealous. What happens when someone really wants something and you make them work hard for it? On the most part when they get it they’re not interested anymore. It’s lost its appeal. Playing hard to get is just that, it’s playing childish games and I’m not a child AND I don’t want a child. Neither should you. All those “rules” that were set about when to call or show interest or whatever don’t apply anymore. What is important is that you know your standards and live by them. Be true to you.

Dating Waiting Game: Attitude Adjustment

OK, so what do you do then when you’re dating waiting? What you do is be yourself and get your expectations in check. A first date is a time to get a feel for someone. There are no guarantees, even if you had the best date ever. So the only thing you can do is take it at face value. See things as they are and NOT how you’d like them to be. Appreciate the good time you had with them and hope for the best but don’t expect anything to come of it. Remember it’s people’s actions and not their words that matter most. Stop emotionally investing early on and enjoy their company and move on until they give you a reason to stay for a while. Focus on what’s within your control and trust that things will fall into place where they need to be and wait for NO ONE. Plain. Simple.

Hope this helps!

Readers: What do you think about the dating waiting game? What would you do in this situation?

Your Sister in Dating Bliss,

Single Dating Diva

Copyright Single Dating Diva


  1. More good talking points about that first date/meetup, Suzie, I’ve never been a person to follow all those silly rules people think they are suppose to follow. So, I sure do not followed the rule that says wait 3 days to call. If I you like someone, I will make it a point to call and say hi, I enjoyed myself. Oh boy…. loved your “play hard to get” bullshit” comment. Too many women play that game, and figure that it is up to the “man” to make that first move. Hey, us guys are a bit slow at times picking up on those dating and relationship clues, so I really enjoy a women who “grows a pair” and calls me to say something like you wrote “Hi. I just wanted to say thank you for the coffee and great conversation, take care”. Of course being of Social Security age, I find lots of women who are still following all the rules of dating in the 1960s and 70s. Life is way too short to play games, whether you are 25 years old or 65 years old. I remember being in my 20s, and now I keep saying to myself “How Did I Get Old So Fast” 🙂


  2. Such a hard thing, the dating waiting! Time passes like molasses waiting for the callback. But you’re right, the best thing to do is move on in the meantime and enjoy the time you spent together – and I think the Thank You Text is a really great technique.


  3. The waiting game is there for two main reasons – #1 to allow them (and yourself) to think it over without jumping in with both feet and #2 when you like them a little more than they like you, so you play the game in hopes it will pull them in closer. For me at my age its really more to think it over, had an amazing date last Saturday, she texted me right when she got home and I texted her back when I got home. I will leave it a couple days and then ask to see her again next weekend.


    • How true 30’s Dater…… I can never understand why so many women have to jump on you, as if you are the only man in the world. But I guess that goes along with the mentality that people seem to want an instantaneous relationship, boyfriend or girlfriend. One lady that I was exchanging e-mails with went POOF…. Nothing more from her. I looked on her profile, and saw that she had “found the one”, and was going to date them. Sure…. . Guess what…. she was back in the dating race a week later, when I saw her pop up on the dating site as a match. .


  4. Ok, from a guys perspective….

    I usually don’t apply this waiting game after dates, its pointless. Dating has changed and serial dating more common. With online dating and especially Tinder being used more and more, people are generally dating multiples in any one given week. So here are my tips and views on this.

    1) Don’t wait 2-3 days if you like someone, this applies to men and women, if you like them then text them within 24hrs to say you had a great time and arrange another date. If there is a radio silence from both sides after a date even if you both like each other you risk the other person moving on to the next date and you are forgotten.

    2) You have to maintain contact, getting past the first date and on to the second is the hardest part. Even if you arrange date two and its about a week away, the other person will most likely be dating people in between and again you are forgotten. Arrange a date within 2-3 days to keep the person on the hook. Does this seem too keen? No, playing hard to get is a thing of the past and you have to seize the moment and get the buy in from the other person.

    3) If you text the person and again there is no reply for a few days, move on, they are clearly not that invested in you or dating in general. As mentioned above there are a lot of serial daters who just like first dates.

    4) One of my main gripes with dating now, why text !!!! Pick up the phone !!! I get so many women now who insist on texting. Texting is really risky in the sense of miss-understanding and waiting for replies. I find that the people I engage over the phone always invest more time in you as I think it makes you more of a person rather than some words on a screen. So everyone, PICK UP THE PHONE 🙂

    Do I always contact someone after a first date? Mostly…. I do try to at least say thanks but certainly if I want to see them again I will be in touch within 24hrs. So stay in touch, stay light hearted and if you feel you are ending up chasing someone for a reply, then move on.



    • Ugh, the idea of “dating multiples in any one given week” sounds exhausting to me. How do people have the time (or desire) between working full time, having hobbies, keeping up a home and just plain relaxing or socializing with friends? A girlfriend of mine was dating multiple guys she met on Tinder. She had a date nearly every night of the week. I’d love to have a partner to share life with, but if it’s a numbers game, I’m ok being single. Are people really going on this many dates as the norm?

      I’ve also heard another girlfriend complain that the guy she was seeing didn’t seem interested in her because they’d “only” go out 2 or 3 times per week. It makes me wonder if my expectations are out of whack with the general population of singletons. If I saw a guy one or two nights per week (at least initially), it would be because I REALLY liked him A LOT. I guess there’s a lid for every pot.


      • Put me down for “once or twice” a week to date someone. I could not stand every night, or more than one lady at a time. In the past, when dating 2 ladies, I once called one by the others name – WHOOPS 🙂


    • Hey! Is that thing of dating multiple guys a valid thing?? It feels weird to date mote than one guy at the time (at least at the week) but I guess I should try.. It’s a nice way to keep anxiety down if a date you liked doesn’t show interest though


  5. Whether we call it game playing or the dating waiting game, isn’t one of the reasons we engage in first dates and blind dates exactly for that will he/won’t he call excitement? We get that buzz and level of adrenalin rush that we rarely get from other areas of our lives these days, but does happen with dating and the prospect of new relationships. There are so few ‘firsts’ that we engage in as we get older, possibly some new or extreme sport as a birthday present, or a new challenging job, but the excitement may not last long, and then it’s back to being a fond memory and everyday living.
    Being ’emotionally ready’ for dating is a tricky business. You may feel you are and then receive a negative comment or the cold shoulder (as you see it) after the date. It is only whilst you are waiting or wondering when to contact the other person again, that you realise how vulnerable you feel. Those engaging in serial dating, as a guy said earlier, just want to have fun and either will get this adrenalin rush each date, or will become jaded with the whole experience, and perhaps not give his or her best to a date, who may see the evening as the start of a relationship, and could feel completely disillusioned afterwards.
    From my perspective as a coach, it’s being able to deal with the ups and downs of preparing for, going on that first date and taking the next steps afterwards. Being able to enjoy, but reign in the excitement of the date, and keeping in perspective any negative aspects to the date and lack of initial follow up, without blowing it all out of proportion. A lot of people have commented on when is the right time to contact someone, and as the responses have shown, everyone is different, as are their expectations, so follow your instincts and what feels right for you.


  6. The waiting game gives highlight’s your complete lack of control over the situation…which we always have but chose to ignore or pretend we still have some say! You offered up sage advice now only if there was a pill we could take to give us patience and the willingness to accept things as they are rather than how we would like the to be! Oh, wait…there’s wine/whisky for that! LOL!


  7. The “thank you” text is an awesome idea! It gives you a reason to contact the person on top of evaluating which way things may go in the future with the person. As a man, it’s normally on me to call, so I’ve never been on the other side of things. But, I don’t play. I call the next day. If it’s someone you’re really digging, then why give someone else an extra minute to steal her away?


  8. Good post – some people are addicted to that initial rush of meeting someone, but I think most kind of cop out if they aren’t blown away from the start. Give people a chance, and try not to look at dating as a “waiting game.”


  9. Even though the man must take the lead in the dating process, women must facilitate it with something like the “thank you” text. While it might seem a passive approach, it’s actually a big part of “girl game” where a dame makes it known that she’s interested in the fellow. But way too many men don’t get the hint. …Facepalm…


  10. Solid article! Here is my take on the game: If I like the dude, I contact him in 2 days. If he is happy to talk to me – lovely, if he is not – move on to the next one.


  11. Nice advice! It’s a hard thing, sonwtines exiting and sonetines very disapointing.
    On the other hand, you can be the person who enjoyed the date but you’re not interested… How can you show that you’re not interested and being polite at the same time? For me its a bit rude just not to answer a message, but answering it could be missunderstood.


    • The quandary for me is that when I go on a date one of two things will happen. Either I REALLY dig the woman and invest emotionally (which is infrequent, and gets more so the older I get) or I want to just get laid (which is nearly always). So then the problem is, if I am not emotionally interested, is how big of a jerk I want to be or whether the woman I went on the date with also just wants to get laid. So it is nearly always a buzz to hear back, but maybe not for the reason the woman is hoping for. Most of the time if I just want to get laid I feel bad about calling back because I anticipate the awkwardness that can lead to and don’t want to loose the friendly acquaintance. So if a guy is holding back, he might just be trying to have some integrity. If you honestly only want a shag, just say so and I am sure he will not hold off at all. But if you want more, maybe you are lucky he is not calling you back.


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