Why Friends May Hardly Ever Initiate Contact To Chat

It can be confusing, frustrating, and insecurity-provoking when your friends don't treat the relationship the way you expect them to. One way they can do that is when they never, or hardly ever, initiate contact to chat or catch up. This article will focus on friends who were never in the habit of getting in touch, not ones who used to contact you, but have recently stopped or slowed way down.

(Here are articles on two closely-related issues: When friends don't initiate contact to make plans, and you always have to invite them out first, and when you generally feel your like your friends are indifferent to you.)

If a friend doesn't reach out much, it's not always a sign that something is wrong. There are several benign reasons they may not message or call that often. I'll cover those first, then go over a couple of ways something could be off about the relationship. After that I'll lay out some options about what you can do.

More-Benign Explanations

Several of these may be operating within a friend at once. People who act in these ways may believe what they're doing is no big deal, and unconsciously assume everyone else thinks like they do.

They don't feel much need to talk to their friends outside of seeing them in person

This is a mindset some people have. Some of us are ultra-social, and even if we've just seen a buddy that morning, we still feel like sending them a text in the afternoon. Others are satisfied with speaking to their friends in person, and don't have the urge to contact them much otherwise. That's particularly true if they see someone all time, like if they're a classmate or co-worker. Why bother sending them a text over the weekend when they can catch up face to face on Monday? People like this may contact their family or romantic partner in between hangouts, because that's more expected, but if they can get away with not doing it with a friend, they'll go that route.

They're not into communicating over certain mediums

They may not be into texting or emailing because they find it slow, clunky, and limited. They may feel awkward and on the spot talking on the phone or over video. They might not be big social media users, and not initiate contact by doing things such as liking or commenting on your posts or photos.

They're nervous or insecure about initiating contact

They may want to text you about a funny piece of news they heard, but think they'd be pestering you, or that they're boring to talk to, or that they'll say something strange, or one of a dozen other worries. People can be especially anxious about initiating contact with newer friends, when they're less sure of where they stand.

They have busy, distracting lives and often forget about their friends when they're not with them in person

They like you. They enjoy spending time with you. But once they get home their head immediately gets filled up with thoughts about their job, studies, family, chores, and life stresses, and they don't come up for air until they're due to see you the following weekend. They don't mean to ignore you. It just slips their mind because they feel like they've got so much else on their plate.

They'd initiate contact sometimes, but you always do it first

People differ in how long they go before they wonder, "Hm, what's so-and-so's up to? I'll send them a message to find out." If your friend would think that after a month, and you'd think it after a week, and then get in touch, they'll never have a chance to initiate. Again, it has nothing to do with how much they like you or not. They just don't get as antsy to reestablish contact if they haven't seen someone for a while. They assume they can go some time without seeing someone, and that the relationship will stay intact.

You've unintentionally trained them to expect you to always initiate contact

This ties into the point above. If your need for contact is higher, and you're always the one to drop them a line, you may have set a pattern where they wait for you to text or call them. They may not be consciously aware of this pattern. If they know about it, they might assume you're content with the arrangement, and that you're just sociable and prefer to get in touch first. They could not consider that from your end it feels one-sided, and makes you feel uneasy about what they really think of you.

They assume you're really busy and wouldn't want to be contacted. They figure you'll get in touch when you have time

Maybe you actually are busy. Maybe you were busier when you first knew them, and they're still operating as if you don't have much time to chat. Maybe you were never that busy, but they mistakenly got that impression of you.

They only contact people to talk about certain topics, and don't see you as someone they can do that with

For example, a friend isn't much of a texter, but will contact some of his buddies to talk about sports. You're not into sports, so he doesn't include you in those conversations. Another guy in your circle may phone his two closest, oldest friends for emotional support. You know him, but aren't super close, so don't hear from him about his personal problems. In these cases you may be fine with not being contacted for those reasons. However, if you are interested in talking about that stuff, you can let your friend know.

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They're simply lazy

They want to send you a text to see what you've been up to, and know it'd be a nice thing to do as a friend, but then they start thinking about how they'd word the message. It all feels like too much mental effort, so they forget about it and go back to watching TV. They let themselves off the hook by telling themselves it's fine they didn't text. You're still friends, and they'll see at the party on Saturday anyway.

They have an unofficial policy of keeping a bit of distance from people who fall into the "potential partner" category

For example, a woman with a boyfriend has some male buddies, but doesn't go out of her way to text them in between seeing them in person. It's not that she thinks any particular guy has a crush on her and doesn't want to give him the wrong idea. She generally wants to keep all her friendships with men that little bit more at arm's length. You could say such thinking is paranoid or old-fashioned, but that's what she's decided to do. Maybe she's been burned in the past by guy friends who developed one-sided feelings for her, and this is one way she's trying to keep it from happening again.

Other Reasons A Friend May Not Contact You Much

Again, these are reasons someone may never have gotten in touch very often. There are different possible explanations if they used to contact you all the time, then stopped all of a sudden.

You're not a good conversationalist over text, or on the phone

Some people are good conversationalists in person, but when they're texting they take a long time to reply, and write a lot of dead end one-word responses. Over the phone they might come across as stilted or distracted. Your friends may not text you to chat because they know it won't be the best experience. If you suspect this point applies to you, you can work on your communication skills (e.g., slowly facing your anxiety around talking on the phone, or learning to flesh out your responses and ask more questions when you're texting).

You're not as close to your friend as you think you are

I know this is the possibility everyone is secretly afraid of. Sometimes a "friend" doesn't initiate contact because you've misread the relationship and they aren't as close to you as you think (which is not equivalent to them completely hating you). They may be a co-worker or classmate, who will happily chat to you during school or work hours, but doesn't feel a need to talk to you otherwise. They may be in your social circle, but are tighter with some of the other members. Once more, they'll talk to you when you're all hanging out together, but don't feel enough of a bond or sense of common ground that they want to contact you to speak one-on-one. Maybe some of the benign factors from earlier are mixed in too. For example, they're not big on texting overall, and will only initiate contact with their two best friends. It stings to learn you're more invested in someone than they are in you, but we can't be what everyone is looking for.

What you can do if a friend doesn't initiate contact to chat very much

As you can see there are lots of reasons someone might not send you many random friendly texts, and it's often hard to figure out which one applies in your case. The first thing I'd suggest is to think about how your friendship is otherwise. Is it good? Are you satisfied with it? Do you hang out often, and have a fun time when you do? Or is it less-close overall?

If your relationship is otherwise solid, ask yourself what you want to do about their lack of contact. Are you actually fine with it, but just wanted reassurance that everything was okay? Maybe reading all the benign explanations in this article soothed some of your worries. If you know on a logical level that everything is fine, but your friendship insecurities are still strong, you might want to work on them.

If you'd like your buddy to get in touch more, make sure you contact them sometimes yourself. I'm guessing you already do this, but people can complain their friends never initiate contact, but they never check in with them either; they've established a pattern where they hang out in person, but don't catch up otherwise. If you start getting in touch to chat, they may start doing the same.

If you already contact them plenty, but they never take the initiative to speak to you, you can speak to them about it. Don't do this with people you don't know that well, but if you're closer friends it's an option. It may not lead to the changes you'd like, but at least you'll know you tried. As always, there's no specific, magic way you can word things that will guarantee you'll get the result you're looking for. Keep the focus on you, and don't attack them. You can deliver your message in a casual, friendly tone. It doesn't need to be a tense, heartfelt confrontation. Ask for what you want. For example: "I've noticed I'm always the one to send you a message to chat. I'd like it if you were sometimes the one to get in touch." Odds are they'll promise to contact you more, maybe after making some apologies and excuses. From there you'll have to see if they follow through, or if they were just trying to make you feel better in the moment.

If they say they'll try to sometimes be the one to make contact, and then nothing changes, you have to ask yourself what you're willing to accept. Are you able to treat their indifference about getting in touch as a semi-irritating foible you'll put up with, the same way you might begrudgingly accept another friend is always fifteen minutes late? Or is it a dealbreaker and you'll need to either end the relationship or downgrade it to "friendly acquaintance"?

What I don't recommend is "testing" your friend by ceasing all contact from your end and seeing if they eventually get in touch. First, it's more straightforward and mature to talk to them. Second, this ploy can backfire. If they're non-contactors for benign, oblivious reasons, and are used to you always being the one to drop them a line, they may just interpret your silence as you being busy or no longer interested in hanging out ("She used to always text me, but then stopped suddenly. I guess she doesn't want to be friends anymore. It sucks, but if that's what she wants, then I won't bug her.") Though maybe if you stop getting in touch, and they give up on you that easily, you're happy to have to them out of your life.