What are you supposed to do when you get a message from someone online that you’re not interested in dating? Are you supposed to respond? Is that the polite thing to do? Even more so, should you expect to get a response from someone if they’re not interested in getting to know you?
The answers to these questions are extremely important, especially when it comes to setting your expectations with online dating. It can also help when you want to do the right thing with other singles you’re just not feeling it with.
There’s a lot of speculation out there about what other singles are doing in this situation. Our data team decided to get to the bottom of it. We conducted a study asking 500 adults located in the US equally split by gender and age and who had used an online dating app within the last 12 months whether or not they respond to messages from singles they’re not interested in.
Specifically, we asked, “When actively online dating, do you respond to incoming messages from singles you are not interested in?” with the possible single-response answers of ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘Occasionally’.
- Only 35.91% of people stated they always respond to messages from singles they’re not interested in.
- Men were almost twice as likely as women to respond to messages from singles they were not interested in. 46.06% of men indicated they do respond to messages from singles they’re not interested in versus only 25.60% of women.
- Respondents across all demographics aged 25-34 were the least likely to respond to messages from singles they weren’t interested in. When you combine those who always respond and those who occasionally respond to these messages, it was only 58.27% of people in the 25-34 age bracket.
- The 18-24 year old bracket was the most likely to either respond always or occasionally at 67.46% of the time. As you’ll see, this is largely driven by the male response rates within the category.
- Females aged 25-34 were the least likely to respond to messages from singles they’re not interested in. This was true when only looking at those who always respond and when looking at both those who always respond and those who occasionally respond.
Table of Contents
- Overall Results – Do Singles Respond to Messages When Not Interested?
- Breakdown of Results by Gender
- Breakdown of Results by Age
- Breakdown of Results by Gender and Age
- What We Can Learn
- Study Methodology
Data Results Licensing
You are free to reference the findings and data from this study under the following conditions:
- Proper attribution in the form of a link to this study page with mention of Singles Reports as the source of the information.
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For additional information or more data points, please reach out to [email protected].
Overall Results – Do Singles Respond to Messages When Not Interested?
If you reside in the camp that would like to receive a message from someone who isn’t interested in you, the data isn’t going to get you too excited. Overall across all genders and age brackets studied, only 35.91% of respondents stated they always respond to singles they’re not interested in. 37.70% stated that they will occasionally respond to people they’re not interested in. However, we didn’t inquire as to how they determined when they would or would not respond. 26.39% of respondents stated that they never respond to messages from singles they’re not interested in.
If you include those who answered ‘Yes’ and those who answered ‘Occasionally’, the picture is a little more promising at 73.61%. What you’ll find, though, is that there is a lot of differences in the results when you break them down by gender, age, or both demographic characteristics.
Here’s a chart of the overall results, and then we’ll follow that up by breaking things down to pull out some more meaningful trends and conclusions.
Breakdown of Results by Gender
Men are More Likely to Respond to Messages Than Women
- Men are more likely to respond to messages from singles they’re not interested in. 46.06% of men say they respond to these messages, as opposed to only 25.60% of women.
- Only 19.29% of men say they do not respond to messages from singles they’re not interested in. The percentage of female respondents who said “No” was 33.60%.
- Over half of men aged 18-24 answered “Yes” they respond to messages from singles they’re not interested in (50.49%). In the same age bracket, only 20.63% of women answered “Yes”.
- Across all age brackets, men were more likely to respond to messages from singles they weren’t interested in.
Based on our research, it looks like men across all age brackets are more likely than women to respond to messages when they’re not interested. When you include those that respond occasionally in the calculations, the higher prevalence still goes to the men at 65.35% versus only 59.20% for the women.
What We Think
It’s a widely accepted fact that women tend to receive a much higher number of new messages when they’re dating online. What this means is that the time commitment required to respond to messages from people you’re not interested in is going to be a lot higher. This could be causing many women to abandon the process completely or it could be the reason that the percentage of women in the ‘occasionally’ category is a lot higher (they respond when they have the time).
One could propose theories about the differences between how men and women think and approach online dating as a whole, but we’ll leave drawing those conclusions to you.
Breakdown of Results by Age
Respondents aged 25-34 and 45-54 were the least likely to respond to messages in some capacity (‘Yes’ or ‘Occasionally’)
- Those responding to all messages from singles they’re not interested in increased through all age brackets up until the 45-54 bracket where we saw a significant drop off.
- The 25-34 age bracket had the highest percentage of people who said that they never respond to messages from single they’re not interested in (41.73%).
- The 35-44 age bracket was the most likely to respond to all messages (38.10%). The 18-24 age bracket was the most likely to respond to messages in some capacity (all or occasionally) at 67.46%.
What was quite interesting here was that starting with the 18-24 age bracket and going upwards in age, we saw an increase in the percentage of people who respond up until we get to the 45-54 bracket where we see a sharp decline in those responding ‘Yes’. Spoiler alert, this trend also was present for females throughout the age progression with the same drop off in the 45-54 age bracket, though not as sharp as it is for both males and females combined.
As for other trends, we saw some good data per age group, but nothing as linear as what we just mentioned. One last thing that was interesting was that within the 25-34 age bracket people tend to be more on one side or the other. The percentage who send responses occasionally was only 21.26%.
What We Think
When it comes to theories as to why a lot of this data came out this way, it may be a bit of a challenge to unpack. As there are so many factors in play in people’s lives, it’s probably not a surprise we didn’t see too many linear trends. What would be an interesting follow up study would be to look at individuals by their exact age to see if there are trends as you get more towards the center of each age bracket and more fuzziness in the results as you get to the edges.
Breakdown of Results By Gender and Age
More linear trends arise when breaking down data by gender and age together.
- We see a stead rise in the percentage of females who always respond to message all the way up the age brackets until we see a drop off at the 45-54 level.
- For the men, we see a slow decline in the percentage of those who respond to all messages across all age brackets (slight increase in the 35-44 bracket that continues back down in the 45-54 bracket)
What We Can Learn
Outside of the fact that this data is just interesting to study the human nature of singles as they date, there are some takeaways that may be able to help singles who are out there looking for love. Here are a few things we think that can be learned and applied from this data.
- Set your expectations accordingly. – As you can see, a large percentage of singles aren’t sending messages back if they’re not interested. What this means is you need to be prepared to (and be okay with) not get responses back. While we won’t go as far as to say online dating is a numbers game, there are certainly trends that arise worth looking at.
- Don’t assume because you didn’t get a response that they’re not interested. – While that is certainly a possibility, there are a lot of other reasons that you might not be getting a response back. These could include things like they have too many messages, they’re busy, they already met someone, they don’t have a premium account, or they’re just taking a break from online dating. Don’t automatically jump to the thought that they don’t like you when you don’t get a response back.
- The response landscape looks a little greener for those dating men. – While we’re not here to debate whether you should or should not respond to messages when you’re not interested, we can say that most people probably prefer to know than to be left in the dark. Based on the data, it looks as if those people who are dating men can expect to get responses a lot more frequently (at least when someone isn’t interested), which most likely also means they’re responding when they are interested.
Our research team surveyed 500 respondents who stated they had used at least one online dating application in the past year. Respondents were asked, “When actively online dating, do you respond to incoming messages from singles you are not interested in?” The single-option answer choices were “Yes”, “No”, or “Occasionally”.
Additional Overview Details
- 500 participants
- Aged 18-54, equally divided across four age brackets
- Respondents must live in the United States
- Respondents must have used at least (1) online dating app in the last (12) months
- Equal number of males and females in each age bracket
- All questions single-answer multiple-choice