• Resolving Problems

A Facebook friendship that is out of sync

Published: July 11, 2015 | By | 11 Replies Continue Reading
A friend is frustrated by a Facebook friendship with someone who responds unpredictably.


Dear Friendship Doctor,

I have a question about an unresponsive friend – but it’s not the typical issue. I have spent a few days searching every corner of the web for a situation like mine and couldn’t find help.

I have a friend whom I’ve known for about four years (we met as coworkers, but we haven’t worked together in two years). When we saw each other nearly every day, we never texted or used Facebook – it was always face-to-face communication. When I quit the job, we began messaging over Facebook occasionally and meeting up once in a while.

At that point, I realized he was very slow to respond to messages (a few days each time). I stopped initiating conversations because conversations became really dragged out and unnecessary, and I only messaged him to meet up in person. That face-to-face communication was still solid (and continues to be).

I would be completely happy with this friendship if we abandoned Facebook communication. However, he still messages me on Facebook – and then leaves me hanging. This isn’t a case where I ask him something and he doesn’t respond. This is a case where he asks me something or makes a comment, I respond within a day, and then I never hear back from him. He does this several times a month. There’s never any mention of why he dropped the conversation. And it’s not something that ends naturally.

For example, this happened last week:

Him: I saw this awesome book that you’d like.

Me: Really? What is it?

Him: [no response]

Now, I am not attached to my phone or my computer. I don’t need friends to be glued to their devices. However, I would like a response eventually. To me, this is like if I said something in person and he just walked away.

The last time I saw him in person was a couple of months ago. I want to send him a message calling him out on this bizarre behavior. Should I do that? Or should I just drop this friendship (since I’m the one who usually initiates in person contact)?


Hi Sara,

I wouldn’t necessarily drop this friendship altogether—because you still seem to enjoy seeing your friend face-to-face. However, I would re-think communicating with him via Facebook, which has been upsetting.

Facebook friendships can be even more ambiguous that face-to-face ones because it’s harder to know what someone is thinking without the ordinary visual cues and body language. Moreover, the communication is often asynchronous (not always done at the same time). For example, you may write your friend in the middle of the night and he may not see your message until two days later, or have the time to respond until the following week. Some people think of this is an advantage but it can also be a limitation.

In any case, it’s become apparent that he doesn’t use Facebook the same way you do. Maybe he only signs on occasionally or doesn’t feel the same compunction to respond to a Facebook message that he does in person or via text. Another possibility is simply that he is less invested in the relationship than you.

To manage your frustration and disappointment, tell him that you no longer want to communicate via Facebook because there always seems to be “hiccups” in the conversation. If he continues to message you on Facebook, respond by text or don’t respond at all.

If you are comfortable texting, use that mode of communication instead. It may turn out that his behavior has more to do with him (and his style of communication) than it does with you or your friendship.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

See this post on The Friendship Forums: When a friend sees your messages and doesn’t respond to you

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Comments (11)

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  1. Mary says:

    Facebook, for me a nightmare. I had it only a few months. REMOVE, UNSUBSCRIBE. This is me: Texting has its place, that is as long as I don’t get a compulsive texter. Hey, a few times is enough. Email takes to long. PHONE= happiness! If I’m going to communicate with someone I care for, I want to HEAR your voice. And it’s so much faster. When you communicate with someone texting etc.. you can’t see them or hear them. It’s easy to fool someone, it’s much harder to do when you can hear them. Of course my best is BEING with them. I am grateful for a lot of our technology, but some has gone to far. I’m so glad my high school days and when dating. I cannot imagine texting a boy/man I was crazy for. Your heart isn’t going to pound, you don’t experience those feelings texting. If you can’t be with the person at least on the phone talking to each other. I saw my nephew texting his girlfriend, she was 2 blocks away. I said “don’t you want to be with her? Hold hands, smell them?” I said “hey what if she smells good, don’t you want to experience that?” Nope, was the answer. I’m old school. And I don’t know how you can talk on the computer and fall in love and get married before you even meet! And I was of no help to you at all. I apologize, I’m trying to come out from a bad place. But if it is possible and you like this person’s company try and keep it. Just go with his roll. If you can’t do that then end it.

  2. Sarah says:

    I can see how this can be annoying. I sounds to me like this friend is not that into you, downgraded the friendship, or super swamped. Neither of which is your problem. Why not try to match their level of communication? Like if someone is putting in 20%, why should you have to put in 80%? Put in what they put in. If Facebook communication upsets you, then why not just stop and switch to texting or something else that works for you? You are letting this person pull your strings. If they take 5 days to reply, you reply back in 5 days. A few days to reply is not that slow in my opinion. We all have stuff going on…

  3. lucy says:

    I have two people that have a habit of doing the very same thing you mentioned. They often don’t respond to either fb or txt messages. I don’t bombard them with messages, either. One has a serious mental illness so I can keep my expectations low and cut some slack. The other guy is simply shallow and self centered. It was painful at first, but I had to accept I was no longer a priority to him. I finally got smart and no longer initiate any communication of any kind. I’m better off without him in my life.

    • Ben says:

      Great to know others see things similarly. Life is too short to waste time on people who don’t appreciate us….

  4. Laura says:

    Some people are thoughtless and lack manners. Manners especially have deteriorated with electronic communication. Its really that simple. Since you have a good rapport in person, I would ask him how he prefers to communicate.

  5. Maddie says:

    This is just how guys act. Let it slide. I guarantee if you “call him out on it” your friendship is over.

    I would mellow out. Your example is really quite light. It’s not that big of a deal.

  6. Ruth says:

    I agree with irene…switch to texting with this person. Different come style… No biggie to switch… (Hopefully)…

  7. Ben says:

    This reminds me of my own communication style. If I really like someone they don’t have to prod me for a response. If I really like someone and they don’t really like me I have to prod them for a response. If I don’t like someone and do not want to be rude I am more stand-offish. The other response is right on the money for me. “Expectations are planned resentments.” I hate having expectations and over time some of them have lessened but some are still very pesky.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all honest enough to simply speak our minds openly and say exactly how we feel?

    The family I grew up in never talked about feelings or emotions but were honest on other matters. Very confusing for a child to not be able to understand why they feel so different from everyone else. What’s even more strange is both my parents had great sense of their own worth and place in the world. This growing up process is sure a long one.

    Today I don’t like to waste emotional energy. If a friend reciprocates great.. I don’t spend a lot of effort on “friends” that don’t. Ain’t got the time or desire…. Happy Days!!!

    • Mary says:

      I like what you said about being honest etc..
      My problem is when I’m on boards, I get took to the woodshed. The problem is because people can’t handle the truth. And people don’t know the difference between criticism and constructive criticism. So, then ima troll. LOL

  8. Amy F says:

    Seems like the two if you have different styles of Facebook communication. That doesn’t make yours right or his wrong, they’re just different. When you think of his as “bizarre” you set up a right/wrong rule that exists only in your mind. If your styles aren’t compatible and his way of using social media is intolerable, than it’s ok not to continue being acquaintances.
    For me, I adjust my expectations and how I view that person in terms of importance in my life rather than discontinue the relationship, because that works for me. What works for you may be different which woks for me and that’s ok.

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