General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Why do people stop writing back?

Asked by wundayatta (58638points) December 4th, 2010

I write emails to people. Sometimes the emails lead to correspondences that go on for a few months; sometimes a few weeks; and sometimes a few days. Then they all end.

Do you find your correspondences generally end pretty soon? If so, can you explain it? Does it bother you? Or is this the natural course with internet connections?

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25 Answers

snowberry's avatar

The internet is sort of a flakey place. If your relationship starts out on the internet, I would say it has more potential for it to end on the internet than face-to-face relationships.

Jwtd's avatar

People you correspond with may have other priorities and stop being responsive.

Have no doubt though that once they feel a need for you they will know how to find you.

LuckyGuy's avatar

There can be many reasons. Here’s what I think is the most likely scenario.
You might have met them at a point in their lives when they had time to correspond with you. If the correspondent was a male, he might have been between jobs or girlfriends and had the time to write.thought provoking prose in response to yours. Once he started dating again, his priorities changed. Remember the Guy’s Code -.“Women take priority over everything.” No matter how deep the friendship or conversation if you have a chance to be with a woman the other guy is dropped faster than a cell phone call in a tunnel. If you are the other guy you are supposed to understand this and simply restart the conversation at the point where the phone call was dropped.

If it was a woman, you might have caught her at a time in her life when she was feeling lonely, frisky, emotional, and had time to appreciate your obvious talent with words. (I’m a straight male and sometimes even I get a little turned on by your writing.)
Her situation at home or work might have suddenly changed, too. She had a project at work, or had to get ready for the holiday or a real, air breathing guy smelling a bit like Dial soap asked her out thereby diminishing her desire to sit and type at a keyboard.

It takes time to write and most people just don’t have an overabundance of it.

everephebe's avatar

People get busy, I wish they’d say something like, “Hold on I must write back when I have proper time” and let you know (sometimes they do). When I get a great email, and don’t have the creative juices or time at the moment to match the email, I try to communicate that I enjoyed the email and will write back soon.

Emails tend to be great if you think of them as old-fashioned correspondence, and not a phone conversation. However, like a phone conversation, you have to know when to wrap things up.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Sometimes the free time just isn’t there to draft a thoughtful response. Or real life just doesn’t hold enough interesting material.

HungryGuy's avatar

That also happens to me all too often. I build an internet friendship with someone, then all of a sudden, the person just falls off the face of the earth in an instant without explanation. I wish I knew why as well…

BarnacleBill's avatar

I wonder if it’s because some of an e-mail relationship is like a shared journaling experience. There is not a shared history of IRL experiences together. Often the relationships develop because of specific situations, and if those situations change, the online relationships diminish, because of the lack of IRL shared activity.

Cruiser's avatar

People die.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I haven’t lost contact with any of my friends because they truly are friends.
I still keep up with my correspondence and haven’t lost contact with these people.I had a friend move to Alaska and we wrote letters and postcards the whole time he lived there.Now that he is back in town and we see each other occasionally,I will still get postcards from him!—Some habits die hard,I guess!—XD

flutherother's avatar

I wish they would have the courtesy to at least let you know they no longer wish to correspond.

Blueroses's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t know how you manage to magically know what questions are running through my mind at any given time but you’ve saved me having to ask this myself.
Losing an important correspondent without explanation can be every bit as pain as a RL relationship failure.

wundayatta's avatar

@Blueroses I don’t know how it happens. All I know is that at least seven people Ive had fairly in depth correspondences over the last few months have disappeared. I know committed a number of sins, but I don’t think they were big enough to just disappear without even telling me why.

And how come those of us who get dropped aren’t writing to each other? Well, maybe if we did we could see why. Is it me or is it the other person, and if it’s me, what, exactly is it and can I fix it.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Different expectations, different needs, different schedules, sometimes even differences in opinion or ideology are a few of the reasons that occur to me. Sometimes just plain ‘different wavelengths”. For example, you and another meet at the tops (or bottoms) of your respective ‘waves’ and begin a correspondence, but then over time the difference in wavelength reasserts itself, and your low corresponds to the other person’s high, or vice versa, and there’s no longer a meeting of the minds.

And sometimes it’s just a way-too-cluttered Inbox and trying GMail’s “Priority Inbox” thing that shuffles mail in unexpected ways.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Someone once said, “All Good Things Must Come to an End.” Just like in real life, internet friendships can end quickly, and unfortunately, sometimes without explanation. It’s much easier to cut off an internet relationship without another word, whether intentional or not. @Cruiser And yes, sometimes, it is a matter of death. That happened to me with an online friend once.

If we were to stay in regular touch with all of the friends we’ve made in our lives, there wouldn’t be time for much else. The true test of friendship is being able to pick up where one left off. I just spent the past week addressing holiday cards for my mother. Some of these people she hasn’t seen or talked to in years, yet they still touch base at Christmas. Her list used to be over 200, and it is now down to less than 50.

Priorities may diminish the correspondence; the memories of a relationship’s importance at the time live on.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I like @CyanoticWasp ‘s explanation of the highs and lows. Sometimes people match up perfectly for a brief period like a beat frequency of two close waves. Eventually they get 180 degrees out of phase. Even though my screen name doesn’t sound like it, I am actually a pretty upbeat guy. Morose discussions tire me out, so I avoid them.
Using the electrical engineering example, I am +DC with a very small amplitude of AC ripple. A person with wide swings would only match up with me when they swung across my line. I enjoy reading anything that makes me smile and try to reciprocate in kind.
Look at the writing styles and general flavor of the postings here. You can tell that some folks would be fun to meet for lunch or dinner or more. They are always up. They never post anything negative. That doesn’t means they are shallow or are incapable of deep thought. It simply means they are positive. I know who I’d prefer to meet or correspond with.
We have to exclude @Jeruba from this discussion. Positive or negative I think we can all agree that she could type a jumble of random characters on the keyboard and it would still sing magically.

You asked: “Is it me or is it the other person, and if it’s me, what, exactly is it and can I fix it.?”
Here’s a thought question for you. “Would you want to meet you for lunch?”

By the way, if you add up all the lurve you’ve received in all your guises it should be pretty clear, we love ya’ man!”

wundayatta's avatar

@worriedguy Why do you ask that? I am a very boring lunch companion. In fact, I haven’t had lunch with someone in months—if not longer. Wow! I’m scaring myself. I’m not even exaggerating. But that’s real life. I think I wrap a wall of silence around me in real life.

Online, it’s different. It doesn’t matter whether I’m depressed or just broke my thumb or how I dress or whether I have spinach in my teeth. I can write and people can enjoy my writing and they can want to talk to me and they can imagine me any way they want.

I once had lunch with someone I met online. We had very nice conversations online, but when we had lunch, it was all kind of awkward and the conversation didn’t really flow.

I am fine with my friends, usually. Although I am perhaps not as polite as I once was. When I make music, it’s all good, but talking is different. Maybe I’m losing the art of conversation. I’m losing my memory, so why not conversation?

Online, it doesn’t matter that I can’t remember something. I can go look it up, and it’s as if I remember it. The same is true for conversation. I can do it right when I have time to make it right. In real time… no. I don’t think I would want to meet me for lunch. Besides which it would be totally boring. I already know my own stories.

But what is the point of this question?

LuckyGuy's avatar

First, Wow! You must type like a bandit! It takes me forever to write that much!

My point was everyone is different. I enjoy having lunch with people and having discussions if they are upbeat. Hey, I had my prostate removed and know the issues. But if I ate lunch with a guy who had the same surgery but spent the entire meal discussing his problems I’d be calling for the check after the first coffee. I don’t want to know about his pee pads. I want to know about his positive side, what he does, what he enjoys. (This goes for the ladies, too.)

I don’t know you from Adam but I do sense that you are one of the smartest guys on the planet, and your writing style is so descriptive you can melt my LCD display. Frankly I don’t think most people can keep up.
Look how long this took me. I am a little ashamed. That’s why I prefer talking.

Blueroses's avatar

All I know is that it’s a completely wretched feeling to suddenly lose somebody who has become an important part of your days. I guess you just cope with it and accept that life becomes like a donut… just existing on the edges around a great big hole.

I just won’t let somebody get that close again. I hate those futile days of hoping communication will resume. Can you decide to only befriend people you could bear to lose?

lonelydragon's avatar

I think it’s the natural course of action for both online and traditional snail mail correspondence. Sometimes people simply run out of things to say. The conversation peters out. So it’s not always a case of ill intent on the other person’s part. More like benign neglect.

wundayatta's avatar

@worriedguy You think that was fast? Just wait until my thumb heals! I fell off my bike yesterday and I must have torn a bunch of tendons or something because it hurts like hell if I try to move it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@wundayatta I can type with both hands and feet and move the mouse with my d…. and you’d still type faster than me with one thumb tied behind your back. Just another example of why I think you’re so awesome!

YARNLADY's avatar

I used to have dozens of people I kept up with for a couple of years, but I just gradually stopped because I was no longer interested in keeping up the correspondence. I would still answer any thing they would send my way, but they also quit around the same time I did.

noname50's avatar

Sometimes people just don’t have anything else to say. Other times they have other things to do. It’s just life.

mattbrowne's avatar

In very cases it’s passive aggressive behavior.

Ron_C's avatar

I find that once a subject is dissected and decided, I tend to loose interest in further “beating a dead horse”. Correspondence on that subject is on longer necessary or even desirable. That happens here too. Once you answer criticism or support, there is no longer a need to carry on and it is time to switch to a different subject or writer. I don’t think it is disrespect or even as @mattbrowne says, passive aggressive behavior.

I have had two specific reactions, my correspondent and I come around to a consensus or our views diverge so far that we no longer have a common interest and have nothing more to say. Rather than resort to name calling and angry messages, I just stop writing. I am sure that the feelings are mutual.

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