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Anybody who has ever done the online dating thing for a while knows the feeling of seeing “You have a new match!” or, better yet, “You have a new message!” pop up on your screen. It gets better still when that match or message turns out to be from someone with great pictures (though not too great, if you know what I mean . . .) and a creative and informative bio (yet not overstated). So far, so good.

Things continue to look hopeful after you exchange the first few messages. You trade a few more messages, and you think, “I definitely want to meet this person!” You trade a few more messages, and you think, “I want to meet this person . . . what gives?” You trade still a few more messages, and now you think, “I wanted to meet this person, but it’s not clear this person wants to meet me, but they’re still texting me, so . . .

What gives?

I started to catch on to this phenomenon when I noticed that women are now including things in their bio such as, “Not looking for a pen pal.” Talking to my female friends, it seems there is a small epidemic (or large, depending on whom you ask) of guys who are happy to flood your inbox with messages . . . and then keep flooding your inbox with messages, without ever making a move. Do we have a bunch of dudes running around on dating apps who are too afraid to ask women out? Is there a sudden spike in a desire for female pen pals? Or is there something else going on here?

With the help from some fellow men, let me try to explain the main reasons some guys tend to chat forever with no date in sight—and what you can do to make it stop.

01. He has been burned one too many times.

I don’t speak for everyone, of course, but my experience with online dating has gone something like this: find a girl I like, we “match,” I send a message, and I may or may not hear back. The ones I hear back from, we may have further interactions of substance; we may not. If our interactions are going well and everything else checks out, I’ll ask her out, and she might say yes. Or she might say something ambiguous. Or she might ignore my overture altogether. Sometimes she’ll even keep chatting with me as if I didn’t just ask her out. That’s particularly awkward. “Um, did you get that message that included me asking you on a date? Or should I ask it again? Or should I try again at a later date and pretend like it was the first time?”

We men feel like we've had to adjust our approaches online based upon the seemingly random responses we get from women.

“I message ‘til it gets interesting, then pop out the date question, and that usually works,” Jamie says. “But then sometimes I'll message all day and then go for it that night, never to hear back from her.” You might be thinking to yourself, she texted him all day, and ghosted him after he asked her out? That’s crazy. And you’d be right. I can relate to this experience, and it seems lots of guys can, too. Like Sabastian, for instance. He says: “I find that by asking too quickly, they tend to ghost.” And as a result, we can’t help but be a bit gun shy the next time. Maybe it was too soon? Maybe I came on “too strong.” Yadda yadda yadda.

02. He just needs a little nudge.

In this situation, the solution is in your control, which is hopefully refreshing. A guy who is nervous about “rushing things” might need you to give him a nudge. You could start innocuously. “What are you up to this weekend?” is a nice way to get the ball rolling. And if he asks you, be sure to make it sound like you have the time to get together. Even if I have a million things to do over a weekend, but I want to make time for a woman, I’ll tell her about one or two things, but not all. Careful, though, with saying things like, “I cleared my schedule and am looking forward to a relaxing weekend,” which might be interpreted as, “I cleared my schedule and am looking forward to a relaxing weekend by myself.”

You could also do something a little more obvious (but still light and flirtatious) like, “That’s funny. Are you this charming in real life?” And then he might say, “No, actually, I’m so much cooler online, so I prefer to remain here behind this screen.” But that seems unlikely. I bet he might say, “Not sure, but I’m willing to let you be the judge of that. How about we grab a drink this weekend?”

03. He may just not be that into you.

First of all, it’s worth saying that a situation in which a guy messages a woman for a week or more without making a move is not normal. That said, whenever a woman is getting mixed messages from a guy, Greg Behrendt, coauthor of the best-selling book He’s Just Not That Into You, is quick to point out that men really aren’t all that complicated. So in other words, if it seems like he’s not asking you out fast enough, the most likely explanation is that he’s just not that into you. This is a tidy answer to the lack of primary motivation.

04. He may be weighing his options.

Less cut-and-dried is the reality that a lot of guys like to hedge their bets when meeting women on a dating app.

This intel is likely a downer, but Behrendt actually says it’s a good thing to know, and I agree. Because the sooner you know a guy doesn’t appreciate you or may be putting you on hold to pursue another woman, the sooner you can move on to someone who does. Don’t waste your time with someone unworthy of you, or, as Behrendt puts it, “Don’t waste the pretty.”

"On dating apps everyone is talking to multiple people, so I've slowed down on women in order to see how it works out with someone else,” Adam admits.

It's not unusual to start conversations with multiple people in hopes of at least one turning into a date. But lightning can strike twice, and in the case of connections online, often times they come in bunches, for better or for worse. So what does a guy do? Go out with all of them at once? Go out with one and keep messaging the others? Go out with one and immediately stop messaging the others?

There isn’t necessarily a perfect answer. Of course, that’s not to say that you need to give up on a dude the moment he seems to be dragging his feet. But what it does mean is that you definitely shouldn’t wait around for him for long. Ask him out yourself or give him a nudge. If he still doesn’t step up to the plate, that’s his loss.

Photo Credit: Horace and Mae Photography