Humans, in general, are a pretty fractious bunch. Cynics could argue that our history as a species consists largely of finding new reasons to disagree with each other. Sometimes those disagreements are expressed in loud and painful arguments and sometimes as equally painful silences.
Being “ghosted” by someone you’ve been close to — a romantic partner, a friend, a family member — feels especially painful in the age of email and smartphones, when immediate real-time communication is the standard. Sometimes the other person just needs a bit of time to cool off and think things over (or thinks you do) and will answer your calls or messages eventually. Alternatively, they might outright block your number, which implies a stronger desire to be left alone. Here’s how to know if someone blocked your number and some thoughts on what you can do about it.
“No Response” Doesn’t Always Mean Non-Response
The first thing to remember when you’re wondering if someone has chosen to not respond to your messages, is that it won’t always be out of spite or even a conscious decision. People lose phones, break them and forget to charge them. Cellular coverage can be spotty. Cellular and internet providers have outages, and app providers’ servers are sometimes taken down by hackers, bad weather or software updates gone wrong. The phone might have been left in Airplane Mode or Do Not Disturb mode, or the ringer might be turned off.
More importantly, people have lives that don’t always revolve around you. Friends legitimately lose touch. Work gets crazy for a while. Someone in the family becomes gravely ill. Responding to your messages can easily take a back seat to those scenarios for a day or a week, or a month. You need to get in touch might even coincide with the other person deciding to do a “digital detox.” The bottom line? Unless you know there’s a specific reason for the other person to break off contact, don’t assume it’s deliberate.
How To Know If Someone Blocked Your Number
That being said, sometimes the other person will be avoiding you deliberately. If you’re confident there aren’t any extenuating circumstances, an extended period without any reply to your messages definitely becomes a message in itself. Also, if your phone call goes to voicemail after one ring or no rings, that’s often an indication you might be blocked. It’s not a for-sure thing — it also happens if you try to reach them while they’re on another call — but the more often it happens, the likelier it is that you’re blocked. A message saying something like “this customer is unavailable” may mean you’ve been blocked through the cellular carrier rather than the phone itself.
Calling the other person’s number from a different phone is a simple way to check. They may not answer, especially if it’s not a number they know, but if calls from other phones ring normally before going to voicemail, it’s a sign that your number is treated differently. You can accomplish the same thing by using *67 to mask your number before dialing from your phone.
Text messages provide another way to check. If you’re on an iPhone, send a message to the person you’re trying to reach. If your message shows as “delivered,” you’re not blocked. If you had been, you’d get no message or a “message not delivered” notification. If you use an Android, it’s still worth a try, though differences between manufacturers mean this may or may not work.
Reaching Out After Being Blocked
How you respond to this depends on the situation. Sometimes there’s an inarguable need to get in touch. For example, with an estranged family member, you might need to make contact to settle an inheritance or have a difficult but necessary conversation about end-of-life care.
When you have a legitimate need to make contact, there are options. For example, in the above case, you might have a law firm reach out on your behalf. You might also turn to Spokeo’s people search tools to find alternative methods of making contact, such as other phone numbers, email addresses, or physical addresses. You could also search social media platforms or ask mutual acquaintances to pass along a message on your behalf.
There’s always a chance — even when your reason for reaching out is indisputable — that these contact attempts will also be rebuffed. This is especially likely to occur after a blowup (between friends) or a breakup (between partners). If that should occur, it’s time to do some soul searching. However badly you may wish to reestablish contact, it’s clear the other person isn’t ready yet to do that.
Consider the State of the Relationship
The uncomfortable truth is that your desire to reconnect puts your former partner under no obligation to accommodate you. Despite the example of generations of romantic comedies, a breakup isn’t always — or often — the prelude to a tearful reunion and happy-ever-after. Yes, some relationships can be healed, but many cannot or should not: It’s possible, for example, that your crush was secretly married all along or that your partner felt smothered by your trust issues.
Every relationship is different, so no one answer applies to everyone. What is certain is that there’s a line that can (but shouldn’t) be crossed: At a certain point, your persistence in trying to make contact can meet the legal definitions of stalking or harassment. Those are laid out in both state and federal law, and if you’ve resolved not to take “no” for an answer, you might become unhappily acquainted with those statutes and their consequences.
Take a serious look at your own motivations or ask the opinion of someone who’ll be bluntly honest. If it becomes clear that your desire to reconnect is rooted in your needs, not your former partner’s, it makes sense to address those needs. For some, that might mean getting over the hurt (and accepting your vulnerability) by dating again. A course of therapy might better serve others to help understand how their own needs and emotions affected the outcome of the relationship.
Recall those posters and memes that say, “If you love something, let it go.” When all is said and done, that might be the best advice of all.
- CBS News – Northeast Hit With Reports of Major Internet Outage
- Vox – What’s All This Fuss About “Digital Detox” – and Does It Really Work?
- MacWorld UK – How To Tell if Someone Has Blocked Your Number on iPhone
- Kim Komando – How To Know if Someone Blocked Your Number
- Tom’s Guide – How To Know if Someone Blocked Your Number
- Stimmel, Stimmel & Roeser – Stalking: The Basic Law and Remedies
- Criminal Defense Lawyer – Federal Stalking and Harassment Laws