I am sometimes too busy or too tired and for whatever reason, I tend to miss replying to people's texts, especially if it's non-work-related. I also juggle several instant messaging applications, so moving between them can be a chore.

Unfortunately, this could go on for weeks and months without me noticing as the message thread sinks further down. When I try to reread what messages I might have missed, I noticed that some of them have not been replied to for some weeks/months, leaving the person asking a question hanging.

I know this is rude, and this is a habit I would like to kick (an entirely separate question). The problem is, if I'm actually interested in the conversation or person and would like to continue talking to them, what would be the best or most tactful way to gratefully apologize or acknowledge and move forward?

2 Answers 2


I am also bad about this. I have a smartwatch that will frequently mark messages as "read" and I won't see them until much later. I have found that typically I can just say:

Wow! I am so sorry - when I went to reach out to you I saw this old message! I certainly didn't mean to ignore it!

Then, you can still talk about it while acknowledging your error, since you seem to recognize it and want to change the perception. Most of the time, I find, people understand that we are over inundated with messages. Typically, if it's some sort of emergency situation, they will have just called and not relied on texts to convey something of real importance. If you do find you missed something really time sensitive, consider telling that person:

I am so sorry! With all of these communication applications, I missed the message. Please feel free to [insert the best way to get a hold of you, be it a call, SMS message, the app you check most frequently] if you need me right away.

This shows that you do care about their communications, and gives them a better way to get through, too!


If it's mostly a few people who you are close to, consider explaining it to them that you're bad at keeping up with those messages. As long as you show that you're sorry and that this does not happen because you don't like them, they will likely understand.

I've been on the other end - getting ignored by a friend so much that it really got to me. Since then, my friend has explained to me that this happens to her with everybody except their mother, so it's not about me.
My friend also started to warn me in advance when they were anticipating a stressful time that causes them to ignore messages. And when I send them too many messages at once, so that they read them but don't have time to really respond - they say "I will respond tomorrow, sorry".

One effect this has had is that I stopped taking it personally. Another effect this has had is that I can sometimes send them a short message just to remind them that there are messages waiting when I suspect they forgot again.

Now, if the question is about people you don't chat with that often - and hence whom you don't want to explain all this - it's a good idea to provide them with a reason.
Something like "Sorry, my watch must have marked your reply as read without me having seen it." or "Sorry for replying that late. I'm enjoying this conversation, I just forgot to answer. I was having some stress at work" will help shift the perception from "jonvyltra does not care about my messages" to "jonvyltra is actually interested in this conversation, they just messed up once. Happens." - at least if you don't forget to reply to them again just a day later.

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