With all the developments in communications technology, you would think that plain old phone calls would have disappeared by now, but in reality, there is no replacement for a person-to-person voice call on the telephone. Chat apps, texts, emails, Instagram DMs, Facebook messaging…all of these things are great supplements for verbal communication, but the fact is that talking with one another is the most effective means of communicating, particularly about complex issues. A text is perfect for deciding which movie to go see; a phone call is where you decide whether to continue a relationship or not. Communication is easier and has more bandwidth when each participant can hear the tone and pitch of one another’s voice. Talking directly allows us to emphasize certain words in order to convey their intended meaning. So while typing may be the new norm, verbal communication is still the king of clarity.
The problem is, of course, that sometimes people just don’t feel like talking. If one person wants to talk but the other doesn’t, this can cause a communication problem in a relationship . It can often seem as though the other person is avoiding you by declining your calls and that feeling can be frustrating. It is even worse because you can’t verbally communicate what you’re feeling! In this article I will show you a few ways to tell if someone is avoiding talking to you on the phone, how to detect whether or not they’ve blocked you, and how to deal with your calls being declined.
How to know if someone declined your call
This one is a little obvious, but the most obvious sign that someone has declined to take your call is that they do not answer. However, it is a bit more complicated than that. Usually if a call has gone through and been connected, the phone will ring four times before going to voicemail. If your call is going straight to voicemail, that usually means either that the phone is off (either deliberately or because of a dead battery), that the person you are calling is out of their service area, or that the recipient of the call has blocked your number. If the phone rings once or twice before going to voicemail, it is possible that they saw the call and hit the selection to manually forward it to voicemail.
If this person would normally take your call, any of these are a potential sign that they are declining to take your call.
Don’t get too annoyed, though, as there are many reasons why they may not answer. They may be driving, in a meeting, traveling overseas, without cell reception, on the subway, in class, on a date, at an interview, or for any other of a myriad of reasons. They may have lost their phone, had it stolen, had the battery run out, or their service may be having an outage. They may just not be the type of person who likes to talk on the phone.
None of these automatically mean they are avoiding you. They may genuinely not be able to talk. If they miss a single call or a couple of calls within the same time period, it does not mean they have declined your call for any negative reason.
How to know if someone is blocking your call
Instead of just declining your call, the other person may actually have blocked calls from your number. There are a few ways you can tell if that is the case; of course, there are exceptions to each of these:
- You hear a standard blocked message, such as “The caller you are trying to reach is unavailable.”
- Every call over the course of a few days goes directly to voicemail.
- You hear a busy signal every time you call over the course of a few days.
What to do if you think someone is avoiding your calls
Handling conflict is part of relationships. It should be handled carefully to get positive results. With that in mind, here are a few things you can do if you think someone is avoiding your calls.
Contact them another way
If you both have iPhones, try texting them. If the text is marked as “Delivered,” that means their phone is not off or in airplane mode. If they ignore your text as well, they could be avoiding you.
If you are friends on Facebook or use a social network or chat app, try contacting them on that. If they cannot talk, they may be able to type. If they are available in other ways other than voice, this should be enough to settle your mind. If they show as online and don’t answer you, it may also be a sign they are avoiding you.
Check any Last Seen status or the status of any message you sent and go from there. WhatsApp and Facebook messenger both show delivery and whether or not a message has been read.
Call from a different or unlisted number
Both Android and iPhone can be set to block numbers. If your calls are being answered or rejected immediately, this may have happened to you. Again, if it happens a couple of times it may be something else, but if it happens continually, try calling your friend from a payphone, different phone, or unlisted number. You can also dial *67 before your friend’s number to temporarily hide the calling number. If they pick up, you can ask them what’s going on. If they don’t pick up, they may still be genuinely unavailable.
Call from a spoofed “friendly” number
Here we are getting into dangerous territory. Caller ID spoofing is the use of certain technologies (generally made available through apps or web services) to allow a person to place a call and have the caller ID information for that call appear to be from a different, specific phone number. For example, you could use a spoofing service to change your caller ID information to read “202-456-1111” – which happens to be the White House – and greatly confuse or amuse the person you called. Spoofing can be used for criminal purposes or for harmless pranks, but for our purposes here you can use it to do a final test on the person you’re trying to reach.
Here’s how it works. Use one of the spoofing services that are available online to make a call to your friend. For the spoofed number, you input the number of someone whose call you know they will take – a friend, or a parent, or their work number. When their phone receives that caller ID information, it will use that information to tell the recipient of the call who is calling . It will also include the contact name if the number matches what’s in the person’s contacts. So, if 719-302-3403 is your friend’s workplace and the contact is stored as “Joe’s Bar”, then when you make a spoof call using that number, it will show up as “719-302-3403 Joe’s Bar” on your friend’s phone – and presumably they will answer, since it’s work calling.
There are some disadvantages to this method. One, call spoofing may not work for too much longer. The FCC is implementing new rules for a standard called “SHAKEN/STIR” which won’t prevent the call from going through, but will alert the recipient that something is wrong with the incoming call’s information. Those rules and protocol are expected to be deployed by the end of 2019. Two, even if everything works as planned, your friend may figure out that you are the one messing with their phone, even if you don’t speak after they pick up. Call spoofing is not a brand-new technology and you may end up compounding a bad situation by using this technique. Still, that is literally your call to make.
Ask a friend to mediate
If you suspect that the person is blocking you, then you probably know why. But if you don’t know why, you might ask a mutual friend to mediate and try to find out what the issue is. Don’t be surprised, however, if friends don’t want to get involved in this type of drama.
Dealing with rejection
If someone is avoiding your calls, it may be time to reflect a little. Make sure they actually want to be in touch with you, then try again. Don’t call or contact too often, however, or you risk making things worse. Give your friend ample time to respond between contacts and hope that in the end they’ll have a great story for why they were unable to come to the phone. You may have to just acknowledge that for whatever reason, the person doesn’t want you in their life. This might be because of something you did, or it might have nothing to do with you. It is sometimes difficult to accept this, particularly if you don’t know the reason you’ve been rejected. However, part of being a mature adult is understanding that other people have their own agendas and make their own decisions, and that they are not obliged to explain themselves to you. Take a deep breath, accept that at least for the time being you’re just not going to be in contact with this person, and move on with your life.
We have a lot of great tutorial articles on telling whether you’ve been blocked on various social media sites, and some advice on how to deal with the situation as well.
Do you use WeChat? This tutorial will show you how to tell whether someone is blocking you on WeChat.
Hang out on Facebook a lot? We can show you how to tell if someone has blocked you on Facebook.
Lots of people use Kik these days – we can show you how to find out if you’ve been blocked on Kik.