What It Means If Someone Is 'Conversation Walling' You (And Why People Do It)

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Urban Dictionary Definition: What Is Conversation Walling & Why Do People Do It?

Hint: It isn't cool.

On my OKCupid dating profile under the section titled You Should Message Me If, I completed the sentence with the following: "You have more to say than 'hi.'" 

For years, I couldn't understand why this opening conversational gambit bothered me so darn much. Was I being too harsh? As a woman, I understand that the onus is usually on the guy to make the opening move, and I also get that this has got to be hard. Surely every single message men ever send to prospective girlfriends or hook up partners can be winners. But taking no more time and effort to write anything other than, "Hi" just seemed lazy to me. It seemed like ending a conversation before it even begins.  

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As it turns out, those men were either consciously or unconsciously "conversation walling" me. And I, my friends, do not take kindly to that kind of crap.

What is conversation walling, you ask?

According to the mad geniuses over at Urban Dictionary, this dating trend of sorts is defined thusly:

"When you're trying to make a conversation with a girl/guy you met recently, either A) online B) via text message or C) in person, and she/he responds to any of your questions with blank stares, one letter text messages using the words: oh, cool, or nice, or nothing at all until you have to try to change the subject."

Here's a pretty solid example of how this passive-aggressive technique might play out in real time: 

A: Hey! So, are you the oldest child or an only child or what?

B: Oldest. 

A: Cool! Do you have brothers or sisters or both?

B: Both. 

A: OK. Um... Did I do something to piss you off? 

B: No. 

A: K. Well, for some reason, keeping this conversation going feels like trying to carry a pile of bricks. 

B: Oh. 

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It's a method of communication designed to end any and all conversation as quickly as possible. It's also pretty much a b*tch move.

If you're guilty of behaving this way in conversation, you're probably doing it for one of the following three reasons.

1. You're angry about something, but can't/won't own it.

If you're doing it to someone you already know, you're probably angry with them and don't have the balls to come out and SAY that you're angry. So instead you treat them to this delightful passive aggressive treatment, leaving them to figure out from your lack of involvement in said conversation that they must have done something to piss you off. It's like the silent treatment, only worse... because no one doing it is five years old. 

2. You're not interested and want the other person to leave you alone.

Another reason a person might do this is if they want to give some one the brush off when it comes to online dating or perhaps answering a text from someone to whom they now wish they'd never given their number. For a million reasons, from immaturity to feelings of concern for personal safety, a woman or man might be loath to directly reject someone. He or she might think that if they take this tact, the person will buzz off on their own volition, either out of boredom or frustration.

3. You want the other person to work for it.

It can also be a direct challenge. That's definitely one way I've used it before. When you're a woman on a dating app, you get a lot of messages. It can make you cynical. Before too long you feel like you've got everyone's game sorted. You might want to see how interested a man really is. If he sticks around in spite of your walling, he might be worth your time. If he surprises you out of your wall-like behavior, so much the better. 

So there you have it, the definition of conversation walling. 

It's not the building of an actual wall, but it's definitely more of a barrier between you and a potential lover than you'd should ever want. Otherwise, why are you on dating apps in the first place?

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:20 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr