What does it mean when a guy tells you “Hey Stranger”?

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You haven’t spoken in a while and he pops up on your phone with a “Hey stranger”.

What is going on and what does it mean?

The truth is that when a guy says hey stranger to a girl, it’s usually not as innocent as it sounds.

Here are all the possible “hey stranger” meanings from a guy, and how to handle it.

You’ve received a hey stranger message

In a moment, I’m going to run through all the possible motives for him sending you a hey stranger message.

But to help you decipher which one applies to you, you’re going to need to consider a few things first.

Because his intentions (and your response) is going to hugely depend on:

1) The current situation between you

Who is this guy to you and what is your history?

It’s going to mean something different when your ex texts you hey stranger than when an old friend does.

If you haven’t spoken in a while, is that because of you, because of him, or a bit of both?

Have you been distant with him or has he been distant with you?

2) His past behavior

How has this guy behaved towards you in the past?

Was he the perfect gentleman but for some reason you drifted apart, things fizzled out and you’ve lost touch?

Or does he have a pattern of flaky behavior? Maybe he has played hot and cold or has strung you along in the past.

What does it mean when a guy says hey stranger?

Scenario 1: When he says “hey stranger” when you haven’t heard from him in a while

1) He’s acknowledging you haven’t spoken in a while

If this guy has gone totally missing in action for a few days, weeks, or even months then he can hardly just send you a message as though nothing has happened.

How weird would that be?!

So saying “hey stranger” is his way of acknowledging that you two haven’t spoken for a bit, and it’s been long enough that he can’t simply ignore it.

But rather than make a big deal out of it, he’s trying to play it down and be really casual about it.

2) He’s trying to backtrack

If he’s saying hey stranger to you, then it’s a safe assumption that you have lost touch or drifted.

With friends, this can happen. It isn’t always easy to balance everything we’ve got going on in life.

But if this is a guy who you had something romantic with, it sounds like he’s trying to worm his way back in.

It’s a low-key and non-committal way of testing the water and getting back in touch. He wants to see how you will respond and how receptive you are to him.

3) He’s flirting

It’s hard to put your finger on why exactly, but there is something more flirty about saying hey stranger than other potential messages he could send.

It’s a little bit playful.

Particularly when it’s sent to someone you are interested in, have a history with or have flirted with before — there’s something coy or teasing about it.

So it can be safe to assume that if you guys have history, it’s a flirty as well as friendly text.

4) He’s breadcrumbing you

The very fact that you need to Google ‘hey stranger meaning’ points to a very big problem:

It’s ambiguous.

His intentions aren’t really clear. And I’m guessing his behavior up until now may have also been confusing and not so clear too.

If he has shown a lack of effort in the past, then a hey stranger message is just a continuation of this.

Players have a whole load of breadcrumbing tricks that they pull on you and sadly, hey stranger is one of them.

He’s disappeared for long enough for it to be noticeable and now he’s back. Rather than ghost you, he prefers to keep you hanging.

5) He’s bored

As I just mentioned, hey stranger doesn’t tell you a whole lot. It’s more of a fishing expedition.

Like me give you a scenario:

He is at home with not much going on.

Other girls who were on the scene either didn’t work out or aren’t around right now. He’s not got any plans and is looking for some time to kill.

So he scrolls through his phone or his social media and comes across you.

Without much thought, he throws out a hey stranger.

He’ll now just sit back and see whether you respond, but either way his investment is low.

6) He’s looking for attention

Basically the same point as above but rather than boredom, he is motivated by a lack of attention from anyone.

The classic f**kboy doesn’t know what to do with himself when he isn’t getting validation from a girl.

It dents his ego.

He may have disappeared when he had multiple options, but if those have dried up he is having to double back on older sources of attention.

That means you.

I’m sorry to say but ultimately he is time-wasting and you are getting caught in the firing line.

Scenario 2: When he says “hey stranger” when he hasn’t heard from you

1) He isn’t hearing from you enough

Maybe you connected with this guy, talked a bit and exchanged some messages but it didn’t really go anywhere.

You got busy, bored or just put it on the back burner.

Then all of a sudden he either drops back into your inbox with a “hey stranger” or when you send a message to reach out again he replies saying this.

Overall it’s a friendly way to point out that he isn’t hearing from you as much as he would like.

It’s a hint that things aren’t progressing at the speed or intensity he would want them to.

2) You’ve taken too long to reply

Let’s say he sends you a message, but it takes you ages to get back to him.

if you haven’t replied to his last message, then receiving this is a little nudge. He might follow up with a “hey stranger” to remind you that he is there and waiting.

Perhaps it took you quite a while to reply, and his response to that is “oh hey stranger”. Again, it’s a slight dig at the fact you have taken your sweet time.

It’s not an angry response, more of a slightly passive-aggressive way to tell you that he wants to hear from you and perhaps feels a little ignored.

3) He’s surprised to hear from you

If you have sent him a message out of the blue and he wasn’t expecting to hear from you, then “hey stranger” could be signalling his surprise.

If you did indeed drop off the face of the earth without telling him where you were headed, he will probably respond with a “hey stranger”, to let you know he was genuinely shocked to see you pop up on his screen.

4) He’s happy to hear from you

Hey stranger is generally still a happy and polite response to send to someone we haven’t heard from in a while.

So it means he is glad to see you are still around.

He may even add a smiley emoji to show how pleased he is to hear from you.

The fact that he is replying even after not hearing from you for a while also suggests he still wants to speak to you.

5) You’ve been on his mind

If a guy you haven’t reached out to in a while makes the effort to reach out to you, then it could be that he has been thinking about you.

If it’s an ex, maybe he misses you. If it’s a former flame that you moved on from or things didn’t work out, he could be trying to reconnect with you.

Although one text isn’t enough to figure out exactly what’s on his mind (you’ll need more info for that) you can assume that he has thought about you enough to decide to get in contact.

What now?

I know I’ve bombarded you with a whole lot of potential meanings of hey stranger. But the truth is that communication can be complicated.

As I said in the beginning, interpreting his intentions depends on your very unique circumstances.

I’d suggest going with your gut.

Try to avoid wishful thinking and look objectively at your situation before coming to conclusions.

I know that can be hard to do though. Nothing blinds us quite like love and romance.

That’s why while this article explores the main reasons for a hey stranger text, it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach about your situation.

With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice specific to your life and your experiences…

Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations. They’re a very popular resource for people facing this sort of challenge.

How do I know?

Well, I reached out to them a few months ago when I was going through a tough patch with a guy I was into. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my situation and how to get it back on track.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

Click here to get started.

What to do when you get a hey stranger text

Before you pick up your phone, here’s what to consider:

1) What do you think his real intentions are?

Maybe you still can’t be certain, but you certainly have a sneaky suspicion or a strong hunch about his motivations.

Of course, if you were the one who has been a bit frosty with him, then I wouldn’t worry about getting a hey stranger message. Don’t think too much about it, as it’s most likely innocent.

But if it’s the other way around and he was the one that did the disappearing act, it’s another matter.

You might want to think long and hard about whether you want to welcome him back into your life.

2) What do you want from him?

What outcome are you looking for here? Do you want to be friends with this guy or more?

How do you feel towards him?

Maybe you want absolutely nothing from him, maybe you’re perfectly happy to flirt and “play the game” or perhaps you’re looking for a little bit of revenge.

I’m not here to judge either way. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. That would just make me a huge hypocrite as I’ve chased after way too many guys that I probably should have left well alone to judge anybody else, that’s for sure!

Be honest with yourself though. And be warned:

The huge reflag from a “hey stranger text”

The biggest issue with a hey stranger message boils down to this:

It’s veryyyyy casual

Maybe that’s alright for you, but maybe it’s not.

If you once had something casual that felt like no big deal, it could just be his way of getting back in touch.

But if this was a guy you thought something was happening with and then he suddenly disappeared and reappeared, it’s not good.

It’s a pretty half-hearted attempt to chase you. In fact, it’s an almost nonexistent effort at chasing you.

“Hey stranger” suggests he’s gone off and is now trying to come back (and who knows for how long).

He hasn’t made the effort when it counts. Now he’s dropping back in with a casual slide into your DM’s.

Hey stranger isn’t really any different than sending 1001 other really casual and low investment messages.

“Hey”, “How’s it going?”, “How’s things? or even the Joey from Friends special: “How you doing?”

It’s not giving you a lot to work with because ultimately HE isn’t giving you a lot to work with.

How to respond to hey stranger text

1) Don’t reply

You know what they say, silence speaks volumes.

If you’ve decided that this guy doesn’t deserve a response from you then you don’t have to give him one.

This might be your best bet if any of the following applies:

– He has a girlfriend

– He has been stringing you along

– You’ve had enough of him

– You’re not interested and he won’t go away

– He’s displayed some pretty bad behavior in the past

2) Respond with the same energy

Like I said, I know all too well that sometimes the head and the heart are on different pages.

We want to kick them to the curb, and we know we probably should. But “should” and “will” can feel a world apart.

You might realize that he’s no good, suspect he doesn’t really care, and be damn sure that he doesn’t deserve you. But that doesn’t mean you can always stop yourself from getting sucked back in.

If that’s the case, and you are going to re-engage, then don’t give him too much energy.

Make him do some work, and test how interested he really is.

Because if he genuinely wants to connect, or make amends, he’ll keep the conversation going.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. And don’t go out of your way for him until he is willing to give you what you want from him.

Too many of us women take far too much hope out of the most minimal of effort.

We then end up putting too much expectation on the slightest bit of attention. And it sets us up for even more disappointment down the line.

3) Shut him down

The smartest thing to do can be to shut his attempts to drift back into your life down once and for all.

You may already have the perfect response in your head. Be sure to keep it brief if you want to get rid of him. Don’t send anything that’s likely to keep the conversation going.

Or maybe you don’t want him gone altogether, but you do want to bring him down a peg or two.

Here are some potential replies to send to a hey stranger message:

  •  My mom always taught me not to talk to strangers

This one is not only a funny reply to hey stranger but also a bit flirty too. So be prepared that this probably will keep the conversation going. But maybe that’s what you want.

  • Laughing emoji or LOL

Simply sending a short response that lets him know that his message is a total joke to you is likely to be a kick in the teeth. It signals that you know what he’s up to, and you’re not buying into it.

  • Who is this?

Getting a ‘who ‘dis’ text is bruising to his ego. Sure, you have his number and you know who it is, but that’s not the point. It says to him that he’s pretty inconsequential in your life. If he replies you can either choose to ignore him, or simply say something like “oh”.

  • “Nah”, “no thanks”, “bye stranger”, “not interested”.

Whatever you say, the shorter and blunter the better if you want to give him the message that this door is well and truly closed. Boy bye!


Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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