How to Respond to Hey: 14 Responses Based on Your Interest

As opening lines go, "Hey" can be a bit confounding. But even if you feel awkward, take a breath and then check out our ideas for responding.

Published April 16, 2024
man smiling using smartphone at street

You're sitting there, minding your business when one of your messaging or dating apps suddenly pings. You take a look at your screen and notice the message is from a virtual or almost stranger and contains one of the most frustrating, lazy, and terrifying words in the English language when it comes to message apps... "Hey." (Although if I'm being honest, usually it's without capitalization and punctuation — just the unfinished thought, "hey" and nothing else.) 

So, you're facing down a "hey" and wondering what to do. It's hard to tell intent or anything else when you get this message. So do you ignore it? Say "hey" back, blurt out something that could be perceived as hostile like, "Whaddaya want?" or possibly respond in a way that invites more conversation? We have lots of ideas about how to respond to "hey" to help you navigate this maddening conversation starter, from the people you don't really want to talk to all the way to someone you REALLY want to chat with. 

14 Ways to Respond to "Hey"

From frosty to flirty, these are some ways you can respond to "hey".

  • Ignore it.
  • Rickroll 'em.
  • Say "hey" back.
  • Say something similarly non-committal.
  • Ask them, "'sup?"
  • Say something mildly sarcastic (and hopefully funny).
  • Peep at their profile and use their name.
  • Send an emoji or gif.
  • Ask them about their day.
  • Try a pickup line.
  • Ask about something on their profile.
  • Try a funny one-liner.
  • Let them know you're happy to hear from them.
  • Act like it's a legit conversation starter.

Ignore It

Here's something I learned early in the world of text and messaging apps. You don't have to respond. You don't owe anyone a response or your attention if you're not feeling it (which is, honestly, one of the great things about texting apps).

So, if it's someone you don't know and don't care to know (like say one of those impossibly handsome "military veterans" on Facebook who always have a profile pic with their dog, truck, and mom and a banner pic of a flag or a mountain or something — and they only have a handful of friends, all female... you know that guy, I know you do), you're perfectly within your rights to block, ignore, or just get on with your life. 

Rickroll 'Em

Only have a negligible interest or feeling surly because all they said to you is "hey"? Try the oldie but goodie, the Rickroll. A Rickroll says, "I'm still stuck in 2007, and I'm not afraid to prove it." It'll probably bring the convo to a screeching halt, but if that was what you were going for, mission accomplished. If you want to have more convo, then probably don't give 'em a Rickroll, yeah?

Say "Hey" Back

If "hey" is good enough for them, then it's definitely good enough for you, amiright? And sparkling convo starters like "hey" definitely deserve an equally riveting reply. So, if it is someone you're somewhat interested in trying to chat with, but you don't really care much if they respond back or not, then saying "hey" back is sort of like returning a tennis serve with a volley. Maybe you'll hit the conversational ball back and forth a bit for a while like a game of Pong. Them: "Hey" You: "Hey" Them: "Hey" You: "Hey hey" (way to change it up,  you). Eventually, maybe someone will say something else, and if not, no big loss.

Say Something Similarly Non-Committal

Okay — moving up slightly on the interest meter. Perhaps you could see yourself, at some point, having the energy to have a convo with this person. Great. But they didn't really give you a lot to work with, now, did they? So, you can respond back with something original but just as opaque as their message, like, "Hi." or "Hello." That puts the ball back in their court but shows at least a little originality.

Ask Them, "'Sup?"

If you want to find out a little more info before you decide to have an actual convo, then you can take a similar tone to their initial message, but actually ask them a question that they'll need to respond to. A simple "'sup?" would work, or, if you're really fast at sending texts, you could type out a full sentence like, "What's up?" Once again, it's up to them to tell you what they wanted with their original "hey."

woman texting and smiling

Say Something Mildly Sarcastic (& Hopefully Funny)

I would save this response for cases where you're only mildly interested because you never know how someone will respond to sarcasm. I would totally be down with it, but I'm unlikely to simply text "hey" to someone. Try something like, "Whoa, that 'hey' was supercharged. I can feel the chemistry from here." or, "Flatterer." 

Peep at Their Profile & Use Their Name

Are you slightly more interested? Then invest slightly more effort. Take a peep at their profile, find out their name, and then reply, "Hey, Snake!" (I'm not sure why this person's name is Snake in my head, but there you have it. It is.) You've used their name and even added an exclamation point for subtext to show you're at least a little interested. Now, it's up to them to elaborate on why they reached out to you.

Send an Emoji or GIF

Another relatively non-committal way to respond that shows you're interested in continuing the chat is to send an emoji like an adorable waving animal, the side-eye monkey meme, or a shocked-face emoji (or whatever else you're feeling... maybe avoid eggplants for the moment unless you'd like things to accelerate real fast). 

Ask Them About Their Day

You've determined that you might be at least a little interested in having a chat. So you could skip all the non-commital stuff and ask them something pretty low-stakes that will at least get the ball rolling. Try something like, "How has your day been?" or, "Tell me something you did today that was fun." These open-ended questions require more than a single word (such as yes, no, or another hey), so it will help you suss out what the intent of the original "hey" was and may possibly even start a conversation so you can decide whether it's someone you'd like to continue chatting with.

Try a Pickup Line

Whoa there, cowgirl. Looks like you've got a live one! If you're feeling a little flirty and their profile looks good, try a fun and flirty pickup line. Look for something fun, funny, or original, and then wait to see what they reply back.

Related: How to Flirt Over Text: Cute & Clever Examples

Ask About Something on Their Profile

If it's someone you don't know or barely know but all signs on their profile point to go and you'd like to get to know a bit more, then you can spend a minute or two on their profile and ask them an open-ended question about it. Something like, "I see you play piano. I do, too! How long did you take lessons?" 

Try a Funny/Fun One-Liner

If it's someone you know or have chatted with before, you can try something cute or funny like, "Hey back... I was just wondering about you." This lets them know they're on your mind (at least a little) and puts the ball back in their court.

Let Them Know You're Happy to Hear From Them

Okay — so it's somebody you're excited to (or at least happy to) hear from. In this case, you can respond with a simple line like, "Oh hey... I'm glad you reached out!" or, "Hey back... I was hoping I'd hear from you again." It lets them know where you stand but puts the onus on them to let you know why they reached out.

Act Like It's a Legit Conversation Starter, and Start a Conversation

If it's a really good profile (or somebody you already know and like), respond to the "hey" with something that'll spark a genuine conversation. Ask their opinion, say something about your day, or ask if they want to hear a funny joke (but only if you actually have a funny joke to tell), see a funny meme, etc.

Respond to Hey in a Way That Makes You Comfortable

From not responding at all to making jokes to starting a full conversation, you can respond to "hey" any way you want. So when you get a "hey," take a moment to gauge your level of interest in continuing the convo and then reply in a way that makes you comfortable. Remember, you don't have to respond right away (or at all), so take the time you need to come up with a response that feels right to you.

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How to Respond to Hey: 14 Responses Based on Your Interest