When you stop hearing from a pen friend…

Many posts could be written about friendship, and the various virtues that make for a good friendship, and this includes friendship by pen. Have you ever stopped hearing from a long-term pen friend that always responded within a reasonable time frame?  Most pen pals tend to write “one for one” – meaning that your letters are an even exchange. You write a letter, then wait to get a letter back before writing again. So what if you send your letter, and it is…crickets?

[For anyone international reading this…crickets? This is US slang, meaning absolute silence, no communication.]

If this is a new pen pal, it is possible that they just were not “connecting” with you and no longer wish to correspond. Don’t take it personally.

However, what if you have an established pen friendship, and suddenly there is no reply, and you patiently wait for a while? Patience is a virtue! All of us can get busy and get behind on our mail.

But after patiently waiting, still nothing. Would you do anything? I’d say a good friend should notice and care! What has happened? Are they okay? Drop them a friendly note in the mail, let them know you miss their letters, and hope all is well.

While it is unusual, letters can get lost in the mail. (Well, I should say that the commonness of this varies by country. Many nations have reliable post, but there are nations with rather unreliable mail.)  I’ve been a pen pal for 35 years, and had 5 or 6 “lost mail” scenarios. It would be a shame for a pen friendship to end because a piece of mail got lost, both of you just waiting, doing nothing. Do something! Reach out. A friend should care. Drop them a friendly note to check on them.

I find most pen pals to be fairly organized. They have some type of system for keeping track of their pen pal’s addresses and other details. But there is the occasional unorganized pen pal! I once stopped hearing from a pen pal, dropped a friendly note in the mail, and received a reply. This pen pal had been unable to reply to my previous letter because my address label got torn off the envelope in the post – and she had no record of my address! I was surprised. But, again, what a shame for a pen friendship to end for such a reason.

Maybe your pen pal suddenly had a series of untoward events in their life, and if so, they should be encouraged by your friendly note – knowing that you noticed their absence and cared enough to reach out.

Sometimes we can know ahead of time that our life will be busier for a while. Let your pen pals know that your letters will be less frequent. I remember a pen pal writing to tell me that she had a very heavy class load for the next 2 semesters, and would not be able to reply as quickly. This was good to know! And I could encourage her in her studies. Friends should cheer each other on, and support them in their life endeavors.

In closing, a fairly common thing with the pen pal hobby is that pen pals come and go. People “try” the hobby for a time, and lose interest. You can’t control this. It happens. But at least do what you can. If you stop hearing from a pen pal, reach out with a friendly note, so that a correspondence does not end for a reason like lost mail or a lost address!

5 thoughts on “When you stop hearing from a pen friend…

  1. Well, this post hit close to home. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I have often reached out to penpals I have not heard from in a while…sometimes they have responded cheerfully with “Oh, I thought I had responded”, sometimes with a personal reason for not being able to continue the correspondence, and sometimes nothing. In the latter case, I am saddened, but at least know that it is not due to a letter having gotten lost in the mail. Sometimes I am the one who has lost interest in continuing a correspondence, just as in-person friendships change with time. It is hard to write a letter to end a pen-friendship, and often I resort to the excuse of being busy; I just hate to stop writing, leaving the person wondering if a letter was lost or if they had somehow offended me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, and you are welcome! I really do think it is an essential quality of friendship to reach out when communication has ceased – whether a friendship by mail or in-person. Sometimes a friendship will end, but as you say – at least you know it wasn’t for a “silly” reason.


  2. It is always grfeat to be reminded.. Do you share in your blog when you have heard from your pals? How do you do it without invading their privacy?


    • Hi! Thanks for leaving a comment. I don’t think I have ever mentioned a pen pal by name. I do not share when I receive mail or send my mail. I usually write more generically about the pen pal hobby, and my general experiences, over my 30 plus yrs of writing. Also, none of my pen pals (that I am aware of) read this blog anyways. Several of my pen pals don’t even own a computer!


  3. Pingback: Pen Pal 101 | Postman's Treasure

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