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My DNA Matches Won’t Respond

One frustrating aspects of using DNA to learn about your family tree is when you contact DNA matches and there is no response.  Sometimes, you can even send multiple messages different ways and still get no answer. 

In this post, I will discuss a few reasons why your DNA matches won’t respond, and a couple of ideas for next steps.

My DNA Matches Won't Respond

In my own DNA journey, I have had numerous instances where I’ve sent an e-mail or Ancestry message (or two!) to a DNA match and gotten absolutely no response.  I now understand a little bit more about what might be going on behind the scenes, and know that not everyone shares the same level of excitement about meeting new family and doing family tree research.

Tip: One thing you should do before you reach out to your DNA matches

Before you write your message to your DNA match, be sure to organize your thoughts and have a specific question that you would like them to answer. It helps to do a bit of research before contacting them to look for clues about your potential relationship, and have some information to offer them, too.

Are you building a family tree? How many generations does it go back? Are you building your tree “wide“? Many times, we don’t get responses from our DNA matches because they are expecting us to want them to tell us how we are related.

It can be difficult to figure out how two distant relatives are related based only on the amount of shared DNA. Your match might not know much more than you do.

To get more responses, show your DNA matches that you have your “ducks in a row”, so to speak, and that you have done your research and are willing to be as helpful as possible in moving you both towards your family tree goal.

I recommend building family trees on Ancestry (it’s literally free and easy).

Reasons why DNA matches don’t answer messages

As it turns out, there are many, many reasons why people don’t answer e-mails and messages on your DNA testing companies messaging system.  When I first started out, I automatically assumed that people were just being indirectly rude to me. 

Why wouldn’t they answer my polite e-mails?  I’m a nice, normal person with a friendly face, so why wouldn’t my family want to be in contact with me? 

I think I’m wonderful, of course. I won’t bite, and I am not looking for an invitation to Christmas.

I have had close matches 1st-3rd cousins not respond to messages. So what gives? 

Isn’t the more the merrier?

It turns out that most of the time, the reasons that we don’t get responses from our matches isn’t personal.  These are some of the major reasons that I’ve seen people not respond to messages in a loose order of how often they might occur.

Sometimes people are just really busy

Most of the time, our DNA matches mean to write us back, but they never get around to it. As it turns out, they are human beings just like us and sometimes forget to do things.

Even though they might have good intentions, some people see their messages and never get around to writing you back.  Then, too much time passes and they figure that there is no point in writing you back, or they feel embarrassed. 

I am terrible about responding to voicemails, for example.  People leave me voicemails, and I always tell myself that I’m going to call them back, and sometimes I never do. 

This type of situation happens a lot with our DNA matches, since not everyone is as interested in family history and communicating with DNA matches as we are. I think that this is the thing that I have the hardest time remembering.

I spend all of my free time working on my family tree, so why doesn’t everyone else? I’m joking, of course.

It helps to have a extra-large dose of patience when it comes to corresponding with DNA matches. They will most likely write us back (eventually) when they have the time and remember to do so.

Click here to buy the Understand Your DNA Results Ebook

They don’t know that they have DNA matches

Some people don’t respond to their matches because they either weren’t expecting to get matches, didn’t want matches, or are just confused by the entire thing. This is a very common occurrence.

When I realized that many people who do these genetic DNA tests have no idea that they will actually get matched with their DNA relatives, it really surprised me, but it’s true. Many people do not know that they will be, or have been, matched with thousands of strangers who are related to them.

In these cases, they might be confused or skeptical about messages from DNA matches and will not respond.

They only wanted their ethnicity estimate

Many people take DNA tests and are only interested in the ethnicity estimate or ancestry report. They may not know that they will get DNA matches, do not understand how DNA matches can help them learn about their family, or are not interested in connecting with relatives.

This is a very common reason that our matches do not respond, if not the most common one.  It happens that some of our DNA relatives knew that they would get DNA matches, but they aren’t interested in talking with matches, or genealogy, and only wondered about their ethnicity. 

Once their curiosity about that is solved, they move on – sometimes without even a second thought.

You can sometimes decipher which DNA matches are most likely to have at least a passing interest in their family tree by checking how thoroughly they have filled out their profile, whether they have included family tree information, and how recently they last logged in to their test. These are the matches that are most likely to respond, but it’s always worth reaching out to any relative.

Some people only did the DNA test because a relative asked them to.

Very commonly, a DNA match may have only done a DNA test at the request of another relative so that they could learn even more about their family tree. In these cases, it is often the other relative that manages their results and views their DNA matches.

This has been the case in my family.  For example, I have an aunt and uncle who only did the test because all of their siblings were going to do it, and they were curious about which ethnicities would show up for them. 

That’s it.  My uncle has never even logged into his account to see his results personally – he’s only seen screenshots of his results. 

I hope no one is trying to contact him, because he will never answer.

Sometimes the results of these DNA matches are managed by relatives, such as cousins, who are related on a line of their tree that does not overlap with ours. In these cases, we may not receive a response.

Maybe they didn’t get your message

Very frequently our DNA matches do not see the messages that we send right away. If they do not see the message immediately, then of course they will not reply in a prompt manner.

If you use the messaging system on the testing company website, sometimes their account settings or technical issues prevent them from being notified in their e-mail address.  If they don’t log in to the system often, they won’t realize that they have unread messages.

This is the top reason that some of us get responses to our messages to DNA matches years later! I have had relatives respond up to three years later to messages, so I hope you get responses from old messages, too.

This is a great reminder to check your own account settings to make sure that you get e-mails when someone messages you on your DNA match list. In addition, it doesn’t hurt to check your message inbox periodically just to make sure that you have missed anything.

They might be interested in different family lines (not yours)

It can sometimes happen that your DNA match is only interested in a particular aspect of their family tree, and your placement in it doesn’t match with their research interests.  For example, maybe they are only interested in learning about their mother’s side of the family and you are related on their father’s side.


Usually, people will at least give you a polite (or even impolite!) response if this is the case, but as we all have limited time to dedicate to our hobby, this could be a reason that you haven’t gotten a response.

Hard feelings, resentment, abuse, addiction

It is not out fault, of course, but sometimes our DNA relatives don’t answer our messages because we are related through a relative that has caused trouble in a family. Family drama.  We all have it. 

In my extended family, there is lots of drama (and trauma), and some of my 1st-2nd cousins don’t want to be in touch with me because it reminds them (or their parents or grandparents) of drama that occurred with my parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents

Sometimes, hurt feelings (or worse) can take generations to forgive and forget.  For example, I had someone who was administering a kit for one of my DNA matches tell me that my match did not want to communicate with me directly because her father had been mistreated by my great-grandfather.

My great-grandfather!

I’m sad about it, because I feel like this cousin could really shed some light on my family history here in the US, but I have to respect her feelings.

They have completed their research

Some of our DNA matches have learned what they wanted to learn from their DNA test and no longer log in to their account and/or ignore e-mails sent from the messaging system. Perhaps they saw their ethnicity estimate and top few DNA matches and confirmed that their family tree is correct, and that’s all they wanted to know.

Less commonly, people create e-mail addresses only for using with their DNA testing and analysis accounts, and once they feel like their curiosity or research has been satisfied, they stop logging in to their e-mail and never see your messages.

They are no longer with us

People have been taking autosomal DNA tests with companies like Ancestry DNA and 23andMe for many years. It is an inevitable fact that some of the people on our DNA match lists are no longer living.

Unfortunately, our DNA matches can pass away.  One of my dad’s first cousins did a DNA test and sadly died at a relatively young age later that year. 

If someone shows as a close match to her, they might agonize looking at the last date that she logged in, wondering why she hasn’t responded to their message.  It’s very sad when this happens, and it’s probably happens more often than we think.

On a different line of my tree, I had an elderly DNA match respond to my first message but not my second. After a few months passed, I checked the internet and realized that she was no longer with us.

It’s okay if your matches don’t want to communicate

Sometimes, our matches just don’t want to talk to us, for whatever the reason.  It’s okay, and we should respect their decision, even if it means that we never get access to a particular bit of information that they have about our family, no matter how important the information is to us. 

We all have the right to decide who we communicate with, and under which circumstances.

It’s important to not take their decision personally.  Their choice not to respond to a message doesn’t have any bearing on our self-worth. 

Everyone has their own issues that they have to deal with, and we should understand that they are just walking their journey, doing the best they can.  Just like the rest of us.

And for those of you who are really frustrated because you know that someone has information that you need and appears unwilling to share it with you:  many times there are alternate ways to obtain facts that will help you in your search. 

It might take more DNA testing, more e-mails to other matches, and more research, but you can get there.

Why DNA Matches Don't Respond to Messages
Solve your DNA Mystery Ebook


I hope that you got some ideas from this article that help you understand why you have not heard back from a DNA match.  If you have any questions, or want to share a story here about getting in touch with your matches, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Further reading:

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Linda S

Tuesday 12th of September 2023

I reached out to several matches a few years ago, and became discouraged when I received no replies. A few months ago, I decided to try it again, and reached out to someone who was a more distant connection in the same tree. I included some information I had recently discovered, and he responded the same day. He gave me some helpful information, and after getting approval, gave me contact information for the other match. He explained that she doesn't like computers, so I wouldn't receive a reply via email. We have been corresponding through handwritten letters, which is delightful! Thank you for the insights


Thursday 27th of April 2023

I find a great many people do not respond. Some do and I’ve had some great conversations. The ones that puzzle me are where I give them some information and tell them I have done a great deal of research on that line. I’m curious about one I have now. He responded immediately but it was a very brief, almost curt response. I checked out his tree and I could see how we were related and that he did not have much information on that line but I do. I sent him some information and some links. We’ll see if he responds. Perhaps it could be because he is not interested in that line at this time. I have seen in the past people point-blank say they’re not interested in that family, for various reasons. In one case someone was only interested in their colonial ancestors and had no interest at all in their Irish ancestors.


Wednesday 26th of April 2023

I was adopted and was able to connect with my birth mother's family via a few years ago. She died 7 years before I took the DNA test, but the experience has nevertheless been a pleasant one and I was welcomed into the "circle". Only one match on my birth father's side (a 1st cousin) has replied to a query, but she couldn't be of help because she was adopted too, and knows nothing about her birth parents, one of which was a sibling to my birth father. Others on the paternal side that I have contacted haven't replied at all. The reasons given in the above article make sense of course, but it's still sad. I now know that my birth father was Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German and Dutch (MANY Dutch surnames in my matches.) Being able to know something of my ancestors history - occupations, where they lived, etc. is important to me. Odd that some would take a DNA test, which is all ABOUT "people", but then refuse to reply to a PERSON who is related to them.

Jack D'Gama

Sunday 6th of February 2022

There's nothing more frustrating than "Read". Some of these people have loads of tree photos, comments, likes etc but just ignore my message. In my experience more often than not people don't like connecting with their cousins, which is quite disappointing.


Monday 19th of June 2023

@Jack D'Gama, absolutely the worst!! I can see that my messages have been read and still no response even when the person is very active on Ancestry!

Sue Power

Saturday 9th of October 2021

I did my DNA on Ancestry 2 years ago, and messaged several of my matches as soon as the results came through. Only one replied at that time, which was very disappointing. However in the last month (2 years later) no fewer than 3 of them have finally answered, with no explanation or apology of any kind for the late response. Messages getting lost or misdirected perhaps? Anyway, whatever the reason, I would advise everyone not to give up hope of having your matches reply, it may yet happen!

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