Have you had a DNA match disappear? In this post, learn the different reasons why this may have happened and what your options are.
To clarify, this article is about an individual disappearing off of our DNA match lists and not about DNA matches actually disappearing. We can be sure that our matches who are no longer on our lists are still out there in the world somewhere, and our only hope is that we can connect with them again someday.
The reasons listed below are in a loose order from most likely to least likely, but it’s not scientific. There could be a few additional reasons, but this should cover 99% of any mysterious disappearing match.
Your DNA match opted out of matching
Most DNA testing companies allow us to opt out of DNA matching and only have access to our ethnicity or ancestry estimate. People might choose to opt out of matching because of privacy concerns, or because they don’t understand what DNA matching is.
If you have a DNA match that you knew you saw before and don’t see now, this is a very common explanation for why they disappeared from your list.
Fortunately, opting out of DNA matching is something that can be undone with the click of a mouse. The DNA match may change their mind in the future, and they could show back up on your list if they choose to opt-in to matching again.
Note: It is not possible to be “blocked” as a DNA match on most DNA testing company sites. These companies tend to have a policy of “if you want to see, you must be seen” when it comes to DNA matching, meaning you can opt-out of matching completely, but you can not prevent yourself from showing up on the DNA match lists of specific people.
You accidentally hid your DNA match
Sometimes, our DNA matches disappear because of an action that we mistakenly took. It is possible to “hide” DNA matches on some sites, such as Ancestry.
Fortunately, it is very easy to see the matches that you have hidden. On Ancestry, these matches are in a group of hidden matches and can be easy “un-hidden”.
You would be surprised at how easy it is to accidentally hide a match.
The DNA matches you on a different site
Many DNA testers have tested or uploaded with multiple testing companies. With so many DNA results on many different sites, it is easy to get mixed up about where we saw a specific DNA match.
For example, I manage results for more than 20 relatives, and most of those DNA kits are also on about five other sites. It can get hard to keep up with at times, and I have found myself struggling to remember where I saw a specific DNA match.
Before we decide that someone deleted their results or opted out of matching, we should be sure to check all of the different sites where we have our DNA.
The person matches a different test you manage
Many of us manage test results for many different relatives, with one of the main benefits being that our relatives might have DNA matches that don’t show up on our lists. Because we don’t share DNA with all of our relatives, the DNA match we are looking for could be on the list of one of the other tests we manage.
There is a temporary glitch in the website
As wonderful as modern technology is, it isn’t always perfect. There could be a temporary glitch in the system that caused the match to not show up on your DNA match list.
Some DNA testing companies manage databases with many millions of test results, and those systems can occasionally have issues. The best thing to do if you don’t see a match that you saw before is to wait a few days and check again.
If you tested on Ancestry, there are two ways to see a DNA match. The first way is on your DNA match list, and the alternative way is to visit their main Ancestry profile and it will tell you if you and that person share DNA.
This can be helpful if you feel like you can’t find a specific person that you remember seeing on your DNA match list.
The DNA results were deleted by the testing company
A DNA testing company might very occasionally choose to delete test results from their system. The most common reason for this to happen is if there is a dispute about who the DNA test results belong to or if there is question as to whether the terms of service were followed when the test sample was collected and submitted.
I know of one specific example of a testing company deleting results because of a dispute between family members. One cousin had the results of an older relative who had passed away and would not give another cousin access.
The cousin who was denied access contacted the DNA testing company and that company’s response was to delete the test results because the cousin who managed the results could not prove that they followed the testing company’s terms of service when they collected and submitted the sample.
This issue specifically deals with consent to collect the sample and mange the results. Anyone who collects a sample on behalf of someone else should make sure to get permission in writing and keep it in their records in case questions arise in the future.
Your DNA match deleted their test results
It is possible that your DNA match deleted their DNA test results. This would cause them to no longer appear on your list because their information would no longer be in the DNA testing company’s database of testers.
People might choose to delete their test results for a variety of reasons. One common reason for deleting results is that their DNA results revealed unexpected information, such as a close unknown DNA match.
If the person discovered surprising information during their DNA testing journey, they may have wanted to delete their results in order to keep the new information private.
Another reason that someone might delete their test results is that they became concerned with privacy and therefore chose to delete their data from the DNA testing company’s website.
Your DNA match shares less than 20 centimorgans with you
If your DNA match shares less than 20 cMs (centimorgans) with you and you remember seeing them on your list a few years ago, it is possible that they disappeared because of the new Ancestry DNA threshold for showing matches. We can no longer see relatives who share less than 20 cMs with us.
Most of us still have many thousands of DNA matches without being able to see these more distant matches, so it didn’t cause much of a fuss to lose them. However, it is important to keep this in mind as a reason that a DNA match might have disappeared off your Ancestry DNA match list.
This suggestion was brought to my attention by a reader, and I am grateful for it. Since this change happened a couple of years ago, I had completely forgotten about this as a reason that many of our very distant matches have disappeared.
Those of us who did our DNA tests with Ancestry many years ago are most likely to notice people missing from our lists. This is because when we first did our tests, there were fewer people in the databases to show up as a match, which meant that we were less likely to have close family matches, making our distant cousins more noticeable.
I hope that this post has helped you understand the reasons that your DNA matches may have disappeared, and how you can still learn about your relationship with these individuals.
If you have any questions about something that you read here, or if you would like to add a story about a match that you found – and then couldn’t see again – please join in the discussion below.
Thanks for reading today!