33 Things You Should Never Say Over Text
Stop sending these bad texts to your colleagues, your comrades, and your companion ASAP.
Text messaging exploded in popularity over the last decade. In fact, according to data compiled by Text Request, there are an estimated 26 billion messages sent via SMS every day. It’s a simple, speedy, and fun way of communicating—but the things that make texting so popular can also make it dangerous. Whether it’s handling something serious via SMS that should really be dealt with in person, or sending private information via your phone, there are numerous situations where texting is just not the right move. Here are 33 bad texts you should never send.
"I cheated on you."
Whether it’s written in a moment of panic or as a carefully worded explanation, letting a partner know you weren’t faithful via text is never a good idea.
"This is a serious matter, and it should be discussed face to face," says marriage counselor Shelly Kessinger, LPC, who runs Friendswood Marriage Counseling. "You also do not know where your partner will be physically when reading this, and it may be quite shocking for them. You already disrespected them by cheating on them—do not make it worse by texting this."
"I am sorry for cheating on you."
Any time you are trying to sincerely apologize—especially for something upsetting—text is not the way to do it. "Saying this in a text completely devalues the sincerity of the apology and assumes an emotional experience of the partner that was betrayed," says licensed marriage and family therapist Elisabeth Goldberg. "In other words, say this in person."
"I think we should break up."
Breaking up with someone should be done in person. If your relationship is serious enough that it warrants a break-up, it definitely shouldn't be done via SMS.
"Breaking up with an individual over a text is the rudest way of doing so," says Maryanne Parker, founder of etiquette consulting business Manor of Manners. "It is very offensive and hurtful. It is a combination between the pain from the actual break-up and the disappointment that it was done in a such a cowardly way."
"I promise I will change."
This encompasses any text in which some kind of change is promised: a promise to cut down on drinking, a promise to be more punctual, or even just a promise to remember to take out the trash. Shooting off a text saying you will change is not likely to convince the other person of your sincerity.
"Promises are only valuable when there is changed behavior," says Goldberg. "Say it in person and then prove it with your actions. Texting this shows cowardice and a lack of seriousness about changing. It’s as if the words themselves are enough to comfort the person. It's very hurtful."
For casual friends and acquaintances, a text, or even a Facebook message, is a totally fitting way to announce your soon-to-be-mom status. But for those closest to you—and for your partner especially—such major news needs to come in person.
"Hearing the news that your wife or girlfriend is pregnant is a moment that you will remember forever," says Kessinger. "It is not necessarily wrong to text this information; it is just not the most PC way to deliver this news." Wait until you see your partner and parents in person!
"Can I get a raise?"
Thanks to platforms like Slack, work communication is increasingly taking place over text. However, tackling serious work topics with a boss—like asking for a raise—is not wise to do via online platforms.
"While calling in sick is acceptable with a text, asking for time off or a pay raise is not," says manners expert Lisa Grotts. "Further, avoid trying to negotiate anything online. One-on-one interactions are necessary; anything less is unprofessional."
"You won’t believe what I just heard about…"
Gossiping about coworkers is also something you should avoid doing via text. In fact, it’s something you should avoid altogether if you want those you work with to respect you and not wonder what you are saying behind their backs when they aren’t in the group text.
"Gossiping about coworkers indicates much more about your character and not so much about the character of the person you discuss," says Parker. Bonnie Tsai, founder and director of Beyond Etiquette, further points out that "your text can be captured and shared with many others within seconds. You may have thought it was just a harmless comment, but now it could become a weapon used against you."
"Here’s my social security or credit card number."
Never, ever text sensitive information like your social security number, your credit card numbers, or other personal data. "Hackers can easily gain access to your information or devices without your knowledge or permission," warns Tsai.
While most of us are wise enough not to send a compromising pic to someone we just met on Tinder, even images sent to those we trust unconditionally can be hacked and exploited without our consent. That's why Grotts says that you should "never text naked or explicit photos."
"But here’s the point I’m trying to make…"
Text messages are not the place to hash out a complex debate. As Psych Central founder and editor-in-chief John M. Grohol, PsyD, explains on the site, texts are meant to be brief—so if a conversation is going to go deeper or could present opportunities for disagreement, it should be had in person.
"Any conversation that’s serious or is likely going to lead to a disagreement deserves more than a text," he writes. "A text is simply too short—lacking too much valuable emotional content—to do justice to who you’re sending it to."
"Why did you have to hurt my feelings?"
"It’s always a good idea to take a second to decide if it’s worth sending emotional messages through text since it’s hard to capture the tone and intention of the message," advises Tsai. "Texts can easily be misinterpreted and end up causing an unnecessary argument."
If there is something serious you want to address, seeing how the other person responds is important—not just with words, but also with their body language. That makes an in-person conversation all the more appropriate.
"Why are you always doing this annoying thing?"
If and when you need to discuss an ongoing issue with a friend or family member, do so in person. "Friendship is a two-way street, not one person trying to get back at another. If you can’t say it in person, then don’t do it via text," says Grotts.
If you choose to text about your qualms rather than talk them out face to face, there's a good chance the person on the receiving end will view it as an ambush. Without the opportunity to talk it through, there will likely be feelings hurt on both sides.
"I have some bad news…"
"Don’t share bad news over text where it can be easily misinterpreted," warns Tsai. "However, you can send a quick text to notify them that you need to talk to them on the phone to discuss the matter at hand."
"We need to talk."
For people who tend to assume the worst, getting a text that simply says "we need to talk" is likely to conjure up worst-case scenarios and cause mild panic attacks. "Sending this message may seem harmless to you because you know what you want to talk about," says Tsai. "However, it can be frightening for the receiver because they aren’t sure what to expect."
Instead of texting these four words, consider asking them to get together, and then have the conversation face to face.
"I'm just seeing your text now."
This is a classic text lie that most of us have used at one time or another. And while it’s unlikely to result in hurt feelings on the level of some of the other items on this list, odds are that the person receiving it will know that you're lying.
"You never listen to me!"
"It is not a good idea to say ‘you never’ to your partner, let alone in a text," says Lynell Ross, founder and managing editor of Zivadream.
"When you set up a statement with the word 'you,' this is placing blame on the other person and creates defensiveness. In addition, this is overgeneralizing, implying the partner never, ever listens. This will create ill feelings and frustration. Better to wait until you get home and can discuss problems calmly and in person."
"Please be on time for lunch today."
OK, so your friend has a habit of showing up late. While that’s a bit irritating, responding to rudeness with rudeness is not going to help solve the issue. Ultimately, it's almost always better to address any ongoing issues you have with someone in person in a courteous manner.
"If your friend has a problem being late, then wait until you get together and politely point out that they have a tendency to be late, and that it frustrates you to be kept waiting. The kinder you are, the better your request will be received," says Ross.
"I'm not taking on your work again!"
If a coworker has not been pulling their weight, that’s something that should be addressed. However, there is a time and place to address this—and it's not via text.
"If you have been covering for your co-worker, then you need to meet with them face to face and point out that you are no longer willing to do so," says Ross. "If this is going to affect your job or department, then first try to help out your co-worker by finding a solution to help them do their job better. Maybe they have problems at home, or need some additional training. Be understanding, but don't be afraid to set boundaries."
"I'm going to need some time off next week, so I won't be coming in on Thursday and Friday."
Asking a boss for time off via text is not a bad idea. But when you do ask, it’s important to frame it as a question rather than stating things as if the boss has no input.
"No matter how nicely you text this, you aren't giving your boss the option of saying no," says Ross. "Be respectful and ask their permission via email or ask for a meeting. The more polite you are, the more likely you will be to get time off."
"You’re not my type."
"‘You’re not my type’ conveys the message that the person is not good enough for you, implying that ‘my type’ is better than the person on the receiving end," says Goldberg. "It is very rejecting and insulting."
Anything drunk at 2 a.m.
When you’ve had a few too many drinks, sending a text to your ex might seem like a fun idea. More than likely, though, it’s just going to lead to regrets the next morning (or maybe even the moment after you send off the message).
"Most of the time, drunk texts are inappropriate—they might be rude, offensive, threatening, sexual, and many other shades of the ‘shame’ spectrum," says Parker. "If we do send them by accident, we will have to own the mistake and apologize."
"I know we're broken up, but I really miss you."
Nostalgia for the good times (and amnesia over all the reasons things didn’t work out) can sometimes lead to itchy texting fingers. However, you should always avoid messaging your ex, especially if the break-up is recent.
"This is very dangerous because it leaves the door open to reconnection and sets up false hope that the flame will rekindle," warns Goldberg. "Be clear with your boundaries. Exes should avoid contact for at least 30 consecutive days. If you’ve had contact with your ex, the next day marks the beginning of those 30 days. People need to detach and manage their own emotions so they don’t remain emotionally dependent."
"This really makes me mad."
We’re all familiar with drunk texting, but have you heard of upset texting? It's just like drunk texting—but instead of alcohol, it's anger that's fueling you to send texts that you'll later regret. As Stigma Fighters CEO Sarah Fader writes, "When you text angry, you might say things that are unnecessarily hurtful when there are other ways to handle situations that are more productive."
"I love you." (for the first time)
If you're in a serious, long-term relationship and saying "I love you" is second nature, then it's perfectly fine to do so via text. However, if it’s still relatively early in your relationship, then it's better to keep such sentiment for when you're in the same room as your significant other.
"Saying you love someone for the first time is a big moment, and you don't want to underplay it," explains Ella Worehead, PhD, a relationship coach at dating advice site TinderOPlus.com. "You'll never be taken seriously if you convey something packed with so much emotion and feeling through an emotionless text message."
"I’ve got a crush on you."
Though not as intense as "I love you," this still might be a bad idea to send over text. "While declaring your crush on someone over text is easy and more risk-free, it also can be seen as insecure and lazy," explains relationship expert David Bennet, co-founder of advice site The Popular Man.
"I can’t live without you."
"The issue with this text is that it can be read as hopelessly romantic—or terrifying," says Jenny Block, author of Be That Unicorn. Even though "we want our partner to love us to the ends of the Earth," this particular text is just a little too intense.
"You’re so different from my ex."
Though this is a line that falls into the category of "things you should probably avoid saying both in person and through text," it’s particularly unfortunate in text.
"If we are communicating with our partner and we are constantly bringing up our previous relationships or feelings we had before towards someone else, this definitely can become detrimental to our current relationship," says Parker. "If we moved on successfully, we should enjoy the present moment as much as we can. Many couples actually argue about details which happened in the past instead focusing on the present situations."
"I need some time apart."
There are countless reasons why time apart might be a good, healthy choice. But if the request is shot off in text form, it can easily be misconstrued and can lead to hurt feelings and misunderstanding.
"The problem here is that you’re leaving the person on the receiving end of this text hanging," says Block. "It’s not fair or kind to text someone one line when an in-person heart-to-heart is what’s really needed."
"I'm getting married! Here's a link to the wedding website where you can RSVP!"
"Announcements and invitations to big events like weddings should never be handled over text," says Leighton. If you're sending out invites to something you want people to view as a serious event—be that a wedding, a housewarming, or a baby shower—it’s best not to send them in text form.
"Thank you so much for coming to my wedding!"
Like a thoughtful invitation, a thoughtful thank you should not be sent via text. "Text messages are not a substitute for a real wedding gift thank you note," says Leighton. Take the extra few minutes to write handwritten notes—your guests will feel all the more appreciated!
"So sorry to hear your mother died."
While a note of sympathy via social media or text might be appropriate in the moment, an actual card is more appropriate to send as soon as you have the time. "Proper condolences require the formality and gravity of pen and paper," says Leighton. If possible, consoling someone in person is an even better and more appropriate option.
"Unless it's for very well-placed irony," Leighton cautions against the use of the pound sign in texts. While it may be appropriate for Twitter or other social media platforms, it’s strange to use hashtags in the context of text messages.
Avoid using sarcasm via text unless you're talking to a close friend. Leighton explains that "[sending] something sarcastic to someone you don't know well without a clarifying emoji" can lead to awkward misinterpretations and misconstrued jokes.