Texting has become such an integral part of how we communicate, we often don't think twice about the types of messages we send. Whether it's sending a quick emoji, or a description of your day in its entirety, texting is typically our go-to form of reaching others.
However, there are a number of things not to say over text, no matter how convenient or easy they may seem. Texting etiquette has shifted over time, but there are still certain conversations worth having in person and rules you should follow to ensure you don't hurt yourself or others.
"Texting etiquette is becoming more important than ever now in todays mobile-first culture,"
lifestyle coach Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. "How and when you text someone will definitely impact how they feel about you, and even how they choose to interact with you. From business, to family, to relationships, you'll be texting at some point, so it's best to know the proper etiquette for all of these different scenarios."
A large part of cultivating good relationships with people is communication, and this includes how you act on your mobile phone. Sometimes that amounts to losing the phone altogether and opting for an in-person discussion. To make sure you're not upsetting anyone, or potentially even hurting yourself, here are 13 things to look out for.
Tell Someone Bad News About Your Health
"Although it may be tempting to avoid having a conversation, it's never a good idea to convey bad health news over a text," says Myra. "It doesn't give the person a chance to process the information fully, and may make it seem like you don't care about their feelings." As hard it may be, you're best making time for an actual conversation when it comes to news about your wellbeing.
This one should come as no surprise, but avoid ending a relationship with someone in a text. "It took a lot to cultivate a relationship," says Myra. "If you want things to end on amicable terms, don't ever break up over text." Have the conversation face-to-face, as long as the relationship isn't toxic or abusive and it's safe to do so. This way your partner can heal properly.
Bring Up An Old Argument
Although you should generally stay away from intentionally dragging up old problems, doing it over text especially is a big no-no. "Not only are you stirring up old dirt, you're doing it in a passive aggressive way that prevents someone from responding in any meaningful sort of way," says Myra. "Things get misunderstood over text all the time since there is no tone of voice or body language to gauge, making a text the worst possible way to bring up an old issue."
Sending a password might seem innocent, but it can very easily fall into the wrong hands. "You never really know who is seeing someone's phone or flipping through someone's text messages, so it's never a good idea to send passwords via text message," says Myra. "Also, a phone is much easier to hack than you may think, making anything you send via text vulnerable for stealing. And let's not forget that people lose their phones and in some cases get them stolen."
Send Unsolicited Sexual Photos
You definitely want to make sure the person on the receiving end is OK with what you're sending, especially if its sexual in nature. "Unwanted sexual advances happen far too often," Tara Struyk, co-founder and editor-in-chief of
Kinkly tells Bustle. This can include unsolicited nude photos, unwarranted sexts, and progressing with sexual conversations and requests when the person has shown no interest. "Whether you're texting or talking in person, the rules are the same: Be respectful, be aware of other people's boundaries and, above all, find out whether someone is receptive to your advances before you make them," says Struyk.
Complain About Your Workplace
Everyone needs to vent about their job sometimes, but be wary of expressing your negative feelings in a text message, especially to a coworker. "Friends (especially co-workers) can quickly become foes, and your job could become in jeopardy if those texts were shared with the wrong people,"
family internet safety advocate Sue Scheff tells Bustle. "If you're having a bad day at work, consider joining your friend or co-worker off-tech for a session of whine and wine — no devices."
Hearing that someone has passed never feels good, but when you announce it over text, you have no idea where that person is or what they are doing when they receive it. "This situation should be handled delicately and not through a text message,"
etiquette expert Jacquelyn Youst tells Bustle. "You risk coming across as cold and uncaring."
Handle Job-Related Problems
It's nerve-wracking having to confront a coworker or your boss about an issue you're having, but hiding behind your phone is not the way to go. "Handle job related problems in person," says Youst. "You do not want to burn bridges in your career."
it's hard to ignore the instinct to text your group chat about the scandalous news you just heard, but you'll want to refrain from spreading information about others so readily over text. "This is never a good idea because it's too easy to take a screenshot or send a message along to anyone," says Myra. "The last thing you want is hardcore proof of your negative gossip getting back to the wrong people."
"Business negotiations are a subtle and delicate thing, and not suited for text messages," says Myra. "Face-to-face interactions are necessary to build trust and confidence, and you'll not be able to do this in a text. In fact, texting about business stuff will make you look highly unprofessional." Instead, have a face-to-face conversation, and then finalize what you've discussed in a written contract.
Telling someone you're pregnant is a big deal — whether it's announcing it to the father or even just spreading the news to family and friends. "Delivering news of a new baby needs to be handled in person," says Youst. "Take the opportunity to spread the good news personally, and show the joy with words and body language."
Say "I Love You" For The First Time
Saying you love someone for the first time is a big moment, and you don't want to underplay it. "You'll never be taken seriously if you convey something packed with so much emotion and feeling through an emotionless text message," says Myra. Use an in-person conversation to convey the depth of your emotion, and discuss it openly with your partner. There's nothing more nerve-wracking than waiting for a response to a text like that.
"If you want to make things right, apologize in person, admit to your wrong doing and have an actionable plan in place to make things right," says Myra. "Everyone relates to apologies differently and needs different things to feel like the apology is sincere. The one consistent thing is that you'll never get that feeling out of your partner if you try to apologize in a text. In fact, your seeming lack of attention and sincerity is apt to make your problem even worse."
Texting is one of the simplest ways to communicate, and is definitely effective for lighter conversations. But save the heavier topics for in person — some things were just meant to be said face-to-face.