Let’s face it: ending face-to-face conversations seems easier and comes more naturally than those happening over text. This is because in-person communication enables important factors to come into play, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language, among others.
When conversing with someone via text, these factors are absent, which can lead to misinterpretations about meaning and intent. In some cases, you’re left to guess whether you’ve caused someone to be upset because of the way they replied. On the other hand, you might feel anxious about how to end a text conversation that has run its course without appearing rude.
The good news is that there are ways you can gracefully exit from a long-drawn-out text conversation, or nip a potentially pointless one in the bud. Through some carefully crafted responses, proper timing, and even a few emojis here and there, you can terminate a text conversation without necessarily terminating your relationship with the other party.
Because almost everyone has access to a mobile phone, people tend to expect quick text responses. In fact, not receiving an instant reply might as well be the digital equivalent of ignoring a person tapping you on the shoulder. Thanks to technology, many people have come to interpret real-time replies as a sign of politeness. On the other hand, delayed responses or offering no response at all are viewed as being rude or standoffish. That said, these expectations can make it awkward to politely opt out of a conversation in the first place.
If you find yourself unable to entertain text conversations for whatever reason, it’s a good idea to set expectations early on. Letting the other person know that you’re busy, preoccupied, or unavailable for a significant part of the day will save you the trouble of crafting hasty replies. At the same time, whoever you’re talking to won’t feel as though you’ve left them hanging. They also won’t feel anxious in waiting for a reply. It’s the same as telling someone not to wait up for you because you’ll be late: you’re definitely going to be there, just not at the moment. This way, you’re postponing a conversation you’re not ready to have yet.
Sometimes, the best solutions are the simplest: be straightforward. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re being rude or have permission to be. Telling someone “I don’t want to talk anymore” is worlds apart from saying “I’m going to head off, let’s talk again next time!” These two essentially mean the same thing but how you impart your message is what differentiates tactlessness from politely bowing out of a conversation.
The key to being straightforward while still maintaining that tone of courtesy is assuring the other person you’ll reconnect with them some other time. This tells them it’s the conversation you’re ending, not your desire to communicate. It also reassures them that they haven’t caused you any inconvenience (even if they might have). Alternatively, you can also end the conversation with an expression of gratitude, again assuring the other person that you’d love to talk to them when you have the chance.
Some useful responses include:
- “Had a really fun time! Let’s catch up again soon!”
- “This made my day. Thanks for sharing!”
- “I’m going to bed now, talk to you in the morning!”
- “Meeting someone for lunch. Catch you later!”
Notice how these phrases tend to use exclamation points. It’s one way you can convey enthusiasm and sincerity while telling someone you’re currently unavailable to chat.
In some cases, you can’t help but be dragged into a text conversation that’s devolved into something pointless or boring. This is especially true when a friend or family member shares something about a specific interest or hobby that you’re not entirely familiar with. It’s tedious to hear them monologue about a show or band or sport you’re not into yourself, but their unbridled enthusiasm makes you feel guilty for not indulging them, at least for a while.
But, there comes a point when you don’t have much to contribute to the conversation (if you can call it that) and the merciful solution is to just end it instead of replying to every chat with shorter and shorter “haha”s. This is when emojis, GIFS, or reactions can come in handy.
Responding with words implies that you somehow want the conversation to continue. Of course, this isn’t your intention but it can get muddy when it comes to text conversations. So, in place of words, you can simply respond with emojis and GIFs, or “react” to a chat message. Since emojis and GIFs are just images, there isn’t much of an opening for the other person to follow it up with anything else. Responding to a message with a heart, like, or laugh reaction tells them you’ve seen the message, acknowledge it, but don’t have much to say about it. It’s a nifty way to end a conversation without having to type a single word.
If you’re not entirely comfortable ending a conversation with emojis and GIFs, there are one-liners you can use to signal the end of a text conversation. It’s basically the same principle as with the use of emojis or GIFs, wherein the other person won’t really have any openings to continue the conversation unless they ask you a question.
Depending on the context of your conversation, some useful one-liners include:
- “Totally agree!”
- “Sounds good!”
- “Got it!”
Keeping a text conversation going longer than it should seem like the polite thing to do, but can become an unhealthy response sooner or later. It’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with setting boundaries and opting out of conversations you don’t want to deal with. This can be tricky, but with the tips above, you can tastefully end a text conversation without being awkward.