Manners Matter: Texting Etiquette

Dear Mary Pat,

I have a friend who thinks that texting is like a phone call: that it’s rude not to keep a running dialogue going, and he gets irritated if I don’t reply right away to something he says. I think texting is like an email: that you launch something, and the recipient replies when it’s convenient to do so. I don’t expect an immediate response.

After my friend went so far as to lecture me on his view of texting etiquette, I decided to share with him (nicely) my opposite perception of how it works. Now I just don’t text him because I don’t want to get roped into the text string for as long as the conversation lasts or endure another lecture if I pause for too long. If he wants an uninterrupted chat, he could call me. 

What do you think?


My Texts, My Rules

Fish Creek, Wisconsin

Dear My Texts, My Rules,

There’s no set etiquette for when to respond to a text message; however, I think we are all somewhat conditioned to expect a quick response. I totally agree that if you want an uninterrupted chat, picking up the phone is best and leaves less room for miscommunication.  

Texting is great for sharing information such as “Leaving in 5 minutes,” “Your order is ready,” “Check out this funny meme,” “The meeting time has changed to 1 pm” and so on. Texting is not great for solving disputes, having long-winded conversations, breaking up with your dating partner, quitting your job or swaying political beliefs.  

Although texting is convenient, keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s convenient for the recipient at that particular moment. The recipient might be driving, working, having a family dinner, doing homework or exercising. If you do engage with a text that starts to seem never ending, you can simply say, “I’m in the middle of something now, so can we please pick this up later?” or “TTYL” (talk to you later) if you’re really pressed for time. 

Good luck,

Mary Pat

Miss Pat was educated at the Finnish Finishing School for Fine Ladies. Eloquent in edifying etiquette, she is fluent in seven languages, including the language of love. Mary Pat has generously extended her counsel to you and will answer any and all inquiries. Email Mary Pat at [email protected].