How To Tell Persistent People To Never Text You Again

Because for some weird people, “I’m not interested” doesn’t work.

On the flip side of texters who won’t stop texting (i.e.: guys you’ve gone out with once, realized MEH, and then receive ~12 texts from them a day), how do I get it to stop? I know the simple thing is to be like, sorry dude, not interested, but I’ve done that in the past and gotten calls/obnoxious messages DEMANDING EXPLANATIONS or whatever.

This is one of the many, many reasons I lament the fact that phones are, for the most part, no longer throwable. There isn’t much that feels better than throwing your phone at a wall, or to the floor, or across some grassy park area. They slide so smoothly off the hand — the perfect weight to make a really good collision sound, but (probably) not so heavy as to break whatever you’re throwing them at. I miss those days. But don’t throw your fancy phone.

I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with text harassment in the past. Just like any form of communication, this is the type of thing that can go from relatively benign to harassing in a matter of words. Some people seem unable to recognize when this boundary has been crossed, and others are able to recognize it but do not care. A reminder: do NOT repeatedly text anyone who doesn’t text you back. Ever. This is inexcusable behavior.

What you should do, letter-writer, is this: express your disinterest politely, but firmly. This should be done the moment you know it’s true. Text something like, “It was nice to meet you, but I’m just not interested.” Be direct and brief, and don’t apologize for anything. If this person continues to respond (beyond the requisite “I understand”), then text: “Do not contact me further.” This should leave no reasonable human being with the impression that your opinion of him/her is flexible. But not everyone is reasonable. So after sending that message, you can call your service provider to have this person’s number blocked from your phone.

Let’s say that on the subway you talk to a random cute person, and you two exchange numbers, and you both go your merry ways. This person sends you the obligatory “Hey, this is [name] from the train, did you get home okay?” text, you send the “Yea I did, nice to meet you” response, and then this person says “Nice to meet you too, good night.” My question is, isn’t that a little early in the relationship (and I use that word in the loosest sense possible) to say good night to someone? Am I channeling my grandma here?

Was there a kissy-face emoji after the “good night”? Was there a row of emojis that looked like a cartoon him/her, a cartoon you, then that weird head rub one, then one of a candle, then one of pajamas? Was the row of emojis all of that PLUS one of a morning sun, one of a frying pan, and one of an egg? If not, if the message was as you have relayed it to me, then no, I do not think it is too early to terminate an informal conversation by acknowledging the general position of your shared quadrant of the earth relative to the sun, and hoping that the time you spend there goes well enough.

I know what you mean, though. Speaking — or in this case, texting — certain words in the presence of people you find attractive can feel inexplicably suggestive. “Bed,” for example. Have you ever found yourself about to say the word “bed” in front of some crush, and then realized that you have to talk your way around it? You were about to say something about decorative pillows, maybe. (We’re not here to judge each other on what kinds of things we talk to our crushes about.) And now, instead, here you are saying “Oh yeah, I have just a couple of those on … well, I have some, it doesn’t matter where.” All because you might feel that saying the word “bed” would make him think that you were thinking about trying to get him in yours. “Mouth” is another one. “Clothes,” depending. It’s better to just not say anything at all.

What I’m more surprised by here is that you think the post-meet-cute text you got was “obligatory.” What! That’s not obligatory! That person is excited about you — so much so that s/he’s pretending that your getting home safely was a matter of chance. The “good night” is really incidental to the fact that this person texted you in the first place. You’re interested or you’re not, but the “good night” part is just good manners and nothing more. It’s really not weird, I don’t think. Anyway, have a good day.

I accidentally invited the wrong person to g-chat. Embarrassing! Sort of? Not that big a deal, but still uncomfortable. What do I do???

Are things getting better or are they getting worse? What causes more suffering: smallpox, or G-chat faux pas? We can’t say for sure, because there is no historical overlap there. It’s probably smallpox, though, to be honest. But G-chat mistakes are still pretty bad.

If the invitation was sent to someone with whom you have no feasible reason to interact (like a distant coworker, for example), then you should send this person a short email explaining that you meant to invite someone with a similar name. Apologize for the mistake, but be lighthearted about it. I normally don’t like advice that says “make a joke,” because what if you are terribly unfunny? But “be lighthearted” — that I think we’re all capable of. (“Sorry I g-chat invited you by mistake, everyone around me is dying and I got panicky and confused.” Don’t say that!)

The email should take care of it. No harm done. But seriously, and I mean it: reread your goddamn internet communications/invites. Check your reply vs. reply all tabs. Stand up, go get a glass of water, come back, and read them again. THEN, and only then, hit send.

FWD: Halp! is a weekly advice column on how to behave like a person when using technology. Would you like said advice? Email your questions to Katie.

Katie Heaney is a contributing editor at BuzzFeed FWD. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the internet.

Illustration by Cara Vandermey

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