Do you ever run out of things to say when you’re talking to someone over text? It can be difficult to maintain a stream of funny or exciting chat, and it’s normal to feel like you’ve run out of topics to talk about. In this article, you’ll learn what to do when a text conversation dries up or starts to feel awkward.
How to keep a conversation going over text
Here are some strategies you can use when a text conversation starts stalling. Whether you’re talking to a friend, crush, stranger, or someone new you’ve just met online, these tips will keep the conversation flowing.
1. Shift the conversation back to the other person
It’s fine to talk about yourself, but a good conversation is a two-way dialogue. This means that, ideally, you should both be asking and answering questions. If you only talk about yourself, the person you’re texting will probably get bored or start to think that you’re self-centered.
If your conversation has come to a halt, read over your last few messages. If you’ve been talking about yourself too much, rebalance the conversation by asking a question. The other person might be waiting for an opportunity to share something with you.
For example, if they asked you which TV shows you watch and you’ve been talking about your favorites for a few minutes, turn it back to them by asking, “And what about you? What shows do you never miss?”
2. Ask open-ended questions
Open-ended questions encourage people to open up and share some details about themselves. This can make it easier to keep a conversation going. You don’t have to use open questions all the time, but they are often useful.
For example, if you ask someone, “Do you like rock climbing?” they will probably answer “Yes” or “No,” which won’t spark much conversation.
You’re more likely to get an interesting answer if you ask an open-ended question like, “I’m curious; What do you like to do in your free time?” If you were to ask this question, the other person would have an opportunity to talk about their hobbies and interests in depth. You could end up talking about lots of different things, depending on what they like to do.
Closed questions aren’t always bad. Try pairing a closed question with an open follow-up question. For example, if someone says “Yes” when you ask them whether they like video games, you could then say, “What kind of games do you like to play?”
3. Avoid giving dry, short answers
Your conversation may come to a halt if you don’t give the other person much information to work with.
For example, let’s say that someone asks you, “What’s your favorite thing to eat?” If you said “Sushi,” you’ve answered their question, but you are still forcing them to do all the work to keep the conversation going.
A better response might be, “Sushi, definitely. I’d like to try making my own rolls sometime, but I’m not sure my rolling technique would be any good!”
4. Ask the other person about their day
They might seem like low-effort questions, but “How was your day?” or “What did you do today?” can keep a conversation going. Just don’t make a habit of falling back on these questions whenever you can’t think of anything else to talk about, because you might come across as lazy.
To make these questions more interesting, try telling the other person something positive or entertaining about your day first. For example, instead of saying, “So did you have a good day at work?” you could say, “So how was your day? I managed to fix the photocopier single-handed! I’m still feeling proud :)”
5. Send a meme or GIF
Sending a cute or funny meme, GIF, or video is a quick way to lighten a conversation and keep it going. For example, you could say, “That reminds me of this…” and then send a relatable meme that’s relevant to the conversation.
6. Prepare topics ahead of time
The idea of planning a text conversation might seem strange, but keeping a list of topics you could use in the future can help you feel more comfortable when you’re talking to someone. When you see or hear something that makes you think of a person you’d like to text, make a note of it and bring it up when the conversation dries up.
For example, let’s say they love ice cream. On your way to work, you see that a new ice cream parlor has opened up nearby. You could take a photo of it and make a note on your phone to mention it in your next conversation. You could say, “By the way, I saw this place the other day! Thought you might like to see it. Looks like your kind of place :)”
7. Mention something they posted on social media
If the other person has posted something on social media, they’ll probably welcome a comment or question about it. For example, if they’ve posted a photo of themselves at a party, you could say, “I saw the photo of you at the party. Looks like you had fun! What was the occasion?”
It’s best to comment on a recent post. If you comment on something they posted a long time ago, you might come across as too intense or nosy.
8. Refer back to a previous conversation
Going back to an earlier conversation can be easier than thinking of something new to talk about. You could bring up something new you’ve thought of since the previous discussion or follow up on something the other person told you about.
Here are a couple of examples that show how you can refer back to a previous conversation:
- “Remember when we talked about college last week? I never got around to asking you about sorority life. What’s it really like?”
- “By the way, when we were talking about our worst ever vacations at the weekend, did I tell you about the time I ended up stuck in Changi Airport for over 24 hours?”
- “You told me last week that you couldn’t decide between catching a movie or going to a games night on Saturday. What did you pick in the end?”
- “You started your new job on Tuesday, right? How do you like it so far?”
- “Did you decide to adopt that collie you saw at the animal shelter?”
9. Play a game
Playing a game can be a low-pressure way to have fun together over text. Games are structured, so you don’t have to worry about thinking up new topics. They can also lead to flirty conversations because they encourage a playful mood, so they can be a good option if you’re texting a guy or girl you like.
Ask, “Hey, would you like to play a game?” or, “Are you in the mood for a game?” If they say yes, you could suggest one of the following:
- Truth or Dare
- Would You Rather
- Guess The Lyric
- 20 Questions
- Kiss, Marry, Kill
For more ideas, see this list of games you can play over text.
You could also:
- Challenge each other to tell the corniest jokes
- Send sentences or phrases made up of emojis and challenge each other to decode their meaning
- Send each other riddles
- Write a story together, taking it turns to add a sentence
10. Ask the other person for their opinion
Asking for an opinion can be a great way of reviving a dying conversation. Most people are happy to share their opinions.
Here are some ways you can ask for someone’s opinion. To avoid giving the impression that you’re interrogating them, share your views too:
- “What do you think of this article? [Link] I think it’s a bit one-sided, but the writing style is really entertaining!”
- “Do you like [musician]’s latest album? It’s so different from their usual style. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.”
- “So, people at work keep talking about Dry January. What do you think of the idea? I might give it a try. Can only be good for your health, right?”
- “If you’ve tried the burger place on Main Street, what did you think of it? I tried their bean burger last night. It was amazing!”
You could also ask them to help you decide between two or more options. For example, you could say, “I’ve got to get a birthday present for my sister. She’s mad about cats. What do you think of this bag? [Photo]”
11. Find commonalities by broadening the conversation
It’s usually easier to keep a conversation going if you’re talking about something you both enjoy. Finding commonalities can also help you get close to someone you don’t know very well.
One way to do this is by broadening the conversation. If the other person doesn’t seem interested in whatever it is you’re talking about, move on to another different but related subject.
For example, if you mention your love of horse riding, but they can’t relate, you could try broadening the topic to outdoor sports in general. If they love to sail or ski, you could bond over your love of the outdoors.
Our guide on how to find things in common with someone may also help.
12. Know which topics to avoid
If you know the other person well, it’s OK to talk about potentially controversial topics. But if you are just getting to know them, it’s best to avoid talking about political issues, sex, and religious beliefs. Some people are uncomfortable talking about these subjects, and you could accidentally cause offense or get drawn into a heated debate.
You don’t need to be positive all the time. However, be aware that sharing your problems or complaining about something can bring a conversation to a halt. The other person might wonder, “How do they want me to respond?” or “Wow, I don’t know what to say,” which can make the conversation awkward.
13. Use emojis with care
Emojis can be a useful way of getting your tone and mood across. Depending on the context, they can help keep a conversation going.
For example, if someone asks you whether you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you could send an emoji of a couple plus a heart and a happy face to tell them that you’re in a happy relationship.
But if you rely on them too much, the conversation might stall. Speaking in emojis can get boring after a while, and they aren’t a good way of asking questions to keep a conversation going.
14. Know when to call instead of text
Sometimes, it’s best to call instead of trying to keep the conversation going over text. Here are a few scenarios where it’s usually better to call:
- You’re talking about a sensitive issue. In this case, you might want the conversation to feel more personal. Or you may want to make sure that the other person can hear your tone of voice, which can help avoid misunderstandings.
- You need to share a lot of detailed information, and it would take too long to type it all out.
- You don’t want to leave a written record of your conversation, perhaps because you are discussing something very personal.
Before calling, it’s good manners to ask, “Can I call you instead? I think this would be better over the phone” or just, “Could we talk about this on the phone?”
15. Know when it’s time to end the conversation
Every text conversation has to end eventually. When you notice signs that the other person isn’t engaging with you or adding much to the conversation, even after you’ve tried the tips above, it’s time to wrap it up.
Here are some signs that it’s time to end the conversation:
- The other person is taking a long time to reply
- You are only getting short answers
- The other person isn’t asking you any questions
- The other person has hinted that they are busy. For example, they might say, “I’ve got to go out soon,” or “I’m so swamped at work, I should be working on this report.”
- They say, “It’s been so good to talk to you” or “It’s been great to catch up,” or a similar phrase that people use to signal that a conversation is coming to an end.
16. Wrap up the conversation with a friendly sign-off
When you end a text conversation, be friendly and brief. You could also mention what you are going to do after the conversation and tell the other person that you hope to catch up soon.
If they’ve told you about something important that’s coming up, such as a first date or a job interview, you could end on a positive note by wishing them luck or giving them some reassurance. Or if they’ve shared some big news, such as a bereavement or pregnancy, you could refer to that.
Here are some examples of ways you could end a conversation:
- “It’s been lovely to chat. I’ve got to make dinner now, but I hope we can talk again soon!”
- “I’ve got to head out to my kickboxing class now. I’ll text you next week. I hope your exam goes well :)”
- “I’m glad we got to catch up. I’ve got to go now, but I’ll call at the weekend. Again, congratulations on the engagement! x”
17. Don’t take unsatisfying conversations personally
If someone stops replying to your texts, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done something wrong or that you are dull. It’s possible that the other person got bored or doesn’t want to get to know you better, but there are some other reasons why someone might stop responding to texts:
- They suddenly became distracted by something else, such as a phone call or an urgent email.
- They feel anxious about texting and are trying to come up with the “right” message.
- To them, the conversation feels casual, and they don’t think it’s a big deal to wait hours between messages.
- They might be texting several people at the same time and trying to juggle multiple conversations.
- They aren’t big on texting and take a casual approach to text conversations.
If you’re talking to someone who isn’t putting in any effort, bow out gracefully. You might be able to have a better conversation another time. Also, do not multi-text someone; it can come across as rude or passive-aggressive, especially if you start asking them what they’re doing or why they haven’t replied to you.