How To Keep Yourself From Messaging Someone You Know You Shouldn’t

It can be overwhelmingly difficult to keep yourself from texting your ex or someone else you know you shouldn’t. It’s even harder when most of us spend a third of our waking hours glued to our screens. If you’re tempted to send that “I miss you” text even though you know it probably won’t end well, read on for some tips to help you resist.

  1. Remember the bad times, not only the good. Whether you’re thinking of texting an ex or a toxic frenemy, make sure you’re looking at the full picture before doing so. You may miss the fun times you had together, and messaging them might sound comforting. But remind yourself of the bad times too. Did they hurt you or treat you with disrespect? Do they bring out the worst in you? What triggered the breakup in the first place? Consider these questions next time you feel like reaching out.
  2. Find an accountability buddy. Find a friend who knows what you’re going through, and message them whenever you feel like messaging the person you shouldn’t. Choose someone who understands why that person isn’t healthy for you and can quickly offer a pep talk when needed. Messaging your friend will offer a distraction while holding you accountable for sticking to the no-contact rule.
  3. Block and delete. One of the most crucial tips when trying to not text someone is to eliminate all channels of communication. Block them on social media, delete all contact information, and scrub old messages and emails from your phone.
  4. Ditch your devices. Even though the urge to message might be strong, it’s typically only temporary. In fact, urges only last around 15 minutes on average. During that time, keep your phone and other devices out of reach until the desire to message is (mostly) gone. Leave your phone at home while you go for a run, or go to a cafe with a book while your phone is stashed away in your car.
  5. Pinpoint what you hope to gain. Let’s be honest: there’s something you believe is missing from your life until you message the other person. Maybe you want closure after your breakup, or perhaps you want to give them another chance, even if you know you shouldn’t. Get clear on what you hope to gain from talking to them. Then, find a way to offer that to yourself or through healthy relationships you have with other people in your life.
  6. Join a dating app. If you’re still into someone and you’re trying to resist messaging them, consider joining a dating app. A rebound relationship likely won’t make you feel better, but just taking a peek at other fish in the sea can distract you from thinking about the person you miss. However, this method doesn’t work for everyone, so if you only feel worse after swiping through matches, skip this tip.
  7. Write a message but don’t hit “send.” If you have something you need to get off your chest, do so in a notebook or on a memo on your phone—but don’t send it in a message. Writing about what’s bothering you, or even how much you miss them, allows you to process your feelings without directly involving the other person.
  8. Limit conversation starters. If they were toxic but you’re still itching to keep in touch, try to back away from people or things that could make it easier to strike up a text conversation. Limit how much time you spend with friends you have in common with the toxic person, and stay away from shared hangout spots. That way, you’ll be less tempted to send a “Becky mentioned you the other day,” or “Did I see you last night?” message.
  9. Form healthy habits. One reason why it can be hard to give up texting someone, even if you know you should cut them from your life, is because talking to them is a habit. This is especially true if you were in a serious relationship or if they were a close friend or family member. Break the habit by forming a new, healthier habit. Fill your free time with exercise or a relaxing hobby. Cook healthy meals, and take luxurious baths. Turning to uplifting habits can help you forget all about messaging them.
  10. Remind yourself that it’ll get better. Distancing yourself from someone you once had a relationship with is hard. And resisting messaging them can be super challenging. But the desire to text them will eventually go away. While it might be difficult now, things will get better. Show yourself some compassion and accept the hard feelings you’re experiencing. At the same time, keep in mind that every time you do slip up and text them, you’re only slowing down the healing process. Stay strong and remember that it’ll get easier soon.
Relationship educator, writer, host of the Relationship Reminders podcast, and mental health advocate hailing from the US and currently based in Tokyo