How To Text Someone You Haven’t Talked to in a Long Time

“I want to reach out and start a conversation with someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, but I don’t want it to be awkward. Should I send a text explaining why I haven’t been in touch, or should I send a “Just wanted to say hi” text?”

It can be hard to keep in touch with friends, and sometimes texts can be a great way to re-establish contact. But if it’s been a while since you’ve talked to a friend, old coworker, or even a guy or girl you have a crush on, you might experience texting anxiety or feel awkward or unsure about reaching out.

Fortunately, once you get over the initial hurdle and figure out how to start a text conversation, it usually becomes easier to know what to say. Text messages allow people to re-establish contact with people in a way that feels less stressful than a phone call or surprise visit. Also, text messages can open the door for more meaningful interactions with someone, helping to repair and rebuild relationships with people you’ve grown apart from.

1. Explain your silence

If you haven’t been great about staying in touch or if you notice you never replied to the last text someone sent, it’s a good idea to give them an explanation about what happened. Often, people tend to take it personally when others don’t respond to them. Explaining why you haven’t been in touch can be important in helping to soothe hurt feelings or repair any accidental damage caused by your silence.

Here are some examples of what to text someone you never responded to or haven’t stayed in touch with:

  • “Hey! I’m so sorry I haven’t been in touch. My new job has been keeping me crazy busy and I’ve barely talked to anyone lately.”
  • “OMG. I just noticed that I never hit “send” on my last message… I’m so sorry!”
  • “I know I have been MIA for a while. I’ve been having some health issues but am finally starting to feel better. How are things with you?”

2. Acknowledge that it’s been a long time

Another way to revive a dead text conversation or re-establish contact with someone after it’s been a while is to preface your greeting with a statement acknowledging that it’s been a while. If you don’t have a good excuse or explanation as to why you haven’t reached out sooner, it’s also OK to preface a greeting in a more general way.

Here are some examples of how to preface a greeting in text:

  • “Hey stranger! It’s been forever. How are you?”
  • “I know it’s been a while since we talked but I was thinking of you!”
  • “It’s been forever since we’ve talked. What’s new with you?”

3. Let them know you’re thinking of them

One of the best ways to reconnect via text with an old friend, colleague, or romantic interest is to let them know they’ve been on your mind. Most people will appreciate hearing that you’ve been thinking of them, so this is a great way to help brighten someone’s day while also helping to re-establish closeness.[1]

Here are some examples of texts that let people know you’re thinking of them:

  • “I miss seeing you! How have you been?”
  • “You’ve been on my mind a lot lately. How are things with you?”
  • “I’ve been meaning to reach out for a while. How are you doing?”

4. Reference social media posts

If you follow the person on social media, you can sometimes use a post as an excuse to text someone you’ve lost contact with. Instead of just liking or commenting on their post, try sending them a text about what they posted. Because positivity is more engaging than negativity, try to reconnect on a positive or happy note.[1]

Here are some ideas about how to text people about things you saw on social media:

  • “Hey! I saw on FB that you got engaged. Congrats!”
  • “I loved your Linked In article. Are you still working at the same job?”
  • “Those pictures on Instagram were adorable. He’s getting so big!”
  • “Facebook just pulled up a memory of 5 years ago today when we went on that beach trip. It made me think of you!”

5. Reconnect on special occasions

Another way to get back in touch with an old friend is to use a special occasion as a reason to reach out. Sometimes, this might come when you learn on social media that they got engaged, pregnant, or bought a home. Other times, you can send a text on a holiday, anniversary, or another special occasion.

Here are some examples of how to text someone on a special occasion:

  • “Facebook told me today was your birthday. Happy birthday! Hope this year is full of only good things :)”
  • “Congrats on the new house, it looks amazing! When did you move?”
  • “Happy Mothers Day! Hope you’re doing something special to celebrate yourself!”
  • “Happy pride month! It reminded me of the time we went to the parade together. So fun!”

6. Show interest in their life by asking questions

Questions can be a great way to initiate a conversation with someone you’ve lost touch with. Questions are also a way to show interest, care, and concern for another person and can help to foster feelings of closeness.[1] Questions are also great because they take some of the pressure off of you to craft the ‘perfect text’ or to come up with something interesting, funny, or witty to say.

Here are some great questions to send via text to reconnect with an old friend:

  • “Hey! Last time we talked (forever ago) you were looking for a new job. Whatever came of that?”
  • “It’s been a long time since we caught up. How have you been? How is the family?”
  • “Hey you! What’s been going on in your world?”
  • “I saw pics of your son on FB. He’s growing up so fast! How are things with you guys?”

7. Use nostalgia to reconnect over shared history

Another great way to reconnect with an old friend is to send them something that reminds you of them or the time you spent together. Shared history and fond memories can be a great way to strengthen a bond with an old friend you’ve grown apart from and sometimes opens the door for more meaningful interactions.

Here are some ideas about how to bond with an old friend over shared history via text:

  • “Remember this?” and attaching a photo or link of something that’s tied to a shared experience or memory
  • “This made me think of you!” and attaching a photo of something you think your friend would like or enjoy
  • “Hey! I know it’s been forever but I’m in Fort Lauderdale and just ate at that restaurant we used to go to all the time. Made me think of you! How are you?”

8. Use text to set up a face to face meeting

Because you can’t rely on nonverbal cues like expressions, voice tone, or emphasis, it can be hard to communicate your true thoughts and feelings through text messages.[3] Research has shown that while text messages can be a great way to communicate, they don’t offer the same high-quality interaction as seeing someone in person.[2]

If in-person isn’t an option, a phone call or using Facetime is the next best option.[2] These ways of communicating provide more opportunities to bond on a deeper level with someone.

Here are some ways to use texts to make plans or ask people to hang out:

  • Send them a text or email with a link to an event, class, or activity you are interested in to gauge their interest (e.g., “Look at this event. Any interest?”)
  • Send an “open invite” for your friend to join you for an activity you already have planned (e.g., “I do yoga classes on Saturdays and would love it if you came along sometime!”)
  • Send a text saying, “We should get lunch sometime! What’s your schedule like these days?” and then work to nail down a specific day, time, and place

9. Use pictures instead of words

The saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” may be true in some instances, especially since words can be hard to interpret without being able to hear and see someone.

GIFS, memes, emojis, and photos can all help to bridge the communication gap over text and can also help to convey emotion, meaning, and add humor to the exchange.[3][4]

Here are some great ways to use these features in text conversations:

  • Use the “reaction” feature on your phone by holding down a text message someone sent and using the thumbs up, question mark, exclamation point, or other reaction options to their text
  • Send a funny meme or GIF to someone via text to communicate your feelings or thoughts about something
  • Use emojis to help express emotions or react to things they said in text messages
  • Attach a photo or image to a text of something that you think they’d like or appreciate

10. Manage your expectations

Unfortunately, sometimes you can send the ‘perfect’ text to someone and still not get a response or not get the response you want. If this happens to you, don’t automatically assume it means they are upset with you or don’t want to talk. It could be that they are just really busy, that your text didn’t go through, or that their number changed.

If you think this may be the case, try reaching out in a different way, like sending them a message on social media or emailing them. If this still doesn’t result in a response, it’s best to hold back and resist the urge to flood them with texts or messages.

All friendships require maintenance and only work if both people are willing to put in the time and effort.[1] Instead of chasing after flaky friends who don’t respond to you, you may want to focus on other friendships that feel more reciprocal.

Final thoughts

Texting is one of the main ways that people communicate these days and can be a simple and effective way to reconnect with someone. Instead of stressing about what to say in a text, or feeling pressured to find funny things to say, choose one of the strategies above. Often, the first text is the hardest, and texting back and forth will get easier once the lines of communication have reopened and you’re past small talk.

Common questions about texting someone you haven’t talked to in a long time

What is a good excuse to text someone?

You can often just text someone to let them know you were thinking about them or open the conversation by asking how they’ve been. Sending a congratulations text or texting about something that made you think of them can also be a great in-road to starting a conversation.

How do you say happy birthday to someone you haven’t talked to in a while?

You can send a simple, “Happy birthday!” or “Hope you’re having a great birthday!” or you could personalize your message more with a picture, meme, or GIF. It’s best to do this in a text, private message, or email rather than on their public social media feed, as this is more personal.

How do I revive a dead text conversation?

Some ways to revive a dead text thread are to change the subject, ask a question, or even just respond to the last message they sent. Any of these responses can help to open the lines of communication, either by reviving the existing conversation or by starting a new one.

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Hailey Shafir is a licensed mental health counselor, licensed addiction specialist, and clinical supervisor working out of Raleigh, NC. She has a Masters in Counseling from NC State University, and has extensive professional experience in counseling, program development, and clinical supervision. Read more.

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