What to Say Immediately After You Send a Text to the Wrong Person

What to Say Immediately After You Send a Text to the Wrong Person

Nothing will make your heart sink faster than realising you just sent a text to the wrong person. It happens to the best of us, and it’s a mistake you can’t undo — the recipient is going to read it. Those are the facts and you can’t change them.

(Well, you can actually unsend messages on some platforms — Instagram and Gmail, for instance; and if you send an iMessage you didn’t mean to send, you might be able to drop your phone into aeroplane mode before the text delivers. It likely won’t work, but it’s worth a shot.)

But you do have a choice about what to do next: You can be honest about it, or you can lie. Here are some examples of what to say in either case.

If you choose to be honest, say something like this

Owning up to your mistake might be difficult, especially if you were shit-talking someone and accidentally sent the text about them to them, or if you work with the person who received your misguided missive or negligent nude. To patch things over, you might just have to suck it up and be direct.

Start with something brief like, “Wrong chat. That wasn’t for you. Sorry about that.”

If the message was explicit or embarrassing, put in a little more effort: “Ah, this is so awkward, but that was intended for someone else. I’m sorry for involving you and I would really appreciate if we could keep this private.”

Arguably the worst-case scenario, outside of maybe sending a nude to your family group chat, is sending an insulting message directly to its subject. If you text or Slack your coworker Jill a message that says, “God, Jill never shuts up about her stupid, ugly chihuahua” or whatever, you can’t just say, “Hey, that wasn’t for you.” Jill is well aware that wasn’t for her, so you’re just going to have to eat it on this one.

Say, “Hey, Jill. I’m sorry about that. I am in a bad mood today, but I shouldn’t have insulted you or Scrappy (he’s adorable!). I’m finding it hard to concentrate today and your talking was distracting me, but that’s no excuse for being so rude.”

How to lie about sending a text to the wrong person

There’s an old saying that honesty is the best policy, but whoever came up with that never had to wait out a lease with a roommate after accidentally texting them about how dirty and annoying they are. Sometimes a boldfaced untruth is the best choice, even if you’re pretty sure the person who received the text knows you’re lying.

If your message didn’t include too much incriminating evidence, you can lay the blame on someone else. Let’s say there’s a big demonstration in your town because a heartless company is trying to knock down the old library and build a dollar store. Imagine you intend to text a friend from out of town, “I do not care about this at all. It’s a library. So what? I’m sick of these demonstrators clogging traffic.” Now, imagine you accidentally sent it to a different friend instead — one who is really into the library-preservation thing.

The easy fix is a follow-up message: “My friend Wayne just sent me that. Can you believe how insensitive he is? Just shows what we’re up against here.”

In this case, you’re pretending you copied and pasted it from someone else to show how awful they are. Yes, you’re weaving a nasty little web of lies and implicating an innocent person, but if you’re choosing to lie, you’ve gotta get your hands dirty.

Or try that trusted standby, “Hey haha sorry! My brother took my phone while I was in the bathroom and sent random messages to people.” It worked in eighth grade and it’ll (kind of) work now.

Or why not try a little gaslighting? Hit ‘em with a “Just kidding!” You were not kidding, and they probably know that, but you can absolutely say you were.

Ultimately, if you’re going to lie, give yourself a few seconds to come up with a decent one. Typing out nonsense in that few-second period after sending isn’t going to help your case. Remember, the deed is done and you can’t undo it. Your next step has to be strategic, not reckless.


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