Should you straight up tell a lie to avoid hurting their feelings? Is there a neutral response you can say or magical formula that will take away the pain?
I Miss You
We have all been in that awkward situation. Maybe it happened when you saw your estranged cousin at a family reunion. Or maybe your cell phone went off in the middle of the night with a dreaded text from an ex-partner.
Three words, eight letters: “I miss you.” Here are the best ways to reply when you don’t actually miss them back.
1. It has been a while.
The top-voted recommendation by far, this response is a subtle way to avoid saying “I miss you” back without actually resorting to a falsehood. Not recommended if you have recently seen the person in question.
2. It’s nice to be missed.
Careful, this joking answer can come across as conceited and uncomfortable if used on the wrong recipient.
Case in point, this was first used by a Redditor’s ex-boyfriend: “This occurred early [on] when we were dating, and he had been on a trip for two weeks. I just assumed he hadn’t missed me yet, but I should’ve definitely just bailed at that point. … He turned out to be a total nightmare.”
3. We’ll see each other soon enough.
This statement is polite enough to come across as reassuring (i.e., “Don’t worry, we’ll reunite soon enough”) without actually committing to a specific get-together in the future.
If the other person insists on scheduling a meet-up, one online user recommended the following location: “… in H*LL.”
4. Yes, we’ve had a lot of good times together.
This reply is a foolproof way of responding to any uncomfortable post-breakup texts. As one Redditor defended themselves, “I didn’t ignore the reaching out—but I didn’t say I missed them back.”
One commenter on their post described being on the receiving end of this answer. “I said, ‘I have to be at [this] place without you tonight, and that’s just sad,’ to which he replied: ‘Aw, I appreciate our time there together.’ I had to send it to a few friends for analysis.”
An option for someone who prioritizes manners, as well as those who are prone to react from instinct. This online user recalled: “When my ex said, ‘I miss you,’ I panicked and just said, ‘Thanks!’”
6. It’s crazy to think it’s been such a long time!
Best used on someone you have not seen in a very long time, like a former classmate or coworker.
7. What are you up to these days?
Only suitable when you are genuinely interested in continuing the interaction and catching up. Otherwise, you might find yourself trapped in a tedious conversation.
8. I hope you’re doing well.
A thoughtful and well-meaning response, appropriate for most social interactions. Versatile in use since it can initiate a conversation just as easily as it can cut it short.
9. Finger guns.
A timeless favorite of middle-aged dads and Michael Scott types. Best accompanied by a cheesy wink and a click of the tongue for sound effect.
10. Me too!
As one Redditor put it, this statement is true “because I miss me too.”
11. The Verizon subscriber you are trying to reach is not available…
Although this reply is limited to text interactions, it is very useful in shifting the responsibility onto the cellphone carrier. However, better make a contingency plan if the other person follows up with a phone call.
12. Depends on the person.
Sometimes, a white lie is justified in the name of maintaining familial peace. According to one online user, “If it’s family or something, I say ‘I miss you too’ because it takes nothing to make their day a little better.”
But they caution against extending this kindness to undeserving acquaintances: “If it’s your ex or something, then just reply with ‘lol’ and leave.”
13. You shouldn’t.
One Redditor shared this particularly blistering reply, which they had previously deployed against an ex-partner: “He didn’t take it well, but who cares.”
14. For the I Miss You fans.
Multiple online users suggested replying to a text message with the lyrics of Blink-182’s pop-punk classic: “Don’t waste your time on me, you’re already the voice inside my head.”
Another useful alternative is the opening verse: “Hello, there… The angel from my nightmare.”
15. New phone, who dis?
Similarly, there is a more devastating version: “Same phone, who dis?”
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This article, How To Respond to “I Miss You” When You Don’t Miss Them Back, was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching. Reddit source.
I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
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