Lucy dog sleeping on her back

Is This Conversation Over?

I am really bad at ending conversations. I just feel awkward because I can’t say goodbye gracefully and I can’t really ask people, “Is this conversation over?” I am pretty sure that would be rude, especially if I wanted to end the conversation and they didn’t. Which happens pretty often because I get tired of talking before most people do. Too much talking makes me want to take a nap. I’m better at thinking and typing or thinking and painting, or just plain thinking.

When I am talking to another person and I think the conversation is over I tend to sort of linger because I am not sure if it’s really over (and knowing I wanted the conversation to end about 10 minutes ago makes me feel guilty for being less social than other people). This is one of the reasons I am often late for things, but to be fair some people keep talking even as you are moving towards the door and waving goodbye. They seem to have trouble knowing when the conversation is over too. Body language helps me read other people. I can take a hint when they start packing up their stuff, but what do you do when the other person in the conversation doesn’t take the hint? What if you are about to pee your pants because they have followed you right to the bathroom door and don’t even pause to breathe so you can say, “Hang on a minute”? I know people like that. I know a lot of people like that. So, again, I wonder, is it me? Why can’t I end a conversation more gracefully? Why don’t I know when the conversation is over? Why can’t other people tell I am trying to leave or go to the bathroom? I feel like I am being incredibly obvious, well as obvious as I can be without being rude. So, I just feel awkward like I don’t have a full grasp on social engagement and conversational manners.

Lucy dog sleeping on her back
If only I could be this Zen.

On the phone it is even worse. I am so grateful for the invention of speaker phone because at least I can carry the phone around while other people do the talking. I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t seem to care if anyone is listening. They just like to talk. They don’t seem to pause for a response or care if they get one. Again, sometimes I have to pee and since I can’t get a word in edgewise, I will pee while people are on the phone. In my defense, they aren’t listening anyway. They don’t even notice when the toilet flushes. I am not even kidding. I can’t help but think if I just knew how to wind up a phone call and say goodbye better I’d not only know when the conversation was over, but I’d also be able to end it without being rude. I really hate to be rude so I usually let people talk. I let them talk for a very long time. I figure they must need to get it out and off their chest. Not everybody has a blog like I do, right? So, they talk and I cut paper and sweep floors and wonder if I set the phone down in one room and went in the other room for a few minutes if they would even notice (they usually don’t). I am probably being a little rude by experimenting, but aren’t they rude for not noticing I am missing from the conversation? I don’t know for sure because I am missing the gene for appropriate conversations, obviously.

If I am really lucky people will just text message me. It’s so much easier to end a conversation in text message because people have to pause to type which gives me a moment to say, “I have to go!” Plus, they will never hear my toilet flush and I don’t have to listen to them go on and on about their annoying co-worker while Tiny-Small is crying because she needs a nap and Rosie is barking at the car driving past our house. Text messaging reduces some of the noise and I am grateful for that too. Which leads me to my next paragraph. How’s that for a writing transition?

Text messaging and Facebook and Twitter are really awesome ways to communicate because you can take your time responding or finish washing the dishes or answer the door and nobody thinks you are rude. Still, I have my issues with this mode of communication. I mean, how many times are you in a back and forth type conversation when the other person just stops responding? You don’t know if they had to stop because their kid just barfed on their shoes or if the conversation is just over, but they forgot to say goodbye. Or maybe they didn’t think to say goodbye because they are on three different social media accounts on their computer and also texting on their phone so your conversation just got lost in the shuffle? It’s happened to me before. I’ve been on both sides of this type of behavior. It doesn’t feel good either way because I usually wake up in the middle of the night remembering I forgot to say goodbye to someone and feeling guilty and awkward over my accidental rudeness.

Sometimes you wonder if you just offended someone with your awkward and dorky joke (not everyone gets your sense of humor, right?) and they just don’t want to talk to you anymore, but you don’t know for sure because they aren’t saying anything. The worst is when the person doesn’t respond at all. You don’t know if they just missed your message or if they just don’t care to talk to you. That happens to me on Twitter all the time. So, not only am I wondering if the conversation is over, I am also wondering if it ever started. I imagine they just don’t like me or have better people to talk to or just have a lot of kids barfing on their shoes all at the same time. It’s awkward. I’m awkward. Everyone is awkward. I hate to be rude so then I just message them more to be like “Hi I am not as awkward as I feel, but am now proving to you that I am even more awkward than you originally suspected”. Phew…being social is hard work. I just want to know if the conversation is over and whether or not I did something wrong (or right). So, I over-text and use too many smiley faces and do an excessive amount of exclaiming things. It’s not pretty.

Conversations can be difficult, especially when you are an introvert. It’s not my special talent to be all chatty and high-fiving people. I have to fake that stuff sometimes and hope I am being appropriate. Maybe we are all faking it (I hope so because then I might be less awkward than I think I am). Maybe we all feel awkward (please tell me this is true). Maybe we all wonder why some people don’t respond at all or why they respond so much that we don’t know what to say back. Sometimes I over-respond to people in a frenzy of excitement (usually because they actually said something back) so the next time we chat I try not to be so excited or don’t respond at all because I think maybe that is the “right” way to interact (instead of lavishing attention on someone) and I just want to seem slightly normal and less awkward than I really am. I often wonder, am I doing this right? I really don’t know, but I think all of these uncomfortable feelings stem from my inability to know for sure when a conversation is over. It’s like I am blind to that type of social engagement. Is there a diagnosis for that?

Like right now, I can’t even end this blog post. Have I said too much? Have I said too little? Am I now rambling because I don’t know how to end this one-sided conversation?


I know I am just thinking too much about it, but that’s what I do best, right? Do you ever feel awkward about ending conversations? Do you struggle with knowing when a conversation is over? Am I the only one? Don’t be afraid to tell me I’ve lost a few marbles. I accepted that about myself a long time ago.


You might also like: I’m An Introvert Trapped In An Extroverts World




12 thoughts on “Is This Conversation Over?”

  1. Oh, you are not alone! I’m awful about knowing when the conversation is over. I do have a friend who is slightly more awkward about it than me. She will linger like you said you do. Then I’ll say, “Umm, you can go if you want” just because we’re close enough that I know what she’s doing. It’s pretty comical….

  2. I’m much the same way. I do chat with people on the phone but, even at my age, still get a weird sense of anxiety and hope I get a voice mail message. The only exception is with Mike, but he understands my awkwardness. Even then our phone conversations end in strange ways.. .usually with one of us saying “ok, hang up now”. I think I get this way from my mother. She’s been known to end a conversation with “ok, I’m done now”. No real grace but it gets the job done and doesn’t offend anyone that knows her. We just expect it.
    I don’t worry too much about social media conversations. There’s been times when someone messaged me that I just don’t want to talk to (usually perpetuating drama) so I can only assume that when someone doesn’t respond to me it may well be because they just don’t want to…. and I’m okay with that.
    Being an introvert is difficult… both in practice and in acceptance. I’m a textbook introvert.. I can be social for a short time, then I have to go recover by myself. It makes long conversations exhausting and short ones pleasant. And yes…. I do have to fake enthusiasm from time to time…. I think people do that more than they let on. Social acceptance has become a strange game.
    If you have the chance, look up “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. It’s a good read.

    1. Thanks for reminding me about that book! I meant to get it and never did. I am the same way. I can be social for a short time and then I am tired, although sometimes, with the right people, I can feel energized.

  3. For the record, you never have to feel bad about forgetting to say goodbye to me. I’m terrible at this too, but I err on the side of rudeness. I rather regularly walk away when I’m done with the conversation and then when the person keeps talking I have to decide if I’ve committed enough to the walk or if I should turn back. I also tell people something came up if I’m on the phone and I can’t figure a way to get out of the call. Talking is exhausting. I might be bad at life…

  4. I feel awkward ALL THE TIME, so no explanation needed! Plus, people usually fall asleep and snoring alerts me that I’ve gone on too long. The little things. šŸ˜‰

  5. I *completely* relate to ALL of this!!! I appreciate the non-formality of texting and messaging (minimal small talk, no intro, etc,), but there aren’t any texting ethics to determine whether or not you’re supposed to say goodbye or just let the conversation end randomly, so that’s awkward.
    I get “done” with phone chats much sooner than the other party too; I hate the awkward conversational dwindling where neither of you really has anything to say. Lots of “soooo” and “okay”. If I’m on with a good friend or my sister, I’ve gotten to the point where I just say “Well I’m done talking now,” which I enjoy, but with others I find myself making up excuses to leave abruptly. “Oh, I hear screaming from the kid’s room–gotta run!”

    1. Kids are awesome for excuses. I have a friend that always says he has to go to the bathroom which is effective, but kind of awkward too. I like text messages too because I have time to think of responses. I often let my phone calls go to voice mail for that reason too. It gives me a chance to figure out how to say no if it’s something I don’t want to do or to set some parameters with the people who like to talk for a long time (like hours). At least we are not the only ones like this, right?

  6. I found this hilarious and poignant & in my own case timely and helpful. My partner sent this to me as we are thrashing, not very successfully, over our differing needs for talk/listen. Your essay may have prevented WWIII or worse! Thanks.

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