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Group chats are a thing. They’ve become specialized and personalize social media via texts. Friends, families, relatives, coworkers and teammates all are enjoying group chats: a chosen group of three or more people who engage in regular and random topics among themselves. These individuals are chosen carefully to converse, give updates and private details of their day, emotions, accomplishments and moods. Nothing is more important in group chats than trust. Those in the group chats expect trust and confidentiality from all those in the group. Whether you’re already in one or more group chats or you’re thinking about starting or joining one, the following are seven rules of successful group chats.

Establish and discuss group chat rules

1. Discuss group chat rules with those in your group. Don’t assume your group chat members know your expectations of your group. In my group chat with my girlfriends, I don’t expect my friends to discuss what is shared with their husbands. If we wanted your man to know our business, we would’ve added him to the chat. Plus none of the ladies want to visualize your husband’s face as they’re sharing intimate thoughts and accounts. Group chat business should be no one else’s business. This rule must firmly be stated and respected. Once the sacredness and trust of the group chat have been broken, it’s impossible to repair, and the traitor must go.

Provide a warning before dropping a textual bomb

2.  If you have a bomb to drop, put up a warning text first. Don’t just drop that bomb on us in the middle of our day. We could be bathing the baby. You don’t want us to drop the baby. We could be in the middle of a board meeting. You don’t want us to cuss out loud. Put up a warning shot, “Girl you are not going to believe this,” or “You may want to sit down for this.” Give us time to excuse ourselves from our real world to enter group chat world. Just warn us before you drop that news. Oh and don’t expect an immediate response from a 3am text. We’re sleeping.

If you’re absent, don’t expect a recap

3. If you missed a few hours or couple of days on group chat, don’t ask for a recap. No one has time to be doing a book report. Either go back and read all 513 text messages you’ve missed or just start from where you are. Plus if it was something you really cared about, you would’ve been on the chat or someone would’ve sent you a “girl check out the group chat” text. But please don’t come back to the group chat asking for a summary. This is not 11th grade English class.

Don’t Lurk

4. Don’t be a lurker. Either participate regularly or exit the group. You know the lurkers. They say nothing for weeks, you even forget they’re in the group chat, until one day you mention their name and like a jack in the box, they pop right up. They don’t participate in the group chat for a while but when you run into them, they know everything that’s been happening. Yes, you’ve been lurking. Don’t stand back gathering intel like a double agent. Participate. Let us know you’re there because we know you’re there.

Can’t be overly sensitive

5. Don’t get offended if your question isn’t addressed or if no one LOL at your joke. Perhaps you needed to restate your question or perhaps your joke wasn’t funny. Oh and don’t join a group chat if you suffer from over sensitivity. People have a lot going on in their lives; they don’t have time to babysit your emotions. Plus there are five other people in the group chat. They don’t have time to consistently be trying not to step on your feelings. If you’re part of the group chat, you should already know they love and care about you, but they’re not here to coddle you. That’s why babies don’t have cellphones or group chats. So get it together. If someone text something that offends or hurts you, address it and keep it moving. Don’t turn the group chat into a presidential debate. No one has time or thumb power for that.

Ask before you add someone new

6. Don’t go adding someone new to the group chat without prior permission. No one wants to show up in the group chat with a new face in the mix. Before adding someone to the group, ask those in your group and get their okay. Just because you like that person doesn’t meant your chat members will. Plus everyone you like doesn’t need to be added to your chat. Not everyone you like is group chat worthy. If one person in the group chat says no to your addition request, then your addition is denied. Trust and comfort are key. If no one trustS her or is comfortable with her, she can’t sit with us.

Don’t betray your group trust

7. Do not not not NOT share any info shared in group chat. That’s a no no or the wifi gods will get you. More importantly, your friends will start a separate group chat without you and without telling you. You will be dismissed without even knowing. When you text five sentences, you will only get one word responses; you’re been fired on your day off. Don’t be that group chatter that betrays the group chat code of conduct and trust. In all seriousness, anyone who it is proven has shared private info or if any portion of a group chat conversation is screenshot and shared with outsiders, the culprit should be immediately suspended from the group chat, no excuses no exceptions.

Remember, group chats are safe zones. Don’t enter into a group chat with those you cannot trust. Establish the rules. Respect each other and chat on.