No Contact Includes Not Keeping Tabs on your Ex Via Facebook, Twitter, Blogs or MySpace
For those of you who are following the No Contact Rule and have stopped calling, emailing, texting and staging accidental run-ins or have stopped responding to calls, emails, texts and are actively avoiding probable run-ins, congratulations! It’s difficult to remove the hooks of an abusive ex—especially if they’re personality disordered (e.g., narcissistic, borderline, histrionic or sociopathic).
If you’ve recently broken up with a crazy and/or abusive wife or girlfriend, the No Contact Rule is explained in the following articles:
- The No Contact Rule: Ending an Abusive Relationship
- The No Contact Rule: Committing to It and Making It Work
Many readers have shared that while they’ve been able to go no contact and stop telephonic and electronic communication with their exes, they’re still visiting their exes’ Facebook, MySpace and other social network pages, blogs and Twitter feeds. I hate to break it to you, but visiting your ex’s various web pages—even if there’s no interaction—is a form of contact and is just as unhealthy as talking, emailing or texting with her. Stop it, stop it, stop it.
Visiting your ex’s web pages is worse than going through your old scrapbook, photos, letters or emails or mentally revisiting whatever happy moments or infrequent episodes of normalcy that you shared. These events are in the past. Actively remembering them is an unhealthy and masochistic form of nostalgia.
Keeping yourself abreast of her current activities online creates fresh pain for you every time you do it. The same holds true for well-intentioned news updates. If friends, colleagues or family members are carrying tales about her latest misadventures, respectfully and firmly tell them that you prefer not to hear about her anymore. The pain is supposed to stop once the relationship ends. Monitoring your ex’s ongoing shenanigans has several unhealthy and unproductive consequences.
1. Rubbing salt in your wounds. An abusive narcissistic, histrionic, borderline or unspecified crazy ex will use her online presence to:
- Rub your nose in her brand new, “most amazing boyfriend ever!“
- Rub your nose in her “new found happiness and peace” that she’s never known before.
- Trash you publicly.
- Use your old photos, etc., as normalcy props.
Observing these four behaviors or some variation of them will only hurt you and/or make you crazy, so stop taking the bait.
2. Giving you a false sense of connection. When a relationship ends, most people need to go through a distancing period in order to recover from the loss. If your ex wasn’t abusive and your relationship was basically healthy, perhaps you can be friends some day in the future. A relationship with an abusive person is neither healthy nor normal. Therefore, there is no basis for a future friendship.
Perhaps she’ll keep you on a string for future ego boosts or to torment you if she’s bored, but that’s not friendship—it’s more of the same old same old that caused the relationship to unravel in the first place. Keeping tabs on her keeps you connected to her; even if it’s only morbid curiosity. Surely there’s a better way to spend your time that will help you feel good.
3. Giving you new information to ruminate upon. Again, there are better ways to spend your time. If you really want her out of your heart, mind and life, keeping abreast of her most recent train wrecks and distortions is not the way to do it.
4. Falling into the trap of analysis paralysis. This is another form of unproductive rumination. Why is she like this? Why couldn’t she be happy with me? What’s wrong with her? What could I have done differently? How could she move on so quickly with another guy? Why does she still have photos of us together on her profile? Why? Why? Why?
You can torture yourself endlessly with these questions. Over-analyzing her and the relationship is not the way forward. It won’t change anything. Furthermore, if trying to make meaning out of her crazy and meaningless behavior isn’t bringing you peace and closure, you need to knock it off.
There may very well be good reasons why your ex is the way she is. Ultimately, however, the reasons why she is abusive do not matter. What matters is how she treats the people she claims to love. Abuse is wrong no matter the reasons. There’s no excuse for abuse. It’s a slippery slope from finding excuses for her abusive behavior and making excuses and enabling her abusive behavior.
5. Keeping your anger and hurt alive. She’s not worth your sanity and your happiness. You have a right to be angry for the way she treated you. However, nursing your anger by finding new reasons to be upset is not productive. Feel your anger. Express it in healthy ways and then let it and her go.
6. Continuing to feed the beast it’s favorite treat: Attention. Even if you don’t respond to her online attention seeking behavior, you’re still giving her attention by visiting these sites.
Legitimate Reasons to Keep Social Media Surveillance. There are some legitimate reasons to keep tabs on your ex via the Internet. For example, if you’re gathering evidence for a divorce and/or custody case, if she is making physical threats and you need evidence for a restraining order or if you want to file a libel lawsuit for an online smear campaign/cyberstalking. If you aren’t compiling evidence for an impending court case, to initiate a protective order or because you’re concerned about your children’s welfare, there’s no reason to visit her profiles (including Internet dating profiles), blogs or follow her Tweets.
Outta Sight, Outta Mind.
Perhaps this isn’t true at first, but it’s the ultimate goal. Unless visiting her web pages makes you feel good—i.e., “I’m so glad I’m not with this wingnut anymore“—or you’re gathering evidence for legal purposes, there’s absolutely no reason to do so. Find a buddy to IM, call or hang out with when you feel tempted to click the mouse. Go for a run. Play a video game. Find something to distract yourself with until the urge passes and you feel strong again. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:
Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.
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