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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:

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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  1. non-at-work
    December 8, 2013 at 1:44 am

    Hi Tara,

    Do you have any tips on dealing with potentially running into a borderline waif ex at work? We both work at the same hospital, albeit in different wings but there’s still a high likelyhood that I run into her. We also had a common group of friends that hang out often so that’s another one that i’m struggling with.

    Thanks,
    non-at-work

  2. nk3
    May 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Regarding the flat, I’ve just remembered that one time I told her I felt like I was living in a cage because I was afraid of going out, she replied to me and I quote, no kidding, “why would you want to go out”?

    Seriously, the perspective you gain once you leave the fog is something else. I sound like a total fucking idiot for having let all of this to happen. One thing she was always right about – I am way too gullible.

    • AceOne
      May 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      AceOne.
      Sorry you had to go through this. Credit to you for breaking it off, mine broke it off with me.
      Anyway, just wanted to remind you that you are still in your 20s, you are young man!!!!
      At any age, life keeps going, we keep getting older and its up to us to grow. Count your blessings that you are not spending another day of this precious life with her, married or have kids.
      My suggestion, hit the gym and read!
      Peace brother.

  3. nk3
    May 23, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I would like to thank the author of this blog (and to a lesser extent, Google) for giving me the final push to finally break up with my gf of 16 months, which I did yesterday. I suspect she wasn’t quite as full out there in the crazy scale as some other stories I’m reading here, but still, far more than what I could cope with. Although last time she went to the hospital for a panic attack, they wanted to lock her up in an institution for treatment… so maybe it WAS that bad.

    First, some context. I am 27, she is about to turn 25, and we were each other’s first relationship so we come both with some low seft-esteem baggage of why did it take so long to get a GF/BF. We’re in Southern Europe, fiercely hit by economic recession, and she’s in a very difficult situation regardless of her behaviour: unemployed for 2 years, with her mom also unemployed for some 4 or 5 years and about to lose state benefits. She’s pretty much going to be forced to emmigrate, all alone (I wasn’t willing to dump my stable job and go with her). And has a number of health issues.

    My sympathy for what’s a clearly messed up situation, was however letting me turn a blind eye to an ever-growing list of totally unacceptable behaviour within an healthy relationship:

    – manipulating me to be with her for 99% of my free time, always putting obstacles from meeting my friends without her, and always having to bring her with me when visiting my parents. Even when I was alone I’d have tasks to do for her in the computer, and text her regularly or she’d be annoyed. All because “she’s bored of being alone at home” (granted, she’s unemployed).

    – About 1 year ago, I moved out of my parents house to a flat nearer to both her place and my job. This was fine but she was ever unwilling to tell her parents about it, so I’ve been hiding in my own flat for a year scared of meeting her parents when putting my foot out – they go take a walk right in front of it almost every evening. It’s almost like I live in a cage.

    – I was putting on weight when our relationship started, so she went on a mission for me to slim back down. Which I did want to an extent, but it was way too much. I lost 14kgs, am now under the optimal ideal weight for my height, and she still fought with me every time I took an extra bite over whatever designated portion of food I was supposed to have. In the extremely rare occasions I’d go to my parents’ or anywhere else without her for food, I’d have to take a photo of the meal and send her.

    – She’d decide absolutely goddamn everything to the smallest details, like every single product when going out for groceries, or every aspect of my life even when alone. Even yesterday when I woke up, my routine was taking a bath with the shampoo and the bath gel she chose, put on the underwear of the color she liked, the clothes she chose, and took breakfast with the brands of bread, cheese, ham and milk she chose.

    – Still on groceries for my flat, she started developing this hugely annoying habit of taking my credit card out of my wallet and paying it herself (I told her the code). I could never tell her I was trying to save on anything, or she’d go on a trip of “if at home I can afford this and me and my mom are unemployed, how can’t you? save on something else”. I ended up on a routine of taking her out for dinner every Friday night, which I always paid for, of course. She did cook for me every single other day though… despite my constant insistence on letting me do it once in a while. Then she’d use her cooking as leverage whenever she wanted me to do something for her (“look at what I do for you, nobody else would cook like this for you”).

    – Periodically I’d get frustrated with all of this and tell her my feelings, yet it’d always be my fault – if she was cheerful, “you always try to put me down when I’m cheerful”, if she was at her depressed most, “you always hit me further down when I’m down”. Her feelings were always more important, regardless of anything, and when stating my own I’d always “offend” her, even when I was trying my hardest to be diplomatic. I am probably a world-class expert in diplomacy by now.

    – I got sick once or twice (twisted knee for example), and her reaction was to get furious and yell at me at every opportunity. I was utterly petrified of forgetting to take the meds she’d reccomend, or not tell the doctor the exact story she told me to tell him (she’s a nurse and “knows how doctors are”), because it’d be an automatic fight. She “reacts like this when close people are sick, because she cares for them”. I’ve never been as scared of getting sick in my life. Because of the knee, she forbade me from playing football with my mates so SHE “wouldn’t risk going through this all over again” (yes you read that right – she).

    – Stopped going to my psychiatrist (I was recovering from depression at the start of the relationship), because we’d always get on a fight after my appointments as he’d advice me to stand up for myself. According to her, this was his fault, obviously. She brainwashed me that he was ripping me off, since I now was better from my depression so didn’t need him anymore (he did warn me I seemed to be in a masochist relationship and needed to be monitored).

    – Insane jealously from any girls and total obsession with cheating, even though I don’t even remotely interact with any girl at all, barely even at my desk job. One time we went out clubbing with my friends, and a girl approached us all to hand out flyers, or sell drinks or something. I politely declined. My gf thought I was flirting in that split-second – despite the fact I know I am not even remotely attracted to that girl -, and I never got to hear the end of it for MONTHS. I also had to delete over half of my female friends on Facebook, always be offline there (“are you waiting to chat to anyone?”), and she tried several times for me to tell her my Facebook password (“don’t you trust me? what are you trying to hide?”). Also went through all my phone contacts asking “who is this?”, even though I don’t text or call anyone at all.

    – I used to chat to a group of internet people I met on online forums, which were all male but 1 girl, who lives far away. She told me once we’d live in together I’d be “forbidden” to talk to any of them.

    – At a point the stress from all of this got the better of me, and I, errm, couldn’t do the job in bed. Would inevitably result in her yelling and blaming it on me, as if putting even more pressure on me would make things work. I’d explain this to her, and then she’d be “sorry”. Next day all would be the same, with even more stress. I’m not sure how I ever managed to snap out of that, but I did.

    – Suicide threats. I’m not sure it was ever directly “if you leave me, I’ll jump off the bridge”, she always pinned them down to her unemployment situation not to me, but I told her many times I was scared to death she’d do that, so I’m sure the logical implication that I was scared to leave her wasn’t lost on her.

    – The final straw: everyone on my office has been given as a bonus, a business travel to the main headquarters in another city, with the flight and 1-day accomodation paid for. She wouldn’t let me go. This was because of supposed cheating (“I know how it is, you’re all going to go clubbing and pick up girls”), and of jealously (“I admit I am jealous, I love that city and can’t stand the thought of you going without me”).

    So yeah, now 1 day without her and it feels like I’ve done the best choice of my life. Unfortunately I’ll still have to pick up some stuff from her place, so couldn’t cut off contact completely yet, but WILL do. I am posting this and bookmarking it, so that whenever I have any doubts it was the right call I can read it all over again. I’ve also booked an appointment with my psychiatrist, so he can check on and fix the mess she made of my mind – I certainly don’t want to be this dependent on anyone ever again in my life, and I fear the scars will complicate things in my future relationships.

    But seriously thank fuck I read this website and opened up my eyes.

  4. Tony
    April 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Any articles in how to get back on your feet after an abusive relationship like this?

  5. Rudy Mayoz
    November 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    As a father of a son who’s brain has been reprogrammed by a female ( known for 3 yrs):
    1) is there anything I can do to help?
    2) help steer him toward councelling?
    3) what happens to him in the long term
    If he does not want help?
    He is emotionally distant and distrustful. He is a 28yo, very responsible , successful, high level professional. My concern is for his future well- being; not the father- son relationship at present. He exhibits every single personality trait/ characteristic of the brainwashee,and she, every trait of the brainwasher. They have been married for 2yrs.- no kids yet. Have recommended counseling to him as individual and as a couple- last time 2 yrs ago.
    Thank u for your consideration. I will pay for your help and time.

    • shrink4men
      December 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm

      Hi Rudy,

      If you would like to work with me, please contact me at shrink4men@gmail.com.

      I am sorry you and your son are going through this.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  6. Patrick
    October 4, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Hi Dr.Tara, your articles have been extremely helpful and eye opening. I am currently in an abusive relationship, should I make her aware of your articles and show her that she is an abuser?

    • shrink4men
      October 4, 2012 at 1:39 am

      No, Patrick, you should not. She will most likely twist things around on you and then accuse you of being abusive. That is, if she hasn’t already. If you can relate to the material on these pages, you are probably engaging in some pretty serious wishful thinking if you believe your girlfriend will have an “a-ha moment” and change her ways by reading this site.

      Your time would probably be better spent focusing on yourself and why you choose to remain in a relationship you believe is abusive.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  7. kirk g
    August 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    wow, alnico. that was a little drama coming from that guy. what’s up with trying to challenge your manhood? still, as i was reading this i keep thinking ” this guy needs to worry more about whats coming to him from his new wife. too bad he does not realize he’s the next victim in line. when that time comes he should e mail you back and apologize. then when he does, you can bid him adieu. oh well.

  8. jp
    August 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    “I bid you adieu…”

    That is hilarious. Is he one of the Three Musketeers?

    JP

  9. Alnico
    August 25, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    IANAL (I am not a lawyer, get some advice from one instead of me)
    That said, I did discuss my own version of this letter with my divorce attorney since my ex’s new BF was showing up at my kids parent teacher conference to harrass me.

    My attorney told me the no contact letter has no legal clout since it is not a restraining order (signed by a judge) and does not make it illegal for the person to contact the sender. It just documents that the sender objects to contact – and does that well. As such, it is great ammunition towards to include in a request for a formal restraining order if there is further need for one.

    I did send it to my ex’s BF (now spouse). He violated it twice, which I have documented. The first was to pull into my driveway – my ex claimed I said he could but I did not. I told her she could have anyone she want drop off the kids curbside.

    Some time later he got upset because my ex was upset — and so he contacted me via his work email to tell me: “Please cease and desist your baseless attacks on my wife. You have proven yourself to be a bully to those whom have a differing viewpoint than yourself. If you must bully someone please focus your attention on me. I promise to be a more challenging opponent.”

    So I replied with a reminder of my letter and a copy of the full text of it.

    He replied again, “I will honor your request as you have proven yourself to be a person without honor or courage. You wear the disguise of a man, but based on your countless paranoid tirades you have shown you are not a man at all. You are a mere child hiding behind the skirts of others. You obviously face every day with the fear that you may be found out as such. I pity your obvious wantonness to enter the club of men while always being rejected. As I now see your true childlike nature I agree that it best that I not contact you. As a man I could no more spar with you than I could a 4 year old boy. It would not be honorable, but alas honor is not wasted in a life such as yours. I bid you adieu.”

    I noted that he also CC’d attorny email address which is bogus (no MX record, DNS records at all). However, he’s left me alone since.

    That last whole round started because my ex was upset that I told my daughter to see the school nurse if she was still concerned the next day — after my daughter was made to take a bath and got her cast wet at her mom’s (despite the Dr. telling her not to take baths, just wash up). Of courese, she only knew I told my daughter such because she was also easdropping on my personal calls to my daughter. My daughter was scared she would loose her foot. I could not see how wet it was because she was with my ex. So, it is logical that if my daughter is still concerned the next day that she see a nurse who can either deal with it by having her see a Dr. or aleviate her fear if unfounded.

    I’ll listen to my friends and family over this guy — clearly he’s now just another tool for my ex.

  10. kirk g
    August 25, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    thank you much, alnico on that no contact letter concept. it’s so professional and straightforward with a “I’m not playing around” feel to it. but is this an actual attorney no contact letter? i had no idea these existed. you know, alnico, when we were together, before i found out what kind of monster she was, she always told me stories of getting the law on ex’s that where stalking or harasing her. i thought it strange, when in other talks about them, “they were great guys”. later, i found out she was doing the stalking and harassing! it would be nice to give them a dose of their own medicine to send a clear message: the law, people, life, and the world are not at your personal beck and call when you decide you want to play your teenage mentality games. thanks

  11. kirk g
    August 24, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    good point, ace. im going back to complete no contact.

Comment pages
  1. December 2, 2010 at 10:51 am

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