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Have You Tackled Your Contact Channels?

Over the course of the year, I'm in contact with a hell of a lot of people who are trying to make their way through a breakup and come out the other side. A significant portion of these people are doing No Contact and a recurrent theme I've noticed with the people who struggle with NC, is that no real means of cutting the contact channels has happened yet or they are being flip-flapped around with. Have you taken steps to ensure that from your end, NC is as successful as possible?

  • You might still be in touch with their family or friends.
  • You may still be letting their emails appear in your inbox.
  • You are still friends with them on Facebook.
  • You're still friends with faux mutual friends on Facebook.
  • You may still be replying to their texts.

Here's the thing: What you do with No Contact is very much about what you do about managing your end of things. If you're closing down the channels of access, they can attempt contact but they are not going to get a response. If these channels are open, you are open to them making attempts to contact you which is disruptive.

What are the two chief reasons why these channels have not been addressed?

1. Fear of letting go of hope that things will be better and that they may even spontaneously combust into the person you want.

2. Fear of looking 'mean'. This may stretch as far as being convinced that 'everyone' will know if you defriended on Facebook - they have to go looking for this information which would say more about the people in question than it would about you.

If you want to move on, to be free of the torment, and to not continue making your own version of Relationship Groundhog Day, it's time to bite the bullet.

Their family

Like the division of property after the end of a relationship, cutting ties with a family that you like is painful. It's like a double blow. Or a triple blow if you have friends in there too. They like and love you and possibly don't know the ins and outs of your relationship, or they do and sympathise with you and don't want to lose you. The thing is, you do have to let them go. It doesn't mean that you won't be in touch in the future when the dust has settled and your heart has healed, but remaining 'in' with their family may actually cross your ex's boundaries and create friction with their family - they may feel rejected. The only time when being in touch with their family is unavoidable is when you have children together - manage the agreement and boundaries with your ex first and then it's easier to make arrangements about visits with the family. What you have to do is be careful of slagging off your ex and feeling too comfy because you think they're on your side. Things can change so it's best to keep the boundaries intact and vent to parties who are not smack in the middle of things. If their family overshare with you, you do have to bite the bullet and say, "I know you mean well and that you want to empathise with me, but right now, it's just too painful for me to listen to you talk about what they're doing with their ex [or whatever it is] so can we please talk about something else?" And failing that, you need to distance yourself.

Remember: You are going to move on and one day you'll meet someone else. It's unrealistic to think that your ex's family can be a big part of your life. What are you going to do? Bring a new partner around to theirs?

Their friends aka 'mutual friends'

People do take sides after a breakup - it's natural. You may get on with their friends but fact is, when push comes to shove, if you don't have a genuine, close friendship that's independent of your relationship with your ex, you are likely going to become acquaintances or lose touch altogether. Unless you want to talk the crap out of your relationship or listen to gossip about your ex, there is only so far that these friendships can go. These friendships often continue because they're a 'connection' to your ex and a window into their lives. Friendships need to be mutual and genuine. I also wouldn't worry about not keeping in touch with them if they were superficial friendships and certainly don't be telling them all of your business unless you can be categorically certain that they are trustworthy. Don't assume that they're trustworthy. Be honest with you about your motives for friendship. If it's about your ex including keeping in with them for reputation management, that is not fair to these people. It's not a relationship with integrity.

Do not ask these people to choose sides. If that's what it is coming to, rather than put you in a deeply awkward situation, step away.

If you are friends, you do need to agree the boundaries, either by stating them, or knowing when to move on when the gossiping starts. A true friend isn't going to want to talk about your ex all the time. But do recognise that it's a very uncomfortable position when NC is involved and it can put people into camps - people will choose and you have to accept this. It's not a popularity contest - normally they choose the path of least resistance and whatever happens is very dependent on the dynamics of their involvement with your ex. Don't forget your own friends.

A word of caution though - If you need to do NC and they're also on the shady side, make sure that their friends are not of the same ilk.

Remember though: Like their family, you do have to consider where holding onto your ex's network of friends fits into your future, especially when you move on to a new relationship.

Facebook

Facebook is just a social networking site that does not alert people to being defriended. It's not God nor the Oracle and is incredibly destructive to the psyches of the vulnerable. I should also point out that it's not a reflection of real life and that real friends are people you have a genuine connection with and not just people who cater to your image.

If your ex is spying on you on Facebook and persists in messaging you (possibly because you've cut off their other routes, although it could be because they're lazy), you have no choice but to delete and block. You do not owe anyone an explanation for who you're friends with on Facebook and the world is not going to collapse if you're not friends with your ex.

I would caution you against blocking to play games - Facebook delays the reconnection period.

If you're not actual friends with your ex, you shouldn't be friends on Facebook. If it's a case of that you both need some space and time apart, hide their updates from your timeline. If that's too scary for you, you can also deactivate your Facebook account which puts it into temporary suspension. This is what my sister did and she said that it was an immediate weight off her mind. You can't miss what you don't know plus it gives you so much time. It also stops any awkward questions if you have to change your relationship status. I know so many people who have done this.

If you're already not friends with your ex on Facebook but youare friends with pseudo 'mutual' friends, it's pivotal to delete these people. They will be stirring things up and reporting back on what you put on there. There is no need to warn them beforehand - people expect not to still be kept as a Facebook friend after a breakup. It is not their right to remain your friend on Facebook. They should be more concerned about being a person of integrity in real life.


Texts

Texts are not a meaningful means of communication so each time you receive a text, visualise a crumb. That's all it is. Unless you're 16, you truly have no business playing text ping pong with a grownup. If you have something to say, say it face-to-face or over the phone - that kills the bulk of this texting malarkey because the whole idea is to avoid having to risk yourself in the first place. A text doesn't count as effort, so quite simply don't reply. Check with your provider if you can block texts if they're being a nuisance and do remember, if you live in the UK and someone sends more than 2 unwanted texts or emails, they're actually breaking the law...

You do not need to reply to texts - it's just a text. You're not really getting the last word by sending a reply, nor are you getting any effort from them either. Many people go on text diets during the period of NC - it stops you being fooled by crumb effort or being drawn into juvenile communications.