How do I get an ex to stop contacting me?
December 25, 2009 1:59 PM   Subscribe

A former flame has attempted to re-establish contact with me.

Almost ten years ago, I had an ill-advised fling with a friend of mine. We were both in difficult relationships -- he was getting a divorce and my boyfriend (now my fiance) lived out of state. Our fling brought out the worst in us, and after it burned out he broke off our friendship in a chat room.

In the intervening years, we've run into each other a few times and he's given me the silent treatment. I learned through friends of friends that he'd told them false details about our relationship (specifically that he'd given me anal and that I was "a mess of santorum" -- classy!); he also posted false information about me on a database of my industry, and he'd befriended some bad neighbors who have made my life rather challenging.

I got a Facebook account earlier this year, and he attempted to add me as a friend. When I blocked him, he sent an angry email to my personal email address accusing me of holding a grudge. Apart from some anger at the time, I hadn't thought twice about this missive...until yesterday, when he found and attempted to add me on a long-dormant Facebook account linked to my aforementioned personal email address.

I'm really upset with him for both spreading rumors about me over the past ten years, and for showing such disregard for the personal boundaries I set. The only thing I want from him is for him to leave me (and potentially my family) alone, and to not speak of me to anyone. If I take passive steps to set boundaries -- such as blocking him on various social networking sites -- I run the risk of getting repeated nasty emails. However, if I email him and ask him to stop bothering me, I fear that he will continue to contact me and could even start harrassing my boyfriend and members of my family. This doesn't seem to be bad enough (yet) to get the authorities involved.

What's the best plan of action to get him to just leave me alone?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ignore him. And read The Gift Of Fear.

Block him on Facebook and set your email client to delete his emails before you get to see them.
posted by Solomon at 2:05 PM on December 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

Do you know how to set up a filter in your e-mail account to move anything he sends you to the trash automatically? I have several people set up like that, usually because they're on an e-mail list I'm on and they just always annoy me. You can't control whether he speaks about you to anyone else, or what he says, but making the level of contact he's trying to have right now invisible to yourself is pretty easy.
posted by not that girl at 2:06 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Leave me alone."

If that doesn't work: "Stop contacting me or I'll get a restraining order. You don't want me to do that."

If that doesn't work: Get a restraining order. IANAL, but sounds like you might have a case for harassment or libel/slander.
posted by clorox at 2:09 PM on December 25, 2009

What's the best plan of action to get him to just leave me alone?

Ignore him. People do this crap because something else in their life is bugging them. They seek distraction from that by engaging in pointless emotional drama that relieves them of thinking of their other problem. Ignore him and he will seek another person to engage in drama.

I will assume that you have told your fiance about your prior fling. If so, it would be best if you told him about this contact. It may bring up old problems, but you should let him know--it will help him continue to build any trust that was lost in the past. Show him the actual E-mails and friend requests.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:09 PM on December 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

I can see no two ways around it: you have to express your desire to be left the fuck alone clearly and emphatically. A simple email will be enough. This might not stop him from giving you a hard time but at least you remove the possibility of misunderstanding and confusion about the issue.

You could always set an email filter to automatically delete anything he sends you, but on the other hand those messages might prove useful when and if you have to contact authorities. And that moment might not be that far ahead, if he keeps at it. If you can get the cops to call on him, that might snap him out of this behavior. I've seen this work on jealous exes before.
posted by Orchestra at 2:19 PM on December 25, 2009

Restraining orders are harder to get, in many jurisdictions, than people seem to think they are. A restraining order is an order made by a court to protect a person from physical pain or injury or the threat of pain or injury. There are some areas where one can be issued because of internet stalking, but not every where. That said; stalking is generally understood to be more than bugging someone to be friended on a social site. (Ex-boyfriends are just one of the reasons I don't belong to places like Facebook.)

Also, Facebook is evil, and in many cases, your profile might have come to his attention because of their new "Hey, you should annoy these people!" feature, thus it may not be that he's stalking you, per se...but that Facebook is stalking you for him. It's a lovely feature.

Rather than responding to the friend request at all, just ignore it. Ignore, but save, any email from him, in case you do need to build a case at some stage. Remember that dirtbags do vex us, but that they derive most of their power from being able to get a reaction. If you are not in danger, then your best bet is pretend he does not exist.

I'm sorry you're going through this. It is the suck.
posted by dejah420 at 3:07 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Don't respond in any way whatsoever to anything he sends you. Even negative attention is him getting what he wants. If possible, set up your email client to route all his messages to a folder that is not your inbox and not the trash, so you don't have to see it but will still have it handy if you wind up needing it as evidence. Done this with a couple people I was tired of dealing with myself, as it happens.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:49 PM on December 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Good for you for not thinking 'well, maybe we can be online friends or something... '

This guy is nothing but trouble. Ignore him as you can, accept he'll be a pest forever. Set a line (that you don't tell him or anyone) before which you'll ignore him and after which you'll do what is necessary. Maybe 'if he directly contacts my fiance' or 'if he directly contacts my boss.' Concede the field up to that point, do what is necessary after that point. Having that line will give you peace of mind.
posted by eccnineten at 6:32 PM on December 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Nthing Everyone who says "Ignore, Ignore, Ignore."

Set protocols to send emails to trash, etc.

DO NOT put your attention on this further. Do you need to do some silly ritual to help your subconscious mind to release your fear of this person's attention? Do That.

Essentially, I am advocating that you not only disengage from this person's overtures, I am advocating that you work on disengaging from their energy field. Yes, you can't control who thinks or acts upon you, but you can gently move beyond those moments of contact and rise above them.

When you get an email - turn your attention towards doing something nice for a loved one. If you hear gossip - change the subject.

Follow the advice of EatTheWeak and eccninteten just in case, but put it out of your mind for the most part.

posted by jbenben at 6:55 PM on December 25, 2009

Read The Gift of Fear. It's a great book.
posted by bleeb at 7:09 PM on December 25, 2009

I'd guess he simply wants your attention: don't give it. From his point of view it should be as though his emails and other messages fall into a black hole, unread. Don't delete them, though, filter them for safe keeping.

If he's just an oddball, then lack of attention will do the trick. The tone and content of emails will escalate, unread by you, and he won't be able to provoke you into correspondence.

If it goes beyond that, document everything, especially when you tell him to leave you alone. If it turns out you need to talk to the police, it will make their job much easier if they can write down exactly why you want this person to leave you alone, that you've told him yourself, that he's ignored it, and that you have good reason to worry. Hopefully, it won't come to that, but if it does, you'll be glad you had it all on paper.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:32 PM on December 26, 2009

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