Help me stop calling her!
July 25, 2006 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Give me some ideas to help me avoid calling someone. I am grieving the break-up of a long-term relationship. I dont know if the relationship can be salvaged at any point in the future but if it can be it will only be after we have some space and time apart. What can I do to dampen down the overwhelming desire to call her?

I have been speaking to her every day for nearly ten years. Even when we have been in different countries we have always spoke together. We shared all sorts of experiences together: from the humdrum to the most uplifting and we have always had the other person to bounce back on. But I know that if we are to get any perspective and to move on either together or apart we need to get some space. But I have an overwhelming desire to hear her voice. Its tearing me apart inside. Practical advice would be most appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Find a suitably distracting project. Learn a programing language or a natural language or some branch of mathematics.
posted by orthogonality at 12:23 PM on July 25, 2006

I say, give yourself a deadline- for example, in one month, you are allowed to call her. Maybe in a month, the feeling won't be so urgent?

You could also listen to her voice mail messages over and over and over again, until you're sick of yourself.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:31 PM on July 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

Maybe listening to a recording of her voice (i.e. an old voice message) might be useful until you can wean yourself off needing to hear her voice everyday.

In my experience the best way to get over someone/relationship is a clean break for a long period of time. It sounds like rationally you know that, I just wanted to reiterate how important the separation is.
posted by sulaine at 12:32 PM on July 25, 2006

After a three-year long relationship crashed and burned (college daze, mind you), I have to say in all honesty that heavy drinking and strip clubs at least took my mind off of my despair.
posted by Skot at 12:33 PM on July 25, 2006

I have been in exactly those shoes.

The most practical advice I have, is find someone else to talk to. It doesn't have to be a lover (it can be), but just someone else to talk to, to call, to go out. It can be many people. For me the only thing that worked was having other people in my life.

I tried video games, books, movies, but really it was only contact with other people that helped fill that huge void the breakup left in my life.

I wish you luck, it's a very difficult position.
posted by patrickje at 12:35 PM on July 25, 2006

While this doesn't help if you're thinking logically, in order to avoid drunk calls:

On my cell phone there was an option (under security features) to block all outgoing calls that aren't in my phonebook. I set that up and then whenever DrunkZackTM tried to call someone he shouldn't, he was instantly reminded the SoberZackTM doesn't approve of such calls. Usually DrunkZackTM either deferred to the opinion of SoberZackTM, or he was just too far gone that night to figure out how to change the option anyways.

As for dampening the sadness, maybe when you get the urge try calling a friend who knows about the situation (or even better, a friend who doesn't know at all) and talking about something unrelated.

Another fun DrunkZackTM technique was instead of calling the ex, he'd call his best buddy (BB) and pretend he was the ex. Then he'd make jokes about how BB was trying to keep us apart because BB was secretly jealous of my good looks etc. Usually killed the urge and was pretty hilarious at the same time. Until i did it like 300 times and then it started getting annoying.
posted by ZackTM at 12:35 PM on July 25, 2006

I feel for you, honestly just take it one day at a time and get outside and try and find something to distract yourself, hopefully something productive. All you can do is be the best you that you can be. (cliche I know but true)
posted by BobbyDigital at 12:40 PM on July 25, 2006

Write down the conversation that you would have with your ex in a spiral bound notebook everytime you feel the need to speak with her. Don't show these scripts/letters to anyone. Over time, your entries will shorten and become more and more infrequent. When you realize that you have not included something new in the book in a long time (a year should do it for a 10 year relationship), destroy the book.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:41 PM on July 25, 2006 [3 favorites]

I would often write these conversations in notepad and save the text files. It really helped.

Additionally, find someone else to talk to if at all possible. I had an old friend pull through on this. I'd talk about whatever I needed to until he'd somehow pull it around to something else, and I always left feeling better.

Take away all easy ways to call. Take the number off speeddial. Delete the number from your address books (and email accounts). Small barriers mean a lot.

take care of yourself.
posted by fake at 12:52 PM on July 25, 2006

I've done something like this:

I kept reminding myself that if she wanted to talk to me, she'd call me.

the desire to hear someone's voice is not as strong if you think that person doesn't want to talk to you.
posted by milarepa at 12:53 PM on July 25, 2006 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry you're going through this. Definitely, find a friend to listen to you and support you and talk you out of calling. I recall taking a friend out for pancakes at 3 am at a local diner to get her away from the phone and give her a chance to let her vent.

Another thing you might do, similar to robocop's suggestion, is to write her a letter. Say whatever it is you're feeling and you would want to express. You can either stow the letter away, or rip it up, or whatever, but you probably won't actually want to send it.

((( hugs )))
posted by tastybrains at 12:54 PM on July 25, 2006

"I kept reminding myself that if she wanted to talk to me, she'd call me.

the desire to hear someone's voice is not as strong if you think that person doesn't want to talk to you."
posted by milarepa at 3:53 PM EST on July 25


In particularly tough moments, a mental picture of your former chatmate appearing before a criminal judge to obtain a restraining order against you really helps damp the urge to call.
posted by paulsc at 12:59 PM on July 25, 2006

Maybe listening to a recording of her voice (i.e. an old voice message) might be useful

Or it might be a terrible idea. If he had quit smoking and was dying for a cigarette, would you advise him to go watch people smoking? A reminder of the thing you're craving is likely to weaken your resolve, not strengthen it or somehow "tide you over."
posted by staggernation at 1:03 PM on July 25, 2006

I was thinking of the old message as a useful thing during the withdrawal period. If he actually feels like he can't function without her voice, and listening to a message helps get over that, then he should do so. Especially if otherwise he'd be calling her. Of course this should not be a long term practice.
posted by sulaine at 1:16 PM on July 25, 2006

It's July 25th, 2007. How much does the thought of calling her matter to you now?

I by no means intend to minimise your current, urgent feelings, but God knows that this line of thinking has pulled me through many, many dark days.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:17 PM on July 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't listen to old messages. Phone a friend, go out, and get your mind off it. Go bowling or to the cinema or whatever. Sitting at the computer craving is not healthy.
posted by fire&wings at 1:27 PM on July 25, 2006

I dated a woman for 10 years. The last two were on again off again because we both we wimps about going cold turkey. When we finally were able, we both met our now spouses within 6 months of our last contact.

I spoke to her once in 10 years after our last final break-up. Last month, my wife and I had dinner with her and her husband when we were in her town for another reason. (17 years after our final break-up) It was great to know how well she was doing and to show off how well I had married. We will remain occasional email friends, but I do not miss the *it* we had.

My advice is to find an immediate distraction including on-line dating, sports, drinking heavily or anything that will keep you busy interacting with others. Sitting at a computer will just give you time to daydream about her.

Like AA, take it one day at a time and for that one day vow not to think about her or call her or wish you had. Do not listen to her voice mails. Delete them. Screen your calls and do not pick up if she calls.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:27 PM on July 25, 2006

I was thinking of the old message as a useful thing during the withdrawal period. If he actually feels like he can't function without her voice, and listening to a message helps get over that, then he should do so. Especially if otherwise he'd be calling her. Of course this should not be a long term practice.

Exactly- I can't imagine it would be a long-term practice. Just a crutch to get through the rough times. Soon, you'll stop needing it without even realizing it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:30 PM on July 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

My advice is to find an immediate distraction including on-line dating, sports, drinking heavily or anything that will keep you busy interacting with others. Sitting at a computer will just give you time to daydream about her.

If you take up heavy drinking, make sure you don't Drink & Dial!
posted by tastybrains at 1:31 PM on July 25, 2006

I think it's been said here before but I can't stress it enough: you need a clean break.

With this in mind, something I've found to really help minimise the impact of a rough breakup is to not only delete the numbers off the speed dial, but also archive / delete all the old emails. Get rid of the IM chatfiles. Delete old phone messages. Pick up, pack up and put away absolutely EVERYTHING that reminds you of her. You don't have to pitch it, just put it far away, in storage, out of sight. Someday, maybe, you'll have the distance and perspective to sift through all the old photos, keepsakes, etc... but for now going through that stuff is just picking at scabs.

And, I know this sounds cheesy, but go out and *do* something. Turn off the computer and get outside. Join a dodgeball team, get a pet, start a project, pick a hobby, join a 'meetup' or social networking club... heck host a MeFi meetup even. New interests and new people are great distractions from the mopes.

Take it from someone who knows: mooning around on the internet is a surefire path to despair.
posted by lonefrontranger at 1:39 PM on July 25, 2006

Another option, if you can't go cold turkey - set up a gmail account with your ex's name, or some variation of it. When you just have to tell her something or have feelings you want to vent, then email that account. This helped me immensely when a friendship was ending badly - we had also been in contact several times a day for years. I know it's not the same as hearing her voice but since that's not an option you need to find another way to release your urges and email might do the trick.
posted by LadyBonita at 1:57 PM on July 25, 2006

lonefrontranger hits the nail on the head.

The other thing that I would suggest strongly - if you don't already, by all means - exercise. Every day. Ideally, make it something that you enjoy, not simply something that provides you with good physical activity. But even *merely* good physical activity will help immensely.

And know that you are not alone, many of us have been through this, we can all relate. You will definitely pull through.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 2:12 PM on July 25, 2006

1. Go on a road trip.
2. Assemble a list of great driving songs.
3. Compile all those songs.
4. Get together with those friends that you never see anymore.
5. Go on another road trip.
posted by Coax at 2:36 PM on July 25, 2006

Hi ...

I've just gone through this exact same thing. My partner and I, together for 11 years, separated for a little over a year.

At first, we would set up a certain amount of time during which no contact was allowed. We would do this for about a month at a time.

Then, we would allow ourselves small amounts of contact .. say, once a week.

This really gave us the true separation we needed to gain the perspective we had to get. We have since reconciled and are still working through stuff, but in a much less codependent way.

As for being apart, I found that it was very, very important to me to rely on my support system. I spent lots of time with friends and tried to do a ton of nice things for myself.

I hope this helps you ...
posted by duckus at 3:23 PM on July 25, 2006

Phone a friend, go out, and get your mind off it.

Good, succinct advice. Take it. Everybody's different, but I'd advise against the listening-to-messages thing. Your goal is to get her off your mind as soon as humanly possible.

And a lot of us have been there, for whatever that's worth. Hang in there and remind yourself that time changes everything.
posted by languagehat at 5:14 PM on July 25, 2006

Must. Leave. The house.

Take a spiral notebook and a pen. Go somewhere else. Go to movies. Find free concerts, dances, plays. Find a lake and paddle into the middle. Or a mall. People watch until you're exhausted. Go in search of the ultimate taco. Volunteer to help at a local charity.

Don't bring the phone.

Whenever you're not at work, be out doing something. See how many new experiences you can have in a month. And whenever you feel the urge to call her and tell her about it, write it down in the book. Keep up a continuous written dialogue if you must - all the things you would tell her if she were sitting next to you.
posted by eleyna at 6:06 PM on July 25, 2006

I'm so sorry.

As others have said distraction is a good thing. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself distracted.

Read trashy novels or magazines. Go experience new things around your town and don't take your phone. Get a part-time service job to take up off-work time where you might think about calling. Exercise yourself into exhaustive sleep at the end of the day. Redecorate the house for a new period of your life. Get a pet. Take classes. Join clubs. Build models.

Sometimes people dismiss distraction as not sorting through feelings. But I think some feelings don't need to be sorted. They just need time to dissipate.

Sounds a little new agey, but for me it helps to be my own best friend, comfort the sad person inside my head. Then I can sort of separate myself from the sad self. The new separate self emerges stronger than the sad one, and eventually the sad one lets go of the aching heart.

Best wishes.
posted by dog food sugar at 6:11 PM on July 25, 2006

Write her a letter. Get it all out. Now throw it away.
posted by rinkjustice at 6:33 PM on July 25, 2006

I know what you mean about wanting to call your ex. When that urge hit me, I would tell myself that I could do it, if I waited 15 minutes. When I hit the 15 minute mark, I did another 15 minutes. It was really, REALLY hard to do, but it stopped me from making contact which would have just hurt both of us.

Try to remember that calling her will be like ripping open the hole in your heart after you've managed to stop the bleeding.

Good luck.
posted by Serena at 8:03 PM on July 25, 2006

I helped a close friend through this just recently. It's really hard.

He ended up going to Nepal to buy a Royal Enfield motorbike and go touring. Last time he called me, he sounded a fair bit better.

Is there something you've been meaning to get around to doing for years and years? Now would be the time.
posted by flabdablet at 8:35 PM on July 25, 2006

I'm in the same place now (except it was 4 years and not 10).

The best I've felt so far is when I was combining advice from above-- specifically, when I am with other friends but also doing something mentally occupying. Board games and poker are good for this.

I also think books whose characters I'm familiar with have helped-- plus, they are more useful at hours when you can't simply call another friend instead of her.

I'm also hoping to go get some art materials-- a little creative activity, of whatever flavor you like best, might be good to distract you from the phone.

I nth the "remove from speed-dial", although I haven't done it myself (I can't figure out how! Anyone with an old LG want to tell me?).

But I've also got a question for everyone that I think isn't a derail-- the original poster mentions that, although unlikely, some future relationship/friendship is possible.

Several repliers have mentioned that a clean break is best, and the o.p. is right to make one. But, if there's a wish for eventual future reconciliation, or at least for future friendship, how long must the break be? How do you know when you're stable enough/ over it enough to contact the person again?

I also think having some criteria might help with not calling until they're satisfied. On preview, so did ThePinkSuperhero- but how to know if 1 month is enough? Any other criteria?
posted by nat at 7:17 AM on July 26, 2006

nat (and OP): you're right, this isn't really a derail

as regards the 'when is it safe to regain contact' question, I don't think this is something you can really answer.

The answer = 'when you don't get that falling sensation in your gut and the shakes whilst speaking to them...'

Meaning it's an emotional response, not a logical one. IME (and everyone's different, natch), emotional issues like this can't be quantified with hard facts. Sorry.

in otherwords, it could be a month, it could be six months... it could be fifteen years or the answer could simply be never. it's just not predictable. There are so many variables there you can't even begin to list all of them, much less figure out how any given individual human being will respond to these sorts of stresses.

(snark:) this, in my not so humble and very biassed opinion, is why engineers and math majors are so unbelievably shitty at dealing with relationship woes, btw.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:19 AM on July 26, 2006

Don't do it. You will be so much happier in the long run. Have complete faith in people who tell you this because they have done it and it is true.

I often revisit (in my mind) my success at not calling an ex. Even years later it is a success I privately celebrate.

As one ex (who I did call) told me "Remember, I didn't call you." Lesson learned.

In the end, it is the classy way to do it.
posted by trii at 5:41 PM on July 29, 2006

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