Social Media is a great way to brag about your life. Most people use it to show off, to seek attention, to connect with warm and fuzzy kitty pictures and to spy on the best looking guy or gal from High School. I use social media for my coaching work and still prefer the telephone to connect with friends. But for most people, it’s instant messaging all the way! So what happens when that Ex is lurking behind the blocked avatar? Who’s that handsome dude wanting your attention on IG? Most of the time, no one real (it took a few scammers for me to learn that tactic). And then there’s your kids’ father or that girl you still pine for. What happens when they’re all over you and wanting your attention? You learn to set some really clear boundaries!
It went like this for me. He wanted to date me. He repeatedly asked me out. He’d show up at events we had in common. He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and he got upset when I had to say things like, “you’re not my type” when he didn’t believe I really wasn’t dating. It was like swatting flies on a hot summer day but more emotionally upsetting. He would not leave me alone.
And because I was afraid to hurt his feelings, I wasn’t comfortable with blocking him. It took the comments on my Facebook thread that finally sent me to anger. And I learned a valuable lesson.
Anyone going through a heartbreak, a relationship ending, a divorce knows how painful it is to be rejected or to hear bad things said about them. And I’m no different. As an actress, I heard lots of bad things said but we didn’t have the speed and intensity of social media. I would ignore a weird fan or send the lingerie, keys, and money to ABC’s security and I would ask for help as I was leaving the studio and security would manage the fans outside. But with social media, as a coach, as a divorcee who has had a lot of stuff said about her, I had to learn that boundaries - my setting them - are where I step into protecting me: my mind, my heart, my spirit, my body, my children.
So if that lurking, spying Ex feels way too close, I’m giving you permission to change your settings. This seems so simple! Such valuable advice. But what I’ve found is that my clients wrestle with this as well. All the time.
We’re so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. Upsetting them, of not being nice. We’re worried that they’ll bad mouth us or react in a negative way. And most of the time, your gut instinct is probably right - they will. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t block them. Harassment on social media or on your message app is real and you have a right not to be harassed by someone lurking behind your thread.
What are your really doing when you block someone?
Un-friending is exactly that. You’re un-friending someone you once loved or wanted to love or who wanted to love you.
You will feel an energetic release just the way you felt their lurking. Getting attention form unhealthy people means you’re continuing to set yourself up for unhealthy relationships. You’re making the decision that ‘you can handle it’ when in fact, you can’t.
We are energetic beings who connect with others. It takes a lot to put up boundaries and to keep bad people out. But it’s easier once you start doing so. And you will feel a palpable shift when you do.
A recent client of mine was constantly on the receiving end of some pretty disgusting texts and comments on their thread. It took a few conversations until they were willing to put themselves first, to stop the harassment and to put up safe boundaries. This included blocking mutual friends and family relations.
This is an important declaration. When you decide that your life matters, that your mind is yours to manage, that your heart is ready for healing and that you really can’t handle the mean-spirited antagonism, then you’re onto healthy relationships. Up until then, you’re fooling yourself. No one can handle the onslaught of negativity. And social media hiding lets it all hang out.
Personally, with my divorce coaching Facebook and IG pages, I’ve had to ban, block, delete, unfriend and not accept a lot of people. My blocked list has a host of names. Not because I don’t want to help them heal, but because they’re so angry and mean I’m not the teacher for them. I can’t be somebody’s punching bag and I don’t want those who’ve hurt me in the past to have the privilege of knowing me now.
That’s the next step in personal healing. If you consider yourself a good person, if you’re willing to take responsibility for your part in the breakup, if you’re doing your healing work and gaining wisdom and softening your heart instead of building arguments and walls, then why in the world would you want someone who’s hurt you in the past to find a way to you now?
They don’t get you.
And it’s worth everything to keep it that way. What you have to offer the world is your energy, your heart, your generosity. When you’re ready to forgive yourself for your part in the breakup, you free yourself to love again. But for those who want to keep you in your victim role, for those who want to spy on how you’re doing, their goal isn’t to support you. It never was!
So it’s time to decide to protect yourself. If you’re a parent and your children’s other parent is the person who’s still ghosting and spying on you, this is what I recommend:
- join a third-party app like www.ourfamilywizard.com or www.2houses.com. It is completely worth the small investment to free yourself up from hearing from your Ex the moment they’re angry with you.
- block them on your messenger app. You are not someone’s punching bag.
- give your child their own phone to contact you and stop relying (or trying to control) the calls and conversations between your children and your Ex
- delete your Ex from your contacts and remove them from all social media
- memorize that phone number for when you need to make contact.
- stick to using that third-party app, not your email threads
- keep everything in writing in case they take you back to court.
If you’re finding these suggestions difficult, notice the feelings and be wary of what you’re telling yourself. There is no real reason why you must remain in contact with an Ex. It’s never about parenting concerns or worries. It’s not about what they will think of you. It’s always about you, stepping into taking care of yourself. If you’re having trouble with doing so, doingDivorce™ School is open for the January - March program. Space is limited so apply now. You might want to check it out if you’re feeling stuck.
Changing patterns is not easy to do on your own. You’ll need a coach to see your blind spots and a community to support you. As you make the decision to protect your future, you will stop the drama and harassment of the past.
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach at laurabonarrigo.com. Laura's a writer, public speaker and the founder of doingDivorce School an online coaching program for those ready to shed the pain of divorce. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com and laurabonarrigo.com. Be sure to visit https://m.me/laurabonarrigocoach?ref=Live