“When suspicion and hostility is allowed to fester, it can erupt into unrest.” – Loretta Lynch
Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience a hostile ex-partner. However, if you do find yourself in the situation where you have an ex that won’t leave you alone or is plaguing you with texts, phone calls, or even threats, you need to know how to handle it. Break-ups can be messy, and not all of them end amicably.
When an ex-partner refuses to accept that they’re no longer part of the other person’s life, it can lead to some pretty scary situations. The most important thing to know is to stay smart and stay safe. It may be tempting to plan revenge against an ex-partner who is stalking and threatening you, but the goal is to not antagonize them into further action. Here are some tips on how to deal with a hostile ex while staying positive.
5 Smart Ways To Tell Your Hostile Ex To Leave You Alone
1. Figure out what your ex wants and talk it through
This can be anything from acknowledging their feelings, to getting back together. If it’s the former, try and figure out what feelings they need validated and see if you can talk through them in a positive and healthy manner that doesn’t dissolve into name-calling and arguments.
If it’s the latter, make it clear that you have no intentions of getting back together. It may be tempting to try and placate them with a vague “someday, maybe”, but this will only add fuel to the fire in the long run. The goal is here is to figure out what they want from you so that you can figure out how best to get them to leave you alone.
2. Don’t take the bait and be part of the scheme to get your attention
You may notice that if your ex is not getting the response out of you that they desire, they may move on to other tactics to get your attention. For instance, they may create false emergencies to get you to speak to them, or they may threaten self-harm or suicide. If you’re worried, contact someone close to them who can help – either to assist them in a real emergency, or talk them down from doing something self-destructive to get your attention.
Err on the side of caution if your ex is continually leaving you hanging with cliff hangers and promises of discovered secrets. Chances are, they’re just trying to get you to talk to them.
3. Don’t meet up with your ex unless absolutely necessary
According to licensed marriage and family therapist, Ron L. Deal, “Face-to-face interaction has the most potential for conflict. Use the phone when possible or even talk to their answering machine if personal communication erupts into arguments.” Sometimes, you just can’t avoid seeing your ex-partner, especially if you’re going through a divorce or there are kids involved.
If your ex is particularly hostile, you should only meet up with them in populated areas to avoid outbursts in public, or to at least have witnesses to any kind of harassment – verbal or otherwise. If you’re feeling particularly vulnerable, it’s good to bring a friend with you.
Your ex may not feel like lashing out in front of someone else, and there can always be someone there to make sure that help can be called if needed.
4. Document everything, whether it’s a phone call, messages or emails
If your ex is stalking you or leaving you threatening text messages and voicemails, you’re going to want to save everything. If your ex is coming to your house and trying to get you to let them in, record the incident on your phone either with the camera of voice memo. If, God forbid, you have to get the law involved, physical evidence is going to hold up a lot better than he said-she said.
According to licensed marriage and family therapist, Virginia Gilbert, “Do not listen to conventional wisdom that your ex will “move on” in time. Well-adjusted people move on; high-conflict personalities never quench their thirst for revenge and their desire to feel like “the good one.” Document everything; save hostile e-mails, take screen shots of abusive texts, note every violation of your court orders.”
Let your ex’s calls go to voicemail and save any threatening or harassing messages. If the only time that they threaten you is when you pick up the phone, have a voice recorder and put the phone on speaker so you can record everything they’re saying.
5. Have a support network to confide in when you feel defeated
Whether your support network is close friends or family members, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to deal with this alone. Keeping a network of people who can support you during this time means that not only are you getting the emotional support that you need to handle the situation, but it can also serve as a warning that your ex may approach them in the days to come for information about you. Friends and family can also help document anything that your ex does that is worrying, harassing, or threatening.
Hostile ex-partners can be scary, but there’s a way to handle them that can keep you safe. Knowing the right course of action means that you’re already a step ahead of them. While your ex’s actions may be largely driven by negative emotions, you’ll have the tools you need to deal with the situation while staying safe, positive and smart. Remember: never fight fire with fire when it comes to a hostile ex. It can be tempting to retaliate, but it may not put a stop to your ex’s behavior. Don’t be afraid to call the police if you need to. Making sure you and everyone else involved stays safe is the number one priority!