Throughout my life as a singleton I encountered possibly more than my fair share of crazies. And not just the run-of-the-mill kind of crazy like that one dude who won’t change his underwear throughout the entirety of football season. Or the one who calls his mom thrice daily. I’m talking the kinds who dig their claws in and won’t let go until a restraining order has been served. So, I have some experience getting them the hell out of my life. And, now, I’m happy to share that wisdom with you. You lucky little ducks, you.
Implement these tactics as necessary. The more persistent the crackpot, the more routes you’ll need to take.
Change them. All of them. Email, social, computer, voicemail, PayPal, Netflix. All of it. Even if he didn’t have any of them. You never know what he was capable of getting into during the hours of 9 to 5 when he was sitting on your couch “job searching” or “working on his music.”
2. Social Media Blocking
This one is a bit of a gimme, but not everyone digs as deep as they need to to block the offending ex from every entry point. I’ll get into specifics for the major outlets, but there are a couple things you should keep in mind regarding your social presence when dealing with a crazy person.
a. Never. Ever. Ever. Attach a location to your updates. It’s not necessary and potentially dangerous under the circumstances.
b. The legal recourse available to victims of online harassment is, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent. Every time I tried to take my ex’s abusive online behavior to the authorities they advised me to stay off the Interwebz. Cool advice, bro.
c. He will change online identities be on the lookout for them. Any unusual new followers, friends, etc. should raise a flag. Respond accordingly with the appropriate blocking measures.
Start by locking down your settings as much as possible. I’m talking everything. What you post, how people can search for you, who can tag you. ev.ery.thing.
Once you’ve got your profile on lockdown, go through and delete every connection you had with him from Facebook. Not just him. Every friend, acquaintance, and ancillary character he may be connected to. This may not be entirely possible/desirable. so you’re going to have to make some judgement calls.
Factor in the level of crazy as it correlates to the connection he has to the mutual friend. And then stack that number against how your real motives for staying connected to the mutual friend. If the ex is off-the-charts nutty, best friends with the mutual friend, and you only want to stay in touch in hopes of a revenge hookup… delete. Immediately, your motives are as insane as he is.
If he’s just drunk texting you a little too long, orders coffee from the mutual friend, and you love the free lattes, go ahead and maintain that social friendship. But, consider using lists to add a bit of a buffer.
Locking Twitter down is a more difficult call than Facebook. The whole purpose of the site is to spew your 140 characters of wisdom for the world to read/ignore, so going private isn’t exactly ideal. If it’s bad enough where you need to protect your Tweets for the foreseeable future, read this. If you’re willing to risk it, go ahead and block any account he is associated with. It won’t prevent him from seeing what you Tweet when he’s signed out of his accounts, but hopefully he’s dumb enough that he won’t realize this.
Blocking is an especially important move if he’s taken to attacking you from any avenue. It will prevent him from DMing you or tweeting at you. However, it won’t prevent him from tweeting disgusting things to your friends or using your name as a hashtag to spread derogatory shit. For the former, you have to ask your friends to block him, which most, if not all, will happily do. For the latter, there’s not much of anything you can do because our system is broken, but chances are his teeny voice won’t get noticed in the blizzard of hashtags and social content.
Pinterest is pretty innocuous. And there’s no real way to turn everything private. But there are a few steps you can take to scrub your Pinterest presence as far as he’s concerned, so go ahead and try those. And, for the love of all that is good in the world, if you start pinning a wedding, set those boards to private.
This is one of the trickier ones. The whole purpose of LinkedIn is to get discovered for your beautiful brain, but that’s kind of impossible if you’re settings are completely locked down. Consider limiting the people who can view your profile to connections and then block your ex completely. If you switch jobs soon after the breakup, hold off on updating your profile until you’ve gotten some distance, and you’re pretty sure he won’t hunt you down at your new place. Or, at the very least, make sure you’ve got enough time under your belt so your new place of employ won’t fire you when your ex takes to harassing you at work. It's sad, and utterly wrong, but it happens.
Instagram, vine, Snapchat, et. al.
Yep. Lock. it. down. At least until he goes quiet. I know you want as many people as possible to see that artsy shot of the Stone Arch Bridge, because it’s so original and no one has ever taken a photo like that before. Also the public needs to know about the kale salad you just #madetheshitoutof. Also, the video of your #skateboard fail. Give the people what they need! Except they don’t (also, you’re 30, stay off the skateboard and vine for that matter). And, your ex doesn’t need that thread to you either.
When I was dealing with a barrage of vitriol from my latest crazy, a very helpful police officer suggested I “just change your email address.” Okay. Fine. Except that it’s not that easy when you’ve had a Gmail address you pounced on in the very early days of Google’s expanding reign. One that recruiters and networking prospects use to contact you. You know, people inclined to give very little shits and even be annoyed when you send out the “Hey GUYS NEW ADDY” email.
So, let’s call new email not an option. Blocking the individual is your best bet, but it’s not always a possibility. When I was going through my extrication process, Gmail had no way of blocking senders (an oversight they have since remedied). This left me to do some filtering fancywork. I set up every known email address of his, his brother’s, his mother’s, and his cat’s to send immediately to trash. This comes with the added benefit of testing your willpower. To prevent taking a tempting peek at the any new insane rantings that land in your trash, delete all immediately on a daily basis for awhile. Eventually, you’ll forget schadenfreude is even an option.
One issue with blocking/filtering is that you aren’t able to block any new addresses he creates to get through. This is really only an issue if you’ve got an especially persistent nut job. Most people would assume you’re ignoring the emails or that you’ve changed your address completely. Those are not the people we’re dealing with. The certifiable ones will keep trying with new address after new address. So if you start getting messages from firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, filter, block, repeat.
Much like email, you have one of two options with your phone. Block or change the number. The first tactic was super simple on iPhone, but oddly difficult if I tried going through my carrier. For me blocking worked for about a day or two, but the wonderful world of technology made it too easy for him to get a new Google voice number every couple days. It became too much to deal with, and I had to cave and change my number for the first time since the last time I got rid of a crazy ex.
It was surprisingly easy with Sprint. Just a click, choose an area code, submit and you’re set up with new digits. Most other carriers have a similarly simple process. The hard part comes after when you have to send the annoying “new number!” text. And then there’s the disheartening “who is this?!” response. “It’s me Chrissy! We had dance together four years ago!” I had the unique opportunity of dealing with taking over the phone number of a guy who 1. never pays his bills. 2. Gives his old number to anybody who may need to collect money from him in the future. In those instances, a combination of blocking and terse “this isn’t Josh. He hasn’t had this number for at least a year” conversations did the trick.
Blog blocking may not be a very common need, but it was necessary in my case. My exes didn’t know about my blog, because I couldn’t trust them to know my innermost thoughts. You know, the ones I share with complete Internet strangers. Ahh love. But, the last one found out about it after the fact and decided he could disguise himself as a sympathetic stranger with great advice like “get back together with him, maybe he just loves you too much.” Later he would morph back into the angry ex boyfriend “there’s a blog out there now with pictures of you, you slut.” Such a charmer that one.
There’s little you can do to block him from reading your material, but you can prevent him from sharing his erratic behavior with your readers. Depending on which commenting client you use, the methods are probably different, but most allow you to set up some sort of approval requirements. This means, you’ll still have to see the comment, and that’s not exactly desirable. So, if possible, blacklist that toxic bastard.
Disqus has this handy little blacklist feature. They’ll even allow you to blacklist the IP address, which will, at the very least, slow down his: say something awful, get a new email, say something refreshingly evil, get a new email pattern. He’ll have to say something awful, go to a coffee shop, get a new email, say something refreshingly evil, go to the library, get a new email. Way less convenient.
That about sums up the digital realm of blocking your ex. I know I sarcasm a lot, but this is actually a pretty serious problem. I’ll address the real-life and legal ways you can protect yourself from a crazy ex in a later post. But, protecting heart from hateful spewing can be just as important as protecting your person in the world. Be careful out there, chickadees.