How to Deal with an Obsessed Ex Lover

Three Parts:Communicating After a BreakupAvoiding Your ExStepping Up Protection

The relationship may be done, but your ex is not moving on! You need to make it clear it's over before your ex sends you another awkward love letter or stands outside your bedroom window holding a boombox at full blast, playing “your song.” The best strategy for dealing with an obsessed ex will vary based on that person’s characteristics.[1] However, there are some general guidelines you can follow to make your ex understand that you have broken up once and for all, and to protect yourself if your ex begins to pose a real danger.

Part 1
Communicating After a Breakup

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    Don’t let the breakup drag on.[2] Trying to let your ex down easy can backfire. Don’t be tempted to go back to someone because you feel sorry for him or her, or because you don’t want to hurt him/her.[3] If you want to break up with someone, it’s best for both of you to just do it and move on.
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    Be clear that the relationship has ended.[4] If you are dealing with an ex that will not leave you alone, you need to be extra clear that the relationship really is over. Be kind, but firm. Otherwise the ex might assume that the relationship is still ongoing, or might imagine that you will get back together at some point.
    • Try making unambiguous statements such as: “[Insert person’s name], our relationship ended a month ago. I need to move on with my life.”
    • Avoid statements like “I need to focus on myself right now,” or “I don’t have time for a relationship right now,” because these can suggest that the relationship could begin again some time in the future.
    • If you have already tried to break up with your ex and he or she did not get it, try again, making sure to be absolutely clear.[5] Try saying something like: “When we talked last time, I wanted it to be clear that we are no longer in a relationship, but I don’t think you understood me. We are not in a relationship. Do you understand now?”
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    Let others know that the relationship is over. Tell your family and friends (especially any friends that you and your ex have in common) that you have broken up. The more public the information is, the more “real” it will appear to your ex. It you broke up quietly and without telling others, your ex might interpret it as a sign that you are still interested, and become obsessed with getting you back.

Part 2
Avoiding Your Ex

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    Don’t make contact with your ex.[6][7] An obsessive ex may try to initiate contact with you, such as calling or texting you, sending you gifts, etc. If you reciprocate the contact, even to say “leave me alone,” the ex may interpret it as a sign that you are still interested. The best technique for dealing with an obsessive ex is to avoid all contact.
    • It is best to leave calls, texts, emails, etc. unanswered. Just ignore or delete them.
    • If your ex sends you gifts or other items, do not acknowledge or return them. Just toss them out.
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    Remove the ex from your contact and friends lists on social media. Because they create large networks of contacts, social media can make it difficult to deal with an obsessed ex. Your ex might try to contact you via your social media profiles, or through any mutual friends’. The best thing you can do is remove your ex from your social media contact lists: you don’t want him/her to be in touch with you, and you won’t want to see your ex's social media content.
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    Stay away from your ex. Avoiding physical contact can be an effective way of dealing with an obsessive ex. If he or she does not have the chance to see you, the obsession will hopefully come to an end. This may mean that you have to change your behavior patterns or the places you frequent.[8] For instance, if you think you will run into your ex at a particular coffee shop you frequent, you may want to find a different one to visit. This can be frustrating, but on the plus side, you get to explore some new places and get a fresh start.[9]

Part 3
Stepping Up Protection

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    Recognize when the situation escalates. If you feel as though your obsessive ex has gone so far as to become a stalker, the situation might be dangerous. When this happens, you may need to seek outside help. Stalking is different than obsession because it involves a long-term pattern of harassment or abuse.[10][11] Legally, stalking occurs when someone repeatedly (twice or more) comes near you or contacts you when you have asked him/her or not to, or made threats (verbal, written, or implied) that have caused you fear or the worry of harm.[12] If you are the victim of stalking, contact the police. Stalking is illegal in all states.[13] Common signs of stalking include when your ex:
    • Follows you
    • Loiters near your home, workplace, or other area that you frequent
    • Installs surveillance equipment in your home, car, etc., or threatens to install it
    • Contacts you through inappropriate means, such as calling your boss to discuss your relationship
    • Verbally harasses or abuses you, leaves obscene messages, or makes any other kind of inappropriate contact
    • Harasses you or people close to you online through comments on social media, hacking your social media or email accounts, etc.
    • Harms your pet
    • Vandalizes or destroys your personal property
    • Physically or sexually assaults you
    • Does any of the above to your family members, friends, coworkers, or others who know you
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    Get an order of protection if you need it.[14] A protective order is issued by a court to prevent someone from contacting you. If your ex breaks the rules of this protective order, he or she can be arrested and fined or imprisoned. If your ex poses any kind of danger to you or others around you, contact authorities in your area about getting an order of protection. Laws governing these orders vary from location to location, but you can find out more about your options by contacting:
    • The police
    • A lawyer
    • A legal aid service
    • A community service specializing in domestic abuse
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    Contact the police if there is any sign of a threat.[15][16] Whether or not you have an order of protection, if your ex puts you or someone close to you in danger, contact the police immediately.
    • Even if the police do not seem to think the situation is a problem, be persistent in letting them know about your ex’s stalking behavior. Explain the seriousness of the situation, and refer to any past reports.
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    Get a police report as evidence. If you are being stalked by your ex, contact the police with a full explanation of what is happening. It's important to get an official police report, which can help if you have to file for a protection order or press legal charges later.[17]
    • Document the stalking behavior as thoroughly as possible. Save copies of harassing emails, text messages, social media posts, etc. Take screenshots of things such as Facebook posts or tweets, since the user may delete them later. If your ex shows up to your home or place of work, document the day and time it occurs. Keep a record of every time you are harassed by your ex so that you will have evidence if you need to pursue legal action.[18]
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    Get support from others. Letting others know about the situation will help protect you. You might feel embarrassed or scared to tell other people about a stalking ex, but supportive friends, family, and community organizations will understand. They can also help you watch for any signs that your ex is trying to contact you, give you a place to stay if you want to get away, provide emotional support, and help in many other ways.[19]
    • If you are worried about your safety at your place of work or school, let your HR representative or school counselor know. Most companies have protocols in place to help protect you, such as offering a security person to escort you to your car or removing your ex from the premises if s/he shows up.
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    Understand that the situation is not your fault. Anyone can be victimized by a stalker, so it is not your fault if your obsessive ex becomes a dangerous problem.[20] Even if you feel like you lead your ex on, his or her stalking behavior is not your fault, so contact authorities for help.

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Categories: Managing Conflict and Difficult Interactions