Home HEALTH Ex has a ‘creepy’ interest in my life. Carolyn Hax readers...

Ex has a ‘creepy’ interest in my life. Carolyn Hax readers give advice. News-thread



We ask readers to channel their inner Carolyn Hax and answer this question. Some of the best answers are below.

Hello Caroline, I have an ex-boyfriend of about two years who continues to behave in a way that suggests an unhealthy level of interest in my life. I am very happy dating someone I met six months after breaking up with my ex. At the time, my current boyfriend was separated (for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with me), and a divorce was pending. After seeing a picture of me with my boyfriend on a friend’s social media account, my ex sent multiple “follow” requests to my boyfriend via social media. which he ignored. Then, he tracked down my boyfriend’s ex-wife to communicate with her. After that, she contacted me with (provably false) claims about my boyfriend’s past. This all seemed crazy, and I brushed it off with a very curt reply that he was fine and wanted no further contact.

Over a year later, my ex saw another social media post showing that my boyfriend and I had bought a house, and he emailed this information to my boyfriend’s ex-wife (they are now fully divorced). I’m disturbed by this level of fixation two years after we broke up, but I’m not sure what to do about it. This seems designed to provoke a response from me, and I think a response would reward bad behavior. At the same time, someone should point out that this is deeply creepy and tell him to put it down. What would you suggest?

Back off: I would keep careful records of all of this, in as much detail as possible, including dates. This is in case you need to get a restraining order in the future or file harassing charges. I would also see if someone from your local police department (ours has a non-emergency number with a community liaison officer who is helpful in answering all kinds of questions) can talk to you about state and local anti-stalking laws and when could have grounds for a restraining order. This guy is seriously unhinged and has strayed into stalker territory.

Back off: As someone who has dealt with a misbehaving attention-seeking family member, I can tell you that ignoring is your best plan. Not just ignore it, but also find a way to remove all connections to the ex. Filter emails directly to trash, block all phone numbers, etc. It allows you to clear head space and not let your ex in, or much less often. Any commitment to your ex not only rewards bad behavior from her, but also encourages more of the same.

I don’t know if there are avenues to involve the police because this doesn’t seem to fit the case of cyber bullying. It is one step away from you, going with the boyfriend’s ex and not with you, although, of course, it is very creepy. If your boyfriend gets along (enough?) with his ex, he can also ask him to block your ex. Also, anyone who contacts his ex can hopefully shut him down.

If every single person your ex gets close to then comes back to you, it can trigger it again. So maybe, “I’m completely over Ex’s shenanigans. Please ignore him and for my own sanity, don’t let me know if he tries again.” Your ex is looking for a way in or just getting back at you. and make you angry or anxious.Rally your troops to deny him any point of entry.

—Darmen of Nashville

Back off: Yes, your ex is trying to provoke a response from you. Any response is a reward that gives you an incentive to keep provoking. If being pointed out for his deeply creepy behavior would prompt him to stop, he’d probably be self-aware and healthy enough not to participate in the first place. As contradictory (and unfair) as it may seem, not responding in any way is your best bet.

This practice is discussed at length in Gavin de Becker’s “the gift of fear”, an excellent resource for equipping yourself to handle this and other types of unwanted attention. In my own experience, I did two things to regain a sense of control that made “Do Not Respond” an easier rule to follow: (1) I limited the way the person could contact me or find personal updates: I blocked them on all social networks. media outlets and blocked all communication except email, allowing for a minimally invasive way of monitoring any correspondence to escalate; and (2) I asked the other people in my life that this person might contact to also block and not reply to them. We kept each other informed of any correspondence or escalation signals we received. If you can’t immediately coordinate like this with everyone you want, start with you and your boyfriend, limit what others can share about you on social media, and widen your circle of trust as much as you can. I’m sorry you have to deal with this. Good luck.

Each week, we ask readers to answer a question sent to Carolyn Hax’s live chat or email. Read last week’s installation here. New questions are generally posted on Fridays, with a Monday deadline for submissions. Responses are anonymous unless you choose to identify yourself and are edited for length and clarity.


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