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Date & Relate
by Sara Hodon

Return of the Psycho Ex

As word of my dating column spreads among my friends and I tell them that I’m always looking for topics, one issue keeps coming up—“You could always write about dealing with crazy exes.”
I could, but unlike many of the other things I’ve covered, I don’t have much real-life experience to draw from (I know—I’m lucky).  But I have plenty of friends who do! Either they’re still feeling the effects of a past relationship and can’t get rid of their ex, or their new significant other has a crazy ex of their own who is causing problems.

I know the issues I’ve had with former boyfriends, and how emotionally and mentally exhausted I was after dealing with all of the nonsense.  I can’t imagine having an ex who keeps calling, texting, or emailing me (among other annoying behaviors), or tries to interfere with my current relationship in some other way.  How do they do it?  And a better question is—what is it with these psychos? Why can’t they just move on?

There are all kinds of “psycho” behaviors.  They may not be skywriting your name to show their undying love for you, but that doesn’t mean that what they are doing isn’t annoying.  They just won’t leave you alone.   They want to be part of your life even though your relationship is clearly over.  Whatever they’re doing, you have every right to ask them to stop.  I know plenty of people who have ended relationships and are now seeing someone new, and the new boy/girlfriend’s ex is still hanging around.  Sure, it sounds like high school-type behavior, but people who are desperate aren’t above resorting to such things.  I’ve heard of professional adult women throwing an ex’s clothes out the window, into the swimming pool, into the driveway, or another unlikely place.

You may have moved on—or are trying to—but your ex is still carrying around feelings of jealousy, sadness, fear, rage, or any combination of these emotions.  That energy has to go somewhere, and unfortunately, they’ve decided to focus it on you.  As long as they’re getting some kind of reaction from you, they might be thinking that there could still be a chance to get back together.    
Unfortunately, your ex may never be totally out of your life, especially if you have kids with them.  In that case, it’s important to always put your kids’ needs first, but plenty of parents lose sight of that because they’re too busy hating each other.  If you have to still be in communication with your ex, keep your contact with them to a minimum.  If you have unfinished business with them (for example, if you bought a house or some other major purchase together and are now selling it), keep your conversations short and to the point.  Talk about whatever business you need to discuss, and that’s it.  Don’t prolong the discussion, and try to keep your personal feelings toward them (love or hate) out of it.  
If you don’t have any reason to talk to your ex, but they still won’t leave you alone, here are a few tips to help them get the hint:

Change your cell phone number. 
They can’t bother you if they don’t have your number, right?  If your ex still talks to your friends or family, advise your inner circle not to give your ex your new number. 
Block their email from your address book. 
Most email programs have this function in their “Options” menuThis will help to block any scathing, ranting emails they may be sending your way.  Another option is to just change your email address altogether just to be on the safe side. 
Delete them as a “friend” on social networking sites. 
If you delete them, they can’t get in touch with you.  As an extra level of security, use the “block” function on these sites, too, which will make sure that they can’t contact you. 
Try to reason with them.   
Some people really have a hard time with subtle, or even not-so-subtle, messages that say “Please leave me alone!”  If you’re at your limit with your ex’s crazy behavior, it might be time to confront them and ask them (nicely, at first) to stop.  It could end there, but in my experience, don’t expect these kinds of conversations to go smoothly.  Remember, they’re still trying to come to terms with the end of your relationship.  There are plenty of people who just don’t handle rejection all that well.  If you do decide to talk to them about their, um, extreme, behavior, I would honestly say be ready for anything.  If you are afraid for your safety, have a friend come with you. 

If you are leaving an abusive relationship (ladies, I’m talking to you) and your ex is still trying to contact you, then you definitely need to take measures to keep yourself safe.  Sending the occasional “I miss you” email is one thing, but getting out of a dangerous situation where your safety or your life has been threatened is totally different.  Don’t meet them if they suggest “talking”, but if you absolutely, positively have to see them, don’t go alone.  Bring someone with you, and don’t go to your ex’s place.  Meet them somewhere neutral and semi-public so that you’re not completely alone with them. 

If you think you might be getting yourself into a dangerous situation, protect yourself above everything else.  Your ex is obviously having deeper psychological problems than you could ever help them with.


Date & Relate is published every Thursday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Sara Hodon. She can be reached at

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