Dealing with the ex who contacts you during the pandemic

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Hi Meredith! I hope this letter finds you well, despite current times.

I have written before, but never with something quite like this. In college, I dated a boy who I loved very much, but our relationship turned emotionally abusive and toxic for me over time. It eventually ended with cheating on his part, and I finally left him. Looking back, I am grateful for the cheating because it gave me the strength to leave him.

It's been three years since we last spoke and I am glad to say that I am so much happier now, having found closure, strength, and the self-worth I struggled with then. However, last week, he messaged me out of the blue to apologize for how he treated me and to wish my family well. He sent two messages, 12 hours apart, and I didn't reply to either of them. Today I received notification he sent flowers to my workplace (publicly listed), which I refused. He likely ordered them a week ago, when he sent the texts, and they took the full week to deliver.

I want to note that I am safe, and the attempts to reach out are non-threatening. This delivery, like the cheating, gave me the final push to unfriend and block him on all platforms. But my question for you is: How do you advise people to process unwanted attention or reach-outs during this time? I've done the practical things I can do to feel comfortable, but that shock of anxiety and sadness hangs back. I don't imagine I'm the only one who has had people (especially those who have hurt us) reach out for closure and amends in these unprecedented times. Beyond blocking and choosing to ignore (which I'd love to hear your advice on that, too), what can we do to distract and stay healthily, despite how truly scary and strange our times are? How do we move forward?

Thanks, Meredith.

– Blocked


I am all for blocking and ignoring. I am a huge fan of it! We explore this, at least the social media part of it, in an entire episode of the first season of the podcast (Episode 2: "Don’t Look at the Cupcakes"). Making that episode taught me that some of us worry more about being rude than taking care of ourselves. You don't have to consider manners when you're contacted by someone you don't want to see.

As for the shock, flashbacks, and bad feelings, all I can say is that you can let yourself sit with the discomfort and then move on. Your ex proved that he's still just as toxic as he was back then. He didn't even give you one full day to make choices about responding before he asked for attention again. All this does is validate your path. His apologies are for him.

Sadly, this pandemic is an ongoing thing. "Normal" is not kicking in anytime soon. That means there's going to be more down time for people to think about the past and make phone calls to discuss. Some of those calls will be very welcome ... and some not. Many people will be excited to take this kind of call because when it comes to their ex-relationship, there are still lessons to learn. But you've learned all you can, which means you can ignore without guilt. If you're stuck with bad feelings, shift gears and check in with someone else. As long as you know you're physically safe, just keep doing what you're doing.

As for all of you exes out there who are itching to make phone calls, I stand by our Love Letters flow chart. Replace "Tiger King" with the new show of the moment and accept that most roads lead to keeping your thoughts to yourself.

- Meredith

Readers? How have you dealt with calls from people from the past? Who has reached out?