When a relationship ends, especially one as intimate and long-lasting as a marriage, there are so many residual feelings and issues the spouses need to tackle. The stress of getting divorced alone is challenging enough for your emotional wellbeing, let alone dealing with the loss of that bond and the idea of changing your life entirely. From the moment you decide that it’s time to go your separate ways, you might encounter a slew of issues you didn’t expect, such as a clingy ex-spouse that has no respect for your new boundaries. And when an ex won’t leave you alone, it can get frustrating – and even scary.
One day, he might show up at your home uninvited trying to have a conversation you’re not comfortable with. Later in the week, you might get a slew of text messages and missed calls during your work hours. If you have kids, the situation can get even more complex. Here are a few tips on how you can regulate that behavior as well as recognize when it’s time to look for professional assistance.
What To Do When Your Ex Won’t Leave You Alone
Set Expectations From the Start
Although divorces never happen overnight, and there’s plenty of time to express what you need and what you want after it’s finalized, have you really been stern about your boundaries? When your former spouse still struggles with emotions and perhaps loneliness, they might feel inclined to go to you whenever they need consolation or simply a conversation.
You need to tell them directly and without hesitation what you need to happen in the future. If that means no phone calls unless it’s an emergency or something related to your kids, that should be a boundary they are willing to respect. If that means a weekly coffee, then so be it. As long as expectations are clear, you should feel comfortable.
Schedule Your Interaction
Sometimes, no matter how much you try to verbalize your preferences, your ex might not be on the same page as you. If you don’t feel the need to completely remove communication, or your divorce has been fairly amicable, you can actually mitigate the issue by scheduling your meetings and calls. There’s hardly anything clearer than a set schedule of interaction that you’re both comfortable with.
Know When a Boundary Has Been Crossed
Unfortunately, even in the most developed countries, the rate of domestic violence and other spouse-related issues is still high. This includes ex-spouse issues such as stalking that are red flags for potential violence down the road. In fact, in Australia, research has shown that 68% of women stalked by men knew the stalker, which simply means that it’s a situation that can occur after a divorce.
Behaviors such as incessant texting, emailing, calling, and visiting when you explicitly say you don’t want them around are all red flags that indicate a potential for violence and harm. If you live in Australia and are dealing with this type of situation, seeking advice from expert Sydney criminal lawyers is the right place to start. It’s useful to know what your rights are and how you should proceed before the behavior escalates even further.
Focus on Safety
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use any of the following advice, but you still need to be mindful of the risks and stay safe. For starters, take up some self-defense classes where you can learn proper strategies to evade various forms of attacks or prevent a physical conflict altogether. Since most kinds of weapons and self-defense tools are prohibited in Australia, martial arts are your best option.
It’s also good to know what the most common risks are depending on your location, since, for example, gun violence in the U.S. is so prevalent that it leads to an average of 52 women getting shot and killed every month by their partner. Plus, research of certain mass shootings has discovered that such perpetrators often had histories of stalking and harassment – a red flag, indeed. How do Canada and Australia compare? Australia may have the fewest firearms per 100 residents (13.70), and the fewest firearm-related deaths as a consequence, but one woman is killed by her partner every nine days in this country. Although they have stricter gun policies, intimate partner violence (IPV) is still quite prevalent.
In Canada, on the other hand, approximately 7 in 10 victims of IPV experienced physical force against them, while firearms, knives, and other instruments weren’t used. However, over one quarter of all victims of violent crime in Canada were victims of IPV in 2015, making it a relevant issue despite lower instances of gun violence.
All of these statistics should help you understand your situation and your environment better, assess your risks, and obtain the necessary self-defense training to reduce your risk of getting hurt.
Modify Your Own Behavior
Finally, sending mixed signals to your lingering former spouse can be rather risky. If you claim you don’t want any contact only to give them a call the very next week, you risk inviting more of their negative behavior which can then lead to stalking. When you want them to leave you alone, your own attitude should be as clear as day, so set boundaries and make sure you’re not breaking those boundaries yourself.
The whirlwind of emotions paired with possible conflicts can be truly difficult to cope with after a messy divorce. However, you can and should do your best to prevent a messy post-divorce relationship with your ex. Hopefully, these tips will suffice in your search for a peaceful separation, but always be mindful of the new boundaries. If your ex won’t leave you alone, be sure to look for help and rely on the support of the loved ones in your life.
Lauren Laporte is a health writer at ripped.me. Her favorite subjects revolve around mental and physical health, and how they inevitably affect each other. Inspired by mountains of research and the latest in the fields of nutrition, neuroscience and cognitive science, she’s motivated to inform people of just how much they’re all interconnected. She’s into both nature and nurture and believes that to be the main message her writing is sending out. www.ripped.me/author/