Ouch. Your relationship just ended. Whether it was mutual or messy, a painful breakup always leaves behind a broken heart. All you can think about are the good times and the happy memories you shared.
It can be so tempting during those early days to run back to your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend and forget about all the problems in your broken relationship. How do you combat those strong feelings and stand firm in your decision to end things?
Choosing to block your ex is a common strategy to disconnect from the situation. If you’ve been burned by a toxic boyfriend, many women use what they call the No Contact Rule. With this method, you go cold turkey and cut off all communication with your ex for sixty days—even on social media.
Although this rule is effective, blocking someone you love can feel way too harsh for people going through a fresh heartbreak. Instead, some people go in the opposite direction and try to turn their failed relationship into a friendship.
But when you’re struggling with so many emotions and hearing conflicting advice, how do you know what to do? Don't worry. Here's what we'll cover in this article:
- To Block Or Not To Block
- When You Should Block Your Ex
- When You Should Stay Open
- What To Do After You Block Your Ex
- Final Thoughts
To Block Or Not To Block
Deciding if your previous partner deserves access to you depends on the nature of your relationship. Maybe everything was going great, but external factors like long-distance tore you apart. In that case, you are dealing with a very different breakup than someone whose boyfriend cheated on them. No matter what the reason, there are pros and cons to blocking an ex's number.
Advantages of blocking
It doesn’t take a relationship expert to know that on-again-off-again dating patterns are exhausting. When you have an open line of communication with your former partner, you are at a much higher risk of “relapsing” and getting back together. Talking to your ex on a daily basis can really interrupt the healing process. There are still strong feelings there, and you might be quick to forget why you ever ended the relationship in the first place.
Blocking takes away that temptation. When you cut them off, you are saying to this person and yourself that there is no turning back. It is a clean break. It forces you both to let go of any hope that your love will pick up where it let off and gives you no option but to move on. Brutal though it may be, having one painful experience is easier than breaking up over and over again in the long run.
As much as we want to stay connected after a breakup, there comes a time when you have to let go and move on.
Another reason people advocate for blocking exes is to spare themselves the pain of watching an ex live their new life without them. Seeing social media posts of your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend entering into a new relationship feels extremely painful. Blocking preserves your peace by making it harder to learn this heartbreaking information.
In real life, you might not even know they have a new partner. And if you do hear about it? At least you won’t have to deal with constant reminders.
Downsides of blocking
Hitting block isn’t always the answer. Despite its benefits, there are plenty of disadvantages that come along with cutting off contact. Losing the chance at closure is one of them. When you broke up, you might not have said everything you felt you needed to say. Maybe you were in shock, or it happened too quickly for you to fully process your thoughts and feelings.
If you’re too eager to block your ex, you could lose the opportunity to talk about what went wrong in the relationship. Being unable to seek closure could harm you in the future because you might carry old mistakes into a new relationship.
It can also slow down your healing by causing you to wonder endlessly about the unresolved questions you have for your ex. When you are able to send them a text message, at least you know that you can always revisit the conversation later.
One of the main reasons you should think twice before hitting block is that you are almost definitely killing any chance of reigniting the flame or salvaging the friendship. Once that action is taken, you are sending a clear message that this person has no place in your life anymore. Sometimes this is helpful and necessary.
But if you want your ex to become a close friend or you two might want to be together again in the future, this can work against you. Blocking can also create unwanted drama. If your mutual friends discover that you have blocked your ex on social media, they might start picking sides.
Your ex could also react negatively if they want to remain a part of your life and were blocked unexpectedly. At a time when you are feeling so fragile, the last thing you need is unnecessary conflict. If you don’t want your breakup to turn into a soap opera, reconsider the blocking route.
It isn’t easy to know what the right decision is when it comes to keeping in touch with an ex. When you’re stuck going down memory lane and remembering happier times, you lose perspective on why you two aren’t good for each other. Here are a few different ways to tell if a hard block would be best for you:
When You Should Block Your Ex
Being apart from someone you still love can drive you crazy. After breaking up, if you find yourself doing the following things it might be time to hit "block".
When you're obsessively checking their social media accounts
If you're always checking their accounts and trying to figure out what they’re doing or who they’re with, is a strong sign that blocking your ex is the way to go. There’s nothing worse than wasting time being totally consumed by your previous relationship. If blocking their Facebook or Instagram is what you need to regain your self-respect, then go for it.
When you're playing mind games
Another dangerous side effect of a broken heart is playing mind games. If you are strategically posting sexy shots of yourself or trying to make it look like you’re happier than ever, that’s not doing you any favors. Chances are, you’re the only one playing, and you’re only hurting yourself. When you can’t stop trying to send your ex subliminal messages, take control of the situation and cut them off from seeing your social platforms at all.
If you find yourself constantly breaking boundaries
It's hard to admit, but sometimes you’re the toxic one. Did your ex ask you to respect a No Contact Rule and you just can’t do it? Sending text message after text message begging for them to take you back, drunk calling at all hours of the night, and asking mutual friends to send them messages for you is not romantic. They could even call it harassment.
If this sounds like you, it’s probably best to do the right thing and block their phone number until you can get your feelings under control.
It might be that they're the one bothering you, or that your ex is complimenting you on your new look or newfound hobby. In this case, it's a definite block.
If you feel your safety is at risk
Sometimes people break up because they were in a toxic relationship. If you have an abusive ex, the best thing you can do is block them immediately. Whether they are making constant phone calls or showing up at your door, it is absolutely necessary to create a serious distance between the two of you.
This can be extremely difficult if your ex has manipulated you into needing them and never saying no. But even if you still love this person, no one is allowed to violate you this way.
When You Should Stay Open
None of that applies to you? That’s okay. You don’t always need to use the block button after a relationship falls apart. There are some situations where you can keep things open with your ex.
Years of movies and television shows have taught us that breakups are messy and chaotic. But in real life, that’s not always the case. Plenty of couples split with a mutual, civil decision to go their separate ways. While it’s still a painful experience, this kind of breakup is much less likely to require you to use the block function.
When you have ended a romantic relationship on good terms
In this case, you probably don’t need to eliminate all contact. Instead, you can start your new life as a single person with happy memories, and maybe even a close friend in your former partner.
Maybe your previous relationship doesn’t give you such rosy thoughts. Instead, you feel jaded and angry towards your ex. If they cheated on you or didn’t treat you well, you probably want nothing to do with them. But that doesn’t mean blocking them without a second thought is the right answer.
Sometimes, cutting off your ex without deleting their number shows that you just don’t care anymore. If your toxic romantic partner thrives on drama, then don’t give them the satisfaction of getting a reaction out of you. Nothing would be more frustrating than if you ignored them of your own free will.
If you both have reason to believe that a future relationship is still possible
In this case, typically a happy couple is driven apart by external factors like long-distance or family illness. You may have decided to go on a temporary break until you can get back together when things settle down and you both could bring your best to the relationship. This is very different from harboring false hope that you will get back together.
It only applies to a mutual breakup caused by problems that can be overcome with time. If you’re the only one who wants to give it a second chance, you should reconsider keeping in contact.
If you are both on the same page that a romantic relationship between you two will never work out
Maybe you tried dating your best friend and realized it felt too weird. Or one of you wants kids and the other definitely does not. In any case, you realized together that love is not enough to sustain your relationship.
If you each feel equally confident that breaking up was the right decision, then there’s no harm in staying in touch.
What To Do After You Block Your Ex
So, you finally did it: you blocked your ex. The hardest part is over, right? Not exactly. The finality of cutting off someone you once loved is a very painful experience.
Now is the time to take care of your mental health and distract yourself from obsessing over your past relationship. Here are some ways you can make a fresh start after hitting the block button:
Find a new hobby
Chances are, you will find yourself with a lot of free time after going through a breakup. Instead of filling that void pining over your ex, you should try to learn a new skill. Training for a running race, picking up a musical instrument, or studying a foreign language are all great distractions from thinking about your former flame. Starting new hobbies also gives you the added benefit of personal growth.
Do charity work
Volunteering for a good cause gets you out of your head and out of the house. Serving at a soup kitchen, reading to kids, or visiting the elderly are all opportunities to forget your former love and focus on others. Sometimes when we are going through a hard time, we naturally become a little self-absorbed. Giving your time to those in need helps combat that tendency and keeps you grounded. Plus, it helps the community!
Spend time with loved ones
Talking to a close friend or family member can do wonders for the way you feel. When you open up to those who know you best, they can give you unique advice. Even if your friend is currently in a relationship, chances are they remember the last time they went through a breakup.
They can offer you support from personal experience. And if you aren’t looking for a response, sometimes just having someone listen openly can be its own kind of therapy.
Focus on self-care
When we are processing grief, it hurts everywhere. Even our immune systems are suppressed. Now is the time to take care of yourself, your body, and your soul. Go to a coffee shop. Find time to do some gentle exercise. Cook healthy meals. Light some candles and take a relaxing bath.
And don’t forget your mental health. Meditate, or listen to calming music. Consider reaching out to a therapist for professional support. Get a journal and write down your feelings if it helps. Put your own needs first during this period.
Plan a trip
It’s always uplifting to have something to look forward to. Travel is a fantastic way to keep your mind off your absent ex. Planning a trip with friends to a big city like New York is always a fun new adventure. No one can join? No problem.
Solo travel is always an option. There’s nothing like navigating a new place by yourself to boost your confidence. Being in a different environment can also be a refreshing way to open your mind to new possibilities.
Meet new people
You don’t have to start dating a new person right away, but making friends is one of the best things you can do after a difficult breakup. New perspectives and personalities can brighten your day and remind you just how many fish there are in the sea.
Join a book club, or sign up for a public sports league. See if you can enroll in a class or workshop on a topic you’ve always found interesting. These are all great ways to expand your social circle.
Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms
Spend your energy lifting yourself up as you process your painful breakup. Even if you feel like screaming "I hate my ex!" relying on unhealthy distractions like binge drinking can do more harm than good. Remember to be gentle with yourself, and lean into your powerful emotions instead of running away from them.
Sometimes, the people we love are bad for us. As much as we want to stay connected after a breakup, there comes a time when you have to let go and move on. Blocking an ex is often the first step in a long healing process.
Trust that you made the right decision and cut off their access to you. Go your separate ways and focus on your own needs instead of worrying about what they will think. When you hold out for a new relationship with the right person, you find inner peace.