“Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them.” – Epictetus
The other night I was chatting to a friend in the pub (where else now that Dry January is over!?) about the upsetting fact that her ex boyfriend had blocked her on social media.
While offering the usual platitudes that you are obliged to in this sort of situation, I also respectfully voiced the opinion that I didn’t actually think it was a bad thing that he had blocked her from contact on social media, and that it might actually be a good way to heal the old heart post break-up, to move on etc. Naturally, she didn’t want to hear this, so we went back to talking about what a wanker he was over over-priced Auckland beer.
Anyway, not to labour a point, but I do honestly believe that in certain situations that it’s actually best to cut contact with people. And I believe this so much that I thought I’d write a blog post about it.
I myself have consciously cut communication with a grand total of three people. By the word consciously I mean that these were people I intentionally stopped communicating with – not just a drift-away-and lose-contact type scenario.
The first was a family member who was an alcoholic, and who was aggressive and very unkind towards certain family members – myself included. The other two were ex-boyfriends, one of which (it transpired) had been in more beds than a gardener’s spade while we were together, and the other who was one of the most emotionally manipulative people I’ve met. And was pretty shady to boot.
Of course it makes perfect sense that if someone is abusive or disrespectful, to show them the door and cut off all contact. Trust, after all, is one of the most essential elements to any relationship, and if someone has little or no integrity, or you cannot trust them to not disrespect you or harm you in some way, then is safest to forgive them quietly (for own peace of mind – no need to carry that baggage around with you after all), acknowledge that they are a wanker, and to simply remove them from your life. (I say ‘simply’ but it’s not always that easy – empathy can lead to a lot of guilt and sadness even when you are doing what’s right).
Anyway, I believe this type of person is usually referred to under the general term as ‘toxic’, and the internet is full of helpful articles and quizzes to help you identify these ‘toxic’ people. Y’know, just in case you weren’t sure.
But even if there’s no animosity or no distrust or ‘toxic behaviour’, having no contact can still sometimes be a good idea. Following a break up it can help with closure, or healing from a broken heart for example. In my friend’s case, her ex might have needed closure and to stop seeing her Facebook selfies reminding him of the life he could have had with her. Or he just didn’t give a shit about her any longer and deleted her – after all, there’s no rule to say that you have be friends with an ex after a break-up, or a primary school friend you haven’t seen since you were both 8 years old. And sometimes you have to accept that someone doesn’t like you enough to want to stay in contact with you – something that I have also been on the receiving end of. Life changes and feelings change and friendships change, which can hurt of course, but somehow the world of social media and friend / follower counting makes us care more about that sort of thing than perhaps we should.
At the end of the day, life is short, and the nice thing about being an adult is that you can decide who you would like to spend your finite amount of time being alive with. Likewise you just need to be aware that other people will be doing the same with their lives.