Blocking your ex. Is it a smart move or something you’re going to end up regretting?
The truth is that it depends.
When you break up with someone, there are definitely circumstances when you might want to cut off contact completely.
But a word of warning:
Don’t be too hasty.
“Should I block my ex?”. This article will highlight when it’s probably for the best, and when it may be a very bad idea.
Should I block my ex or not? 10 good reasons to block an ex
1) They have been harassing you
If your ex has been sending you rude, angry, or simply incessant messages then, by all means, block their ass.
You should not have to be exposed to a tirade of insults from someone.
The odd heated exchange between exes after a breakup is pretty normal. After all, feelings do run high and we’re human beings, not robots.
But if your ex is spewing their pain all over you in an unreasonable way, then you don’t have to accept that.
You could let them know that if they don’t calm down or cut it out that you will have to block them.
But please know that it’s perfectly reasonable to protect yourself from an ex’s harassment.
Whether we like it or not, phones and social media create entrances into our lives. Sometimes we need to be able to shut the door on certain people in order to safeguard ourselves.
Them pestering you is one of the clear signs you should block your ex.
2) You’ve told them that you want space and they won’t listen
The end of a relationship is painful. But often people deal with it in different ways.
What one person feels like they need, can be totally different from what the other wants.
For example, one might need space, but the other wants to stay in contact.
I had an ex who was a really good guy. I know he cared about me deeply, and I felt the same.
But the problem was that I really needed space to heal after the relationship ended. And he wanted to remain friends.
But he just wasn’t listening to me. I didn’t want to talk, and I didn’t want to hear from him.
He kept popping up every few weeks, sending me messages. And every time he did, it hurt. A lot.
I would end up in tears or with my stomach in knots.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t block him. But I did just stop replying to him. Although I didn’t want to block him, I do think I would have been totally within my rights too.
I had explained my wishes to him more than once, but it was like he couldn’t hear them.
Maybe you are in a similar situation and wondering ‘should I block my ex or just ignore him?’
I’d say it all depends on how painful it becomes for you, and perhaps how persistent they seem. And only you can be the only judge of that.
But if you have communicated that you don’t want to hear from your ex, but they continue to reach out regardless, blocking them is certainly an option.
3) You need a clean break
The circumstances of everyone’s relationship and break-up are going to be unique. Some might be amicable, some more fraught.
But there will be times when for whatever reason, you know that you really need a clean and final break.
Perhaps, for example, you’re in a yo-yo relationship where you keep getting drawn back to each other and repeating the same painful mistakes.
That’s why you might decide it’s a good idea to block your ex, not out of malice, simply because you need that space for yourself, and for genuine reasons.
Personally, I always unfollow exes on social media. I have no desire to go cyber stalking them afterward because picking at that wound hurts too much.
Blocking rather than unfollowing can seem like a firmer or even more aggressive move.
But if your ex is the type who will persist in keeping tabs on you, and you don’t feel comfortable with them still looking at your social media, then it might be the best option.
4) Your safety feels threatened
It should probably go without saying, but I’m still going to say it:
If you feel threatened in any way by your ex then block them. Block them everywhere.
Block them on your phone, on Whatsapp, and block them on your Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and other social media.
If your relationship was downright toxic and you have managed to get out, then block them and do not look back.
You do not owe an ex who you find threatening anything at all.
Rather than potentially being drawn into poisonous exchanges or abusive messaging that you fear will begin at some point, blocking them can be a preemptive move to keep yourself safe.
If you think it’s quite possible that nasty and ugly behavior is going to occur with your ex, then it’s better to err on the side of caution.
5) You’re being cruel to be kind
There are circumstances when you might decide to block an ex for their own good.
You know it will sting, but in the long run, you genuinely believe it is the best thing for both you and them.
Maybe you have moved on but your ex still harbors strong desires of reconciliation.
You know for certain that is never going to happen, but they can’t seem to accept it. You want them to truly get the message that it’s over. There is no going back.
Or perhaps you have already moved on and are dating someone else, and you know that the lovey-dovey posts you are sharing of you and your new beau all over your social stories are only going to cause them pain.
There are instances when blocking your ex is actually for their own good.
6) It’s all becoming too emotionally draining for you
There is nothing wrong with self-preservation.
Some situations can just start to feel too much for us. Breakups can be one of the most harrowing experiences that we all face in life.
Living with the emotional strain of a split is tough enough. And sometimes you’ve just got to do whatever you can to try and deal with it.
If that means blocking an ex because it really would help make you feel better, then so be it.
I genuinely believe that during difficult times in life we need to be our own friend and ally first and foremost.
That doesn’t mean justifying “bad” behavior or carrying out indiscriminately selfish actions, simply because we feel like it.
But it does mean checking in with yourself about your own needs and allowing these to come first (within reason).
And if you’re feeling really utterly drained by this whole situation and just need some kind of out to give you peace of mind, then maybe blocking your ex isn’t such a bad idea.
7) They don’t deserve to be in your life (so you’re cutting them out)
Being in someone’s life is a privilege, not a right.
You might decide to quite justifiably remove that privilege.
Your ex cheated, lied, betrayed you, or treated you like dirt. There aren’t many reasons why you wouldn’t want to keep them around.
Their access to your life — your social media, your phone number— deserves to be revoked because you don’t think they deserve it anymore.
Blocking someone and effectively cutting them out of your life in the process can be a healthy way of enforcing boundaries.
When someone well and truly oversteps the line, and you know you want them gone, blocking can be effective.
They treated you really badly and they were not a good partner. So it’s time to leave them behind.
8) They’re trying to manipulate you
I think we’ve all seen those not-so-cryptic messages posted on social media that reveal the conflict people are having with someone.
I’m talking about those status updates that snidely declare:
“You just can’t trust some people in life, they’ll always end up stabbing you in the back. Lesson learned.”
Or maybe those inspirational quote memes they share that are a half-veiled signpost to what they are thinking, like:
“Not everyone will appreciate what you do for them. You have to figure out who’s worth your kindness and who’s just taking advantage.”
Whatever it is— if it’s designed to make you jealous, to make you feel guilty, or simply to trigger frustration and pain in you — your ex is trying to manipulate you indirectly.
You most likely don’t need an extra dolloping of pain dumped on your right now.
So rather than subject yourself to passive-aggressive attempts to get a reaction out of you — you might decide to block them.
9) You know it’s the best thing for you, but you feel bad about it
Deep down it would be better for you, and you know it. But you feel mean or guilty about blocking your ex.
It’s admirable that you stop to think about the implication of your actions on others. It shows kindness and compassion.
And it also suggests that you aren’t taking this step out of malice. Your motives are sincere in their self-preservation.
Perhaps you just need some reassurance that you do have a right to put your own needs in front of theirs.
Especially when it comes from the right place, rather than a space of revenge or anger, it’s ok to do so.
The only person at the end of the day that we really have to justify ourselves to is us.
If you hand on heart believe that this will ease your pain and is for the best, then even if you feel conflicted about it, it’s ok to block your ex.
10) You want to avoid potential triggers on social media
Sometimes we need protecting from ourselves more than our ex when we’re going through a breakup.
It’s so tempting to create more pain and suffering by doing things that we know we shouldn’t but can’t seem to stop ourselves from doing.
Maybe you can’t stop spying on them. You find yourself constantly checking out what they are doing. You are always looking at their pictures on Instagram.
And you need a clear break from that. You don’t want to be tempted to look at their socials. Full stop.
You feel like blocking them is a big and bold enough step that you won’t feel tempted to backtrack on.
Maybe you even think your pride wouldn’t allow you to back down afterward, and that’s probably an incentive you need right now to spur you on.
Blocking also means that you won’t see your ex tagged in your mutual friend’s posts, or have to see their comments on other people’s posts.
This can feel like a relief when reminders of your ex are only hurting you.
I once blocked an ex who had cheated on me (and the woman he cheated with) because, rather unhelpfully, pictures of them together kept popping up on mutual friends’ pages.
Needless to say, I didn’t need that, and so this was a proactive move to stop having to see it.
5 reasons you should seriously think twice before blocking an ex
1) You’re doing it in the heat of the moment
I always think it’s better to avoid making any decisions when we are feeling very emotional.
If you think this could be a factor, then give it some time.
This applies to many romantic scenarios. Do not unfollow that guy you’re passively aggressively annoyed with, do not send that angry text when you’ve had too much to drink.
Because we all too often end up having to backtrack. And that makes you feel pretty silly.
Let yourself reflect on whether you would be doing it because you really want to, or whether you are just being reactive.
For example, I had a friend that would block someone every time she got annoyed at them. Only to then unblock them a few weeks later when she cooled down.
Blocking can turn out to be a premature move.
2) You’re being avoidant
Time to dig deeper into some of the psychology of blocking an ex.
In our ghosting culture, simply trying to delete someone from your life seems to have become the easy way out. And understandably, it can feel like an appealing option.
But it’s worth checking in and asking whether you are deleting someone from your life as a way of avoidant behavior.
We can push others away so we don’t have to deal with our own discomfort. There might be deeper issues to explore about why we feel the need to do this.
Certain traumas or unhealthy patterns of behavior might compel you to want to cut and run instead of face issues head-on.
Here’s when it’s pretty unfair to block an ex:
When it is the easy option out for you, and your ex is the one who will suffer the consequences of a potentially cowardly act.
Research for example has found that “the perceived psychological consequences of ghosting were generally positive for the ghoster and negative for the ghostee”.
So if your ex did nothing wrong and you:
- Haven’t given them any answers since you split
- Offered any explanation for dropping out of their life completely
- Are only doing it to avoid the discomfort of an awkward situation
I think in these scenarios, as tricky as they feel, we’ve just got to ask ourselves:
How would I feel if the tables were turned? And let that be your guide.
3) You are attention-seeking
It’s never a good idea to try and provoke a response from someone.
I know it’s super tempting. Especially when you feel hurt, sad, and pretty desperate. Breakups have a habit of creating these emotions in us.
Please know that I’m not judging these desires to want to get your ex’s attention or get back at them in some way.
There have been countless times in my life when I’ve not done the emotionally mature thing. And there will no doubt be countless more.
I’m just pointing out to you that it is, more likely than not, going to backfire.
Manipulation can never be the foundation for any healthy or happy relationship. And that’s what blocking someone in order to prompt pain essentially is.
It’s playing mind games, trying to hurt them, making some kind of “f**k you” statement.
Is blocking an ex cruel? I think it ultimately depends on your motivation.
Sure, it might hurt them regardless of your motive. But it’s only really cruel if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
I think here, cruelty is defined by intent, not consequences. What I mean by that is that if hurting your ex is your main reason, it’s pretty cruel.
But if that’s just an unfortunate side effect of you doing what is best for you, it’s not cruel. It’s just you putting your own needs in front of theirs, and there’s really nothing wrong with that.
4) You might want them in your life at some point
Try to imagine a time in the future. Your pain has subsided, and you are happy in life (probably with someone else).
Can you envisage a time when you might want your ex in your life again?
Perhaps you think they’re a good person, and although things didn’t work out romantically, you did have plenty in common.
If there is even a chance that once the dust settles you might want to become friends, then don’t block them.
Your actions now could end up sabotaging your options in the future to have them back into your life.
5) It’s easy to unblock someone
In many cases blocking someone is probably not going to do a great deal, because it relies on you keeping them blocked.
For example, if you are hoping to use blocking instead of willpower to try to not contact your ex. The reality (and the problem) is that you can very quickly unblock someone again.
Unfollowing somebody on social media and removing them from yours is probably about as effective as blocking in many cases.
Particularly when you’re just trying to create some space to move on with your life without being reminded of them.
Should I block my ex on social media to try and stay away from them? Only if you have the willpower to follow that through.
Because let’s face it, unblocking is as simple as the click of a button. And so it becomes a pointless exercise if you know you can’t trust yourself to stay away.
Does blocking your ex help you move on? I think this one depends on you and your mindset.
But the word of caution I would offer is:
Don’t expect blocking someone to be a magic bullet for getting on with your life.
Often when we’re getting over heartache, the real problem keeping us stuck doesn’t exist outside of us, rather it’s in our own heads and hearts.
That’s why taking proactive steps to heal from heartache in the right way can be a more effective method of moving on than simply blocking your ex.