dear sharideth: Stalked by My Ex

today’s dear sharideth is a follow up to “dear sharideth: Fighting Fire with Fire”.

Dear Sharideth,

The break up was 2 and a half months ago. I broke up with her for valid reasons, had the support of everyone I knew in doing so, and had given her way more than ample time to deal with the problems before finally ending things.

I went for a clean break, but we both go to the same church functions regularly and neither of us is going to quit just because the other person is present. The result is that if she knows where I am going or where I’m going to be, she’s there, waiting. She just stares at me with the saddest face she can muster, I ignore her, and if it goes on for too long, she tries to strike up a conversation. I wave, say “hey”, and carry on with life.

I made it very clear in the break up that “still being friends” is just a myth that doesn’t actually work out, and that I have no further interest in her, but she’s literally stalking me. When I leave the church sanctuary, she’s pacing outside the doors, staring at me. I take back doors when possible.

OK, that’s my rant. I’m doing my best to not give her any hope of a renewed relationship, but she’s still after me. Absolute minimum contact possible. My frustration says I should take her aside and ask her to just give up and leave me alone, but I’m still trying to keep things decently polite. I just want her to move on.

What the heck do I do?

-Stalked By My Ex-

dear SBME,

the answer to this one is pretty simple, but it isn’t going to be fun. however it doesn’t exactly sound like you’re having a blast right now anyway, so…

the time for gentleness is over. i know you’ve tried to be nice about all this, but something has got to give. what i’m about to tell you do isn’t meanness. it’s directness.

there is a difference, though some people would argue that.

they’d be wrong, but they’d argue it anyway.

you’re going to have to take her aside and tell her to stop showing up and hovering everywhere you are. use those words if you need to. also tell her she’s only making an already uncomfortable situation unbearably awkward. there is no “if you don’t stop” in your case since you run in the same circles and attend the same church. there is only embarrassing her by telling her she’s making a fool of herself.

now THAT sounds mean, but it’s not. no matter how you point out her awkward making behavior, she’s going to be embarrassed and upset. you need to be prepared for that. but you also have to remember that anything short of getting what she wants from you is not going to make her feel like rainbows and butterflies.

i was her once and i had a good friend tell me to knock it off because i was making an ass of myself. changed my life. literally.

now, you don’t have to tell her she’s making an ass of herself, but you need to directly communicate the same sentiment.

if she doesn’t stop the stalking or (God forbid) she escalates in any way, you’re going to have to bring someone with some authority (preferably a woman) into the situation to talk to her.  it’s kind of the relationship version of the “two or three witnesses” thing only you don’t have to go as far as the whole church discipline route.

if it becomes necessary, bringing in a third party should do the trick.

brace yourself. it’s not going to be pretty.

oh so sincerely,

sharideth

any other advice for our poor soul? suggestions on what to say?

ever been on either side of this situation?

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24 comments on “dear sharideth: Stalked by My Ex

  1. Rachel says:

    I faced a similar experience with an ex, and I think I made the wrong choice by trying to become invisible instead. I pulled away from friends because he was tracking down anyone I had marginally known to find out information about me or try to manipulate them into bringing him up to me (at least as far as I can tell). I had a number of conversations with others where I asked them never to discuss me with him or to bring him up to me, and that helped somewhat, but when he called a guy who was interested in me to scare him off and when, after a year, he was still contacting me and trying to manipulate me into marrying him, I finally took it to the leaders of a ministry I served in and told them I felt like I was being stalked and felt “unsafe” at church. (Not that I think he would have ever tried to physically hurt me, but any type of stalking is violating). Thankfully, they knew him as well and called his community group together and told him under no circumstances was he ever to contact me again or he would have to answer to church leadership. Now, hopefully your circumstances won’t ever require such an extreme tactic, but my advice is don’t let it get to that point. If there is another woman who has a mentor/discipleship role with your ex, you might consider pulling her aside and asking her to sit down with the two of your where you share how her actions are making you feel. That would give her automatic accountability and hopefully help her to snap out of it. The one time I sat down one-on-one with my ex only seemed to make it worse, he took that as a sign that we were going to reconcile and starting telling other people that we were getting back together. It’s going to take gentleness, but be VERY clear on where you stand so she can’t spin it around in her head into your renewed affections for her. I hope you can feel peace in your church again.

  2. stephaniewiseman says:

    I have to disagree with Sharideth. There are two sides to every story and we are missing hers. How would she describe your relationship (serious or casual?) and your break up (did she see it coming or not?). Her perception and experience in your relationship is valid, brother. And you’re acting like because you’ve decided it’s over, means unequivocally that it’s over (and she should just “move on” or whatever) makes you, well, an ass. To your own admission this was a relationship. This sister in Christ needs some closure and you need to honor her and give it.

    My suggestion is ask her to meet with your pastor (or other church leadership) to discuss your break up and current dilemma of her “stalking” you. Allow her to express herself and then with the help of the pastor, create a plan for healing with a set time frame. If you were together a year, it’s going to be months, so be prepared. Too, the plan may require you leaving the church for a time or one of you bowing out of the singles ministry. Whatever the plan, stick to it, honor it and allow your sister in Christ time to heal.

    • i guess for the record, i need to let Steph (i can call her that, she’s my OLD friend) and everyone else know, there is a lot more history here than this or even his first “dear sharideth” indicates. i will not post that all here because he has asked me not to, but he and i have been in email communication over this whole thing since before the break up.

      i can understand why you might think him an ass for the clean break, but it’s honestly what’s best for her. i can’t really explain more than that without breaking trust with him, but her issues are much deeper than what you’re getting here on the blog.

      he has been very kind and patient under the circumstances.

  3. Jess says:

    “We both go to the same church functions regularly and neither of us is going to quit just because the other person is present.”

    Look, buddy, if there really is no option of being friends, you need to find another area of church to be involved in. Planting yourself where she can see you having a good time, and having moved on is miserable for her. If you’re in the same small group, transfer to a different one. If you both volunteer in children’s church, try moving to the greeters or after service prayer teams. Insisting on not backing out (while also insisting that you can’t have even a surface friendship) is ungracious. Clearly she can’t pretend you’re not there, so the thing to do is leave.

    (I say this both having been the girl, and more recently as the new girlfriend brought into a situation where exes were competing over the same corner of church.)

    • just an fyi, he’s there year round and has been at the church longer. she’s only there when she’s in school. i understand his not wanting to leave the church.

      • Jess says:

        I’m not saying leave the church, but is there a way where he can be a little less visible? Regardless of who was there first or longest, it’s pretty clear that she’s unable to carry on as normal. Staking out his territory may be his right, but I’m pretty sure Christianity has never been about asserting rights.

  4. I’m going to agree with what you said but add a caveat: If you do the pull aside, I’d have a witness present. Even if we’re not talking bringing them into the conversation first, because I understand and applaud the intent of giving her a chance to change direction without a third party having to add their weight to pressure her into doing so, I’d still have the conversation where someone can chaperon from nearby for safety reasons (both physical safety and if you later have to corroborate your account of what happened in the conversation if she presents a different story).

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