I was in a relationship with “the one” which I ended for reasons I thought were fair. The break up was difficult and unpleasant: we have stopped all contact since we broke up (which was a few years ago). I’ve recently found posts on her social media calling me “toxic” (among other negative things). I don’t agree with what she has been saying about me—I am none of the things she has been accusing me of.
I could just ignore her but it hurts when she says these things about me that aren’t true. Although we weren’t right for each other, I still care about her and it hurts that she feels this way apparently because of me.
In your opinion, what is the best way to deal with this situation?
Thank you for reaching out to me, it sounds like you are in a tough spot. Breakups are always difficult, especially when there is no closure and you cut all contact. When you enter a relationship, you aren’t just sharing your time. You are sharing your soul, your heart, your mind. To suddenly cut that person out of your life is extremely difficult. Even many years on.
Social media makes breakups a lot harder—it’s not out of sight, out of mind anymore. Stalking your ex on social media is very tempting (and easy). It may feel bad but it is totally normal, many people do this (especially just after a breakup). In the long run, though, it can be harmful.
There are many reasons why we stalk our exes (and why we can’t help ourselves). If you are in the same social circles or have mutual friends, their name or picture may pop up in your feed time to time. You might still be wondering what went wrong with your relationship and look for clues. Maybe you want to find out if they are worse off without you? Or (heaven forbid!) better off?!
Whatever your reasons may be, checking an ex’s social media is not going to help you. It looks like reading her social media posts is having a negative effect on you. Checking up on an ex or even other people that you don’t talk to can lower your self-esteem. Whenever something starts having a negative effect on you, you need to pause and really examine yourself and your actions. Why are you doing this if it is harming you?
Move On From Your Ex
The best advice for your wellbeing is to ignore her, I’m sure your friends or family have suggested this to you (you mention it yourself). The most straightforward and healthy way of dealing with it is to block her on all social media and try your best to avoid seeing her posts or pictures.
If it’s something that keeps hurting you and something that you keep thinking about years on, you may also want to consider starting therapy to talk through your feelings (if you haven’t already). I can tell from your email that this relationship had a deep impact on both of your lives. You can move past this and get to a place where it doesn’t bother you anymore, but of course, that takes time and effort.
Don’t try to change her mind, that will backfire and make things worse for both of you.
Apart from ignoring her and moving on, there are a few other things I would suggest that you consider.
Could You Have Been Toxic?
We don’t like to think negatively of ourselves. I believe a lot of people try to do the best they can and don’t knowingly try to be mean or unkind. However, many people lack a lot of self-awareness—to the point where they don’t realise or take responsibility for the harm they are causing others. Some people do toxic things on purpose, as I outlined in this post about toxic relationships. But a lot of us display toxic behaviour without even knowing it.
I always thought of myself as a very kind, emotionally intelligent, caring person. At the beginning of my marriage, things were difficult. I couldn’t understand why my husband wasn’t happy. I tried to figure out what was going on and eventually, therapy helped me realise the toxicity I was bringing into the relationship.
I would complain to him about everything, I unleashed my depression on him day in and day out. I was always negative. I didn’t think it was a big deal, aren’t we supposed to tell our spouses everything? Aren’t they there to support you and make you feel better all the time? I’ve always been like this, why can’t he handle it?
I learned with time, introspection and my therapist that this behaviour is not right. When someone feels worse after spending time with you, you could be toxic. Emotionally burdening someone and constant negativity can really chip away at the person on the receiving end. Have a look at this article about being toxic, do any of these behaviours sound familiar?
I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong and I thought I was a model partner. I had a total lack of self-awareness. After seeking the advice of internet strangers (which is what eventually inspired this blog) and lots of therapy, I realised what I was doing wrong.
Things improved a lot once I owned my mistakes and shortcomings. I won’t stop recommending therapy to people—you don’t have to be depressed or suffer from mental illness to benefit from therapy. It has made me much more self-aware which completely changed my life. I can see things clearer and understand my shortcomings better and how to improve myself. My relationship improved quite quickly after this.
I don’t know what happened in your relationship and I don’t know anything about you, but maybe it’s worth reflecting on yourself a little bit. You may have been perfect in the relationship and your partner was the toxic one, but more than likely both of you contributed to the deterioration of the relationship. We all demonstrate toxic behaviour in a relationship at some point or another.
If you do still care about her as a person, it’s important not to invalidate her feelings. Try to put yourself in her shoes. You may not agree with her, but it looks like she thinks you were toxic during your relationship. It feels bad, but just accept that maybe at that time she was going through some issues and couldn’t see things clearly and that she hasn’t been able to move on.
To be clear, I don’t think you are toxic. I don’t know much about you or the background of the relationship. I just think it may help you to dig a little deeper and find some self-awareness because I know that helped me before.
What if She Is the Toxic One?
If you are sure you weren’t toxic in the relationship, perhaps she was or is actually toxic? If she keeps badmouthing you and talking about you negatively (when there is no reason to), maybe she has some issues she needs to resolve. No good will come out of approaching her, if she is toxic she will more than likely ignore you or double down on her behaviour which will probably make you feel worse.
If someone has made up their mind about you and they are not emotionally mature, it will be difficult to reason with them. You will not really get anywhere and you will end up feeling worse than you already are. They may even say worse things to you.
Getting in touch with someone who has negative feelings about you can open a can of worms and you can’t undo it. You must have felt like you’ve been wronged at one point in your life, how would you react if the person who did it to you gets in touch and tries to convince you they didn’t wrong you? If someone is convinced about what happened, it is unlikely you will be able to change their mind.
If you have considered this and still want to contact her then I have another thought.
“An apology is a good way to have the last word.”
In my opinion, you shouldn’t contact her unless you want to apologise. If you have thought about your relationship, if you understand your mistakes, if you understand why she is calling you toxic, if you still care about her then apologising to her may heal some wounds. An apology goes a long way. Someone close to me once did something very hurtful to me and we ended up cutting all contact. For years I held a grudge and would tell people how bad that person was and how I felt betrayed. But then a year or so later, they contacted me and actually apologised. It was a generous and kind move. It wasn’t necessary—we were not in contact anymore, we didn’t have the same friends.
Now, even though I was hurt by their actions in the past, I don’t talk about them negatively anymore. I am still sad and hurt by what they did but they showed maturity and kindness and I will always remember that. I’ve forgiven them now. That conversation brought me so much closure, I will always be grateful for it. But only do get in contact if you are prepared for her not to respond to you or not to forgive you. When we apologise, we shouldn’t expect the other person to accept it. If you do, you aren’t truly sorry and you don’t actually understand what you’re apologising for. A real gift is one that comes with no expectations of reciprocity.
If you want to resolve your issues with her, then apologise to her and tell her you accept your mistakes and “toxicity” at the time and that you remember the happiness and good times you shared. Don’t make it about you. Only do this if you are genuine and sincere. Any contact apart from a sincere apology will appear selfish and confirm her feelings about you. It will also be harmful to you and I highly doubt you will gain anything out of it. It might make you feel even worse about the situation and bring up all the heartache you have tried to leave behind.
Think more about how you can move on from your ex: block their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles. Develop coping strategies and accept the situation. The past is the past, if you aren’t a toxic person and weren’t toxic in the relationship then you should try not to let this get to you.
I hope you are able to resolve this. It is hard to see someone say things about you which you think are untrue and are hurtful when you can’t really do anything about it. We don’t want to hurt people that we care about so we want to set the record straight. But setting the record straight is usually for our own benefit, we want the other person to absolve us so that we feel better about ourselves. Most of the time, this is not what actually happens and the negative feelings for both parties increase.
Think about your own wellbeing and try not to open fresh wounds if you want to avoid being hurt again. You sound like you genuinely cared about her and the relationship just wasn’t right. You mentioned you can’t talk to anyone about this, but maybe try with someone you trust? Sometimes it can make a big difference when someone can really listen to you and make you feel heard. If you have friends and family that care for you, they will want to listen to you and be there for you.
I hope you found this useful and I wish you well.
Until next time,