Woe Is Me! “My Toxic Ex‑Friend Wants to Connect Again. How Do I Say No?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I had blocked an ex-friend four years ago because of his toxic nature. I mentioned politely I’m not interested in speaking to him multiple times; I never attacked him personally, although he has. But, he still tries to connect with me on various social media platforms and calls me time and again. It has been a headache. What should I do?“
— How to ghost a friend
DR: Having had a similar-ish experience, I feel you. Unfortunately, for many people, simply setting a boundary doesn’t work; you need to enforce it too. As long as he has access to you, he’ll continue to try his luck — as he has been doing. So, my simple advice is: block him everywhere — from different social media platforms you’re on to his number on your phone. Also, while you’re at it, make use of this godsend feature that some social media platforms have, which allows you to preemptively block other accounts he may create — two people, who refused to respect my boundaries, kept texting me from new accounts when this feature wasn’t around. Another thing you could try, if you feel it’s necessary, is to threaten to report him to the police for unwarranted advances towards you despite multiple refusals to engage on your part. Or, if you want to escalate things, you could approach the police and ask them to give him a warning too — but I’m not sure from the tone of your woe if that’s the kind of step you’re looking to consider; nonetheless, I thought I’d let you know of the option either way. Moreover, if you think he’s not going to react well to you blocking him everywhere, the last option may become relevant, although I do hope it doesn’t come to that.
PB: Hey, if he’s badgering you when you’ve clearly told him to sod off, he’s still toxic. It tells me he cares more about his own moral redemption of now being “un-toxic” — rather than your personal boundaries.
Give him one final private ultimatum, let him know you’re done; this is going too far (which I’m sure you’ve done already, but another try, I guess). If he still refuses to listen, go completely ballistic on his badgering, toxic, headache-inducing backside. Tell all your friends, tell his friends, tell your parents, tell his parents — and failing all of that, tell social media.
He obviously doesn’t care about you or your health, and people like him who so dearly love their image need to be threatened with fame. I hope you have good friends who have your back.
RN: Do nothing! He still sounds as toxic as ever. If he’s really grown and matured since then, he will accept that his behavior cost him a friend, and he has to live with it and respect your boundaries. Block him everywhere and don’t think twice; he seems like he would drag you down the same path of emotional labor and work. It’s not your responsibility to make him feel better about his actions, decisions, or his life.
SK: Absolutely block him! I relate with this; it’s the weirdest phase of a friendship (or the lack of it) where one person thinks their constant efforts will wear you down. The lack of self-awareness or the consideration for someone’s boundaries must be mindlessly enraging! I would have suggested starting with some polite excuses — you know, the likes of “I have some work, I’ll speak to you later” or “I’ll hit you up when I can” until they get the hint. Or just have a conversation, really. But clearly, this person seems incorrigible and toxic in the most daunting of ways? Maybe send a very curt, straightforward message telling him his behavior makes you feel extremely uncomfortable and is disrespectful, and this should be the last time you engage with each other. I say this only to make sure he gets the clear violation of someone’s space and the effect his actions have on you and maybe others. You can just block him from everywhere, really, without any semblance of guilt.