By Amanda Rose
As Catholics, we are instructed to treat others charitably. Does that mean you have to just put up with attention that makes you uncomfortable?
Are you feeling hounded by a former spouse, romantic partner, or casual date? Unwanted attention is contact of some type – in person, via phone or electronic communication – that continues even though you want it to stop.
If you’ve been through a divorce, you may be carrying emotional wounds from your marriage that make it difficult to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate attention. You may think your uncomfortable feeling is “just me over-reacting.” Or perhaps you feel sorry for the person showering the unwanted attention, even though that “shower” of attention has become more like a dark thunder storm rather than a gentle rain. But also, as Catholics, we are instructed to treat others charitably, so does that mean you need to just put up with it? No.
No Life-Rights, Baby!
Sometimes unrealistic feelings of guilt keep us conflicted and in denial about the situation. Just because you dated someone or were married to them doesn’t mean they have life-rights to your attention! Unless you have children together, you have no obligation to continue communication or contact when the relationship is ended. You have every right to ask someone to stop contacting you.
It’s not mean or uncharitable to assert this right. The other person is obligated to respect your request and stop calling, emailing, texting, popping by, sending you gifts, or whatever else they are doing.
If you’re involved in a situation like this and need some help ending it, here are 5 steps you can take to end the unwelcome attention:
1. Don’t gossip or complain to mutual friends.
This can incite anger in a person prone towards volatile behavior and it’s just not Christian. Feel free to talk with non-mutual friends who will support you in taking these next steps in stopping the unwanted contact.
2. Send an email or text clearly stating you don’t want further communication or contact.
Tell them to stop. Keep it simple, keep it kind. Don’t make threats. Save a copy of this dated request, as well as all further communication attempts received, in case you need it as evidence should their unwanted attention cross the line into harassment or stalking.