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Dumb moves with a smart phone - post separation phone etiquette

Updated on April 21, 2015

A pot of gold at the other end of the rainbow


You have just separated

Your relationship has come to and end. This may be because you left or you were left. Either way the two of you have gone your separate ways. It is time to move one.

The process of separation is not only different for different couples it is also different for the two of you. Some people get over a separation very quickly, or so it seems on the surface, whereas others spend months and sometimes years suffering the after effects of having been left. The stigma of being an ex wife/ex husband staying with them for a long time, as if stuck in mud and unable to move on with their own lives without their other half.

People in relationships usually separate at different times. Generally the person doing the leaving has gone through the separation process long before the person who is being left will go through it. Thus the two of you will experience the emotional roller coaster of anger, denial, more anger and ultimately acceptance at different times.

It does not matter much if you have done the leaving or have been left, as the physical aspect of the separation can be confusing, painful and often very emotional, for both of you. There is a big difference between coming to terms a separation is needed, to the actual moving out into ones own place, the physical aspect of it on a permanent basis.

It is a time when sane people are known to do crazy things.

It is a time when family violence starts, or intensifies.

In other words it is a crazy time when you need to have your wits about you.

Turbulent times


Coming to terms with the separation

It is a time of heightened emotional experience that you are suddenly facing on your own.

Once upon a time, a time when your relationship was intact, was a time when you would/ could share a bad/good experience with someone, your then spouse/partner.

You could come home to be yourself and let off steam if need be. The other half, be it wife/husband or defacto partner, would listen, provide comfort and maybe even give an opinion, or simply be there to share the pain/sorrow/joy.

Now though, things are different.

You are on your own.

Sure you may have left for someone else, but that someone else does not want to hear you dissect every movement of your ex partner for any extended period of time. And of course they may not provide a balanced point of view.

What’s more, chances are you are not quite yourself around your new partner as this relationship is in the early stages, the stage where everyone wears rose colored glasses and puts on their best behavior. Hardly a true sharing of troubled times.

If the relationship (this includes marriage and de facto couples) simply ended there will not be anyone else to let off steam to. Dissecting with mates/girlfriends may not be satisfactory either as these may want to defend or side with one or even both of you. No, the time for true intimacy and sharing or experience ended when you separated.

You are not alone


Tips on using mobile phone after separation

But, despite all this you and your ex are still communicating by phone. There are text messages and phone calls. At first you went along with it, but now you are getting tired of it. Sometimes the calls text messages are civil and other times they border on threats, abuse, intimidation or worse straight out violence.

What do you do?

There are several things you can and should do to set boundaries on communications between you and your ex.

  1. Ask yourself this questions - Do I need to communicate with my ex at all?
  • If the two of you have no children communication between the two you should be minimal.
  • There maybe property matters to be sorted out but usually parties engage solicitors to do this for them.

Continuing text messages and phone calls may not be the most healthy way of finalizing your relationship and if this is what is happening you should put an end to it and go and see a professional (such as a counselor or psychologist). In the long run you will be able to move on a happier person.

  • Resist the temptation to be a victim to your mobile phone by being tied to it every second of the day.

If you decided you need to communicate remember to:

  1. Be civil, brief and to the point when sending text messages or speak on the phone.
  • Be courteous and stick to the point. Also remember that most electronic things these days are forever and can be used as evidence against you.

If you are sending 50 text messages a day, these may come back to haunt you in a court of law.

A reply should be to the point, deal with the issues and not delve into the past or point out for the umpteenth time this is exactly why the relationship did not last etc.

Replying to text messages

  1. Don’t reply to text messages until you have had lunch (or dinner or breakfast)

Most people reply to text message almost the moment they receive them. Try to resist this urge. Read the message, formulate a response but do not send it immediately. Wait till you have had a meal, gone to the movies, jogged around the block or done something to take your mind of your ex and the message.

This will serve a number of purposes. First your ex realizes he/she is not a priority anymore. Waiting for several hours to receive a response can be deflating.

Secondly it will give you the opportunity to edit the message. Think if it ticks the boxes of brief, to the point, civil and not inviting a reply.

Last resort

  1. Change your phone number

This may be your last resort. You have tried everything else and yet your ex insists on continuing to bombard you with phone calls and text messages. You have tried to tell your ex to only communicate through lawyers and even that has failed (clients have been known to simply refuse this request sending a message to the solicitor to the following effect:

‘Dear [name] I will not be communicating with you any longer as you are not helping. I will be dealing direct with [name of client].

Such people clearly do not understand the term respecting personal boundaries and it would be ok to change contact details without giving it to them.

Final words of wisdom

As lawyers we spent hours reading face book pages, text messages, emails and other means of electronic communication to find the evidence needed to prove things like family violence, inappropriate behavior, lack of insight and many other things.

Think before you use your phone. Use it as a smart phone and not a dumb phone.


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    • tanyathistleton profile imageAUTHOR

      Tanya Thistleton 

      3 years ago from Victoria

      Thanks Karine for the kind words.

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 

      3 years ago from Upstate New York

      Very good and grounded suggestions and the title was very catchy. Thanks for the Hub!

    • profile image

      Julie K Henderson 

      3 years ago

      I agree.

    • tanyathistleton profile imageAUTHOR

      Tanya Thistleton 

      3 years ago from Victoria

      I think that is brilliant advice and would no doubt lead to a decrease in hostile communication between ex partners.

    • profile image

      Julie K Henderson 

      3 years ago

      This is a helpful, informative hub. Years ago a good friend told me she always enforced a rule of waiting for a full month to communicate with someone she was no longer dating, but I think she meant only if there were no children involved. Voted up.


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