My words were passionate, a bit emotional, and sharp like a whip. My partner took a deep breath to hold space for my wisdom. They had been facing the repercussions of seeing a person from their past online and thus opening up triggers that were better left healed in their natural timing and not because of social media.
A year later — long after I had forgotten the advice I spewed — my partner reminded me how powerful those two words were in creating boundaries not just in their relationships but in their heart. They shared how blocking this person created a safe container for healing and allowed them the freedom to face their pain and overcome it in their own power.
Blocking is a powerful little button that can make a world of difference in ones daily life and overall happiness, peace, and sense of safety. I am going to share some misconceptions and tips for blocking and how I have taken my power back with the block button.
“Is blocking mean?”
One of the first fears and misconceptions that comes up for me when choosing wether to block someone or not is the potential of the block being a hurtful act. When I am in this state I typically am putting too much attention on the other person and not enough attention on myself. There are ways to gently and respectfully block someone, but first I have to check myself. I take a deep breath and a moment to observe my gut and how I really feel.
Would I feel happier, safer, more at peace if this person was no longer in my social media world? Do I want to block this person assuming there were no hurt feelings and I could simply know that my online life is now private from this person? How do I think it would feel to know this person can’t contact me or comment on my posts through this outlet?
Recently I asked myself these questions in a situation where I went back and forth several times. I was so worried about making such a hard line in the sand, and these feelings were intensified knowing the sensitivity of the person I was dealing with. At the end of the day, having a technological connection to this person was wearing me down and bringing far too much stress and drama into my otherwise happy go lucky life. After much thought I realized that I absolutely must put myself first in this situation. Was there potential for the other person to be hurt? Yes, but I was being hurt by my inaction and in blocking them I was protecting myself from pain and attack. Blocking was the kindest thing I could do for myself!
Social Media vs Reality
I feel it is important to take a step back and clarify the difference between online and real life. Yes the internet is real and the interactions we have are often authentic, but at anytime we can put our phone down, close our laptop, log out, delete the app, and our lives go on! I think it is important to step away from technology on a regular basis to clear the mind and remember what we love about this life. The experiences we have online can often consume us but there is so much more life to live that uses all five — even six — senses. When I step away from the internet and the drama I remember how silly it all is, and blocking someone seems even less abrasive. I think to myself, “So I blocked someone, big deal. Life goes on!” Often I have taken long breaks from social media and have deleted my accounts, these cleanses have been wonderful but I came back because I wanted to have the option of connecting with new friends through social media and sharing experiences with long distance family and staying updated on local events. Social media is a tool and a gift and I wanted it to stay sweet. When someone infiltrated that peace, I had to block them and move on. Any uncomfortably that I felt around blocking them can be easily comforted by spending time in the garden, focusing on a work project, or spending time with friend who make me feel valued and trusted.
How to Block With Grace
The decision had been made: a block was necessary. In my recent example I needed a social media cleanse of this person on every platform. Every situation is different, and often a swift click of the block button is perfectly appropriate. When blocking a friend, an ex, a family member, or anyone who you feel like showing particular respect to, I recommend sending them a message explaining the block. Let me clarify, this is not necessary! This is an act of kindness only needed if you personally feel on a situational basis that a farewell message will ease any discomfort or in-person interactions. If you plan on blocking someone from every aspect of your life and never want to see them again, this step may not be for you.
In my case, I wanted to create a boundary for myself on the internet but would be okay with seeing this person in social settings, so I wrote out a message explaining what was happening and why and then I sent it through text after I had already blocked them on all social media platforms. I was honest and direct. I shared how I felt even if I thought it might come across as painful. This was my opportunity to be true to the feelings that until then I had been suppressing. I didn’t say anything cruel, just honest. I began with the initial truth:
“I removed you from my Facebook and Instagram because I didn’t feel like you could handle the responsibility.”
Note that I am not stating facts, just my personal opinion. I went on to share ways that this person had violated my social media space and had made me feel uncomfortable.
“Being connected to you has brought drama into my life that I find unnecessary. Having stories and projections thrown at me distracts me from living my life.”
I then gave an example of a boundary that was important to me and paired it with politeness.
“I don’t want you seeing what events I am attending; go to whatever you want and if I see you there I will show you nothing but kindness.”
It was important for me to end a toxic cycle and this message gave me the strength to block them while knowing that it wouldn’t be a surprise or shock when they couldn’t find my page anymore.
Blocking Someone’s Phone Number
Is the connection you have to someone through text and phone calls causing stress and triggering you? There is nothing wrong with blocking someone’s phone number, and with smart phones it has become as simple as ever to prevent someone from contacting you. With the click of a button you can have the peace of mind that you deserve. There is no rule that says you must let people text or call you, if it makes you uncomfortable then you have every right to create this bold boundary.
If someone is harassing you, sending you threats or dangerous messages, absolutely block their number and perhaps report their activity to the police. If someone is bringing these threats into real life, get a restraining order. Keep community close and call upon your trusted friends or family anytime you need support. Abuse should never be tolerated. If you are in danger, call 911.
I began this post with a quote of me saying “never unblock,” but I don’t think this is true of all situations. I have had huge blowouts with friends that led to us blocking each other’s numbers and ended in ya making up in person and unblocking. If there is room and maturity for working through whatever issues have come up, then unblocking is absolutely a potential.
When I advised my partner to never unblock, that was during a time when they had some deep personal work to do. A couple years later, they actually connected with this person as a means to create closure, although it is important to note that they are still blocked on social media. Working through our relationships to bring them to a place or clarity and understanding seems like the higher road to take whenever possible. When it is safe and you feel completely ready, go ahead and click the unblock button.