Q: A few years ago, my boyfriend and I drifted apart.
There was no acrimonious breakup. But he is needy, so I consciously ignored his attempts to get in touch over the years. Lately, he has renewed his efforts to reach me. I send his calls straight to voicemail.
But that doesn’t stop him from trying several times in a row or leaving long (occasionally mean) messages.
He is clearly living in the past and not taking the hint that I don’t want to speak with him. How do I get rid of him without changing my number?
See? The easiest way to stop people from calling our names repeatedly is to answer them — once. In this case, add: “I understand that you are trying to reach me, but I’m not interested in renewing our friendship. Please stop calling.”
It would be wonderful if our species had evolved to let us read each other’s minds. (Think of all the painful talks we could avoid!) But it didn’t. Worse, many of us are strangely optimistic and occasionally pushy. This fellow may rationalise his repeated calling by telling himself that you’re not getting his messages. Some people simply need to be told.
You have no obligation to tell him, of course. But out of respect for your onetime relationship, why not pick up the phone?
You can probably put an end to these calls in 30 seconds. Otherwise, there’s no telling how long the standoff between your hints and his dialling finger may persist.