Moving on from a breakup is harder than a stale gummy worm. What makes that whole process harder than several stale gummies is when your ex won’t let it happen. Maybe they’re orbiting the eff out of your social media, Snapping you incessantly, or reaching out to you on your work email. Whatever their method, you’re done but they clearly are not. And as much as you don’t want to be inconvenienced and/or have an awkward conversation, it’s time. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but if your ex is hanging on to your relationship for dear life, this should help loosen their grip.

1. Set Boundaries 

First thing’s first: You need to clearly communicate that you don’t want to be contacted. This could be during your initial breakup talk or later on. Either way, don’t drag it out. If you do, they may harbor false hope. 

“Ideally, [the conversation] should be face to face — this will let them see that you mean what you say through your facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language,” says relationship and friendship expert and temperament therapist Melanie Ross Mills. She also suggests having this little chat when you are both calm and in the mindset for a mature conversation, if possible. Try kicking off with something like, “I feel it’s time for me to move on to a new chapter. I need to continue to grow and experience life. I think it will be challenging for me to move forward if we are still talking, seeing one another, and texting. I also want this for you. I believe it would be best for us both.” 

2. Be Consistent 

You can be the world’s most clear and effective communicator, but if you don’t stick to your guns, you can’t expect someone else to fully respect your needs and desires. “Don’t block their call [one day] and then call them the next day. Let your no be no and your yes be yes. Otherwise, they won’t believe your words, because your actions aren’t lining up,” says Ross Mills. If it proves difficult, ask a friend to help hold you accountable. 

3. Make Changes

It’s time to change the access that your ex has to you. This will make it harder for them to contact you and for you to be tempted to answer. As unfair as it may be, when someone is not respecting your boundaries, you have to be the one to take measures into your own hands. Block them on social media (at least temporarily) or set up a new email for close friends and family, and send your ex’s emails directly to spam, suggests Ross Mills. Consider tweaking your patterns and daily routines to avoid places your ex may frequent. If you have share mutual friends, ask them not to put you on group texts with your ex or tag you in pictures with people who your ex may follow (for now). Yes, those asks can be awkward, but it’s worse not to address it at all. “Let a few [friends] know that you’re distancing yourself for a bit as you adjust to the new, post-breakup dynamics,” says Ross Mills. “[Remind them that] they’re still your friends — you’re just having to make a few changes during this time.”

4. Reinforce Your Stance

You need to show ex you mean business. Agree on another time to chat, either by phone or IRL (if that’s a healthy and safe option). “Scheduling is key, because then they know you’re serious,” says Ross Mills. When you do meet, she suggests reinforcing what you said during the initial, post-breakup conversation. Try something like, “I know what we shared was special. However, I can’t have you contacting me right now. It makes it difficult for us both. I really need you to respect my needs and wants at this time. Do you think you can do this?” If you feel better doing so, bring a friend to support you. 

Remember that you are no longer together for a reason and while you want to treat everyone well, you come first. So cut ’em off like a boss.