Is it just me or do most of the people who slide into your DMs always seem to be in a relationship with someone else? After all, there's a reason this person is contacting you on the down-low and not out in public. What's worse is that they make no attempts to hide their relationship status from you or to explain exactly how you're supposed to react in this situation. If someone is texting you but they have a girlfriend, the best reaction is no reaction at all.
Assuming their messages are entirely unsolicited (and they should be if you know this person is unavailable), you can at least absolve yourself of any blame. They're the ones who should feel guilty, not you. Sadly, it's obvious that the person texting you doesn't respect their significant other or their romantic relationship. And let's face it — they don't exactly respect you, either.
I'll never understand why people who are unavailable will relentlessly pursue partners they can't or shouldn't be with (and yes, this goes for emotionally unavailable people, too). I know there are about a thousand rebuttals to this, all glorifying the thrill of the chase, but as long as we're talking metaphors here, the only person who ends up hurt is the so-called prey. The other person somehow always manages to walk away unscathed, which isn't fair at all.
I spoke with relationship coach Chris Armstrong about how to navigate this complicated and potentially dangerous situation without getting hurt and here's what he had to say.
Should you confront this person about their behavior?
Whenever I've been on the receiving end of messages from someone like this, my response is either fight or flounder. I know that's not the second F-word you were expecting but it's true. I'm either overly eager to berate their disturbing behavior or too flustered to muster up a respectable response. In the latter case, I find myself trying to disarm the situation by being nice about it. I'll reply with a friendly emoji or a non-committal "LOL" to avoid making things awkward. The problem is that the awkwardness of the situation is entirely their fault and the second-hand guilt I feel isn't OK.
Armstrong says that both responses are actually completely unnecessary. While being open and blunt about why you find their behavior disturbing might get your point across, Armstrong says they don't deserve it. "Confronting the person directly means giving them too much time and attention. They know that they have a partner and they approach you anyway. When you lean in with a response, you're just taking the bait," he explains. Better to leave them on "read" in this case.
What should you do if you've confronted them and they still text you?
Despite Armstrong's wise advice, I totally get the urge to absolutely lose it with these kinds of people, mostly because I'm offended they think I would ever go for something like this. Know that there's a good chance they'll take your decision to engage as an invitation to continue texting you. Rational, I know.
At this point, Armstrong says it's time to block them. Block their numbers. Block them on social media. Even block their email address if you have to. Send a clear, non-verbal message that you're not here for their games. "You don't owe them a second more of your time and continuing to engage them is giving them the warped but common impression that you're interested. Just let it go," he advises.
Should you contact their partner?
I'm on the fence about this. On one hand, I would never want to be that girl whose partner is out pursuing other people behind her back. I'd like to know about that, even if I have a hard time believing it at first. On the other hand, it seems out of line to approach someone about what is obviously a very personal problem in their relationship.
Here, I defer to Armstrong who says that contacting their partner will ensure two things. "Firstly, now they're mad so they'll have more incentive to harass you via whatever means possible. Secondly, they'll probably make up stories about how you tried to get with them because they're also in self-preservation mode and false or not, you don't need those floating around."
Even though your intentions might be pure, contacting this person's partner isn't the best idea. If they get to initiate self-preservation mode, then so do you.
The best way to look out for yourself in this situation is to walk away from it all and know that you did nothing wrong. Here's hoping karma does its thing.
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