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Drip-drip contact, after NC ?

(11 Posts)
FirstOfManyNameChanges Tue 19-Jan-16 10:25:28

(NCd for this)

For the past two years, my wife and I have been firmly NC with her mother & partner. Following an incident where they physically assaulted us both. (Police were called, and the incident resolved with an admission from MiL).

The backstory is that MiL is controlling, abusive, definite NPD and (as we found out) a violent bully.

Over the past few months my wife has received the odd text message from her DM. The first was along the lines of "please contact me, even if it's to say you never want to see me again". Then one about a medical story that might be of interest to my wife (which wasn't needed, and MiL would know this). (Also a birthday and Xmas card which went straight to recycling) then a happy birthday one. Then a new year one. And today, another medical one.

My DW has no intention of replying, or ever making contact again (she is as stubborn as her mother smile). So these are curious irritations.

Having realised MN is a treasure trove of shared experiences about such things, I wonder what the views of the wise are ? Is this behaviour indicative of a new tactic we've not encountered ? My gut sense, is it's some sort of boiling-water-frog situation, where accepting (i.e. not reacting) to these small overtures is being stored up for a bigger attempt later.

The nuclear option would be to make an official complaint to the police about harassment. Maybe we're being tested to see if this is what we would do ?

I can't say how, but we know they (MiL and partner) have been advised by the police not to come near our house. (And I would be on the phone to the police immediately).

DoreenLethal Tue 19-Jan-16 10:30:12

Can she block the number?

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 19-Jan-16 11:24:28

This behaviour that her mother is doing is called "hoovering".

Your wife needs to block her mother's number as of now.

The link below is from a site called

"Some toxic people will let you leave a relationship without caring one bit. They never really cared about you, and if you don’t want to be used and abused anymore, they’re simply on to the next person before you can say, “Bye!”

Others, however…others hoover.

The toxic hooverer doesn’t truly care about you either — they just want to keep you around to feed on emotionally, and when you decide to go no contact, they don’t plan on letting you get away that easily.

Many hooverers have traits of borderline, narcissistic, antisocial or histrionic personality disorders. People with Dependent Personality Disorder may also hoover.

Hoovering is manipulation to gain control over your choice to distance yourself, and typically takes the following forms:

•Ignoring your requests to break off the relationship and attempting to continue on as if nothing has changed.
•Asking you when you’re going to “get over it” and return to your past actions.
•Sending you a fake apology to give you hope that things have changed.
•Trying to trick you into contact by saying someone needs you, is sick, or in trouble.
•Triangulating with others, communicating things to you through them.
•Saying they’re worried about you, concerned about whether you’re okay, need to know where you are, etc.
•Sending unwanted cards, messages and gifts, sometimes gifts for your children, as they know you are likely to feel guilty about keeping a gift from your kids. Don’t allow this – exposing your children to manipulation is far worse!
•Returning old items you left behind.
•Baiting you with drama games.
•Contacting you about “important” things they “forgot” and suddenly have to tell you.

Don’t Fall for Hoovering Tactics

Attempts to pull you back into a toxic relationship are not valid expressions of caring and concern — they are attempts to regain control over your behavior. Beware — hoovering attempts are often disguised as caring, loneliness, hurt, desperation, fear, illness, and other things designed to play on your sympathies and pull you back. Abusers know that pulling on heartstrings works very well. (In the case of BPD, it may be simply out-of-control emotions and fear of abandonment more than an attempt to control you per se; however you will likely still feel that you are not being allowed to end a relationship you no longer want).

If your wish to end a relationship is not being honoured, whatever a toxic person thinks will work best on you will be what they try, so when one angle doesn’t work, they will try another, and another, ramping up their efforts until it seems they might never stop. Typically, hoovering DOES stop if the person being hoovered does not fall for the hooverer’s tricks.

The sooner the person being hoovered completely ignores everything and does not respond to anything at all in any way, the sooner the toxic person finally understands that they do not have the control. Some toxic people may still make the occasional attempt on holidays, anniversaries of events, etc. Don’t bite the bait. Simply ignore any attempts.

If you have already made it clear that you do not want a relationship (or if it’s obvious) then DON’T ever contact the person doing the hoovering to tell them to stop again, or how angry you are. That is a reward. They will be thrilled to receive your attention and pleased to know that their efforts have paid off by snagging you, so they’ll be contacting you even more!


If you have told someone you do not want contact, and they continue to bother you, the police can assist you. If you ever feel that someone you are trying to break off a relationship with may be capable of more than simply annoying you mildly, contact your local police for assistance. They are well-accustomed to dealing with skillful manipulators and have many smart ways of handling them, so do not hesitate to ask for help. (And remember, you have nothing to be ashamed about; you’re not the one behaving badly, and the police are there to protect you from abuse.)"

More Here:

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Tue 19-Jan-16 15:13:08

Yep, block the number. At best it's a kind of haunting reminder and at worst, she's softening you up.

If you do feel you would like to go nuclear, maybe speak to a solicitor or look up how to get a non-harassment order. You'll be in a strong position I imagine. I believe you do have to send one written letter saying We Want No More Contact and if you do persist, we'll take it as harassment. Send it recorded and print the address on the envelope.

FirstOfManyNameChanges Tue 19-Jan-16 16:36:15

Thanks all for the excellent advice. I knew I could rely on MN !!!!

Apologies for paucity of replies - I struggle with the MN namechange feature and find it clunky sad.

Blocking number ?

To be honest, I had thought it was. However, Android is a dogs breakfast made real, and I have found a lot of apps either don't work, don't work with certain versions, or stop working when Google release a new version.

However, either way, the contact has only been one-way, and MiL has no way of knowing if DW read them.


This was almost a textbook description of what's been going on. I am so pleased to see it's not unusual, and can therefore be addressed with other peoples wisdom.

The very fact this is happening confirms my description of my MiL to DW as a dangerous and unstable person. Not just that, but a dangerous and unstable person with no patience (as the assault 2 years ago proves).

I suspect this behaviour is intended to provoke a reaction, and therefore, no reaction shall there be.

I know drip-feeding is a capital offence on MN, but one salient factor is that DW and I have a DS who lives in assisted living, and is still in contact with MiL. Much as we would for this not to be the case:

(a) it's not for us to decide who he associates with
(b) any attempt to intervene will only work to confirm MiLs narrative (about how nasty we are)
(c) he's probably using her for his own ends, to get presents &c.

As pragmatists we try and deal with the situation:

(a) by never mentioning anything about MiL to DS - even if he does. DW has perfected a "so what" tone of voice which tends to stop the conversation dead.
(b) by being fully aware that anything we say will be fed back to MiL, so we're very good at controlling the message.

Both the last are mental efforts.

So the course of action for now ...

1) (re) block MiL. Continue ignoring. Continue not mentioning any of this to DS

This is for piece of mind. More mine than DWs. I've developed some sort of anxiety over unexpected phone calls and texts (to the extent our landline has been unplugged for 9 months).

Thanks again all for your time, effort, and thoughts.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Tue 19-Jan-16 16:43:43

I've developed some sort of anxiety over unexpected phone calls and texts (to the extent our landline has been unplugged for 9 months).

You should not have to live with this. It probably is worth pursuing a non-harassment order.

I'm so sorry about your son and her contact with him. Hopefully he will see through her in the end.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Tue 19-Jan-16 17:45:20

Hi OP. You can do a harassment injunction yourself, you know. First you need to send a Letter Before Action, thus:

Letter Before Action (in the header and footer).
Mr Crazy Fucker and Mrs Crazy Fucker, in view of your repeated communications (list all of them), and in view of your acknowledged assault on myself and DW, (crime number if you still have it) we wish any and all contact with us to cease. This includes: letters, cards, email, texts, social media applications, approaching or attempting to enter our property, speech in person or by other means, messages via third parties except in the case of acts done by operation of law or death or diagnosed life ending illness, deliveries of unsolicited goods, and any other action which could considered a course of conduct under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. No answer to this letter is expected or desired, and we (your names) will regard such a response or any other to be harassment triggering the seeking of an injunction under the Act.
Signed, etc.

ThisIsStillFolkGirl Wed 20-Jan-16 06:09:17

Disgrace in what capacity are you advising the op to do that?

OP I have been nc with my mother for nearly 4 years. She still sends the chn bday/xmas cards, which get ignored and she has sent a couple of emais, both of which I ignored.

But if it's causing you anxiety, you clearly do need to do something more.

ThisIsStillFolkGirl Wed 20-Jan-16 06:21:49

Just read the post about hoovering. Yes, my mother does esending cards/gifts to.the children and has emailed regarding collecting old stuff from the loft. Stuff that I'd previously been told I couldn't have.

I just completely ignore her. I don't return cards/gifts or respond to the emails. I find it a little irksome, but no more than that.

She has had quite enough of my life. She's not having any more.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Wed 20-Jan-16 13:55:39

FolkGirl: as a layman who's done an injunction myself. The letter is basically a tripwire. If it's tripped the injunction would have to be be worded more tightly.

ThisIsStillFolkGirl Wed 20-Jan-16 20:17:19

Thanks, Disgrace. I wasn't challenging you, genuinely curious. I don't really feel it's necessary in my case currently, but you never know.

I didn't know about the letter. Thanks

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