Here is a short video from my YouTube Channel. If you like it you may like the others:
I saw him swerve and stop and get off of his bike. He was a little ahead of me as we were biking down the highway, the only road that we could take to get to his parent’s place. Now, there is a “rails to trails” path that goes along this route that would’ve been nice at the time, but on the day we were travelling, we were right on the highway.
This incident occurred a considerable distance from our apartment. His parent’s place is a full 45-minute drive and we were two thirds of the way, but we had ridden our bikes. We had spent a lot of the summer biking around. Our trips had included biking to my hometown, to a wedding and up to see nicer scenery north of where we lived.
It appealed to him because we were doing something that he could brag about. We didn’t just bike; we biked 120 miles (200 km) in one day. We were adventurers; we were out there doing things other people could only imagine.
I enjoyed biking and being out on the road with just some equipment and my bike. This was something that I would do again. But, at the time, I didn’t realize why it was so important to do it in the shortest time possible and to only break if absolutely necessary. Now I know. It is all about bragging rights. If you are going to do something, specifically so that you can tell others that you have done it, it must be exceptional.
Now we were in trouble. The fork had broken off of the front of his bike. Two forks are necessary to hold the wheel in place and the right one had bent to the right and snapped off. We were just outside of a city and a significant distance from his parent’s place. This happened before everyone had a cell phone; so even calling someone would mean moving a bike, on one wheel, a considerable distance until we could get to a phone.
We were essentially stranded. After a few minutes of examining this fork and thinking about the laws of physics, yes physics — forgive me but I’m a scientist at heart — I realized that the pressure on the fork was down. In other words, it only had to have strength in one direction. In order for the fork to support the body of the bike and hold the wheel, it did not have to have sideways support. It had broken to the side. It did not need any strength in this direction.
What the fork needed was to be kept in alignment. If I could keep the top and bottom part of the fork lined up, the force down could be applied and it would be supported by metal on metal. There did not need to be a lot of strength sideways.
I found an appropriate sized piece of wood and rammed it into the fork and rammed the broken piece onto the other end of it. This perfectly aligned the two pieces so that pressure could be applied to the fork by the tire below and the handles above. He reassembled the wheel and we made it successfully to his parents’ place. I was thrilled. It is very exciting for me to come up with an innovative solution to a problem.
Every time I said something to him about it he brushed it off as obvious and not worth mentioning. When I tried to tell this story to friends or family he was interruptive and down played the significance. He never said that it was a good idea and just made it seem like this was so obvious that I was childish wanting recognition for it.
Now I know that he did not want to tell this story because he was not the star. There was a solution at hand and he didn’t find it. It hurt my feelings that day and for a few weeks afterwards, but I had no way of knowing that it was just a symptom of a larger problem and that I wouldn’t get credit for doing anything — ever…
Here we go again, live, or it was when I shot it, How to Outsmart a Narcissist.
There were fifteen minutes left before the job interview. I knew that if I called a taxi right now, I would still be late. I only had enough time if he showed up immediately with the van. I hadn’t called a cab earlier because I had reminded him that I had an interview and asked him to come right home after his lecture. He said he would.
So, here I was, ready, dressed and starting to panic. I was almost finished my masters of science and I was actively looking for a job. One of my supervisors was working for a government agency that was a perfect fit for my degree. She was an accomplished woman that I had gotten to know a little during my studies and I thought that I would enjoy working for. She was highly respected and I had come across her name a disproportionate number of times while researching scientific papers for my research, so I knew that she would be good to work for.
Casually, or so I thought, she asked me to come by her office and discuss, next steps, as in, after my master’s. I took it to be a job interview, and she had insinuated that was what it was, but it also could’ve been a discussion about another advanced degree. In either case, it was a great opportunity. If you are pursued to do your PhD it is much more prestigious than if you have to go and try to find someone to supervise you.
I had agreed immediately. I knew that I could make it to the appointment. I was so excited that I came home and told him about it. It turned out that he had one lecture that afternoon, but there was plenty of time to come home and then I could take our only vehicle to the interview. We also had one preschooler at the time, so I needed to have someone to take her for the 45 minutes, or so, that I would be out of the house.
So, the clock was ticking. He had not come home. This was a time before cell phones, so I could not call him and remind him. I had no way of knowing where he was. I called his office and he had not been there. He had done it again. He found a way to undermine me.
I called to tell her that I would not be able to make the interview and I tried to set up another time. She realized that I would always be this unreliable. She knew him as well and probably already had some preconceived notions about me based on her knowledge of him, and she declined. I asked her what she wanted to discuss and she begged off of the call and said that she had to go. She said that it was not important.
When he arrived he said that he had forgotten and that he had gone to the beer store. This of course, did not account for the amount of time that he was missing. I was angry and he attacked. He pointed out that I could’ve made other arrangements. He said that it was my own fault for not getting to the interview on time. He let me know that I was being unreasonable and that I was “losing it”.
Ironically, this turned out to work in my favour. There was no longer any question that he was sabotaging me every time that he got a chance. When I defended my thesis, he did not even know it was happening and I didn’t tell him about the next job interview until after I had the job.
Once again, you find yourself struggling to remember what actually did happen. You are having THAT conversation again during which you are told your memory is bad, you are making things up and you must be losing your mind.
Anyone who has been in a relationship with a narcissist has been told this. It matters very little if the narcissist is a co-worker, parent, lover, acquaintance, family member or simply someone who lives next door. This tactic is very common because it works.
Very few people are completely certain of everything they remember. Did I say that when I was angry? Was there any way I was misunderstood? I’m certain she said that, maybe I didn’t hear her right or understand what she meant.
For narcissists this is one of the many games they play. They want you to feel off balance, to question yourself, to spend inordinate amounts of emotional energy trying to remember what was said, the order things happened in and how the events unfolded.
When you realize they have been “gas lighting” you, making you unsure of yourself, your memories and perceptions, the natural response is to want to do it back. Unfortunately, they have several advantages.
Narcissists lack empathy. This means they do not feel bad when they hurt someone. They do not “feel” the pain they cause other people. So when you are trying to remember if you did say what she says you said, she is enjoying your discomfort, not feeling badly because you are in a disagreement.
Another tact a narcissist will take is to overtly lie. He may tell you he “forgot” or “got stuck at work” when in fact he simply did not want to show up because he knew you were relying on him. This may have put you in an awkward position, like sitting at a restaurant with two other couples waiting for your date to arrive.
The narcissist has an advantage here because when he does arrive, he tells the whole table that you made the mistake. You had the date or location wrong. You were supposed to pick him up on the way to the restaurant and you come off looking foolish for having let everyone down.
Another tact to make you look foolish is to keep “poking” you until you snap and behave “irrationally”. If the narcissist can get you to explode in public, this provides nourishment in the narcissistic form. The narcissist thrives on drama and causing drama, especially public drama. Most people, find this distasteful, which is part of the appeal to the narcissist.
Here are three examples of things that narcissists will do that most people will not do:
2. Hurt You on Purpose
3. Make a public scene
Even if you are willing to lie, do hurtful things and try to get them to act out in public, it will backfire on you.
1. If you lie to a narcissist, they are certain you are wrong.
Unlike a person with a conscience, narcissists do not doubt themselves. They just turn it around on you. Now they have “proof” that you are losing your mind. Then, forever, this example will be their way of reminding you how you have been wrong before.
2. If you hurt them on purpose, they will play the pity card.
You hurt them. You are a nasty person and they can’t believe how mean you are. Since, I’m assuming, you do have empathy, you will feel bad. You may even feel fully responsible for hurting them and they win this one as well.
3. Finally, a public scene is their dream come true.
If you try to cause a scene, where they look foolish you will end up looking more foolish than they will. They do not feel emotions like others do so it is much easier for them to regroup and turn it around leaving you as the only one who is acting out in public.
If a crazy person and a normal person are fighting,
it is NOT possible to tell who is who.
If you are a neighbour, acquaintance or a co-worker, you cannot win. The cycle will devolve into a nightmare of them trying to get back at you and you doing what you can to get back at them.
So, don’t try. Never rely on the narcissist or believe what they say. Never confide in them or speak to them more than necessary. This will allow you to keep it light and superficial and minimizes the amount of harm that they can do.
If you happen to be in a personal relationship with a narcissist (parent, sibling, lover) and want to outsmart them, develop an exit plan. Do not tell them. Make sure you have considered everything. Where will you go? Do you have your own money? Do you have extra clothing and personal effects? Then, get into an argument with them and have them either kick you out, or have them break off the relationship. (I have to add, think safety here. I don’t want anyone starting an argument if there is a possibility of physical harm as well.)
Then leave. You have won.
It is only by making them believe that they left you and they came out on top that they will let you go easily. In their minds, you will try to get them back. So, they are much more likely to leave you alone. They will wait for you to come crawling back, which you have no intention of doing. They have lost you and you no longer provide any emotional nourishment.
If you’ve ever ended up with a narcissist before, or if you are out there in the dating world, these are some of the things that you should be aware of when you begin to date someone new. These tips may keep you from realizing that you have been “captured” by a narcissist.
1. In initial conversations make sure you ask them as many questions as they ask you. Wait for an answer. If they say that they like something, ask a more specific question.
Why this is important
Narcissists actually probe you for information so that they can learn as much about you as possible. By asking them questions, you force them to tell you about themselves. This slows down the process of them collecting data and allows you an opportunity to determine if they are lying.
For example, you say, “I love dancing the Macarena” They reply, “I do too!” You can ask, “Where do you usually go dancing?” This next direct question forces them to be more specific. The first set of lies is very simple, but the more detailed the questions the more likely you will catch them in a lie. Also, it can put them off balance and make them less attracted to you.
It is important in any relationship that there be reciprocity, so asking someone about themselves as much as they ask you, is a good thing.
2. Never reveal personal or private information early. The rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t tell everyone at work, it is not something to share in the first couple of weeks of a relationship.
Why this is important
Sharing personal information has two effects. The first is that it gives you a sense of intimacy with this person. Exchanging private information is one of the ways that we get close to someone. Narcissists use this method to get close fast. Getting really close to someone before you know them is never a good thing. The second problem is that sensitive material can be used against you and if the person turns out to be a narcissist you will regret sharing things that you did not want everyone to know.
Realize we all crave intimacy.
There is a strong urge to reveal things to the same level as someone else.
It is good to base any relationship on trust and intimacy and these things take time. There will be time in the future to share these details if this is the right person.
3. Don’t fight for the relationship right at the beginning. If someone that you are just starting to date tells you that their friends or family would not approve of your relationship or if they let you know that they are leaving town or that they are worried about you breaking up with them right away it is a warning sign. They are looking for assurances, way before it is reasonable, for you to say that you would not leave. If for any reason, the relationship seems to have opposition or an expiry date, see it as a red flag. Statements like, “This is just a summer fling” are a warning sign.
Why this is important
Think of dating a narcissist as a job interview. They want someone that will be there for the long haul. They want to know that you will go the extra mile to make the relationship work. All of these things are desirable in a good, long-term relationship, but they show you are desperate in the short term. Narcissists are attracted to someone that is too desperate to easily leave any relationship, even a bad one.
If their friends or family wouldn’t approve, why would you want to be with someone when you would be an outcast or disliked? If the person you just started dating may have to leave town for a job or to go back to school, recognize that it is too early to make that kind of commitment and don’t. These situations can also be a ploy. If you move to another town with them early in the relationship they have you trapped because you are relying on them for everything and none of your friends or family are around.
If early on you get the impression that there might be opposition to your relationship or an expiry date you are being pressured to make a commitment prematurely.
4. Maintain your private time. If you are being flooded with attention it may initially feel like you are loved. This is not the case. A narcissist will flood you with attention as a way of controlling you. You get used to this level of attention and then you expect it, long after it is taken away. Try to not respond to the multiple texts, messages and calls. Don’t respond until it is convenient. Constantly interrupting your time with other people is one of the ways that narcissists distance you from your friends.
Why this is important
Narcissists need constant nourishment from others. They are trying to figure out if you are the one that is going to give it to them. By not giving it to them, you are less likely to be pursued.
A person that actually loves you, respects your right to privacy, time with your friends and your need to have time to yourself.
5. Keep seeing your friends, doing your hobbies and pursuing your interests. If your new dating partner insists on seeing you every minute, it as a sign of pathology not adoration. The beginning of a relationship is too early to be spending most of your time with someone.
It is one thing to say, “I’m going to the movies with friends.” But if someone you have just started dating digs for more detail: which friends, which theatre, which movie, are you going out afterwards? It is best to not give it. “Hiding” information from a narcissist will drive them crazy and they will not want to date you.
Why this is important
The ultimate goal of a narcissist is to have you all to themselves. This is part of the control that they have over their partners because the narcissist manages to eliminate everyone else from your life as much as possible. Having only one person in your life makes you very dependent on this person.
Realize you may want to be “good”
and not realize that you are wired to “obey”
when someone asks you to do something.
In a healthy relationship your partner will want you to be happy and having friends, hobbies and interests is a large part of that.
6. Maintain your private space. Agreeing to have someone move in right away, or suddenly noticing that one “sleep over” has resulted in the person never leaving is a major red flag. You should make other plans and tell them that you want to go out with your friends and that they can’t stay at your place.
Why this is important
This is just one element of how a narcissist moves in and takes control of your life. Suddenly, you will realize that they are living at your place full time. The longer they are there before you stand your ground the more difficult it becomes to maintain your space. Having someone move in right away does not allow time for you to balance this new relationship with the other priorities in your life.
Realize you are fighting biology here.
We instinctively want others around. It feels good to have company.
Quality relationships are not based on spending as much time together as quickly as possible. They are based on mutual respect for each other’s lives and priorities.
7. Resist the urge to “take care of someone” you just met. If someone tells you early in a relationship that they have come upon bad times at work, in health, a tragedy, ask yourself why you want to take care of them and why there is no one else in their lives to fulfill this role.
Why this is important
This is one of the tactics that narcissists use to get close to you. Examples are, “I’ve just lost my job and have no money”. “I was living with my last lover and I ended it, so I have no place to live”. “I just moved into town and have been living on a friend’s sofa but I’ve outstayed my welcome”. If they say that they just got out of a bad relationship with an awful person, insist that you don’t want to be their rebound person and move away quickly.
Realize that you are fighting instincts here.
We all want to pick up the fallen bird and nurse it back to health.
Healthy relationships are between two self-sufficient individuals. If this person cannot support themselves now, they are unlikely to take care of their half of the responsibility in a relationship.
8. We all like to dream and plan, but the beginning of a relationship is a bad time to be planning to be together forever. Try the phrase, “I think we are getting ahead of ourselves”. This allows you to be honest and can be used like this: “Yes, I would love to move to New York City with you and pursue my comedy career, but I think we are getting ahead of ourselves.”
Why this is important
One of the tactics narcissists use to keep you from leaving is to point out that you “agreed” to this relationship and wanted this relationship from the beginning. Now you are a “quitter” or “selfish” or “mean” if you are just abandoning this dream. Often, the dream was premature.
It is good to have dreams and long term plans together but these should be based on a solid relationship, not an elusive goal that is agreed upon before all of the facts are in.
9. Pay attention to how your date treats others. Ask yourself if you want to be treated that way.
Why this is important
Narcissists often think that they are justified belittling those around them. They think that they are superior and therefore they can treat others badly. In any relationship, how your partner treats others can be how they will treat you — eventually.
A nice person has respect for others and respect for you and treats people accordingly.
10. Focus on reciprocity. If they compliment you, compliment them back. If they ask about you, ask about them. If they do something for you, do it for them.
Why this is important.
Ideally, we all want good relationships. Keeping things in balance is a good starting point for a relationship based on mutual support. By treating them exactly how they treat you, you will become aware of whether or not it “feels normal”. For instance, if they buy you several gifts and it feels abnormal to buy someone you just met that many gifts, you realize that this is a red flag. This method helps you see past the joy you felt in receiving the gifts and puts them in context. If you feel like you are being disingenuous complimenting them repeatedly, realize that their level of compliments may be abnormal and this is certainly a red flag.
It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of a new relationship and suddenly realize that your whole world has changed. With a narcissist it is important to be very aware at the beginning and not let this happen.
This is kinda a good news, bad news type of post.
The good news is that this information will help you side step a relationship with a narcissist, someone that can wreak havoc on your life for decades.
The bad news is that your next new relationship might not work out.
Keep in mind you don’t always want relationships to “work out”; some of them can be bad for you.
1. They don’t care about you.
This is the most hurtful of their traits but it is the most consistent. It can be confusing because they often “pretend” to care about you and this is one of the reasons that people stay in these painful relationships for so long.
See it from their perspective. You have a purpose in their lives. They need you for what you provide for them be it the necessities of life, adoration or nourishment or you are their receptacle; a place for them to dump their negative emotions. In any case, this is your role, so if you leave they will have an unmet need. They have learned what it takes to keep you in their lives and because of that you may mistake some of their gestures or gifts or thoughtful acts as a sign that they care about you. This is not the case; they just know how to keep you around.
2. They must always win.
Realizing this helps to make disagreements and decisions make sense. They are often sore losers to the point that they’ll accuse you of cheating if you win at a game; or they will just be unpleasant. As far as making plans, if you want something that they don’t want, it is expected that they will not only disagree with you, they will let you know how subpar your suggestion is and why it is not valuable.
This can become confusing because they will often use tactics to get you to agree with them. On the surface, this can seem as though you “agreed” to do what they wanted, but further examination will reveal that they only do what you want if they also want to do it, or it will make them look good.
Common ways of convincing you to do what they want are by arguing that their idea is better, promising that you will get your way next time or simply convincing you their idea is far superior. If you insist, they will make your life hell and sooner or later you’ll agree with their ideas so that you don’t have to go through the drama that follows when you want your way.
3. They do as little work as possible, unless it benefits them directly.
For instance, they may work really hard at their careers because they benefit directly and success in a career is a way to get nourishment from people. i.e. people are impressed The flip side is that they do as little “invisible” work as possible.
Narcissistic parents often appear to be the most engaged because they are out with their children, taking them to the workplace and being involved in their activities. All of these choices make them look like good parents. In the home it is another story. There are no witnesses and spending time with their children is not valuable, so they choose to not be bothered.
Also, tactics will be used to make sure that you do most of the work. Name calling, accusations of being lazy, feigning illness or an inability to do the work are common ways that they get out of doing their fair share of the chores.
4. They lie. This is worth repeating.
I realize that everyone knows that narcissist lie, but what might not be immediately obvious is that they lie for no reason. This may be a way of feeling superior. This may just be to undercut your self-confidence or they may just not realize that telling the truth has value. The thing to take away is that they lie, even when the reason for the lie is not obvious.
This might not be directly obvious, but what you might experience is a perception that you are forgetful; that you may be losing your mind or that you are confused. This is a common response, because most of us do not immediately assume that the other person is lying for no reason.
5. They like drama.
I suspect that this is a result of being unable to feel love and joy the way that other people do. They crave emotion and hate and anger seem to be their preferred vehicle. This is not true for all narcissists. There is a type of narcissist that seems to prefer sadness and pity. Either way, they either start fights out of nowhere to fill this need, or fall into a state of despair. This puts the focus on them and they get deep into the emotion.
If you are their “receptacle” it will be your role to be either the target of their anger or the person that comforts them when they are, oh, so, sad. Drama is often used to sidetrack an argument or to avoid doing something for you. You may have disagreed, asked for a favour or needed some comfort.
Other times, the drama comes out of nowhere. Some insignificant oversight becomes blown out of proportion until the original slight is long forgotten.
6. They do not comfort others.
Sadness and anger are OK for the narcissist, but if you want to get support from them you are “needy” “You should leave your troubles at work” or “quit your job”. “Suck it up” “You are never happy”. “There is no way to please you”. All of these phrases can be used to make you feel like you should not require comfort.
In addition to that, if you do need some support, they are unavailable. This may take the form of their day being worse, a huge work deadline that must be attended to, other plans that came before you started to make demands or simply attacking you for not handling your situation better.
If you get attacked or put down when you wanted a shoulder to cry on or for them to lend an ear to a problem, you may be with a narcissist.
7. They do not like to be alone.
This can take the form of demanding that you stay in when you’ve made plans to go out. It may also be that they have several on-line relationships that nourish them and provide unconditional acceptance. You will find that if you have a life that takes you away from them, they are quick to find someone to fill the time that you are away.
This can also be expressed by them calling you repeatedly while you are at work, texting you constantly or simply showing up when you least expect them. They do not want to be alone and if you are in their lives, they want you around as much as possible.
8. They do not take responsibility for things.
This is a combination of convincing you that you must do all of the work, lying to make it seem like they did not know that it was their responsibility or blaming you for any problems. For instance, they may have done something to hurt you in the past, but it is only a problem because “you” can’t get over it.
If they forget something, for instance, it was up to you to remind them. If it is their turn to do the chores it is because you are lazy.
9. They do not acknowledge the accomplishments of others.
It is important to them to “win” at everything. If someone else is successful, in some part of their life, this is swept under the carpet. No one else’s accomplishments have any meaning to them because it detracts from how wonderful they are.
If you’ve ever shared good news from work, tried to get some excitement over an accomplishment or looked for a little acknowledgement about something that you have done and been shut down, you may be dealing with a narcissist.
10. They can be extremely charming and solicitous.
Most narcissists have learned that they can fool people by being nice to them. If someone is kind and compliments you, you are less likely to see them for who they are. This is how they get their foot in the door in relationships. It is also a way for them to create drama because they can make you look unreasonable to people who only see their charming side.
If someone seems to good to be true, they probably are. You may be dealing with a narcissist.
So, after a terribly tumultuous time you have discovered that your partner is a narcissist. Yes, it is good to know that you are not going crazy. It is comforting to realize that you were not the source of all of the problems; you were simply the victim of a pathology masked as a lover. But, as the first wave of relief hits you, you begin to wonder, why did I pick a narcissist? This is a good question to ask, because it speaks to a deeper, often painful truth. A truth that you must understand before you pick another one.
Consider the following statements:
- You had been lonely for a long time.
- You are a gentle and open-minded person that is not quick to judge or jump to conclusions.
- You are unable to distinguish the difference between someone who truly loves you and someone that pretends to love you.
- You are highly independent and have learned to take care of yourself and those around you.
- You knew that you could help this person achieve their full potential.
- You thought that this person would make your life easier (more money, more support, more companionship).
Do any of these statements resonate with you? At first glance, the list above does not seem that remarkable. A lot of people are lonely. Being open-minded and self-sufficient are both good things. Knowing that you can help someone attain a better life, or hoping that someone can help you, both seem like reasonable things.
The alarming one is that you may be unable to distinguish between someone who truly loves you and someone who pretends to love you. When you combine that with one of the other things on the list, you can be exactly what the narcissist desires. There are three categories of narcissistic needs: the necessities of life, nourishment and a receptacle for their anger.
If you are willing to help this person achieve their full potential, or you are highly independent and can take care of yourself and those around you, the necessities of life may be what you can provide for the narcissist.
An individual that is looking for someone to take care of them, or is tired of being lonely is a sure bet for a narcissist. It is much more difficult for a person like this to leave an abusive relationship. Lonely or dependent individuals can swing between being a source of nourishment and a receptacle for the narcissist.
A gentle, open-minded person is easy to deceive. They are the type of individual that will give the narcissist “the benefit of the doubt” when the narcissist starts to show their true colours and this can lengthen the relationship considerably.
So these are some of the reasons that you may have been a target for the narcissist, but they do not speak to the larger problem, your ability to pick a partner might not be well developed. For many of us, we did not learn the basics of partner selection because we were brought up under less than ideal conditions. This is not to say that our families were not doing the best that they could, it just means that they were not equipped to help us to make good choices in the partner department. More on that in Part 2.
Narcissists need a receptacle for their anger. They need to direct their hate and animosity at someone. It is not enough for a narcissist to dislike you, they want to make you suffer. The only way to avoid being on this constant emotional roller coaster is to break off all contact. For those of you tired of the drama inherent in dealing with a narcissist, the best advice is NO CONTACT.
This is a major step for many individuals. If it was a romantic relationship, the first step is to stop having sex. Gradually, no face to face communication, then no telephone calls and the contact becomes less and less personal. Get an answering machine, block them on Facebook, direct their emails to a specific folder to be opened on your terms and stop responding to texts, or block the texts altogether.
This advice falls short when a relationship must be maintained for a co-parenting agreement. It is impossible to avoid all communication if you have children with your narcissist ex. Now there is hope! There is a website designed perfectly for this situation.
This portal provides the tools necessary for the exchange of information, scheduling and the communication that is required when there are two people, that no longer like each other, trying to co-ordinate parenting responsibilities.
Its features are amazing. It is possible to record everything that is said on this website. It is also possible to give lawyers and other caregivers full access. This means that any verbal assaults will be recorded. It also means that you can stream line your encounters to one place. No more middle of the night calls, texts while at work or unwanted comments on social media. It becomes possible to block them completely. Add in an individual that physically moves the children between homes and you are scott-free!
The website I’m referring to (there may be others) is “Our Family Wizard“. Sign up with your ex and start garnering the benefits of a true no contact situation.