Tag Archives: relationships

How to stop stalking your ex on social media (or quitting whatever obsession you have)

For quite a while I was stalking my ex. Actually each of them. Actually I was not only stalking my ex-girlfriends, I was also stalking my ex-colleagues for quite a while (hi, peoples, social media makes that easy :D ).

I thought that’s my personal problem until I’ve realized (after googling) that’s what a lot of people do.

As neurological study suggests, staring at a photo of your ex, triggers reward systems in your brain regardless of whether one is happily or unhappily in love. So first thing is to stop worrying. You’re normal.

Probably each of us was going trough this a number of times, so below are the tricks I’ve learned. Don’t forget to share yours ^_^

Possible approaches

1. The deadline

The idea is to allow yourself to monitor your ex’es activity for quite a while and then quit. Similarly to “quitting smoking tomorrow” this won’t work just because there always will be another tomorrow. Also why wait with this?

I’ve tried this a number of times, also observed my friends doing this with little to no success. I don’t think this is a worthwhile method as it’s often ending up with a lot of guilt to carry for not making it.

2. Blacklist / unfriend

I’ve never tried this mostly because of the consequences I was afraid of. We share a lot of friends and blacklisting people would probably lead to our common friends asking what forced me to do so.

Even if social pressure is not a problem for you, other people reminding you of your ex is something which probably won’t really help to let them go.

Also this one is hard to apply to other obsessions – how do I blacklist alcohol?

3. Sandbagging

I’ve learned this trick from my favorite procrastinatolog doctor’s blog.

The idea is to continue with your obsessions but make it slightly less convenient. E.g. in case of Facebook:

  • Delete mobile app
  • Log off from the desktop browsers
  • Use only mobile versions of the mobile apps (e.g. m.facebook.com) –> no notifications!
  • Remove browser icon from the main screen so you have to look for it
  • Also for Facebook I use News Feed Eradicator plugin for Chrome which hides the most dangerous part from me

Generalizing it further, in this method you reverse engineer tricks the product developers use to make your obsession closer to you and sandbag these.

For more ways you’re tricked to use apps more you can read How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds (this click can cost you 20 minutes of your life :D )

4. Conscious one

The idea here is not to expect anything from yourself and just observe what do you feel / think about when doing the thing you’d like to quit doing.

Good thing is that you’ll learn about yourself and your obsession more. Also it’s the most guilt free of the techniques here. Thus I recommend it as a healthy addition to the other attempts.

Bad thing is that quitting may be postponed indefinitely. But why bother about that while you’re learning?

5. Realize that you’re already there

My TLDR of Allen Carr’s books (helping with quitting smoking, overeating, …) is basically: you’re already there. At the moment you’re reading my article and not doing the thing you’re quitting, so you’re a free person.

Your next step is to realize that you’re already good and enjoy this state (pretty much like ‘conscious one’ but paying attention to what it feels like to be free of the obsession).

Common problem: comebacks

One thing you should know about me before reading this further is that I’m a kind of professional quitter. I quit smoking (I guess 6th time now :D), quit adding sugar to my tea, quit computer games, quit unhealthy relationships, …, you name it.

Thus I can generalize that there are two modes of quitting:

  1. quitting to let go of something because it’s ‘bad’
  2. quitting to make some room for the stuff you’d like to pull into your life

Quick experiment: try keeping your mind clean of all thoughts for a while and then try to think about whatever you’d like to have soon (I thought about yachting or burritos).

In my case nurturing an idea I like (2nd thing) works much better than keeping a piece of my mind clean of anything.

In my case most of the methods from the above were following the 1st approach. It’s ‘bad’ so I’ll quit it. Once my willpower was depleted, I usually was able to negotiate with myself and ‘bad’ things became ‘decent’ and there I was again following my obsessions. That’s what comeback basically is.

6. Substitution

Here you’ll put something rewarding in place of the habit you had. We’ll still trigger our

If you’re obsessed over an ex-partner, get a few new awesome friends to hang out with (or befriend a few celebrities like Mr. Bieber – they’re used to a lot of attention :D ).

If you’re quitting consuming unhealthy amount of foods, learn to have a healthy drink instead (mine is lemon water).

If you’re letting go of computer games, grab a new freelance client or an awesome volunteering gig for something you’re passionate about (look mom, I’m earning new moneys!).

If you’re quitting having evening cocktails, a trustable fitness trainer and a training buddy e.g. from Fitior will help you (I totally quit that thing after learning that alcohol consumption impedes muscle growth and I dream of VinDiesel-like-body :D ). Also a whole bunch of highly addictive jogging clubs are available in large cities.

Once the old habit is gone, you probably will be able to let go of your new one but I’ve never did that until I’ve found even better ones. So the substitution is usually about getting even more stimulating thing discovered – be careful :)


I have a new *-friend but I’m still looking at the photos of my ex, what do I do?

Enjoy it while you can! ^_^


How to travel with somebody?

People generally get crazy if left for enough time isolated in confined groups.

One of the things I do over and over again is traveling with people. I did a lot of variations starting from a half-a-day in suburbs to half a year long hopping across the globe. Both friend and girlfriends. And we all were getting mad at each other :)

Some of the travels made me closer to these people, some of the travels tore our relationships apart. Now time has come to do this again, so you, my dear reader can reap the benefits of my experiences without all the tears of your travel buddy :)

TLDR: Give the link to this post to the friend you’re going to travel with to make it better for all of you :)

Be prepared :D

Hostels will loose their bookings. Metro will close right before you’re able to make the commute. Evernote and gmail will decline to display cached pages. Flights will be canceled and/or delayed. Cards will be rejected. Favorite things will be stolen and lost (people also can lose each other!).

Some of these happened to my friends and some of these happened to me. To survive all the problems of a travel, be like a space ship: duplicate all the things.

  • Every document should both exist in written and electronic form
  • Same applies for money, both small bills and electronic cards
  • All of these stored separately
  • The most important bits never leaving your body


Accept stuff which is bigger than you

Once you’ve prepared all the thing you was able / wanted to prepare for, there’s still hell of a lot of things which gonna happen.

If you feel like crying – do so. If you’re angry (or hungry, like I get all the time) – let somebody know while you still can do that in a calmed in controlled manner. Worst thing you can do is spending your energy to make appearance that everything is ok.

Breaking the rule usually leads to dumping 3 weeks worth of suppressed feelings onto your fellow traveler. Bad for everyone involved.

This also means that you should accept yourself as you are. If you don’t know where’s our train, or where are we – let the group know rather than try to play a cool captain (even if you lead this particular group).

We’re all in the same boat and nobody expects you to know everything.


Keep the balance

While traveling you’ll be far from most of the resources which usually support your self confidence:

  • Family, friends will be far away, similarly your image of a successful person :)
  • Work. Doing that remotely is still something not everybody is granted with. Plus it can be trickier to maintain your performance while working off a shitty 3g internet somewhere in jungles, trust me. So if you imagine yourself a good colleague, be ready for that to be gone :)
  • Work out routines will need to be re-established (I had times visiting up to 3 no-longer-existing gyms per day to find a one for myself)
  • New foods and climates will affect your health depending on your luck (e.g. you can get 5-days dengue fever preventing you from sleep or mild indigestion)

In such conditions it is common to look for the support in people nearby. Continuous demands can easily strain your partners, so be careful (remember, they’re in around the same situation as you are).

That’s where the notion of emotional bank account comes into play. Whenever somebody does me good, I can feel like I’m up to doing more good for them, similarly whenever somebody asks (or demands) a lot of help from me often, I will be feeling like the amount of good I’m willing to do for them is reduced.

If that’s your first wild travel, be especially careful: habits which you form now will predate you (or support you) until the very end of your life. Another important thing is that most probably you’ll feel like you need a lot of assistance. It’s up to you to decide how much of a helplessness you will root in yourself.


Start small

So, once my usual self-confidence is gone, I feel like growing some new. The simplest way for me to do so is by learning how to get to home (tent, apartment, shack, …). In most places this can be achieved by buying a sim card with 3g data. On lightning in a bottle, though, I had to spend some time exploring the territory :D

Having that, it is much easier to support the balances: I don’t need a person attached to me to try the stuff I like (Darling, let’s go to a zoo [as I don’t know how to return from there]).

Next step is usually taking care of some shared stuff. Taking your friend(s) to a cafe both counts as a contribution to your emotional bank account as well a proves (to yourself) that you’re capable of more.

Next time you’re gonna travel with friends, just observe who’s the first one to take you somewhere and how do you feel about them.

Embrace your fears

After taking care of some basics, it’s usually time to challenge yourself a bit. Cool if you can do that in a controlled manner (e.g. when somebody more experienced is around). That’s not required, though.

Being introverted, my first fear is about talking to people. So I try to talk those who are already interested in conversations with me: sales people. Being a guy which loves to eat, I just approach any food truck / cafe and I’m done.

Pick something you both like and a bit uncomfortable to do and you’re good to go.

Sometimes, the thing can prove itself difficult (e.g. approaching a cute girl in the office). What worked cool for me in such cases is imagining what I will do next time (all the exact steps, phrases said, you can even write that somewhere just for kicks!). For some reason brain can be trained well even using such a hypothetical scenarios, so after a while, I prove myself capable of doing tricky things. So are you.



What are the tricks you use to make your social travels feel better?

Personal barriers and ‘no’

How to accomplish more of what you want? – Do less shit you don’t want to. That’s about it.

My story

When I was just born I didn’t have any things preventing me from exchanging with the world around me. Even more, at first I had that awesome navel string which I had to give up to get more freedom in my movements.

Being a small kid made me used to the fact that I should be likable by the elder people: e.g. if my dad was upset, I was losing my access to the internet, similarly other resources. I believe the same happens to most people at the beginning.

As we contact more people, it makes sense to introduce some barriers or filters. I remember a few times in the university I was completing up to 20 homework assignments per week before I’ve learned that some of the people will have to hear ‘no’, after all I needed some time to attended some of the parties.

Maintaining barriers is a bit painful to the both sides. Requesting side tends to suffer from the fear of rejection as well as the receiving side.

Quick exercise: Just try to ask people to let you cut the queue in a grocery shop without explaining any reasons to them and you’ll see what it feels like.

Similarly, spend a day answering ‘no’ to at least 10 first queries and you’ll know what I mean.

Having an excuse for some reason is better accepted by people. “Sorry, dear, I HAVE to do this, because my cat is ill”, et voila – I can do more stuff than I was capable of before (nice side effect of having an ill cat).


Poor man’s solution

As saying ‘no’ is such an energy consuming thing, how come people live with that?

Easiest solution to this I’ve seen is silent sabotage: I just commit to a project and then I fall ill, even without consciously realizing the reasons. My mind might be committed, but body won’t let me do that with the energy reserves being depleted.

I’ve been to many projects where ‘committed’ contributors left because of some kind of illness: high pressure, damaged bodies, migraines – I don’t think that’s anywhere close to a free lunch like before.

Intelligent sabotage

After mastering the trick I’ve seen many good minds using it independently. When I don’t feel like doing something people request from me (and they say they need that absolutely and totally committed on their side), I turn the tables: you do something first.

1) “Can you please review my code?” – “Sure, but first please run it through the checkstyle and correct all the things”

2) “Let’s have a coffee?” – “What’s on the agenda?”

3) “Let’s discuss that book” – “Please write me early next week”

95% of askers will not return. Which is kind of awesome if controlled (and I really plan for this). Otherwise I’m suffering from the fear of rejection again.

How do they do that

Volunteers et al

It often happens at volunteering gigs: I have a feeling that when I raise my hand, people think that I fully belong to them now.

First story I clearly remember is my willingness to help to a promising politician balloting for a major. There was a manager on her side inviting me to have a meeting with him with no clear agenda at 8:00 on another bank of the city (think “Ivan get up at 6 am, spend 2 hours traveling just to uhm… invest more of your time”).


Probably that’s one of the ways I recognize friends: we have easier time accepting ‘no’ from one another.

“Dude, I know you’ve spent tremendous amount of energy preparing this party, but I won’t show up. – Ok, man, you are absolutely free to do so – Love ya”



I only know a few people I hear ‘no’ from and… I respect them. I don’t use the word ‘respect’ often, but that’s probably one of the good places to use it.

When somebody is telling me (or other people ‘no’), I read that as the person’s ability to manage own energy level and being highly reliable in terms of delivering on commitments.

Saying ‘no’ to some things helps me to say louder ‘yes’ to the deeds you focus on.


Frequently asked questions

I’ve already saying ‘no’ quite often. How do I learn to do that more frequently?

First part of my story was to do some tuning in the mindset.

  • People ask for help because they believe in you – thank them for that but remember that should not lead to a guaranteed ‘yes’.
  • One of the things I’ve learned only recently was that its ok to miss stuff. When I say ‘no’ to an opportunity, I automatically have more energy to give a louder ‘yes’ to another one I love more.

Second part of the equation is just to practice. Pick any usual situation, tell ‘no’ occasionally and observe how your mind works.

– Dear developer, you’ve saved last 5 releases, now it’s Friday and we need your favor again.
– No


I’m hearing ‘no’ from various people a lot

It’s ok. We live in interdependent world so we will be asking something from one another some help. Probably you’re on the edge of your comfort zone and need some boost, right?

Don’t mind and keep changing the world for the better!

I’m hearing ‘no’ to often from the same person

Try to not become someone demanding (otherwise you’ll face a wall earlier or later).

If you’re planning to evolve the relationship, learn what the other side is concerned about and give your hand with that, after a while you might be repaid (but don’t aim for that).

I really really would like to hear ‘yes’ this time and you told me not to be demanding

The trick is is to know what the other side cares about and try to convert your request into a trade.

– Hey mom, I would like an XBox
– No, dude, you’re 37
– Mom, I will be doing the dishes next 10 years, so you will have more time for the overtiems
– Deal

Another effect being people always asking and people always saying ‘yes’ – I’ve lost any desire to talk with some people just because of this pattern :(

Ok, I will do more of no’s, how do I do these better?

Frame these as “I don’t”, “I won’t”.

I “can’t” sucks – that was somewhat proven scientifically.


Do you have any scripts?


  1. I just say ‘no’ and include no excuses

    – Will you please pick me up?
    – No

  2. Sometimes people will try to push you

    – Will you please give me 10% discount?
    – No
    – But you told me I’m your favorite client
    – You’re still my favorite client, I respect your persistence with mine. No

  3. Pushy people will hear motivation

    – No, we don’t give discounts as we won’t be able to provide good service at that cost

    Note: If you put an excuse which has nothing to do with the motivation, you’re toast

    – Please do your homework,
    – No, my laptop died
    – Ok, here’s a printout, just fill that in
    – Ok :(

  4. Super pushy will have the contact broken

    – I absolutely need this
    – I see. I’m going home now. Talk to you later

Anything else?

– No : P

Focus on what truly matters and see you in that bright world : )

How to apologize properly

An example

There was a young couple from Moscow somewhere in 1970th. They just got married. Wealthy enough family helped them to fetch an apartament (all the things in USSR were not bought, but rather fetched through your connections). They had nice furniture, wallpapers. Rare occasion: they even had a car, which was parked in the inner yard of their condo.

Once upon a time on a weekend morning, one of them went to the balcony and noticed that car is gone. They called the cops. A day passed. Next morning the car is back. The guy inspects the car, it’s all right, full of gasoline, all the things are in place but one note: “We’re sorry, we urgently needed a car”. As a compensation, two tickets to a theater were there for the same evening.

The couple was excited by the honor of the unknown thieves and went to the performance. When they’ve returned home they’ve discovered that apartment is empty – no furniture, no tech, even the wallpapers were stolen.

Apologies in my life

The example from the above clearly demonstrates: apologizing is used to seek value for the apologizing side. In normal circumstances that happens mostly by protecting the apologizing side from anger / retaliation.

“Darling, I’m sorry about talking to your mom that way. Can I have my Xbox back, please?”

By apologizing, people expect the responsibility for the consequences of their actions to be waived.

Why? Because it’s a social norm, right?

That does not work well with me

My time here is limited.  I don’t feel good trading resources for broken promises. So relationships where I hear word ‘Sorry’ frequently enough quickly deteriorate.

fuck off guy

Another algorithm

I research a bit and found an algorithm which makes me feel much better.

1. Acknowledge your responsibility
– “I’ve screwed up. That was improper of me to tell your mother she’s a which.”

2. Reveal your intentions
– “I didn’t mean it to happen like this.”

3. Maintain the responsibility for your actions
– “How can I fix this? How can I repay your losses?”

< Here goes active listening session >

4. Give a promise and deliver on it.
– “Ok, I will book 5 sessions with therapist which we will visit both with your mother”

Please take care to state it in SMART fashion to raise the chances.

4a. What if I feel like not paying the cost of the fix?
Negotiate. Be open and tell that thing contradicts your interests.
– “Darling, I value our relationships, but I’m not ready to commit to spending the whole week with your mother”


You probably noticed that apologizing this way is much more expensive compared to usual “I’m sorry”.

That’s how it works. Not delivering on a contract and being dragged to court has a clear associated cost.

Romans had lead water pipes which slowly poisoned them. Apologizing like an asshole has a similar effect. If you break a contract, you get a refreshing court order. If you break your words every week, you’re just not invited to cool gigs like other people are, even though you’re much more capable.

Please don’t use this trick to rob people of their belongings. Rather, use it to create more awesome stuff together!

Winter is coming. May your relationships be productive and warm.

P.S. Vadym, I remember I owe you a steak : )

Woot enough

As I’m returning to dating arena after a while, I’m noticing one of the patterns here. It was never tooted enough compared to “Witty enough”, “Sexy enough” or “Earning enough”, so I’ll be claiming the right to be the very pioneer : )

“Interested enough” is a strategy in which one of the parties continuously throws sand in a wheels of the relationships to observe an another one proving themselves as “Interested enough”, if fixing the other party at some point decides not to fix all the stuff, it’s considered “Not interested enough”.

You can see that virtually in every kind of relationship building activities sometimes: dating, recruiting, friendship, etc.

The very argument I’d like to make is self contained in the question: “Probably, desperate enough?”. Life is too short to spend it continuously proving something to someone(I’d prefer actually using the energy to deliver more value). Anyway, if my choice is about spending some resources on stuff I like(and have a return of some kind, e.g. emotional) is coupled with spending resources on stuff I don’t like, then probably I just don’t have a choice, i.e. I’m kind of desperate.

From what I observe, freedom is greatly related to the productivity. It’s just about being able to cut the corners without spending too much resources on that. And that’s what’s virtually impossible to achieve on a regular basis without perceiving the multitude of choices you have at each and every moment.

So if you feel you’re being involved into a venture of this kind, try share your feelings and enter an agreement. Be ready to leave and open to other opportunities life has to offer you.

If someone is dead serious that you’re the very one and you can’t be replaced, take that with a grain of salt – either they’re blind, or lying.

Enjoy the freedom. May the force be with you : )