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How To Cope With a Breakup (a guide) [Based on Science}
To make matters worse, our friends and family aren't being the most helpful. At first, maybe they were supportive. And then later they just started being dismissive to our feelings by saying things like "Just move on already" or "There is a lot of fish in the sea". This causes us to feel like there is something wrong with us, that we should have moved on already. This notion makes us blame ourselves for feeling this pain. I am here to tell you that there is NOTHING wrong with you for feeling this way. There is no RIGHT amount of time to take to "move on" and none of it is your fault.
Heartbreak is universal and has existed for more than thousands if not millions of years of our existence (Fisher, 2017). You can trace poems about broken hearts from the ancient Egyptian pyramids to ancient Inuit cave dwellings. Look at the top 100 songs on the billboards right now, the majority are songs about our broken hearts. Where there is love, there will be heartbreak. Your experience is excruciating, but fortunately not unique. Our species has survived and thrived after getting their hearts smashed into bits for thousands of years. So, YOU can too.
You don't feel like yourself. You don't think you will ever be happy again. Fortunately, you are going to be OKAY. It will take a while but you will get back to who you were before. I promise on our broken-hearted ancestors. I prepared this guide so this process is much easier. This guide also outlines the best way to get your ex back, if you want that. These tips are not in chronological order, you do not need to follow them one after another.
Maybe you realized before it happened or maybe the break up got you by surprise. Either way, it’s devastating. You hope this is some nightmare and you will get up and everything will get back to normal. But no, this is your reality right now. The relationship is over. It’s okay to be in shock and denial in the first few weeks but eventually, you will just have to accept it. It will be difficult to accept it, but you have to do it to get to the next healing stage. Accept what happened. Denial will only prolong your suffering.
2) Grieve your loss
Cry your heart out, doesn't matter if you are a guy or a girl. Start your day with a good cry. It lifts a huge burden and you walk lighter throughout the day. Break up music, pictures of your ex, old texts are all good things to use to start bawling if you are having trouble crying. Angry? Punch a pillow, yell into the pillow! Do whatever it takes to get your anger out, as long as it's not harming anyone else. This grief will come in waves. Some days you might not feel it as much, but some days it hits you hard. That is normal. So cry! Process your emotions, don't hold it in. Holding it in will compound it and it will come out in different ways. There is no timeline for you to process grief. Don't let anybody tell you "In 6 months you will stop crying". Your healing process is YOUR healing process. Take however long. It might also hit you unexpectedly, a year into the healing journey when you think you are doing great then you hear a song you both liked and boom. You are hit with sadness. It does diminish over time so, be patient. The intensity and frequency of "grief attacks" and "anger attacks" lessen over time.
Sometimes we are disappointed not because they left but because they did not fulfill our expectations. Such as getting married to us, having our babies, etc. These dreams can be fulfilled by somebody else. You are not sad because they were the one, you are sad because you THOUGHT they were.
3) Understanding what is going on in your head right now
Humans are social animals. Our survival depended on our ability to forge relationships with others (Buss, 2019). Hence, our brain evolved to instill mechanisms that would help us keep these relationships. So when a prehistoric bear tried to kidnap your mate, you would enter fight or flight mode which would make you jump into action and do everything to save them. As you heard the cries of your mate, your cortisol would shoot through the roof, adrenaline and norepinephrine would pump into your body which helps you to run faster, fight harder and feel less pain. These chemicals motivate you to take massive action. You might scream at the bear while chucking rocks at his head or run back to the village super fast and call for backup. Were they always successful in warding the bear off? Nope, but they were successful enough to pass this evolutionary advantageous trait to us since our ancestors who did not possess this trait died off. Therefore it would make sense if you have an eerily similar reaction if some random guy in a trench coat tried to kidnap your little brother. Unfortunately, for people going through a breakup, this mechanism gets triggered since a relationship is potentially ending and our brain is freaking the fuck out. This mechanism might make us call them a 100 times, scream at them, make big romantic gestures, hold on to their leg while they are trying to walk away (metaphorically or even LITERALLY). We try reasoning with them, we try everything to get them back to calm our head but it doesn't work. (Will get into why it doesn't work later on). Even if it does work, it does not last long. This fight or flight response persists because we failed to keep our relationship. Our body is riddled with agonizing anxiety all day because those stress chemicals I mentioned earlier are still doing their magic on your system. This may persist, days or even months. This phase won't last forever. You just need to make sure to not do anything stupid, you know like CALLING THEM A 100 TIMES but even if did do something stupid. Don't be too hard on yourself.
4) Be patient
I know hurts. It's horrible. It is going to be like this for a bit but you will get better eventually. People don't take 2 weeks to 'Get over it'. Be patient, trust the process.
5) Cut off all contact, go No contact (For your own healing)
Don't text them, don't call them, don't snap them, don't like their photos, don't do anything to contact them, don't even try to send a pigeon. If they message or call you, let them know straight up that if they want to try the relationship again they can call or text you. Otherwise, tell them not to contact you under any circumstances. No need to be mean, do it politely. "If you ever want to give another try with our relationship, only then contact me. Otherwise refrain from contacting me. I want some space, thank you." Why are we being so cruel?
Love activates all your happy chemicals. Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphin (Zeki, 2007). When the person dumps you, they cut you off all these happy chemicals causing massive withdrawal symptoms. Interestingly people going through a drug withdrawal show the exact same symptoms (Fisher, 2017). Why? Because love is the ultimate drug and you are addicted.
Your brain is addicted to your ex. To cure this addiction you have to go cold turkey. Will it be dreadful? YES. Is it necessary? Yes. You might think keeping in contact as friends will cushion the blow. In the long term, it will be more painful to be their friend because you will see them moving on without you. Talking to them is like re-opening a wound over and over again.
This is actually the hardest part since you are literally fighting against your basic human instinct I talked about earlier that prevents the loss of a loved one. Your brain is screaming at you "WE NEED TO GET THEM BACK! CALL THEM, TEXT THEM etc". Once we fear we are losing a loved one our brain will try to do everything to get them back. If a bear was running off with them, then it would have helped but in this case, reaching out to them will further push them back. They want some space from you right now.
This includes stalking them on social media, don't do it. It complicates your healing since you are reopening a wound over and over again. Easier said than done though. If you really struggle with this, maybe try to ween off it slowly. Let yourself see their fb twice a week at first, then twice in two weeks etc. Slowly ween off doing it at all. I suggest unfollowing them at least.
Coincidentally, No Contact is the same move to make if you want to win them back. It is a double-edged sword. Whether you want them back or heal your heart OR BOTH. Your best move is to go No Contact.
6) Using No Contact to get them back
You might be wondering that if you do no contact, they might actually forget about you and move on. WRONG! How many times do you think about water a day? Not a lot. Lets just imagine that your house runs out of water, the whole city runs out of water. All you can think about now is water. You are thirsty, you want to take a shower, you want to cook....the lack of water has forced you to think of it. Its the scarcity effect, we long for things that are scarce more than we long for things that are plenty (Cialdini, 2014). Hence, no contact makes your ex think about you way more than they would have if you kept badgering them. You need to be completely out of the picture for them to miss you. They must feel your void.
You might feel that begging them to come back would work, it won't. They have already made the decision to leave you and prepared for you to react like this. You think you can reason with them to take you back. You can't. Because right now they aren't emotionally neutral enough to hear any logical arguments.
Why can't you convince them? Its because they have made a decision already. Humans want to stay consistent with their decisions due to the consistency principle (Cialdini, 2014). The decision to break up is not made logically, its made emotionally, hence using logic to reason with them is useless.
Hence, you can't change their mind right now. The only person that can change their minds is themselves. You help them do that by going No Contact.
Show yourself that you respect yourself enough to NOT chase after someone who left you. Neediness is unattractive, show your ex that you don't need them. Here are more reasons to not chase them.
- When they broke up with you, they expected you to still be in the sidelines as a friend or something. So they don't have to fear losing you. Well, don't give them what they expect, leave the situation. Vanish out of her life completely. So they start actually fearing that they might lose you. Fear of loss is a great motivation for action in humans since we are loss averse (Kahneman, 2011). This will make it more likely they will want to get back with you.
- You not being in their loop anymore, causes them to get curious about you. After curiosity comes attraction. When their attraction towards you has reached a level, they will contact you.
- They actually start respecting you since they assumed you were going to beg and plead. Respect is essential for attraction.
- Over time, they will forget all the negative things about you and the situation that made them break up with you. Negative memories lose their intensity faster than positive ones. As more time passes, you will look better due to the faded affect bias (Gibbons, 2011)
7) How to actually do "No contact"
When my ex broke up with me I could not believe what was happening. This was the closest thing to hell I have ever experienced. I have been hit hard by life many times. But this punch, it nearly killed me. Nothing could ever prepare me for this. It was absolute agony. I would go to sleep and start dreaming about being together with her. I would wake up and realize the reality of the situation and start bawling like a mad man (thats a positive though, you should cry it out). All my dreams I had with her were all shattered. I didn't know what to do. The life I planned with her is nothing but a sad memory now. I started researching and went down the rabbit hole of "Win your ex back". I found out about the no contact policy and started doing it.
The first seven days were brutal. The only thing I told myself was "Just survive the first 7 days". Every inch of my body wanted to reach out to her. To beg her to come back. I knew it wouldn't work. So through sheer will and determination, I didn't reach out to her. As I explained before, my brain was in fight or flight. I was also suffering from withdrawal symptoms of love. I just told myself, "Survive 7 days". That is all I did. I survived 7 days at a time. Maybe you can only survive 1 day at a time. Do that! Tell yourself that "Okay okay, I will contact them in a month". Then when a month rolls by "Okay, next month I will contact her". Then when the next month rolls by tell yourself "Okay, I will contact her in the next 3 months". The trick is to lie to yourself that you will contact them eventually but you never will. (That includes not contacting them on birthdays, holidays, valentine's day, death of a loved one etc). People that join the '12 steps program', are not told to NEVER drink again. That is putting the goal post way out of your reach. The addicts are instructed to NOT drink one day at a time, then a week, then a month, then a year, and then finally for a lifetime.
Another trick I used was to believe that if I did contact them. I would push them farther back and lose them forever. Which is true, breaking no contact will lower your chances of getting them back.
Another trick I used was the progress meter. For every month I took a piece of A4 size paper and drew 30 squares (Each square represents a day). I hung it on my bedroom wall. After each day was over I would put a tick mark on one of the 30 boxes. The tick mark is meant to signify that I have finished another day while following no contact. Once you complete 7 days, it looks really nice, like you have completed a streak. Keeping your streak can be a huge motivator for not breaking no contact (Clear, 2018). It gives you a sense of accomplishment and keeps you on track, you will think twice before breaking your streak. After you tick marked all 30 days, take yourself out for a date, and treat yourself. Then hang up another A4 size paper and keep repeating the process. One day you will tell yourself, "I really don't care anymore to tick mark a box for not contacting my ex", that's the day you can stop. You will stop when you become completely indifferent. The opposite of love isn't hate, its indifference.
This will no doubt be the hardest thing you have ever done. You are fighting against your basic human instincts (to connect and reunite) that has been instilled into us since the beginning of time.. You are fighting the neurological mechanism that was set in place to KEEP your loved ones. Hence, the difficulty.
Bonus trick to keep doing no contact (Might not be the healthiest way, but it works). Use only if you are really struggling with no contact. You need to get into the devil mindset.
Realize they have stabbed you through the heart. You are in pain because of them. Time for you to strike back. The best way for them to feel the pain and consequences of losing you is to keep NOT contacting them. Put them in a state of doubt about their decision by not reaching out to them. Let them feel the pain. Remember, if you break no contact. You will stop their pain but we don't want that, do we? In the first few months, they will be fine but slowly they will start feeling the hurt. Is this mindset petty? Yes. But it is way better than contacting them and ruining the chances of healing and/or getting them back. Your last words before starting no-contact should be kind, not anything mean. If you insult or demean them, you will come off as immature and petty. Making them less doubtful about their decision.
For true healing, your no-contact needs to come from a healthier place. After a period, abandon this "devil mindset", see your ex with compassionate curiosity and forgive them. The last thing they wanted to do was to hurt you but there was no other way.
8) Why you should reject their offer of friendship
Sometimes the dumper doesn't want to be so cruel so they try to be your friend. To reduce their guilt and reduce their pain of losing you. Don't give them that. Let them feel the pain of losing you. If you want them back or if you want to move on, the best way is to let them go. They need to miss you, to want you again. The dumper has all the power in this breakup, since they are rejecting you. Take back a little of that power by rejecting their offer of friendship. Do you really want to see them dating new people and asking for your advice? You might think that if you are around her she won't move on and she will realize what an amazing person you are and get back with you. WRONG! What ends up happening is they start categorizing you as a friend rather than a romantic interest. Let's avoid that. You need to let them know that if they want to get back into your life. They can only get back as a romantic interest. Nothing less, nothing more.
9) Stop trying to find the "Real" reason for the breakup
You are going through every conversation you had with her. You are analyzing her texts, you are asking your friends "Could she have left because I didn't share my custard with her on our 12th date ?" You feel like you are Sherlock Holmes, figuring out clues that will lead you to the "real" reason. In reality, they don't even know why they broke up with you. They have an idea of why, but the reason is more emotional than logical so they can't give you a really good reason. I get it, you want closure. The only person that can give you closure is you! Think, think hard why they left you. Write it down on a piece of paper and just learn to accept it. General incompatibility? Poor communication? Lack of time spent? Circumstance? Mental health issues? What do YOU think the reason was? What does your heart tell you? Mystery solved. Remember, if you do reach out to them and try to get closure, no matter what they tell you. It will never be enough.
10) Don't blame yourself
We tend to blame ourselves and our imperfections for the breakup. This person didn't just reject you, they rejected you after knowing you inside out. That is why it hurts so much. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with you! Yes, you aren't perfect. You have your flaws. You deserve someone that stays with you regardless of your flaws, not someone who refuses to work on them with you. Sometimes people break up because of the circumstances. It has nothing to do with you. It might just be a bad time and place. All that being said, you deserve someone that makes every excuse to be with you. Not someone who makes every excuse to NOT be with you. Life is hard and complicated, relationships aren't ideal all the time. It's easy to stay in a relationship during the good times, but hard to stay in it in the bad times. The bad times are the times that show you if the other person is worth it or not.
11) Don't idealize your Ex and put them on a pedestal
Drug addicts in withdrawal often highlight only the positives of the drug they were addicted to (Winch, 2018). They conveniently forget how that drug turned their life upside down. People who got dumped do that too. I am not saying your ex turned your life upside down but they weren't perfect. Write down their flaws and things that annoyed you on a piece of paper. Write down what may have attracted you to them but later made you feel like shit. For example, you might have liked the fact they were dominant, but later on it just felt like they were very controlling. When you think about her again, focus on her flaws.
Them dumping you might intensify your feelings towards them. This feeling is not based entirely on love, it's based on adversity. Scientists made a monkey expect treats at a certain time. When they stopped giving them the treat to study its effect on dopamine in their brain. The monkeys thrashed around in fury. Nothing odd about that, but the odd thing was the monkey's brain produced more dopamine when the monkey did NOT get the treat. This extra dopamine meant that the monkey's want for the treat increased when he did not get his treat that he expected. This is called Frustration Attraction (Fisher). We long for things way more when we expect it but don't get it. You expected your ex to be in your life, them not being there anymore made you want them even more. Your love did not increase. This is frustration attraction in play. Don't confuse this with genuine attraction.
12) Don't change your life to avoid pain
Don't avoid the restaurants you used to go to. Don't avoid the activities you used to do together. Yes, when you go to the restaurant you used to go to together might be painful at first. But after a few times, you bring your friends there or even a new date there. Your brain starts creating new memories with that restaurant and the new memories override the old memories and you feel much better. Sure, it was where you and your ex used to have tea but now its where you and your friends spill the tea. You guys used to do yoga together? Try doing it alone or with someone else. Obviously don't resume activities just after the breakup but eventually get to that point.
13) Get rid of the reminders of them
Your ex already occupies your mind a lot. let's not let them haunt you physically too. If they have given you gifts, love letters, old pictures of them etc. We need to remove them. Yes, for the time being at least. Keep them in a box and shove it down a room or place you don't go to. *However these old mementos are very useful to induce crying. I used my ex's love letter to cry my heart out, I read it over and over. Then one day it wasn't really helping me cry, so I decided to get rid of it. Yes, I burned it. It felt pretty awesome and cathartic. So do get rid of these old mementos eventually, no rush. Holding onto vivid reminders of them does not let your wound heal properly. Getting rid of them signals your brain to let go. Its a short term sacrifice for a long term gain. A lot of people report an immediate boost in mood after they purged the physical reminders (Winch, 2018). This also includes their photos on your phone. YES, even the nudes. Let it go.
14) Be compassionate to yourself
Develop a non-judgmental inner voice that is actually kind to you. Instead of beating yourself up with insults, talk to yourself kinder. If you have a thought like "I can't even open a ketchup bottle easily, I am such a dumbass...no wonder she left me", counter this thought with "I am only human and these ketchup bottles are really complex these days, I am not a dumbass.". Respond to the mistakes you make with compassion. Write down all the bad things you say to yourself in a day and look at it. Think about it. Would you ever tell a good friend these things? No. Then don't tell them to yourself.
15) Fill the void with Self Improvement
Now you feel like there is a huge void in your life. Your ex might have been a big part of your life. Fill that void up by adopting a new hobby, learning a new skill, or any passion of yours you wanted to always try but didn't have the time to. Don't fret if you don't have a hobby or a new skill to learn. The journey to finding these things is an awesome adventure on its own. It took me a long while to realize that I really love human psychology and self-improvement books. Read! READ! Increase your knowledge and unlock your full potential. Commit yourself to become a better person. So you don't make the same mistakes you did in your last relationship. Life is about growth but that can't happen without failure. A child doesn't learn how to walk without falling a hundred times first. I will have a recommended book list at the end of the article.
16) Don't "Get busy" to avoid thinking about them
All you are doing is delaying your pain by distracting yourself from thinking about them. Let the thoughts about them come. If you can't cry. Close your eyes and focus on the pain. Be with the body, don't judge the pain. Just notice it. Keep noticing it, till it goes away. That is how you process your pain to go through you and not get buried.
17) Battle the obsession of your ex with mindful meditation
Every waking moment of your day is filled by ruminating about your ex. You will think about them 24/7 for a while. No need to panic. It's totally normal. One thing that can help you do this less is mindful meditation. Mindful meditation is linked to a million other benefits for your physical and mental health, so it's a no brainer (Cho, 2016). You also need to understand that it takes a while for you to get the hang of it. Try using the headspace app's trial feature to learn how to do it.
18) Talk to a professional (therapist)
A break up is a tumultuous time for anyone. Hence seeking professional help isn't the worst idea. When someone breaks up with us, we don't just grieve for our ex. We start grieving for every attachment trauma we ever endured in our lives. Grief is like picking up a paper clip that is connected to other paper clips. You can't grief for your ex alone, you will unconsciously end up grieving about all your attachment trauma. A good therapist can help you through that process.
19) Rely on all your social support systems
Feeling sad? Reach out to friends and family to vent. Sometimes just straight up tell them that you just want to vent and don't want their advice. Your loved ones are here for you to utilize them. But do give them breaks from venting here and there. They are human and they sometimes can get tired of your break up story.
20) Rebuild your identity
When we are in a relationship we tend to merge our identities with our other half. That is why we feel so lost when they leave us. We are so used to having them as our "better" half's that we forget who we were when we never met them in the first place. Maybe you gave up a hobby or activity when you were dating them to have more time with them. Now is the best time to reclaim that part of yourself that you lost when you guys were dating. It is also the best time to figure out who you are and what you truly want. If you always wanted to travel and live in some country for a few months but you couldn't because you were in a committed relationship, now is the perfect opportunity to do so. You aren't tethered by anyone, fly free.
21) Get some physical exercise
Well, the first few months of the breakup I guess its okay if you don't work out at all since you might be too depressed to get out of bed or have any motivation to do anything (I couldn't get up for two months, some other people were fine after a week. So heal in your own time, again there is no timeline to grieve). But eventually, I want you to start exercising regularly to pump your brain with all those feel-good chemicals. 15 to 30 min a day is a good start, hell even just 5 min is great. You can try yoga too if working out isn't your thing. Becoming a bit sexier in the process is a pretty good bonus too.
22) Write letters to them but don't actually send it to them
Write however many letters you want. Write whatever you want to write. Whatever you ever wanted to say to them. Go ahead and say it in the letter. Pour your heart out, leave nothing unsaid. I personally used tape recorders rather than letters. I got too lazy and used the voice recorder on my phone to have a "pretend" one-sided conversation. It felt really good afterward. It cleared my head and gave me a bit of closure. But eventually, burn these letters and delete these recordings by also "Thanking them and forgiving them" in your own words. Every time you burn a letter, thank them and forgive them. You don't need to hold this grudge your whole life, it's not good for you. Forgiving is not for them, its for your own healing. No matter what they did, you have to be able to forgive them eventually. In your own time! There is no time limit. Remember to forgive yourself too for the mistakes you might have made, you are only human after all.
23) Start Journaling
At the end of everyday write or (record your feelings). It helps you process your feelings better. Write about how you feel. Are you feeling sad? Angry? Confused? Putting them down on paper takes a bit of the emotional intensity off you. The first few months you should journal every day but as time goes on, decrease your frequency. After a 3 or 6 month period read your early journal entries and compare them to your most recent journal entries and you will notice how much better you are doing, which will give you a much-needed boost to healing.
24) Start a gratitude journal
Yes, I bet you heard that a million times already. It does increase your happiness quotient (Connor, 2010). Make a habit of listing three things you are grateful for before you go to sleep. When you say these things actually feel it and let the joy of that thing warm you up. It could be as little thing as the dinner you had that day or it could be something really special such as being grateful for your parents.
25) Set ambitious new goals for your life
Is there something you always wanted to do or be? Set your horizons on it and start chasing your new hopes and dreams.
26) Start Dating again
You would eventually want to start dating again. Have fun with your single life. Have some exciting romantic encounters with some girl on vacation. Flirt with that handsome guy at the bar. Have fun, enjoy yourself. Take it slow and be wary of any early red flags. Trust your gut. Maybe you knew your ex was an alcoholic but still went out with him. Don't make the same mistakes you made last time. But if you want to stay single for a while, that is okay too. Do you, there is no right or wrong here. Think of dating as a source of possible romantic interests, it keeps the pressure off you.
27) Antidote to Suffering
In my lowest moments after the breakup. I had symptoms of clinical depression. I couldn't get out of bed. All I would do is sleep. Some days I would lie in my bed awake riddled with agonizing anxiety. To make things worse my obsessive-compulsive disorder was acting up too. I simply did not have the energy to manage it anymore as I used to. I gave up my will to live a couple of times. I stopped eating and drinking. I just couldn't take it anymore. I wanted to die but I didn't have the energy to commit suicide so I thought it be best to die starving in my bed. Waking up was a pain, going through my days were a pain. One morning a thought occurred to me that gave me the will to live again "I have to save others from this pain and suffering, I can't do that if I am dead. I am going to become the world's greatest therapist and help people with OCD and breakups, I have to live!" From that moment on, I started getting up and eating and drinking water more regularly and then going back to bed to sleep all day. Slowly but surely, I would sleep less on the day and get more things done. I didn't get this thought because I am some Mother Theresa or anything. It was for selfish reasons. I needed a reason to live. I needed meaning for my suffering to survive and withstand it.
The antidote to suffering is finding meaning in it. This is not my wisdom. Its what I learned reading Viktor Frankl's Man's search for meaning. "A man who has a why can endure any how", this famous quote of Nietzsche gives more support to this idea. The meaning of your life must be more specific though. You have to have a meaning and purpose that nobody else other than you can fulfill. You can't just say "I want to help people", sure that is noble but it's not specific enough. You want to help people? But how? There are millions of ways to help people, what's the way you would like to help them? Which way would let you help them the best? My purpose and meaning are helping people with a very specific kind of OCD. Its called Purely obsessional OCD, this ocd has no physical compulsions, only mental ones. A lot of therapists and psychiatrists don't know how to address it properly. I want to change that. I also want to help people going through breakups. Especially dumpees who are anxiously attached. Breakups are extra hard on these types of people. To achieve this goal I am happy to suffer. I will keep on going regardless of how bad and hard it gets.
Find the meaning of your suffering. Do you want to create amazing art that will make people think deeply? Do you want to direct a documentary exposing a problem? Do you just want to make old people at the nursery home smile more? It can be whatever you want it to. Ask yourself, if you would gladly suffer for this purpose? If the answer is 'No', don't pursue that. The agony you are experiencing currently will be more bearable after you start taking steps to find and pursue your meaning.
However, you might be in the team who thinks everything is inherently meaningless. Nothing really matters. There is no meaning in life. There is no meaning in our suffering. All the pain and agony our ancestors went through to build the foundation of this world is meaningless. All the people that suffered without surrendering their morals in the holocaust were wasting their time. All the people that refused to turn in their friends in the face of brutal torture in the gulags made a stupid choice.
All the people that died for a better world wasted their lives because it doesn't mean anything. How about all the people that sacrificed their happiness for the good of humanity? Were their lives meaningless? The only reason we still exist is because of the sacrifices that were made by our ancestors through blood, sweat, and a lot of tears. We are only standing because we are standing on their corpses. Billions of billions of corpses. Is it all meaningless? Are their lives and deaths meaningless? NO! They weren't. It is us, the living that must give their suffering meaning! After we are dead, our future generations will look back to us for their meaning. Therefore I think it is our responsibility to pursue meaning to respect our ancestor's sacrifice. If we don't, it will deem all their suffering meaningless!
A prisoner in Auschwitz was told to get into the gas chamber. At that time it was just a rumor that people died in the showers. Most of the victims didn't know or didn't want to believe that it was true. But somehow this man knew what fate awaited him. He smuggled a piece of paper and wrote "Shema Yisrael" (it's traditional for Jewish people to say this as last words) and stuffed it in his shirt, then he undressed. He walked into the chamber upright and with dignity and before the gas was released his last words were also probably "Shema Yisrael". In this context Shema means "listen", Yisrael means "people (or congregation of Israel)". Its a prayer in Judaism. It's traditional for Jewish people to say this as their last words. But why did this man have to write it in a piece of paper? Couldn't he just have said "Shema Yisrael" before he died? Why did he need to go through all the trouble to smuggle a piece of paper and use his own blood to write this?
He was trying to send a message to humanity as a whole. He was trying to talk to the people that survived. He was trying to talk to us. He was trying to say "Listen people, do you see me? I have been through a lot here. But it didn't ruin my faith in god. Don't lose faith. Don't lose hope. Suffer with dignity." This is how I interpreted it to fit my own narrative. You can do the same. Every time I reach a very low spot mental health-wise and I don't think I can take it anymore. I say to myself, "Shema Yisrael" and remember this man and his message. After I say these words I immediately feel better. It doesn't lower my pain, it increases my ability to withstand it. He found meaning in his death by sending this message to us. I took his message and used it to handle my pain. I am writing this article because of my own pain, if this article helps you. You give meaning to all the pain I been through. Thank you for giving my pain meaning. I hope this breakup teaches you things that you can pass on to someone else so they give meaning to your suffering.
Loved this post? Give my podcast a listen. I go into more depth, share more advice and interesting personal stories. (Its FREE!)
Inspiration for this paragraph
- Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
- The Gulag of Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
- The Story Of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant
- Attack on Titans season 3 episode 16 "Erwin's Speech"
*I will also make individual posts about all the points I made here in the coming weeks.
- How to Win friends and Influence people by Dale Carnegie
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
- 12 Rules for life by Jordan Peterson
- Subtle art of not giving a fuck by Mark Manson
Buss, D. M. (2019). Evolutionary psychology: the new science of the mind. New York: Routledge.Cho, J. (2016, July 14).
6 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Mindfulness And Meditation. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeenacho/2016/07/14/10-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-mindfulness-and-meditation/#664308da63ce
Cialdini, R. B. (2014). Influence: science and practice. Harlow, Essex: Pearson.
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: tiny changes. New York: Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
OConnor, R. (2010). Happy at last. New York: St. Martins Griffin.
Winch, G. (2018). How to Fix a Broken Heart. Simon & Schuster.
Zeki, S.(2007), The neurobiology of love, FEBS Letters, 581, doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2007.03.094
Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Gibbons, J. A., Lee, S. A. and Walker, W. R. (2011), The fading affect bias begins within 12 hours and persists for 3 months. Appl. Cognit. Psychol., 25: 663-672. doi:10.1002/acp.1738
Fisher, H. E. (2017). Anatomy of love.New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
/r/Scams Common Scam Master Post
If you know of a scam that is not covered here, write a comment and it will be added to the next edition.Previous threads: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/search?q=common+scams+master+post&restrict_sr=on
Blackmail email scam thread: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/g8jqnthe_blackmail_email_scam_part_5//
Some of these articles are from small, local publications and refer to the scam happening in a specific area. Do not think that this means that the scam won't happen in your area.
SpoofingCaller ID spoofing
It is very easy for anyone to make a phone call while having any number show up on the caller ID of the person receiving the phone call. Receiving a phone call from a certain number does not mean that the person/company who owns that number has actually called you.
The "from" field of an email can be set by the sender, meaning that you can receive scam emails that look like they are from legitimate addresses. It's important to never click links in emails unless absolutely necessary, for example a password reset link you requested or an account activation link for an account you created.
SMS messages can be spoofed, so be wary of messages that seem to be from your friends or other trusted people.
The most common scamsThe fake check scam (Credit to nimble2 for this part)
The fake check scam arises from many different situations (for instance, you applied for a job, or you are selling something on a place like Craigslist, or someone wants to purchase goods or services from your business, or you were offered a job as a mystery shopper, you were asked to wrap your car with an advertisement, or you received a check in the mail for no reason), but the bottom line is always something like this:
- The scammer sends you a very real looking, but fake, check. Sometimes they'll call it a "cashier's check", a "certified check", or a "verified check".
- You deposit the check into your bank account, and within a couple of days your bank makes some or all of the funds available to you. This makes you think that the check is real and the funds have cleared. However, the money appearing in your account is not the same as the check actually clearing. The bank must make the funds available to you before they have cleared the check because that is the law.
- For various and often complicated reasons, depending on the specific story line of the scam, the scammer will ask you to send someone some of the money, using services like MoneyGram, Western Union, and Walmart-2-Walmart. Sometimes the scammer will ask for you to purchase gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Steam, etc) and give them the codes to redeem the gift cards. Some scammers may also give you instructions on how to buy and send them bitcoins.
- Within a couple of weeks, though it can take as long as a month, your bank will realize that the check you deposited was fake, and your bank will remove the funds that you deposited into your account and charge you a bounced check fee. If you withdrew any of the money from the fake check, that money will be gone and you will owe that money to the bank. Some posters have even had their bank accounts closed and have been blocked from having another account for 5 years using ChexSystems.
Phone verification code scams Someone will ask you to receive a verification text and then tell you to give them the code. Usually the code will come from Google Voice, or from Craigslist. In the Google version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Google Voice account that the scammer will use to scam people with. In the Craigslist version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Craigslist posting that the scammer will use to scam people. There is also an account takeover version of this scam that will involve the scammer sending a password reset token to your phone number and asking you for it.
Bitcoin job scams
Bitcoin job scams involve some sort of fraudulent funds transfer, usually a fake check although a fraudulent bank transfer can be used as well. The scammer will send you the fraudulent money and ask you to purchase bitcoins. This is a scam, and you will have zero recourse after you send the scammer bitcoins.
If you suddenly receive hundreds or thousands of spam emails, usually subscription confirmations, it's very likely that one of your online accounts has been taken over and is being used fraudulently. You should check any of your accounts that has a credit card linked to it, preferably from a computer other than the one you normally use. You should change all of your passwords to unique passwords and you should start using two factor authentication everywhere.
Boss/CEO scam A scammer will impersonate your boss or someone who works at your company and will ask you to run an errand for them, which will usually be purchasing gift cards and sending them the code. Once the scammer has the code, you have no recourse.
Employment certification scams
You will receive a job offer that is dependent on you completing a course or receiving a certification from a company the scammer tells you about. The scammer operates both websites and the job does not exist.
Craigslist fake payment scams
Scammers will ask you about your item that you have listed for sale on a site like Craigslist, and will ask to pay you via Paypal. They are scamming you, and the payment in most cases does not actually exist, the email you received was sent by the scammers. In cases where you have received a payment, the scammer can dispute the payment or the payment may be entirely fraudulent. The scammer will then either try to get you to send money to them using the fake funds that they did not send to you, or will ask you to ship the item, usually to a re-shipping facility or a parcel mule.
General fraudulent funds scams The fake check scam is not the only scam that involves accepting fraudulent/fake funds and purchasing items for scammers. If your job or opportunity involves accepting money and then using that money, it is almost certainly a frauduent funds scam. Even if the payment is through a bank transfer, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, Interac e-Transfer, etc, it does not matter.
Credit card debt scam
Fraudsters will offer to pay off your bills, and will do so with fraudulent funds. Sometimes it will be your credit card bill, but it can be any bill that can be paid online. Once they pay it off, they will ask you to send them money or purchase items for them. The fraudulent transaction will be reversed in the future and you will never be able to keep the money. This scam happens on sites like Craigslist, Twitter, Instagram, and also some dating sites, including SeekingArrangement.
The parcel mule scam
A scammer will contact you with a job opportunity that involves accepting and reshipping packages. The packages are either stolen or fraudulently obtained items, and you will not be paid by the scammer. Here is a news article about a scam victim who fell for this scam and reshipped over 20 packages containing fraudulently acquired goods.
The Skype sex scam
You're on Facebook and you get a friend request from a cute girl you've never met. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. She'll ask you to send pictures or videos or get on webcam where she can see you naked with your face in the picture. The scam: There's no girl. You've sent nudes to a guy pretending to be a girl. As soon as he has the pictures he'll demand money and threaten to send the pictures to your friends and family. Sometimes the scammer will upload the video to a porn site or Youtube to show that they are serious.
What to do if you are a victim of this scam: You cannot buy silence, you can only rent it. Paying the blackmailer will show them that the information they have is valuable and they will come after you for more money. Let your friends and family know that you were scammed and tell them to ignore friend requests or messages from people they don't know. Also, make sure your privacy settings are locked down and consider deactivating your account.
The underage girl scam
You're on a dating site or app and you get contacted by a cute girl. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. Eventually she stops communicating and you get a call from a pissed off guy claiming to be the girl's father, or a police officer, or a private investigator, or something else along those lines. Turns out the girl you were sexting is underage, and her parents want some money for various reasons, such as to pay for a new phone, to pay for therapy, etc. There is, of course, no girl. You were communicating with a scammer.
What to do if you are a victim of this scam: Stop picking up the phone when the scammers call. Do not pay them, or they will be after you for more money.
Phishing is when a scammer tries to trick you into giving information to them, such as your password or private financial information. Phishing messages will usually look very similar to official messages, and sometimes they are identical. If you are ever required to login to a different account in order to use a service, you should be incredibly cautious.
The blackmail email scam The exact wording of the emails varies, but there are generally four main parts. They claim to have placed software/malware on a porn/adult video site, they claim to have a video of you masturbating or watching porn, they threaten to release the video to your friends/family/loved ones/boss/dog, and they demand that you pay them in order for them to delete the video. Rest assured that this is a very common spam campaign and there is no truth behind the email or the threats. Here are some news articles about this scam.
The blackmail mail scam
This is very similar to the blackmail email scam, but you will receive a letter in the mail.
Rental scams Usually on local sites like Craigslist, scammers will steal photos from legitimate real estate listings and will list them for rent at or below market rate. They will generally be hesitant to tell you the address of the property for "safety reasons" and you will not be able to see the unit. They will then ask you to pay them a deposit and they claim they will ship you the keys. In reality, your money is gone and you will have no recourse.
Craigslist vehicle scams A scammer will list a vehicle on Craigslist and will offer to ship you the car. In many cases they will also falsely claim to sell you the car through eBay or Amazon. If you are looking for a car on Craigslist and the seller says anything about shipping the car, having an agent, gives you a long story about why they are selling the car, or the listing price is far too low, you are talking to a scammer and you should ignore and move on.
Advance-fee scam, also known as the 419 scam, or the Nigerian prince scam. You will receive a communication from someone who claims that you are entitled to a large sum of money, or you can help them obtain a large sum of money. However, they will need money from you before you receive the large sum.
Man in the middle scams
Man in the middle scams are very common and very hard to detect. The scammer will impersonate a company or person you are legitimately doing business with, and they will ask you to send the money to one of their own bank accounts or one controlled by a money mule. They have gained access to the legitimate persons email address, so there will be nothing suspicious about the email. To prevent this, make contact in a different way that lets you verify that the person you are talking to is the person you think you are talking to.
Cam girl voting/viewer scam
You will encounter a "cam girl" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to go to their site and sign up with your credit card. They may offer a free show, or ask you to vote for them, or any number of other fake stories.
Amateur porn recruitment scam
You will encounter a "pornstar" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to create an adult film with hehim, but first you need to do something. The story here is usually something to do with verifying your age, or you needing to take an STD test that involves sending money to a site operated by the scammer.
Hot girl SMS spam
You receive a text from a random number with a message along the lines of "Hey babe I'm here in town again if you wanted to meet up this time, are you around?" accompanied by a NSFW picture of a hot girl. It's spam, and they'll direct you to their scam website that requires a credit card.
Identity verification scam
You will encounter someone on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask that you verify your identity as they are worried about catfishing. The scammer operates the site, and you are not talking to whoever you think you are talking to.
This type of scam teases you with something, then tries to make you sign up for something else that costs money. The company involved is often innocent, but they turn a blind eye to the practice as it helps their bottom line, even if they have to occasionally issue refunds. A common variation takes place on dating sites/dating apps, where you will match with someone who claims to be a camgirl who wants you to sign up for a site and vote for her. Another variation takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where the scammers setup fake rental scams and demand that you go through a specific service for a credit check. Once you go through with it, the scammer will stop talking to you. Another variation also takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where scammers will contact you while you are selling a car and will ask you to purchase a Carfax-like report from a specific website.
Multi Level Marketing or Affiliate Marketing
You apply for a vague job listing for 'sales' on craigslist. Or maybe an old friend from high school adds you on Facebook and says they have an amazing business opportunity for you. Or maybe the well dressed guy who's always interviewing people in the Starbucks that you work at asks if you really want to be slinging coffee the rest of your life. The scam: MLMs are little more than pyramid schemes. They involve buying some sort of product (usually snake oil health products like body wraps or supplements) and shilling them to your friends and family. They claim that the really money is recruiting people underneath you who give you a slice of whatever they sell. And if those people underneath you recruit more people, you get a piece of their sales. Ideally if you big enough pyramid underneath you the money will roll in without any work on your part. Failure to see any profit will be your fault for not "wanting it enough." The companies will claim that you need to buy their extra training modules or webinars to really start selling. But in reality, the vast majority of people who buy into a MLM won't see a cent. At the end of the day all you'll be doing is annoying your friends and family with your constant recruitment efforts. What to look out for: Recruiters love to be vague. They won't tell you the name of the company or what exactly the job will entail. They'll pump you up with promises of "self-generating income", "being your own boss", and "owning your own company." They might ask you to read books about success and entrepreneurs. They're hoping you buy into the dream first. If you get approached via social media, check their timelines. MLMs will often instruct their victims to pretend that they've already made it. They'll constantly post about how they're hustling and making the big bucks and linking to youtube videos about success. Again, all very vague about what their job actually entails. If you think you're being recruited: Ask them what exactly the job is. If they can't answer its probably a MLM. Just walk away.
Phone scamsYou should generally avoid answering or engaging with random phone calls. Picking up and engaging with a scam call tells the scammers that your phone number is active, and will usually lead to more calls.
You get a call from somebody claiming to be from your countries tax agency. They say you have unpaid taxes that need to be paid immediately, and you may be arrested or have other legal action taken against you if it is not paid. This scam has caused the American IRS, Canadian CRA, British HMRC, and Australian Tax Office to issue warnings. This scam happens in a wide variety of countries all over the world.
Very similar to the tax call. You'll get a phone call from an "agent", "officer", "sheriff", or other law enforcement officer claiming that there is a warrant out for your arrest and you will be arrested very soon. They will then offer to settle everything for a fee, usually paid in giftcards.
[Legal Documents/Process Server Calls]
Very similar to the warrant call. You'll get a phone call from a scammer claiming that they are going to serve you legal documents, and they will threaten you with legal consequences if you refuse to comply. They may call themselves "investigators", and will sometimes give you a fake case number.
Student Loan Forgiveness Scam
Scammers will call you and tell you about a student loan forgiveness program, but they are interested in obtaining private information about you or demanding money in order to join the fake program.
Tech Support Call You receive a call from someone with a heavy accent claiming to be a technician Microsoft or your ISP. They inform you that your PC has a virus and your online banking and other accounts may be compromised if the virus is not removed. They'll have you type in commands and view diagnostics on your PC which shows proof of the virus. Then they'll have you install remote support software so the technician can work on your PC, remove the virus, and install security software. The cost of the labor and software can be hundreds of dollars. The scam: There's no virus. The technician isn't a technician and does not work for Microsoft or your ISP. Scammers (primarily out of India) use autodialers to cold-call everyone in the US. Any file they point out to you or command they have you run is completely benign. The software they sell you is either freeware or ineffective. What to do you if you're involved with this scam: If the scammers are remotely on your computer as you read this, turn off your PC or laptop via the power button immediately, and then if possible unplug your internet connection. Some of the more vindictive tech scammers have been known to create boot passwords on your computer if they think you've become wise to them and aren't going to pay up. Hang up on the scammers, block the number, and ignore any threats about payment. Performing a system restore on your PC is usually all that is required to remove the scammer's common remote access software. Reports of identity theft from fake tech calls are uncommon, but it would still be a good idea to change your passwords for online banking and monitor your accounts for any possible fraud. How to avoid: Ignore any calls claiming that your PC has a virus. Microsoft will never contact you. If you're unsure if a call claiming to be from your ISP is legit, hang up, and then dial the customer support number listed on a recent bill. If you have elderly relatives or family that isn't tech savvy, take the time to fill them in on this scam.
Chinese government scam
This scam is aimed at Chinese people living in Europe and North America, and involves a voicemail from someone claiming to be associated with the Chinese government, usually through the Chinese consulate/embassy, who is threatening legal action or making general threats.
Chinese shipping scam
This scam is similar to the Chinese government scam, but involves a seized/suspicious package, and the scammers will connect the victim to other scammers posing as Chinese government investigators.
Social security suspension scam
You will receive a call from someone claiming to work for the government regarding suspicious activity, fraud, or serious crimes connected to your social security number. You'll be asked to speak to an operator and the operator will explain the steps you need to follow in order to fix the problems. It's all a scam, and will lead to you losing money and could lead to identity theft if you give them private financial information.
You get a call from someone who claims that they are from your utility company, and they claim that your utilities will be shut off unless you immediately pay. The scammer will usually ask for payment via gift cards, although they may ask for payment in other ways, such as Western Union or bitcoin.
Relative in custody Scammer claims to be the police, and they have your son/daughtenephew/estranged twin in custody. You need to post bail (for some reason in iTunes gift cards or MoneyGram) immediately or the consequences will never be the same.
Mexican family scam
This scam comes in many different flavours, but always involves someone in your family and Mexico. Sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been detained, sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been kidnapped, and sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member is injured and needs help.
General family scams
Scammers will gather a large amount of information about you and target your family members using different stories with the goal of gettimg them to send money.
One ring scam
Scammers will call you from an international number with the goal of getting you to return their call, causing you to incur expensive calling fees.
Online shopping scamsTHE GOLDEN RULE OF ONLINE SHOPPING: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
An ad on reddit or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offers items at huge discounts or even free (sometimes requiring you to reblog or like their page). They just ask you to pay shipping. The scam: The item will turn out to be very low quality and will take weeks or even months to arrive. Sometimes the item never arrives, and the store disappears or stops responding. The seller drop-ships the item from China. The item may only cost a few dollars, and the Chinese government actually pays for the shipping. You end up paying $10-$15 dollars for a $4 item, with the scammer keeping the profit. If you find one of these scams but really have your heart set on the item, you can find it on AliExpress or another Chinese retailer.
A user will reach out to you on a social media platform, usually Instagram, and offer you the chance to partner with them and receive a free/discounted product, as long as you pay shipping. This is a different version of the dropshipping scam, and is just a marketing technique to get you to buy their products.
Triangulation fraud occurs when you make a purchase on a site like Amazon or eBay for an item at a lower than market price, and receive an item that was clearly purchased new at full price. The scammer uses a stolen credit card to order your item, while the money from the listing is almost all profit for the scammer.
Instagram influencer scams
Someone will message you on Instagram asking you to promote their products, and offering you a discount code. The items are Chinese junk, and the offer is made to many people at a time.
Many websites pop up and offer expensive products, including electronics, clothes, watches, sunglasses, and shoes at very low prices. The scam: Some sites are selling cheap knock-offs. Some will just take your money and run. What to do if you think you're involved with this scam: Contact your bank or credit card and dispute the charge. How to avoid: The sites often have every brand-name shoe or fashion item (Air Jordan, Yeezy, Gucci, etc) in stock and often at a discounted price. The site will claim to be an outlet for a major brand or even a specific line or item. The site will have images at the bottom claiming to be Secured by Norton or various official payment processors but not actual links. The site will have poor grammar and a mish-mash of categories. Recently, established websites will get hacked or their domain name jacked and turned into scam stores, meaning the domain name of the store will be completely unrelated to the items they're selling. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Nobody is offering brand new iPhones or Beats or Nintendo Switches for 75% off.
Cheap Amazon 3rd Party Items
You're on Amazon or maybe just Googling for an item and you see it for an unbelievable price from a third-party seller. You know Amazon has your back so you order it. The scam: One of three things usually happen: 1) The seller marks the items as shipped and sends a fake tracking number. Amazon releases the funds to the seller, and the seller disappears. Amazon ultimately refunds your money. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to re-order the item directly from their website, usually with the guarantee that the order is still protected by Amazon. The seller takes your money and runs. Amazon informs you that they do not offer protection on items sold outside of Amazon and cannot help you. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to instead send payment via an unused Amazon gift card by sending the code on the back via email. Once the seller uses the code, the money on the card is gone and cannot be refunded. How to avoid: These scammers can be identified by looking at their Amazon storefronts. They'll be brand new sellers offering a wide range of items at unbelievable prices. Usually their Amazon names will be gibberish, or a variation on FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME. Occasionally however, established storefronts will be hacked. If the deal is too good to be true its most likely a scam.
Scams on eBay
There are scams on eBay targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who privately message you regarding the order, especially if they ask you to ship to a different address or ask to negotiate via text/email/a messaging service. As a buyer you should look out for new accounts selling in-demand items, established accounts selling in-demand items that they have no previous connection to (you can check their feedback history for a general idea of what they bought/sold in the past), and lookout for people who ask you to go off eBay and use another service to complete the transaction. In many cases you will receive a fake tracking number and your money will be help up for up to a month.
Scams on Amazon
There are scams on Amazon targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who message you about a listing. As a buyer you should look out for listings that have an email address for you to contact the person to complete the transaction, and you should look out for cheap listings of in-demand items.
Scams on Reddit
Reddit accounts are frequently purchased and sold by fraudsters who wish to use the high karma count + the age of the account to scam people on buy/sell subreddits. You need to take precautions and be safe whenever you are making a transaction online.
A popup or other ad will say that you have a virus and you need to follow their advice in order to remove it. They are lying, and either want you to install malware or pay for their software.
Assorted scamsChinese Brushing / direct shipping
If you have ever received an unsolicited small package from China, your address was used to brush. Vendors place fake orders for their own products and send out the orders so that they can increase their ratings.
Scammer claims to be a banking insider who can double/triple/bazoople any amount of money you send them, with no consequences of any kind. Obviously, the money disappears into their wallet the moment you send it.
Door to door scamsAs a general rule, you should not engage with door to door salesmen. If you are interested in the product they are selling, check online first.
Someone or a group will come to your door and offer to sell a magazine subscription. Often the subscriptions are not for the duration or price you were told, and the magazines will often have tough or impossible cancellation policies.
Somebody will come to your door claiming to be from an energy company. They will ask to see your current energy bill so that they can see how much you pay. They will then offer you a discount if you sign up with them, and promise to handle everything with your old provider. Some of these scammers will "slam" you, by using your account number that they saw on your bill to switch you to their service without authorization, and some will scam you by charging higher prices than the ones you agreed on.
Security system scams
Scammers will come to your door and ask about your security system, and offer to sell you a new one. These scammers are either selling you overpriced low quality products, or are casing your home for a future burglary.
They ask to enter your home
While trying to sell you whatever, they suddenly need to use your bathroom, or they've been writing against the wall and ask to use your table instead. Or maybe they just moved into the neighborhood and want to see how you decorate for ideas.
They're scoping out you and your place. They want to see what valuables you have, how gullible you are, if you have a security system or dogs, etc.
Street scamsBegging With a Purpose
"I just need a few more dollars for the bus," at the bus station, or "I just need $5 to get some gas," at a gas station. There's also a variation where you will be presented with a reward: "I just need money for a cab to get uptown, but I'll give you sports tickets/money/a date/a priceless vase."
Three Card Monte, Also Known As The Shell Game
Unbeatable. The people you see winning are in on the scam.
Drop and Break
You bump into someone and they drop their phone/glasses/fancy bottle of wine/priceless vase and demand you pay them back. In reality, it's a $2 pair of reading glasses/bottle of three-buck-chuck/tasteful but affordable vase.
You're handed a free CD so you can check out the artist's music. They then ask for your name and immediately write it on the CD. Once they've signed your name, they ask you for money, saying they can't give it to someone else now. Often they use dry erase markers, or cheap CD sleeves. Never use any type of storage device given to you by a random person, as the device can contain malware.
White Van Speaker Scam
You're approached and offered speakers/leather jackets/other luxury goods at a discount. The scammer will have an excuse as to why the price is so low. After you buy them, you'll discover that they are worthless.
iPhone Street Sale
You're approached and shown an iPhone for sale, coming in the box, but it's open and you can see the phone. If you buy the phone, you'll get an iPhone box with no iPhone, just some stones or cheap metal in it to weigh it down.
Buddhist Monk Pendant
A monk in traditional garb approaches you, hands you a gold trinket, and asks for a donation. He holds either a notebook with names and amounts of donation (usually everyone else has donated $5+), or a leaflet with generic info. This is fairly common in NYC, and these guys get aggressive quickly.
Friendship Bracelet Scam More common in western Europe, you're approached by someone selling bracelets. They quickly wrap a loop of fabric around your finger and pull it tight, starting to quickly weave a bracelet. The only way to (easily) get it off your hand is to pay. Leftover sales
This scam involves many different items, but the idea is usually the same: you are approached by someone who claims to have a large amount of excess inventory and offers to sell it to you at a great price. The scammer actually has low quality items and will lie to you about the price/origin of the items.
Dent repair scams
Scammers will approach you in public about a dent in your car and offer to fix it for a low price. Often they will claim that they are mechanics. They will not fix the dent in your car, but they will apply large amounts of wax or other substances to hide the dent while they claim that the substance requires time to harden.
Gold ring/jewelry/valuable item scam
A scammer will "find" a gold ring or other valuable item and offers to sell it to you. The item is fake and you will never see the scammer again.
One person will approach you and distract you, while their accomplice picks your pockets. The distraction can take many forms, but if you are a tourist and are approached in public, watch closely for people getting close to you.
General resourcesSite to report scams in the United Kingdom: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Site to report scams in the United States: https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
Site to report scams in Canada: www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm
Site to report scams in Europe: https://www.europol.europa.eu/report-a-crime/report-cybercrime-online
FTC scam alerts: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts
Microsoft's anti-scam guide: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx