What Is the No Contact Rule?
The no contact rule is a self-imposed, total restriction on connecting with your ex partner. It means exactly that: no contact whatsoever. No meetings, texts, calls, email, or social media communication. It also extends to your ex’s family and friends. All connections and ties are severed.
Why Would You Choose No Contact?
It depends on the kind of break-up you had. An amicable, mutually-agreed parting based on the fact that there is no future in the relationship may well continue as a platonic friendship. You’ll both move on to your next relationships with no hindrance or guilt. However, if it was traumatic, distressing, and if one partner is still in love with the other, a no contact strategy is not only a good choice, it’s an imperative one.
If you are still hung up on your ex, convinced that you love them and they love you, and that the break-up is a temporary state, you’ll be stuck in limbo. Unable to live your life properly, unable to move on and in a continual state of self-deception. It's an unhealthy place to be. It prevents you engaging in life, from being able to exploit new opportunities, and from starting a new, potentially life-long relationship.
“Analysis of the data provided by 464 participants revealed that Facebook surveillance was associated with greater current distress over the breakup, more negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth.” Facebook surveillance of former romantic partners: associations with post breakup recovery and personal growth. TC Marshall 2012.
Why It’s Hard to Implement
Some people find it easy to apply the no contact rule, yet for others, especially ex partners who are feeling deep pain, loss and regret, not seeing their ex is almost beyond the limits of endurance. Every cell of their being yearns to make the connection.
For couples who have children together, no contact is impossible unless there is a long-term trusted intermediary. Even then, the difficulties of such an arrangement are immense.
When someone is attempting to extricate themselves from an abusive relationship, or to leave a psychopathic partner, it’s tough when that ex partner is doing their best to persuade them to capitulate. Ignoring a charm offensive is really hard as there is always part of us who thinks our ex might really change this time. Of course, that’s never the case, yet nevertheless the tiny flame of hope continues, and it takes just a little encouragement to flare brightly again. Until the next break-up.
Why Not Contacting Your Ex is a Good Thing
There are many advantages to a no contact strategy. You will:
- Find it gives you time to grieve.
- Avoid making a fool of yourself.
- Gradually think of your ex less and less. Really.
- Be able to let go of the pain and heal faster.
- Be free to move on.
- Rebuild your confidence, self-respect, and self-esteem.
- Understand your relationship mistakes.
- Catch up with all the friends you lost touch with.
- Feel ready to reassess your future options.
- Understand the lessons the relationship provided.
- Forgive your ex and yourself.
- Be able to fall in love again.
- View the good memories you created with your ex as precious, while at the same time, allowing the not-so-pleasant memories to fade.
- Avoid the possibility of the cyclical, going-nowhere, on-off romance.
- Avoid the potential pain of seeing them with someone else.
- Avoid being labeled a stalker.
- Find a new perspective.
- Be able to create a new image and reinvent yourself.
It’s important that you are clear that not connecting with your ex is for the benefit of both of you. It’s not about manipulation, revenge, punishment, or game-playing. It’s not a get-your-ex back strategy. If your ex has expressed a desire to end the relationship, or if you have decided to finish it, then you have to let it go.
No Contact Strategies
- Delete their contact details from your phone.
- Unfollow them on all social media.
- If they contact you, don’t respond. It’s okay to tell them once and once only, that you can’t accept their calls and/or messages.
- Break off all contact with your ex’s friends and family. If anyone is upset, simply explain why you can’t be in touch at this time.
In short, no contact means no contact. Nada.
The Willpower Issue
It’s hard. It feels as if you need a fix of your ex. You so badly want to check Facebook, or to get a text from them. Sometimes even a negatively worded text is better than no text at all.
The main problem is that we think it takes willpower to stay away from our ex. And the trouble with willpower is that it could be a limited resource. Akin to a muscle that gets fatigued with overuse.
An alternative strategy is to simply say to yourself, “I don’t…” So, “I don’t chase my ex.” “I don’t follow them on FaceBook.” “I don’t send them texts.”
“I don’t” is a powerful psychological technique which embeds itself into the brain. The alternative, willpower-based response is, “I can’t.” Or “I mustn’t.” This immediately pushes willpower to the forefront and it simply won't hold back the desire to contact your ex. Telling yourself, “I don’t…” is so much more assertive and will become a learned response over time. It works for losing weight too.
What If We Have To See Each Other
There are certain circumstances when avoiding your ex is impossible. Having children together is one of those. Working for the same organization is another. You must maintain a professional conduct. Your personal issues should be kept out of the workplace. The last thing you want is to jeopardize your career over the break-up of your relationship. If the relationship was very serious, consider looking for a new job opportunity.
Some People Don’t Need ‘No Contact’
No contact does not always have to be implemented. Those couples who can manage a good level of communication, especially when children are involved tend to have happier lives. Children thrive when their parents get on together even if they have divorced. It also sets a great example for their own future relationships.
However, if the relationship ending was distressing, no contact is the best healing strategy for both parties.