A breakup can be an excellent opportunity to start a new chapter in your life. You’ve learned a lot about yourself from your relationship. You walk away knowing a little bit more about what you do and don’t want in a romantic partner.
With all this personal growth you’ve experienced, you should be ready to hit the ground running toward the future. But you can’t do that if you’re still hung up on the past.
It’s tough to let go of someone you love. You want closure. And maybe you even want them back.
But staying in touch with your ex will only set you up for suffering. Talking about your relationship only drags out the breakup. Seeing his face is salt in the wound. Every unanswered text breaks your heart a little more.
If you are serious about moving on, there’s only one thing to do: follow the no-contact rule.
Things to know
- No contact works because it triggers the parts of the brain associated with motivation, addiction, and cravings, making your ex think about you more and possibly becoming obsessed with finding out why you disappeared.
- It also works because it protects your mental health after a breakup by preventing you from seeing your ex in happy social media posts or potentially in a new relationship, which can have a negative effect on your overall well-being.
- Additionally, no contact allows you to detach emotionally and move on from the relationship, giving you the space and time you need to heal and grow.
To help you with nuances of the technique, here's what this article will discuss:
- How The No Contact Rule Works
- The #1 Reason Why No Contact Works
- Why No Contact Is Recommended
- When To Use The No Contact Rule
- When Not To Use No Contact
- So, Does No Contact Work?
How The No Contact Rule Works
The no-contact rule is simple: you cannot have any communication with your ex. This means no phone call, text message, email, or messenger pigeon.
There are no loopholes to this rule. Tagging him in Facebook posts or reacting to his Instagram stories are not allowed. Trying to make your ex jealous with a status is also frowned upon.
In fact, it’s best to block his phone number and social media accounts if you’re going no contact.
Resist the temptation to casually “run into” him. You should avoid all his favorite hangouts and skip parties you know he’ll be at during this time. It’s hard to stay away, but seeing him in person will blow up your progress.
You are also forbidden from getting other people involved. Under the no-contact rule, you can’t ask a mutual friend to send him a message for you. That’s a form of communication, even if it’s not direct.
Ideally, he should have no way of knowing anything about you during this period. It’s both a simple concept and a difficult one. But does the no-contact rule work?
The #1 Reason Why No Contact Works
The biggest mistake people make post-breakup is staying in touch to try and keep a guy around. If you’re afraid your ex will forget about you if you go no contact, think again. Experts say the opposite will happen.
There’s a scientific reason this rule works. Psychologists have studied this phenomenon for years, and the results are in: radio silence is the number one way to guarantee he will think about you.
The reason? Us humans are hooked on rejection.
According to researcher Helen Fisher, snubbing a guy who still has feelings for you triggers the parts of his brain associated with motivation, addiction, and cravings. That means your no-contact period will be like going through physical withdrawal from your ex-boyfriend.
When you stop reaching out to your ex, he will perceive that as romantic rejection. It will drive him crazy that you stopped talking to him. Soon enough, he’ll become obsessed with finding out why you disappeared and what you’re doing now.
We most want what we can’t have. Even if he doesn’t approach you, it’s a safe bet that you will be the only thing on your ex’s mind.
Why No Contact Is Recommended
Q: Why does every relationship coach recommend going no contact after a breakup?
A: Because they’ve seen firsthand how effective it can be for countless clients.
But it’s not just an effective way to make your ex come running back. Giving your ex a taste of silence will also protect your mental health after the breakup.
Studies show that staying in touch with an ex immediately after splitting can damage your emotional state. One group of researchers found that people who accepted a friend request from an ex on Facebook had higher anxiety and more severe depression than those who did not.
But that’s not all. They warned that seeing your ex in happy social media posts—or possibly in a new relationship—could have a negative effect on your overall mental health. Protecting your peace isn't the only perk. There is a whole slew of benefits to trying a no-contact period.
Benefits of No Contact
Having a romantic partner often means our friends get pushed to second place. It's not intentional--you're just distracted by your relationship. Cutting off contact with your ex frees you up to devote more time to repairing old friendships that may have been neglected.
This technique also gives you the chance to evaluate what you really want in a guy. When you're still talking to your ex, your rose-colored glasses are on. You can't see as clearly because you are blinded by your emotions. Taking a break will give you much-needed clarity.
Most importantly, the no-contact rule gives you hope. If you can't imagine life without your ex, then this period of time will show you that it is possible to move forward. It will still be difficult to accept that he isn't a part of your future, but cutting him out completely will teach you that the world keeps spinning no matter what.
Once you learn this painful truth, you will be able to put an end to the on-again-off-again cycle that so many couples go through because they are reluctant to look ahead to the next step. No contact is a powerful strategy when used the right way at the right time. Not all breakups are built alike.
So, which situations are right for the no-contact rule?
When To Use The No Contact Rule
Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. Depending on your goals, less can be more following a breakup. If you are in any of the following situations, the no contact rule is definitely worth considering:
1. You’re playing hard to get
Maybe you feel like your breakup was the biggest mistake of your life. Or maybe you know it was the right decision, but you want him to appreciate how good he had it with you. Either way, one thing is clear: you want to make him miss you.
If this is your goal, then consider using no contact to get your ex back. There’s no better way to make a man feel your absence than to pull a disappearing act. Going ghost will give your ex time to reflect on his feelings for you and decide what he wants.
He might not admit it, but rest assured, the no contact rule will get his gears turning about what he’s lost in your breakup.
Sure, it’s not the healthiest way to share your feelings. But if you are willing to take a risk and see how things play out, then bring on the silent treatment.
2. You’re focusing on healing
Another scenario in which no contact can be tremendously useful has nothing to do with your ex at all. Instead, the main reason is to prioritize your personal growth.
A breakup is usually a messy affair. Rarely is the end of a relationship quick and easy. Feelings tend to linger, and one romantic partner might have a hard time accepting the separation. They might try to remain friends rather than lose you altogether.
It might feel like a good compromise at the time. But a former romantic partner doesn’t make for a great best friend. There’s always one person holding out hope that things will work out instead of focusing on the future. In the long run, all this does is delay the healing process and chip away at your self-respect.
You’re better off making a clean break when you call it quits. A zero contact period is the best way to send your ex a clear message that your relationship is really over.
3. You want to show respect
It’s also possible that you are the one who is having trouble moving on. Your ex may have asked you to give him some space.
He may be trying to focus on himself and his personal growth now that he is single. Or he is having a hard time with the breakup and needs a little distance for his emotional state. He could even have a new girlfriend.
Whatever the real reason behind his request, the right thing to do is honor his wishes. You don’t want to be an unwanted call on his phone. And if he does have a new relationship, you definitely don’t want to look like the ex-girlfriend that can’t move on.
If your ex asks you for space after the breakup and you don’t feel confident that you have the willpower to let go, then going to extremes and following a no-contact method is a good strategy.
4. You’re concerned about your safety
The no-contact rule isn’t always about being on your ex’s mind. If you weren’t in a healthy relationship, staying silent could be a matter of security.
Toxic men won’t take no for an answer. They see a breakup as an invitation to harass or even stalk you. This type of guy will blow up your phone with nonstop texts and calls, begging, insulting, and threatening you to take him back. Blocking him and avoiding all interaction is an absolutely necessary reaction to this abusive behavior.
If you are trapped in this situation, take it seriously. An ex like this can turn dangerous fast. If your relationship has a history of domestic violence and you fear that you are in immediate danger, get help. Tell a best friend or family member what is going on so that you are not alone.
There are also legal pathways available to protect victims of harassment. You can call the police and ask for a restraining order against your ex. Or, if you want a less extreme option, make the no contact rule official and get a protective no-contact order from the authorities. Don’t be afraid to take drastic action for your safety.
The no-contact rule can be an effective strategy for meeting your needs. But it isn’t always the right move. Some breakups call for more communication, not radio silence.
So which dynamics are not best served by a zero contact period?
When Not To Use No Contact
1. You don’t want to play games
You took some time after the breakup to reflect on your relationship and what went wrong. You prioritized your self-care, and your mental health is in a good place. And now you want him back.
If you feel sure that you aren’t being misled by your emotional state and you truly are ready to make things work again, then you should tell him. The sooner, the better. After a certain period of time, it takes hard work to revive an old relationship.
You could try to rely on the no-contact rule to draw him back in, but if you’re serious about getting back together, then this strategy is too slow. It could backfire if you end up waiting too long and losing him altogether.
No contact is also a bit of a gamble. Sure, you’ll be on your ex’s mind. But who can be sure how he will interpret your silence? The only sure way he will know that you want him back is if you tell him directly.
2. He’s direct with you
Or maybe the roles are reversed. You might not want your ex back at all. Maybe you happily cut him off and are doing your own thing.
But if you are avoiding him, be careful not to be unreasonable. If he is serious about getting your attention and you still have feelings, it could be worth hearing him out.
Disregard any messages like “I miss you” or “I wish you were here.” Those sweet sentiments are meaningless. He’s just lonely and doesn’t know what he wants. Those mixed signals aren’t worth breaking the no-contact rule over.
Wait until he says the words “I want you back.” That’s the only time you will know he means it. If he does, then he’s earned a full conversation. In this case, your ex is trying to have a legitimate discussion about your future together.
Ignoring him just for the sake of preserving the no contact period isn’t right, and it could jeopardize your chances of ever getting back together. If he is being direct with you, show him the courtesy of being direct in return.
3. You’ve both moved on
Then there are those rare breakups that are drama-free.
Together, you make the mutual decision to end things. Although it’s sad to say goodbye, you walk away with no hard feelings. You might not stay friends, but you are both sure that you made the right decision.
If you find yourself in an amicable breakup, it’s safe to skip no contact altogether. Neither of you is struggling to let go, and you feel secure in choosing to go your separate ways. If the main reason for cutting off communication with an ex is to forget him or become unforgettable, then neither of those goals apply here.
If one or both of you also has a new relationship, then all the better. You have both fully moved on from your love story, and it’s safe to talk to your ex as much or as little as you’d like. Taking the no-contact route doesn’t always need to be the answer.
So, Does No Contact Work?
There are no easy answers when it comes to a fresh breakup. Every relationship is different, and every split is uniquely painful. No one but you truly knows what you need.
But if you feel out of control and are looking for direction, the no-contact rule is a great place to start. The strict guidelines provide you with a structure to ground you during this tumultuous time. You’ll gain more and more self-respect every time you exercise the discipline to put your phone down and walk away from calling your ex.
Remember, your relationship ended for a reason. Take advantage of the time apart to remind yourself why it did.
If you then decide that you are serious about trying again with him, then you need a guide to how to get your ex back and you'll need to think about what to text after the no-contact period. The no-contact rule will get his gears turning, but it might not be enough to trigger a total reunion.
For now, turn your phone off and call a friend. He'll definitely be thinking about you when you get back.
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Whether you're looking for advice on the best no contact approach, or need guidance on rebuilding attraction and trust, Relationship Hero is there to help. And if you're unsure if their services are right for you, take their relationship quiz to get a personalized evaluation of your relationship and see how they can assist you in reaching your desired outcome.