Whether you’ve just parted from a quick fling or are ending a years-long relationship, dealing with a breakup is downright heart-wrenching. Complicated feelings of grief, relief, anger, regret, and sadness swirl around in a messy sea, and no matter how right the decision was to part ways you may find yourself missing the other deeply.
As difficult as it is to go “no contact” with someone you spent so much time with, many relationship experts believe that this is one of the best routes you can take to heal your heart, keep things uncomplicated, and move onward. Ahead, we’re explaining what “no contact” means, what its benefits are, and how you can resist that bubbling temptation to reach back out to your ex-partner.
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What Is the “No Contact” Rule?
As the phrase implies, the “no contact” rule entail cutting off all communications with your ex following a breakup. This includes not engaging in phone calls, texting, direct messages and “likes” on social media, and in-person meetups. Some even argue that looking at their social media posts is considered off limits.
“In addition to no direct contact with your previous partner, it also means not following up with mutual friends to gather any form of information about their lives,” adds Leanna Stockard, LMFT at LifeStance Health.
While you inevitably will think of your ex-partner from time to time, eliminating contact and ceasing innocent “check-ins” can help reduce how much your mind wanders back to them and your relationship. It can also help prevent confusing feelings for both of you.
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The Benefits of Going “No Contact”
It doesn’t matter how long you dated or how amicable the ending was; breakups are incredibly painful difficult and come with a slew of confusing emotions.
“It is normal to feel upset, sad, anxious, hopeless, helpless and confused following a breakup,” says Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, PhD. “You may also find yourself reminiscing about your relationship and going over the breakup.”
Going “no contact” allows you more time to healthily process the loss and grief of your relationship. Ultimately, it can help you mend your heart, accept that the relationship is over, and begin dating again once you’re ready.
Stockard adds that following the “no contact” rule also allows prevents you from sliding back into the relationship itself, which creates confusion and can prolong your pain. This clear boundary might be difficult to contend with, especially early on, but provides structure as you move forward with your life.
Exceptions to the No Contact Rule
It’s not always possible to go completely “no contact” after ending a relationship. For example, you’ll need to stay in some form of contact if you have children together, work for the same company, or continue to spend time with the same circle of friends.
In this case, Dr. Lira de la Rosa recommends maintaining minimal contact. He also suggests establishing the types of conversations that you’re OK with having and creating boundaries around when and how you spend time together.
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How To Resist the Temptation of Breaking No Contact
The feelings you have toward your ex might have waned—there’s a reason you broke up, after all—but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to stop communicating with them altogether. In fact, you might feel like there’s a missing hole in your life as you process the breakup, and there’s a very good chance you’ll feel tempted to cope with that grief by reaching out again.
If you continue to stay in contact with an ex, there is a possibility that these emotions will continue to remain high in intensity.
— DR. ERNESTO LIRA DE LA ROSA
For that reason, it’s important to resist the temptation of calling, texting, or even snooping on them via social media.
Here are some ways you can resist the urge:
- Keep a Journal: When you feel like reaching out to your ex, grab a journal instead. Write down what you’re thinking or feeling to help further process your emotions.
- Spend Time With Friends: “Talk with close friends and loved ones to see if they can hold space for you to talk about how you are feeling when you feel tempted to reach out to your ex,” Dr. Lira de la Rosa advises. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), connecting socially is a key way we can manage stress and find joy, particularly when dealing with life's difficulties.
- Dive Into Hobbies: Now’s a great time to re-invest in yourself. Figure out what you love, find new passions, and throw yourself into healthy habits that build confidence and joy.
- Keep Your Phone Out of Reach: We tend to mindlessly scroll through our phones when bored, which is a recipe for reaching out to an ex or checking in on their social media accounts. When possible, keep your phone out of reach during these bouts of boredom.
- Figure Out the Source of Your Temptation: “Ask yourself where these urges are coming from and what you hope to gain from re-establishing that contact,” Stockard says. "You may find that there’s not a very good reason. If the answers to those questions still push you toward the desire to restore contact, some additional ways to resist are taking time for yourself and empathizing with the difficulty of resisting the temptation."
If you do fall into the temptation and contact your ex, know that it’s not the end of the world. Go back to “no contact” again and push forward.
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Is It OK To Re-Establish Contact Later?
Every breakup is different, and there’s no specific amount of time that needs to pass before contacting your ex again. And you may even realize that there’s no reason to re-establish contact at all. However, if you’re looking for a time frame, then Dr. Lira de la Rosa says to aim for about three to six months. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology also found that its 155 participants started feeling better right around that three-month mark.
“A good question to ask yourself is, ‘Do I still have feelings for them?’ If the answer is yes, it may be too soon to contact them,” Stockard adds. “In those instances, we may be looking to establish contact so you can get back together or vindictively show them how ‘good’ you are doing without them.”
However, if the answer is no then follow that question up with, "If I no longer feel connected to them romantically, what would be an underlying need to re-establish that connection again?"
A good question to ask yourself is, ‘Do I still have feelings for them?’ If the answer is yes, it may be too soon to contact them.
— LEANNA STOCKARD, LMFT
If it’s to alleviate awkwardness in a friend group or at work, or to try to work on a friendship, do so slowly and after establishing clear boundaries for yourself and with each other.
“If the relationship in any way was abusive, toxic and the ‘no contact’ rule was established for safety reasons, I highly recommend never re-connecting with this partner,” adds Stockard. “Getting back into contact with this person can begin the cycle of abuse over again, whether it is the return of love-bombing or continuing to blame you for everything that you did wrong in the relationship to end the way that it did.”
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Breakups are notoriously challenging, but the “no contact” rule can help you process the difficult mix of emotions. Try to resist the temptation of re-establishing contact, which will likely create emotional confusion and prolong pain for both you and your ex. This is a time to re-invest in yourself and create a pathway for moving onward and upward.
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Stockard adds that following the “no contact” rule also allows prevents you from sliding back into the relationship itself, which creates confusion and can prolong your pain. This clear boundary might be difficult to contend with, especially early on, but provides structure as you move forward with your life.Why is silence powerful after breakup? ›
Staying silent can also help you feel empowered. You're taking charge and showing your ex that you're capable of and willing to live life without them. Whether you're the one who was hurt or the one who ended it, cutting off communication after a breakup puts you in control.Why is no contact so powerful? ›
One of the most important benefits of no contact is that you become emotionally independent again. You learn to live your life without your ex is a part of it. This can be an effective way to get over a breakup, especially if your ex was an important part of your life for more than just romantic reasons.Why no contact is so powerful to get an ex back? ›
Plenty is being communicated during “no contact.” You are sending the message to your ex that you are strong and have high value as a person. You are showing them what life is like without you. You are showing them that you're different and that you can live and thrive without them.How long should you not contact your ex after a breakup? ›
While 30 days is a good rule of thumb, everybody is different. Some people move on really fast after a breakup, while other people take a long time. If 30 days pass and you still aren't ready, it's totally okay to extend your period of no contact.Does silence make an ex miss you? ›
The simple answer to the above questions is yes. When you walk away and make him miss you, it's typical for a man to come back to you. The power of silence after a breakup is highly effective in making your partner come back. To start with, going silent after a breakup is a sign of confidence and self-esteem.Is silence the best revenge for an ex? ›
Silence speaks volumes
The best revenge is no reaction. Believe it, the silence and zero reaction really bothers your ex, and they consider it as the best served revenge. Nothing creates more curiosity than silence. Your ex would expect a vent or an angry rant from you, but don't give in.
One effective approach is the 'No-Contact Rule' for returning to your Ex. This strategy refers to entirely cutting off your communication, detaching yourself from that toxic member of your life and moving on from your ex following the breakup. Usually, the no-contact period must extend for at least 30-60 days.What a woman thinks during no contact? ›
If the two of you maintain no contact, she will spend less time thinking about you and more time thinking about herself and her hopes and dreams. As the focus shifts away from you, she will think about moving on with life.What does ex think during no contact? ›
The person who did the dumping usually feels strength (and often relief) at the very first, but with the days and weeks of no contact your ex likely begins to develop feelings of doubt in their decision, missing you, fear that you have moved on, and confusion that you have not chased, begged, and pleaded as most others ...
When you cultivate silence and solitude, your whole body will relax, which can lead to physical healing. “Relaxation is a primary mechanism for healing,” says Buttimer.Why does silence have power? ›
It helps us live consciously.
Silence can increase self-awareness, self-compassion and improve decision-making skills with improved mental clarity.
Silence can help increase your self-awareness by giving you the chance to observe and accept your thoughts and feelings without judgment. When you're sitting in stillness and silence, you become more aware of your body and mind.Why does silence hold more power than words? ›
Silence can be an indication of empathy. When we are really tuning in to how the other person is feeling about what they're saying, we're listening more to the tone of their voice, cadence and speed rather than the actual words, and so replying with words may not be the attuned response.