The No-Contact Rule: The Most Effective Way To Move On From An Ex
The no-contact rule refers to cutting off all contact with an ex following a breakup, and it's the best method for moving on from an ex. No contact should last for a minimum of 60 days, and it includes no texting, no calling, and no interacting on social media. It can feel like an extreme move when you're still working to get over a breakup, but the truth is that cutting off contact with an ex is the fastest, most effective way to truly move on. Here's everything you need to know about how no contact after a breakup works:
1. The no-contact rule will not help you get your ex back.
Some people try to use the no-contact rule as a form of manipulation (i.e., a way to get your ex to miss you so much, they want you back). But despite what some people will tell you on the internet, no contact is not particularly effective for getting an ex back. Just because some people have exes who reached out to them after a period of no contact doesn't mean this will be the case for everyone. Moreover, trying to reduce your former partner to a formula or trying to control their behavior to meet your own needs is not very empathetic. Attempting to use the no-contact rule this way may be a sign that you have your own inner work to do that's a barrier to your relationship working. This strategy can also be unhealthy for you because it keeps you psychologically attached to a past relationship, slowing down your healing process.
Instead, the no-contact rule should be about you and helping yourself move on from your ex. It's an integral tool of self-empowerment. You want to get to the place where you're able to say, "With or without you, my life is going to be amazing."
2. It will suck.
The vast majority of people use love as a drug. They get "high" from an external source—another person's presence and approval. The withdrawal from that feeling that comes with heartbreak after a relationship ends (and the fear that they may not know how to be happy on their own) can be terrifying.
Have faith. You will feel sad. You will grieve. But by using the no-contact rule, you will also regain strength, self-esteem, confidence, and empowerment. You also differentiate "wanting" a partner from "needing" one.
Practice a lot of self-care after your breakup, and make an effort to avoid even seeing your ex on social media, which will make the healing process even harder. (Blocking your ex completely on social media may be necessary for making no contact really work.)
Share this journey with someone who "gets" it. This might not necessarily be your best friend, mind you. A strong teammate will fortify your flagging spirits when the struggle is real. A bad teammate will add to your headaches and problems.
3. Your silence speaks so much louder than any words could.
Ending a long-term relationship is the worst, especially if your partner breaks up with you by text or another hurtful way. In such cases, your ex likely knows they have behaved badly. They may even be waiting for you to scream or beg or demonstrate a meltdown on social media, so they can label you "dramatic." If you do so, you'll confirm that their decision was the right choice.
No contact changes the game. It's unpredictable. Without you telling your ex that they're wrong, they actually have to sit in their own discomfort...and think...and then lament. Meanwhile, you demonstrate that you're a class act, allowing your ex to realize that they've lost someone pretty great.
4. You will develop important emotional skills.
The loss of a relationship often results in more free time. Use this time wisely to develop emotional intelligence so you have a greater chance of success (with or without your ex) down the road.
In my work coaching women and men, 99% of the problems I see result from a lack of boundaries. "No" is a short word that doesn't get uttered often enough. If your choice is between being liked or being respected, always choose the latter.
No contact is a good time to develop better boundaries, increase your self-esteem, and abandon dysfunctional behaviors you learned in childhood. When you assess where you made mistakes and correct those behaviors, you have a much better probability of success in your next relationship.
5. You will rediscover forgotten sources of happiness.
Single people often have amazingly vibrant lives—they go out dancing, write poetry, and go on road trips with their friends. In a relationship, many people dive into a black hole headfirst. They get comfortable. They stop flirting and start fighting. They abandon their old friends—and an essential part of themselves.
No contact gives you the time and energy to pursue your goals, big and small. Get the MBA. Plan a trip to Morocco. Flirt with the cute guy in Muay Thai class. You'll soon realize that although your life without a partner is different, it's just as sweet. As you start smiling and laughing again, you radiate positive vibrations. In no time, you'll have a host of new suitors because the world is abundant, after all.
6. You'll be able to define your nonnegotiable values.
The vast majority of people look for a relationship the wrong way. They chase after attractiveness, money, or physique. If you want lasting love—the kind that gets better with time—you have to think differently.
What are your values? What are your must-haves? Here are some of my personal favorites:
- "I date partners who say 'I'm sorry' and own up to their mistakes."
- "I date partners who believe in mutuality—where there is equal give and take."
- "I date partners who believe in commitment and communication."
If a recent breakup has left you reeling, think about what values you and your partner were missing. Make those values nonnegotiable in your next relationship.
7. No contact will bring you back to reality.
In a relationship, sex loads your body with oxytocin and dopamine—the body's "feel-good" chemicals. Euphoria often has you mired in fantasy.
The no-contact rule is a detox that brings you back to reality after your relationship ends. You see your ex not for what you wish them to be but for who they are. Are they selfish? Cowardly? A liar? An emotionally immature narcissist? As your eyes open to reality, you can make a better decision about when a partner is really a good bet for the long haul. Long-term commitment is no joke, so you want a healthy and stable partner for the ride.
8. No contact will make you stronger, faster.
When you stop pinning your happiness on your partner, you realize it's just you in the world. No one will save you from your demons. It's your job to figure out why you were born and how to make your life rich with meaning.
This work is hard. It's often painful. But it's the place where life begins and starts getting really rich, rewarding, and fun. You feel younger and wake up excited for the tasks that lie ahead.
If you've been bawling your eyes out or hanging in limbo, it's time for radical change. It may feel like a bold move at first, but cutting off contact with an ex through the no-contact rule is the fastest way for you to move on and reclaim your power.