No-Contact Rule: What Is It, When And How Does It Work?

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Going through a breakup is challenging, but what is more hard is riding on the expectations of bumping into your ex or hearing from them, which might eventually lead to sadness and unbearable pain. However, following the no-contact rule could help ease some pain.

It is usually advised to maintain a safe distance from your ex to give yourself some most-needed me-time. This could also be the phase of rediscovering yourself and moving on slowly yet steadily.

Read on as we discuss all you might want to know about the no-contact rule to help you get through a breakup, which is often one of the most difficult phases of life.

What Is The No-Contact Rule?

The no-contact rule refers to the period when you do not keep any contact with your ex. It means no texting and no calls. It also means avoiding checking their status or social media profiles, avoiding bumping into each other, and staying away from their parents, siblings, or your common friends.

When followed steadfastly, the no-contact rule gives both of you the time to heal. It also helps you take some time to figure out if you want to get back together or move on.

Why Should You Not Contact Your Ex?

The initial days after a break up can be challenging to endure. It becomes all the more difficult to go on without them if you have been in a long-term relationship.

The no contact period is crucial to help you get over your ex and move on. While you may have an irresistible urge to contact your ex, here are some compelling reasons why you should refrain from it.

  • When you keep in touch with your ex, you prevent yourself from healing. The whole process becomes self-defeating.
  • Sending them a simple text to know how they are doing is probably okay. However, if you constantly check their social media profiles or send them a barrage of messages, you are probably obsessing over them. It will do more damage than good.
  • A survey of 202 Facebook users aged 16–65 found that people who accepted friend requests from their ex on Facebook had a higher level of anxiety and depression than others who did not (1).
  • In some ways, the relationship with a partner becomes like an addiction, and therefore, you have to go cold-turkey and stop all contact as you might to stop any other addiction. There is less chance of moving on if you are feeling addicted to the person, and your life revolves around them. By breaking your addiction, you learn to live without them and, in the process, rediscover yourself.
  • If you were in a toxic and abusive relationship, it is imperative you do not contact them. When you don’t contact your ex, you send out a message that you do not want anything to do with them. It is also a way to get back your confidence and self-respect.

Does The No-Contact Rule Work?

While the no-contact rule may work for some, it may be counterproductive for others. The outcomes may vary depending on what you expect from it — you may want to get your ex back, move on from the bad breakup, cut all ties from your ex, etc. In general, the positives of the rule outweigh the negatives. Read on as we discuss this in detail.

  1. If the relationship was abusive and hurtful, causing you emotional and physical pain, the no-contact period can allow you to shut off your ex from your life and give you enough time to heal and move on from the toxic relationship.
  1. It allows you to refocus attention on yourself. This period will also enable you to work on your self-improvement and growth.
  1. It might help both of you put things into perspective and analyze the pros and cons of being together. The time apart will also help you get over any anger or hurt, and perhaps even let you know that you miss each other and you may move on to forgive each other and grow the relationship to a new level.
  1. The no-contact rule might not work if you have been married, if you have a child together, if you are colleagues at the same workplace, or study in the same institution. This is because you are bound to communicate. In these circumstances, it would be wise to talk to your ex about boundaries and topics and agree to only contact each other when needed. Even if they get over-emotional or withdraw as cordial and formal as possible and stick to the issue that links you together.
  1. We all have heard that time is the biggest healer. But, if you continue to speak and meet your ex, you might not heal. Getting over your ex when they are around you is close to impossible. The no-contact phase allows you to grief and heal.
  1. When you have feelings for someone, thinking objectively becomes tough. By distancing yourself from your ex, you will be able to logically analyze what went wrong. This phase will help you dig deeper into the reasons for your breakup and see the clearer picture. A relationship doesn’t go sour overnight; it is often due to problems, negativity, and resentment that build up over time. The no-contact time can be an opportunity to cultivate a positive perspective and see your part in the problems.
  1. You may be more likely to determine the underlying issue when you try to look at the breakup from a new perspective — by distancing yourself. It may also enable you to see things objectively.
  1. Also, if you experienced abuse, the no-contact period would give you enough time to prepare yourself to lodge a complaint or file a case.

What To Do During The No-Contact Period?

Although it may seem unbearable at times, this is the time to rediscover yourself. Be your own best friend, love yourself, and do things you couldn’t do while you were in the relationship.

1. Indulge in physical activity

Sitting on the couch and watching TV will not help. Physical activity can help you keep the mind occupied and release stress. Take up yoga, a sport, cycling, or dancing to generate the powerful healing properties your body can produce, as well as distract your mind from the breakup.

2. Socialize

It is not unusual if you want to stay home and wallow but force yourself to get out of your house. Meet friends and family, or go for outings and movies. Catch up with all the people who took a back seat in your life since you got into the relationship. This support and connection may be just the healing balm you need and will slowly take your mind off your ex.

3. Meditate

Meditation does not always mean sitting and chanting. You can meditate while doing relaxing activities as well. Reading, listening to instrumental music, just sitting with your eyes closed and introspecting, or doing yoga are all forms of meditation. Go to a spa, get a massage, take a bath and do anything that relaxes you. It may be challenging initially because your thoughts will always wander back to your ex, but eventually, you will be able to control and silence the negative thoughts.

4. Pursue your hobbies

Go back to doing the things you loved. Cooking, trekking, camping, painting — anything that you wanted to do but didn’t have the time for while you were busy with your ex. Also, learning something new will make you happy and keep you focused on new learning and distracted from the painful break up.

5. Work on self-improvement

Often, a break up happens due to trust issues, jealousy, and insecurities. Work on improving yourself. Learn to be patient, listen more, read more, take up a course, quit a habit, show kindness — this list could go on. The results may not be immediate, but persevere, and you will see the changes eventually.

What To Avoid During The No-Contact Period?

The no-contact period is tough, and you can easily fall into traps. Try to avoid the following things that could impede your healing process.

1. Stalking your ex

Do not go around obsessing over your ex, constantly checking their social media pages, driving by their house, staring at their window, finding excuses to go to places where you are likely to bump into them, and constantly talking about them or asking common friends what your ex is up to are absolute no-nos. Instead, be strong and block them on all social media platforms and delete their number.

2. Resorting to alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs

You cannot get rid of one addiction by getting into another. Alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs are all injurious to health and may only help you forget your ex for a few moments. Addiction to these could only lead you to do things that you would regret, including drunk-dialing your ex and getting into fights. In fact, if there is any chance of you getting back together, this could be the reason why it won’t happen.

3. Suppressing your feelings and emotions

Do not go into denial. Suppressing your feeling and emotions will only work temporarily. You will eventually have to face and accept what has happened. Also, suppressing emotions can cause severe health issues. It is okay to feel your emotions and find an outlet to express them in the initial days after the breakup.

4. Acting needy

If your ex sends you wishes you on your birthday, it is courteous to say thank you, but if you look for opportunities to text them or take the conversation forward, you may be acting needy and desperate. He will only lose respect for yourself if you act needy.

5. Accepting the advances of your ex

Sometimes, it may be your ex who is texting or finding ways to contact you. You may be tempted to take the call or reply to the message, but avoid doing so. If you feel your ex is a toxic person, cut off ties with him. Do not accept apologies or their plea to meet and talk.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does giving space to my partner mean no contact?

If your relationship with your partner has turned bitter and you have been thinking of moving on, giving space may mean no contact. However, if your relationship is happy and smooth, giving space may mean allowing your partner the freedom to grow as an individual.

2. How can no contact affect a man?

The no-contact rule may not make some men comfortable. They may start feeling impatient, angry, or desperate for attention. Some may even develop negative thoughts about your relationship. However, during the no-contact period, you get enough time to reassess your feelings and truly understand what you want. If you feel you should give a second chance to your partner, you may get back to him. However, if your goals are clear about moving on, you may end the relationship (2).

3. How do I know no contact is working?

You know that no contact is working if you make peace with the situation and indulge in self-love or if your partner tries to contact you, becomes more responsive, and wants to get back together.

4. What are the types of no-contact rules?

There are three types of no-contact rules. These are:

  • Standard no-contact rule: You make no contact with your partner for a specific period.
  • Limited no-contact rule: You interact with your partner under unavoidable conditions only.
  • Indefinite no-contact rule: You cut off the connection with your partner forever.

5. Does the 30-day no-contact rule work?

You know that the 30-day no-contact rule has worked for you if you feel the clarity of thoughts and want to get back to your partner. However, if you need more time to analyze your feelings, you may extend the period of no contact. Similarly, if you find that your partner has not tried to contact you in the 30-day no-contact period, perhaps they may need more time and space.

Breakups are painful. But once everything is over, you need to move on, and the ‘no contact’ rule is an effective way to do so. It will help you control your urge to reconnect with your ex and instead focus on yourself. While following the no contact rule, try other things, such as socializing and working on self-improvement to ensure your mind isn’t roaming in the past. However, if you and your ex want reconciliation, talking to each other and clearing your differences is useful.

Key Pointers

  • No-contact is when you completely cut off all ties with your ex and distance yourself.
  • Contacting your ex may weaken your determination or lead to anxiety. No contact rule helps you focus on yourself or heal from a toxic relationship.
  • Try not to become an obsessive stalker or turn to unhealthy practices.
  • To stay occupied and positive, take up a sport or hobby, or spend time with your loved ones.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Chia-Wen Tsai, Pei-Di Shen, and Yi-Chun Chiang; Meeting ex-partners on Facebook: users’ anxiety and severity of depression; Behaviour & Information Technology (2015).
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sanjana lagudu

Sanjana did her graduation in Pharmacy from Andhra University and post graduation in management from GITAM Institute of Management. It was during her first job, she recognized her skills in writing and began working as a freelance writer. Later, she completely moved into content writing and began working as a full-time content writer. Sanjana's articles in MomJunction cover topics related to... more

Dr. Margaret Ann Dixon

(Ph.D. Psychology)
Dr. Margaret Ann Dixon is a psychologist in private practice in the state of Nevada, USA. She provides therapy for couples and individuals - young and mature. She has a background in school psychology and has worked with parents, children, and school teams. She was once an English teacher and enjoys editing articles in her spare time. She also plays... more

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