The no contact rule can help you get your ex back. Or it can help you move on. The trouble is, obeying this rule is one of the hardest things to do after a breakup. Which, of course, means it’s worth it. So don’t send that text message yet!
Hi, I’m Michael Fulmer. And let me tell you, when your relationship crashes, stepping away from the situation and your partner is the sensible move. That way, you prepare yourself well for either:
- Giving yourself a strong position to get back together, or
- Moving on with your life
Today I’m going to speak about #1. And after ten years of helping heartbroken men and women regain control of their breakup? I tell my clients to use this rule-of-thumb —with caveats— 80% of the time.
The devil then, is in the details…
Blindly following *any* rule can ruin your future chance of reconciliation.
Luckily for you, reading this article ensures you’ll be ready to make better decisions when your situation calls for it.
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- What is the no contact rule?
- Frequently asked questions
- Breaking the rules: Final words (a warning)
What Is the No Contact Rule?
The no contact rule is the practice of abstaining from all communication with your ex boyfriend/girlfriend. Usually for a predetermined period (e.g., 30 days.)
No communication means no interaction with your ex:
- No talking;
- No texting;
- No instant messaging;
- No calling or phoning;
- No visiting your ex in person;
- No reaching out on social media;
Yes, all forms of communication are off the table. Simple texts, posting on social media, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. And so on. Even “liking” status updates.
Further, I recommend not commenting about the breakup online. Instead, post about other things you are doing. Not what you think or feel about the breakup itself. Better still, share happy, upbeat updates rather than grief or problems on your mind.
By avoiding contact, as far as your ex is concerned, you will have “disappeared” for a while, off the radar.
It is hard to ignore the one you love. You will desperately yearn to reach out and talk. Until recently, this was your significant other, your boyfriend or girlfriend. It won’t be easy. As such, you should remember why you are doing it.
Why Follow It?
Here are three reasons to get you started:
- The no contact rule gives you time to gather your thoughts, process your emotions, see where things went wrong, and rebuild yourself;
- Taking a break gives your ex what they want: Space from you. They broke up with you because they want out of the relationship. If you do not give your ex what they want, you will make matters worse for you. Pursue them, and they will push you away even harder. You also risk saying or doing something you will later regret;
- If you give your ex what they want (see my 2nd point above, i.e., space from you), they will have the opportunity to MISS YOU. This outcome can only happen once your loved one has fully experienced the consequences of their decision. Which you achieve by following this rule. Related: How long does it take for an ex to miss you with no contact?
There are other reasons, but the above are the main ones. Pay particular attention to #1 above all others (time to heal.)
Is It Right for Me?
The no contact rule is not always possible to follow. The first step is to find out if your situation will work with this rule.
The following situations are not compatible with the NC approach:
- You have kids together
- You work with your ex
- You study or go to school with your ex
- You live together
- You have an ongoing commitment with your ex that must be maintained
If any of the above describe your situation, you must not completely avoid your ex. Instead of blanking them, reduce the frequency of conversation. And when you do communicate, remain diplomatic and practical.
Some people call this limited no contact.
OK. If the silent approach is applicable for you, your next decision is to work out how long it should run for.
How Long Should It Last? Is It a 30-Day Rule?
Well, a few days of no contact would be too short for most situations. Whereas a few months would be too long (with exceptions.)
But, a few weeks? That’s more like it.
As a general rule:
- 4 weeks is the standard recommended no contact duration. A month gives plenty of time for both to regroup. And most experts recommend the 30 day no contact rule as a general preference.
- At least 21 days / 3-weeks is best for most people and is the safe minimum for longer-term relationships.
- About 2 weeks is OK for less dramatic breakups and when the relationship is under one year old.
- 10 days is enough for shorter relationships, up to one year.
- If your relationship is fresh (under three months,) then 7 days of radio-silence can work.
The thing is, I’ve seen many give a specific duration of time to follow: exactly 30 days of no contact.
I guess if I had to give a one-size-fits-all answer, I’d say the same.
The bottom line is anything between one week and a month is enough for most breakups.
Note: I made a no contact calculator to figure out the duration. It’s called the SUMO tool (Shut Up, Make Opportunity.) Answer three questions, follow the steps, and it’ll tell you how long to stay silent with your partner.
Without using my tool to calculate how long to follow the no contact plan for, I can say this:
It would help if you did this long enough to give the both of you ample space. A few days is not enough. And one week is too short as well, except for specific cases (remember, breakups are unpleasant, so you must wait for the dust to settle).
Think about it. One week means one Monday, one Friday, and one weekend.
Not enough for most cases.
One month, however? That’s more like it.
So while I won’t give a definitive timeframe backed up with statistics, the hope is you can see how a few days is too short while a few months is too long.
(When couples reunite years later, they are not getting back together because a marathon of silence worked. That’s a different thing altogether.)
Consider this: After the breakup, your ex will be thinking more about the bad times you had. But, with enough breathing room, they will also remember the good times.
What’s the Success Rate?
In ~80% of cases, those who got their ex back followed the no contact rule.
This is why most of the success stories you read mention the pivotal role NC played in helping their lover to reconsider the decision to separate.
In ~20% of cases, not following the no contact method was more effective. These cases use a less strict version of the rule, more so than “not at all.”
So, does no contact work every time? No. Yet the benefits go beyond whether or not you get back together. As such, it does work in at least one way for everyone. And as I hint above, you can tweak the rules to improve the chances of winning your ex back.
One way or another, treat this as a prerequisite step for what follows the breakup, whether you want to reconnect with your ex or not.
Can I Still Speak to My Ex’s Friends and Family?
After a breakup, it is a good idea to lay low around your ex’s friends and family.
This way, your former partner will not hear from you directly or indirectly, through the proxy of someone else, including friends and family.
Radio-silence is as much for YOUR benefit as it is for helping your ex to miss you (we’ll get to that.) Therefore staying in touch with their friends and family is generally not done.
The fewer signals your ex picks up on you, the better.
Can I Spy on My Ex?
While you could keep tabs on your ex without them knowing, don’t do it.
Don’t be a stalker.
Any action which can be described as spying or stalking is to be avoided for best results.
I even recommend you avoid checking their Facebook profile, etc. regardless of whether they’ll find out about it.
If you knew for sure they’d never know or find out, it would still not be a good idea. Why? Because it spoils the benefits you stand to gain when you pursue such activities.
Once you understand how leaving your ex alone is more for your benefit, you will appreciate the value of tending to your own life. Spying will lose its appeal.
What to Do During No Contact?
Use every moment to close the gap between where you stand and your potential. Even though you may not feel like doing anything, you should make the most of the additional time you gain from exiting a relationship.
Most people screw this part up.
By not working on themselves.
This is a huge mistake.
If you leave dirty dishes in the sink, they’re still dirty 30 days later.
People mess up by doing NOTHING.
They sit, moping, putting their lives on pause.
You may feel depressed after a breakup and want to stay home. If true, I urge you to consider getting help.
But whatever the case, your life isn’t getting better by waiting. This is not a “no action” time.
Being passive is a big mistake. Please do not wait around watching the clock. Be active. Don’t be obsessed with your ex. Be obsessed with improving your health, your appearance, and your mindset.
You want to get to the place where you are thriving in at least one area of your life. Single or not. After all, you owe yourself to live your life.
The top reason to go no contact with an ex is the time and space it gives you to reflect on what happened. And why? So you can work on becoming a better and stronger version of who you are.
The goal is to put the drama of the breakup behind you, so you can:
- Find relief and rebuild your confidence;
- Use the time to get a plan together;
- Deal with your heartbreak and any anger you have in your own time…
- Rally your friends and family to support you and keep you on the straight and narrow (it’s normal to act out of character when you feel desperate…)
It’s like taking a personal or mental health day from work. Yes, it would help if you got away from things for a bit. But you wouldn’t be allowed to take weeks off just doing nothing.
So I urge you to use this time to get active and look back over your relationships, behaviour, and habits so you may identify what you could do better next time.
Then do it. Force yourself if you have to…
This kind of questioning is not easy. It is hard to sit on your butt and think deeply like this. Yet as with all worthwhile things, the hard work pays off.
What could you change or improve that would be better for you regardless of the outcome after no contact?
What would be better for your ex AND positive for you, too?
Do precisely those things during this retreat. Actions speak louder than words…
Use every moment to close the gap between where you stand and your potential. Think growth. It is possible to come out of this a winner, regardless of what happens with your relationship.
Try new experiences, develop healthy habits, exercise, and kick at least one bad one to the curb.
Use the NC days and weeks to become a better you. That’s the most important thing you can do with this time. If you don’t, you miss out.
Do not sit around and do nothing.
Make a special effort during this critical phase of your life, and you will be rewarded one way or another.
You can’t lose when you take that approach.
Do all of this for your benefit, and you’ll get coincidental benefits, too…
Some of these just happen to help your ex find new reasons to consider giving you both —the couple— another chance.
Or to reignite what they liked, loved, and was attracted to in the first place.
That way, when you meet up later, you won’t be the same (or worse) person they broke up with.
No Contact Rule FAQ ↓
At first, it looks like a simple rule: Stay away from your ex.
And yet today more than ever, it is anything but simple keeping away from a significant other.
So let’s look at a bunch of frequently asked questions in no particular order:
- Should you tell your ex?
- What if you bump into your ex?
- How long before no contact starts working?
- Can you do no contact when you have kids together?
- Is it a gimmick or trick?
- Is the no contact rule a scam?
- Do the same rules apply in a long distance relationship?
- Is it ok to date?
- What if I break the silence?
- How do I know no contact is working?
- After 2 or 3 weeks of no contact should I give up?
Should You Tell Your Ex You Are Doing No Contact?
No. Don’t tell your ex you’re “going NC.” Just do it. It’s not a trick you’re performing. You’re just retreating from the relationship to tend to yourself.
My ten years of experience has shown me it’s more effective to just do it than talk about it.
When you signal what you are doing, you remove power from your actions.
What if You Bump Into Your Ex During No Contact?
If you accidentally bump into your ex during the no-contact phase, the next best thing is to be polite. For example, if you can’t avoid each other because you work or live together, be polite and to the point. Be professional and put aside the feelings and history you share with this person, just for now.
One of my clients started the no contact rule 2 weeks ago and told me about his encounter:
Crazy thing happened! I met my ex in public by accident. A true chance-meeting kind of thing (argh!) and I nearly went to pieces. But then I remembered your advice to just be diplomatic and polite…
I said hello with a smile. Nice and simple. And she definitely looked a bit uncomfortable… yet she stopped and returned the gesture. We then spoke for less than a minute, completely amicable and fine.
I think she was surprised I didn’t try to make anything of it, and I feel sure she will be more open to having a chat with me in the future as a result. All in all, what could have been terrible ended up a success! I said goodbye and then continued on with my day!
If you come face-to-face with each other you don’t have to perform miracles or say something amazing. This needn’t be complicated! Just keep the conversation simple, and move on with your day.
How Long Before No Contact Starts Working?
It’s difficult to pinpoint a time frame for how long it takes to get results. It depends on your ex and also on the reason for the breakup. In most cases, we can estimate 3-4 weeks to be plenty enough time for your ex to miss you.
But, also remember that taking a break from your ex is also a great way of regaining your power in a breakup. It will make you feel better and more confident about yourself, which will cause your ex to notice changes in you and approach you again. You should give yourself 3+ weeks to begin feeling the effects, providing you use the time productively. That way, you will not have gone through all this trouble for nothing.
Can You Do No Contact When You Have Kids Together?
No question about it: put your parental duties first.
If your partner has left you, the care of your children is more important than following a rule perfectly.
Be diplomatic and practical when discussing the kids. Their health and their physical and emotional wellbeing are far more important than sticking to a rule.
But outside of that, you can remain distant…
This means taking care of your shared-duties (as parents) for your children’s sake. And minimalising conversations outside of that.
Is No Contact a Gimmick or Trick?
No. The concept of staying silent is not a “trick” or “tactic.” It is a key step in the journey and is more about giving both the space to reflect and process emotions.
The confusion comes from some experts framing it as a magic bullet or something. Did you notice that? Relatedly…
Is the No Contact Rule a Scam?
Only when sold as a lie, e.g., “ignoring your sweetheart guarantees you’ll reunite.”
Some information sounds too good to be true. And generally is.
After a breakup, be cautious about claims. Especially those who pander to the hope it will be as easy as “playing hard to get.”
Remember: The primary goal is to strengthen your position in preparation for moving to the next step.
Should I Go No Contact in a Long Distance Relationship?
When you are in a long-distance relationship (LDR), the no contact strategy works and applies just the same.
Withdraw from the online places you usually meet in (because it helps prevent temptation taking over.)
The upside to a long-distance relationship is you will not “accidentally” bump into each other…
Though long-distance or not, the objective remains the same: Direct your attention toward yourself, not your old relationship.
Is It Ok to Date During No Contact?
Dating during the no-contact phase can complicate things for you. In general, I do not recommend it.
If your ex has second thoughts about the breakup, and then finds out you started dating, your new “love story” may derail your chance of working things out.
Experience also shows how dating too soon distracts you from taking on the recovery work. While it feels good to be dating (though not guaranteed,) it can be a distraction in the early stages and delay your healing journey.
Last, in almost every case, the typical time frame recommended for radio silence, is too short to make dating a good idea.
In most cases, you should wait longer before dating (when you can do so from a more positive and happier place). Besides, you risk entering a rebound relationship if you act hasty, which is not a solution and will only hurt you in the long run.
What if I Break the Silence?
Accept that you did, then hit the reset button.
If you give in and contact your ex, realise you’re human and that contacting exes before we’re ready is common.
The solution? Long story short, if you broke the rules early, hit reset and start again. And implement a shorter version if you made it more than halfway through.
Again. It’s hard to go cold turkey and ignore your urges, so don’t be hard on yourself thinking you failed. Of course you wanted to speak to the one you love. And, it doesn’t mean you ruined your chances by doing so.
You just need more support to stay on top.
Remember to utilize your friend network and family, too. Work together to form a strategy to help keep you on track. Call one of your friends each day and have them remind you of what you are doing. Reach out. A good friend gives you the energy to stay the course.
Besides, the second time around will be easier.
Don’t be angry if you break the no contact rule. There are worse mistakes you could make in life…
Tip: Low willpower? Avoid alcohol during this time of radio-silence (or moderating your intake accordingly.) I often hear from men and women who broke their silence because they got tipsy.
Keep yourself busy and your mind on productive and wholesome tasks.
How Do I Know No Contact Is Working?
There are a few things to consider when looking for clues that no contact is working for you.
In terms of helping you get your ex back, the most obvious sign is they try to get in touch with you.
It does not get better than that.
And if you find your ex to be more responsive or less angry after a break, you have firsthand evidence of why it is so effective.
Another clue: If life gets easier to cope with day-to-day, and anxiety levels have dropped since the breakup, you know that it is working.
After 2 or 3 Weeks of No Contact Should I Give Up?
After 2 or 3 weeks you might wonder if you should give up and move on. After all, if you have not heard anything by now, surely that tells you all you need to know. And perhaps your friends have told you to stop waiting and give up hope?
Not so fast.
While it may feel hopeless, let my decade of training assure you: Not hearing from your ex for a few weeks is not a sign to quit. You literally don’t know what they want, or what your future will bring. And after two or three weeks that does not change. And so, it is too soon to take score.
Remember your job is to find out, after completing no contact, what chance you have with your ex. You are not mind reader.
Your ex may stay silent for a number of reasons. By reaching out at the appropriate time, you will find out how hot or cold your ex is by their response. This beats doing nothing and guessing.
Breaking the Rules? Final Words (A Warning)
If your ex believes you are staying quiet because of some “trick” you read about, they may double-down on their negative opinion of you. Because no one wants to be manipulated.
Even if it’s not true, and you are not doing this as a game? Should your ex PERCEIVE it that way, it is the same result.
If they’re the slightest bit suspicious, the potential damage remains.
And so, what you gain in one area you could lose in another. And that’s a real problem.
Many guys and girls focus on tricks and games because they want to control the situation. If you apply the tips from my articles wrongly, you risk making your former lover believe you are following some prescribed method. They may think you want to manipulate them back into your arms.
You do not want that. It will damage your position.
You will only motivate your ex to stay your ex IF they sense they are being “played.” While the no contact strategy is not a trick or gimmick, it can be perceived as one.
Does that make sense?
My business is 100% about giving you the best chance. If they get wind of any funny business, I’ve failed you.
So for best results, pay close attention:
While most people recommend you do not RETURN text messages or phone calls during this time (because that’s breaking the rule.) I am one of the few who understands how this behavior can ruin your chances.
You do not want to be perceived as “petty” do you?
This is the risk when you ignore your ex.
It is not a nice feeling to be ignored or blanked. It is hurtful. The psychology of which is akin to physical pain. If your partner felt the reason they were cut off is because you decided to follow a rule you found online? Yeah… not good.
Use this period as more of a “no initiating contacts” phase. Which means IF your ex contacts you, use your brain to decide whether to reply, and when. Besides, you are going to feel better during this time if you look at it this way.
That reminds me: I talk more about specifics of this in my Ex-Communication Daily newsletter (not to be missed — if interested, see below)
Please understand that while the no contact rule is useful, you still need to use your head and consider its implications.
Stay strong. Ignoring the one you love is not easy and takes real power and planning to do. But, I promise you will feel better for doing it.