The No Contact Rule Explained (Plus a Warning!)

How many times have you read, or been told, that the first step following a breakup is to implement the no contact rule?

You might be confused about what precisely this rule means and requires of you, and wonder why it is so commonly recommended.

Below I have taken the time to answer the most basic questions on the so-called NC rule. However, be sure to read my warning at the end! There is a danger to blindly following this rule that few appear to know.


Let’s begin by looking at what this is and how to do it (and how long for!)

What is the “No Contact Rule?”

No Contact — or “NC” in shorthand — is the action of abstaining from all communication with your ex. Usually for a predetermined period (e.g., one month.)

This means no interaction whatsoever with the person you’re using it on.

No interaction means no talking, no visiting. Nothing at all.

This includes all the forms of communication you could imagine. Texting, Facebook, and Twitter, etc.

As far as your ex is concerned, you will have “disappeared” for a while. Off the radar.

What About Friends and Family of My Ex?

Yes, most would advise you to stay low even around the friends and family of your ex.

This means your ex will not see or hear from you directly or indirectly (through the proxy of friends and family.)

Psst: Going NC is as much for YOUR benefit as it is about creating the conditions for your ex to miss you (we’ll get to that later.) Therefore contact with their friends and family is also generally not done.

Can I Spy on My Ex?

You can, but it would not be advised.

Commitment to the NC Rule includes abstaining from peeking into your ex’s world.

That means if you’re going to do this correctly, you are not to stalk your ex or check out their Facebook profile, etc. even if they’ll never find out about it.

Even if you knew for sure they’d never know, it would not matter because it would be eroding the benefit that no contact brings YOU if you pursue such activities.

When you correctly understand that NC is more for your benefit than for anyone else, you will then appreciate the value of tending to your own life over spying on other people.

Why Go No Contact?

Here are three reasons to get you started:

  1. So you can give yourself time to gather your thoughts, process your emotions, see where things went wrong, and rebuild yourself;
  2. So you give your ex what they want: SPACE. After breaking up, they want space from the relationship. Not giving them this can make matters worse for you. If you pursue them, they may react by pushing you away even harder;
  3. If you give your ex what they want (see my 2nd point above, i.e., space from you) they then have the opportunity to MISS YOU. This can only happen after your ex has fully experienced the consequences of their decision (which you enable by doing this NC thing, see?)

There are other reasons, but the above are the main ones. Pay particular attention to #1 above all others.

How Long to Go No Contact?

Well, a few days is too short.

And a few months is probably too long (though there are exceptions.)

However, a few weeks?

That’s more like it.

Thing is, I’ve seen many advise a rather specific duration of time: 30 days.

I guess if I had to give one-size fits all answer I’d say the same.

Update: I have made a simple tool you can use to figure out your no contact duration. It’s called the SUMO tool (Shut Up, Make Opportunity.) I explain more to my email subscribers.

Without that, what I can say is this:

You need to do this long enough to give your ex and yourself ample space. And a few days is not enough. And one week is still too short except for some specific cases.

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 couldn’t give you a definitive timeframe here that’s backed up with statistics, you hopefully can see that a few days is indeed too short, and a few months is almost always too long.

What to Do During NC?

Most people screw this part up.

If they manage to cease all contact with their ex, they still waste this period. They win in one area to lose in another.


By not working on themselves.

If you leave dirty dishes in the sink, they’re still dirty 30 days later.

People mess up by doing NOTHING.

They sit around, moping, putting their life on pause.

But this isn’t about waiting! This is not a “no action” time.

That is a big mistake. Please do not wait around for the period of NC to end.


I would argue that the most significant benefit and reason to go NC on your ex is so YOU can take the time to reflect on life, on what happened, and work on becoming a better version of you.

I urge you to take this time to look back over the relationship, over your behavior and habits and identify what you could do better.

What could you change or improve that would be better for you regardless of whether or not you succeed with getting your ex back after no contact?

What would be better for your ex AND positive and good for you?

Do exactly those things.

And I’d be looking at trying new experiences, developing healthy habits, and kicking 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.

So please don’t sit around and do nothing.

Make an 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 also get coincidental benefits, too…

Some of which just happen to help your ex find new reasons to consider giving you both another chance.

Or to reignite what they liked about you in the first place.

Certainly better than when you learn what to do after no contact — e.g., 30 days or so — you both meet up, and you’re much the same (or worse) as you were when they broke up with you.

Specific No Contact Instructions

In no particular order…

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.

If you accidentally bump into your ex during NC, or for whatever reason, you can’t avoid them (because you work or live with them,) the next best thing is to be polite and to the point. Be professional and put aside the history you share with this person.

Don’t view the NC process as a “trick” or “tactic” when learning how to get your ex back. It’s actually more about giving you both the space to reflect and process your emotions.

If you have low willpower, I recommend avoiding alcohol (or moderating your intake accordingly) as 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!

My Warning About No Contact

Here’s what so few seem to understand —

If your ex believes you are ignoring them (perhaps you apply the tips from how to make your ex want you back wrongly) or they believe you are following some prescribed method to manipulate them back into your arms…?

This will damage your position.

You will only motivate your ex to stay your ex IF they feel any sense of being “played.”

Does that make sense?

As such, while most people will recommend that you do not RETURN text messages or phone calls, I am one of the few who understands that this behavior can ruin your chances.

You do not want to be perceived as a “jerk” do you?

This is the risk when you ignore your ex.

My advice?

Use this period as more of a “no initiating contact” phase (which means IF your ex initiates, then, by all means, return contact!)

I will talk more about the specifics of that in a later article.

For now…

Please understand that the no contact rule is effective yet you still must use your head and consider the implications of what you are doing!

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About the author: Michael Fulmer founded in 2011. He gives breakup recovery advice to clients all over the world. To help more people, he has also produced online programs showing men and women how to create their best chance of saving the relationship.