The no contact rule is fully explained on this page along with a warning. Don't skip it.
The Complete Guide to the No Contact Rule
Popular opinon is clear on this: after a breakup, obey the no contact rule.
And after 9+ years coaching clients worldwide, I give the same advice —with caveats— 80% of the time.
The devil is in the details.
Blindly following the no contact rule can ruin your future chance of reconciliation.
Luckily for you, reading this article ensures you'll be ready to make better decisions if your situation calls for it.
After being dumped it is critical you know what you need to know. And then implement everything that applies to your situation.
And so it's time to answer the frequently asked questions about the no contact rule.
Let's begin by looking at what this is and how to do it (and how long for.)
The no contact rule is the practice of abstaining from all communication with your ex. Usually for a predetermined period (e.g., 30 days.)
This means no interaction whatsoever 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, really. Every form of communication you could imagine, from simple texts and posting on social media, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter etc. even "liking" status updates!
Taking it further, I would also hold back on 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 the problems on your mind.
Anyway, by completely avoiding contact, as far as your ex is concerned you will have "disappeared" for a while. Off the radar.
Perspective: it is hard work going without contact with the one you love. You will want to reach out and communicate. After all, until recently this was your boyfriend or girlfriend. The special someone who was —and is— everything to you. This will be a hard chapter of your life!
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: much-needed SPACE. After breaking up, they want OUT 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, and further, you risk doing or saying something you may later regret;
- 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 the no contact rule thing, see?)
There are other reasons, but the above are the main ones. Pay particular attention to #1 above all others (time to heal).
Well, a few days is too short.
And, a few months is probably too long (with exceptions.)
However, a few weeks?
That's more like it.
2 weeks is OK for some, but at least 3 weeks suits most, usually.
Thing is, I've seen many advise a rather specific duration of time to do the no contact rule: exactly 30 days of no contact!
I guess if I had to give a one-size fits all answer, I'd say the same.
Update: I made a simple tool to quickly and effortlessly figure out your no contact duration. It's called the SUMO tool (Shut Up, Make Opportunity.) Just answer three questions, and it'll tell you how long to stay silent with your partner. Check out the No Contact Calculator (opens in new window.)
Without using my SUMO tool to accurately calculate how long to go no contact for, what I can say is this:
You must do this long enough to give your ex and yourself ample space. A few days is not enough! And one week is still 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, with hope you can see 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 no contact strategy worked... that's a different thing altogether!)
Consider this: immediately 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.
During the no contact period, most advise to stay low even around friends and family of your ex.
Not only will your ex not see or hear from you directly, they will also get minimal feedback indirectly as well (through the proxy of someone else, including friends and family.)
The no contact rule 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.
While you could keep tabs on your ex without them knowing, don't do it!
Commitment to the no contact rule includes abstaining from peeking into your ex's world.
If you're going to do this correctly, you must not stalk your ex or check out their Facebook profile, etc. even if they'll never find out about it.
Besides, even if you knew for sure they'd never know or find out, it would still not be a good idea. Why? Because it erodes the benefit which the no contact rule brings YOU, when you pursue such activities.
Once you understand how going without contact is more for your benefit than for anyone else, you will appreciate the value of tending to your own life over spying on your ex!
Most people screw this part up.
If they manage to cease contact with their ex, they still waste the opportunity. They win in one area to lose in another.
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 around, moping, putting their life on pause.
But this isn't about waiting! This is not a "no action" time.
Being passive is a big mistake. Please do not wait around for the period of time to end.
The most significant benefit and reason to go no contact on your ex is so YOU can take the time and space to reflect on life, on what happened, and work on becoming a better and stronger version of you.
The purpose of the no contact rule is to temporarily make your ex and the drama between you both, distant, 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...
I urge you to use this time to look back over your relationship, your behavior, and your habits so you may identify what you could do better next time.
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 your no contact retreat.
Use every moment to close the gap between where you stand and your potential. Think growth.
Try new experiences, develop healthy habits, 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 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 —the couple— another chance.
Or to reignite what they liked and loved about you in the first place.
That way, when you meet up later, you won't be the same (or worse) person they broke up with.
At first it looks like a simple rule: stay away from your ex!
And yet today more than ever, it is anything but simple.
In no particular order...
Don't Tell Your Ex
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 Bump into Your Ex During No Contact?
If you accidentally bump into your ex during the no-contact phase for whatever reason, e.g., perhaps you can't entirely avoid them (because you work or live with them,) the next best thing to the no contact rule is to use polite contact! Be polite and to the point. Be professional and put aside the feelings and history you share with this person. Just for now.
In fact, one of my clients started the no contact rule 2 weeks ago, and literally just the other day was telling 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!
The point is, 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.
What if We Have Kids?
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 still remain distant...
That means during this stage handle your shared-responsibilities (as parents) for your children's sake, but then minimize conversations outside of that.
Is No Contact Rule a Gimmick or Trick?
No! The no contact rule is not a "trick" or "tactic." It is a key step in the journey, and is more about giving both space to reflect and process emotions.
Is the No Contact Rule a Scam?
Only when sold as a lie, e.g. "ignoring your ex guarantees you'll reunite."
Post breakup, be cautious about claims. Especially those which pander to the hope it will be as easy as "playing hard to get."
Remember: the primary goal with the no contact rule is to strengthen your position in preparation for moving to the next step.
Should I Do No Contact Rule in a Long Distance Relationship?
When you are in a long distance relationship the no contact rule works and applies just the same.
Simply withdraw from the online places you usually meet in (because it helps to prevent temptation taking over.)
The upside to a long distance relationship is you will unlikely "accidentally" bump into your ex when doing the no contact rule...
Should You Date During The No Contact Rule?
Dating during the no-contact stage can complicate things for you. In general, I do not recommend it.
In fact, if your ex were to have second thoughts about the breakup, and then finds out you started dating someone, your new "love story" may derail your chance of working things out.
Experience 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 more of a distraction in the early stages, and will delay your healing journey.
In almost every case the typical time frame followed for the no-contact period 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 place). Besides, you risk entering a rebound relationship if you act hasty, which is not a solution at all and will only hurt you in the long run.
When the No Contact Rule is Broken?
If you give in and contact your ex before finishing no contact? Realize you're human! Contacting exes before we're ready is common.
The solution? Long story short, reset and start again if you broke the rules early. Or, implement a shorter version if you made it halfway through.
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. Contact 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 far 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!
Here's what so few seem to understand —
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! And, even if it's not true, and you are not doing this as a game, should your ex PERCEIVE it that way or be 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 your ex believing you are following some prescribed method 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 rule is not a trick or gimmick, it can be perceived as one.
Does that make sense?
As such, while most people recommend you do not RETURN text messages or phone calls during this time (because that's the no contact rule) I am one of the few who understands how 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.
It is not a nice feeling to be ignored or blanked, the psychology of which is akin to physical pain. And so, 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 contact" phase (which means IF your ex initiates contact then use your brain about whether or not to return contact and respond...) besides, you are going to feel better during this period of time if you look at it this way.
I talk more about the specifics of this in my Ex-Communication Daily newsletter (see below.)
Please understand the no contact rule is effective yet you still must use your head and consider the implications of what you are doing!
Stay strong. NC is not easy and takes real power to do, yet you will feel better for doing it, I promise. Good luck!
These SEVEN dead giveaway clues tell you what your chances are:
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"My girlfriend and I broke up last week. I followed your instructions and we are back together" — Erick Nelson
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