No Contact Rule (Guide)

Following the no-contact rule after a breakup can help get your ex back. It can also help you move on. Read my guide below to learn everything you need to know. And be sure you don’t miss my warning at the end.

A man tells a woman that he can not talk to her

Hi, I’m Michael Fulmer. And let me tell you, when your relationship crashes, walking away from your ex is smart. It helps prepare you to either:

  1. Give yourself a strong position to get back together again
  2. Move on with your life

I’ll discuss #1 today. And after ten years of mentoring heartbroken men and women? I tell my clients to use this rule of thumb 80% of the time, with a few exceptions.

The devil, then, is in the details…

If you blindly follow this rule, you could ruin your chance of making up.

Luckily, reading this article will help you make better decisions.

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Let’s continue.

What Is the No Contact Rule?

The “no contact” rule states that you should avoid all contact. In your case, that means no communication with your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. Typically, for a limited time (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.

Also, I suggest not posting 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 want 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.

So…

Why Follow It?

Here are three reasons to get you started:

  1. It gives you time to gather your thoughts, process your emotions, see where things went wrong, and rebuild yourself;
  2. Taking a break gives your ex what they want: Space from you. They broke up with you because they wanted 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;
  3. 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.

Putting things on “pause” is also a good way to get ready for conflict resolution. It allows the dust to settle and lays the groundwork for negotiations later on.

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.

It does not work when:

  1. You have kids together
  2. You work with your ex
  3. You study or go to school with your ex
  4. You live together
  5. You have an ongoing commitment with your ex that must be maintained

If any of the above is true, you need to stay in touch with your ex. Instead of blanking them, reduce the frequency of conversation. And when you do talk, be diplomatic and practical.

Some people call this limited contact.

If the silent approach works for you, the next thing to decide is how long it should last.

How Long Should It Last?

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 you both plenty of time to get back on your feet. Most experts recommend 30-days of no contact.
  • At least 21 days or three weeks is a safe bet for long-term relationships.
  • About two weeks is fine when it isn’t a bad breakup and the relationship is less than a year old.
  • 10 days is enough for relationships that last less than a year.
  • 7 days of silence can work for a new relationship (under 3 months.)

The thing is, I’ve seen many give a specific timeframe to follow: exactly 30 days of no contact.

If I had to give a one-size-fits-all answer, I’d say the same.

The bottom line is that anywhere between one week and a month is enough for most breakups.

A timeline showing popular no contact timeframes

No Contact Timeline.

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 and it’ll tell you how long to stay silent with your partner.

Without my calculator, I can say:

You should do this long enough to give you both space. A few days is not enough. Even one week is too short, except in certain cases (remember, breakups are unpleasant, so you must wait).

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 that 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 my experience, the no-contact rule plays a role in reuniting 80% of couples. This is why most success stories mention it.

In 20% of cases, not following the rule was more effective. Although in these cases, a less strict version of the rule was followed more than “not at all.”

Will it work for you? Keep in mind 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 hinted above, you can tweak the rules to improve your chances of winning your ex back.

Whether you want to reconnect or not, this should be your first step after a breakup.

Can I Still Speak to My Ex’s Friends and Family?

After a breakup, it’s best to stay out of your ex’s circle of friends and family.

This way, your ex won’t hear from you directly or indirectly, through friends and family.

Psst:

Creating a void helps YOU as much as it helps your ex miss to you (we’ll get to that later). Therefore, staying in touch with their friends and family is generally not done.

The less your ex can figure out about 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.

If you want the best results, you shouldn’t do anything that could be called spying or stalking.

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 ruins the benefits you stand to gain when you pursue such activities.

When you realise that leaving your ex alone is more for your own good, you will appreciate the value of focusing on yourself. 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.

How?

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 a place where you are thriving in at least one area of your life. Single or not. After all, you owe it to yourself to live your life.

Listen:

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:

  1. Find relief and rebuild your confidence;
  2. Use the time to get a plan together;
  3. Deal with your heartbreak and any anger you have in your own time…
  4. 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, use this time to get active and reflect on your relationships, behaviour, and habits to see what you can 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 which may help your ex to give you a second chance.

Or at least remind them what they liked, loved, and were attracted to in the first place.

So when you meet up later, you won’t be the same person they broke up with.

Breaking away from the world: Alone without human contact

No Contact Rule FAQ ↓

It seems simple: Avoid your ex.

And yet, today, more than ever, it is more than simply avoiding a significant other.

So let’s look at a bunch of frequently asked questions in no particular order.

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 anything 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 at least three weeks before you start to feel the effects, as long as you use that time well. That way, you will not have gone through all this trouble for nothing.

Can You Do No Contact When You Have Kids Together?

There’s 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.

Adapt accordingly…

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…

For your children’s sake, this means taking care of your shared duties as parents. And minimising conversations outside of that.

Is No Contact a Gimmick or Trick?

No, staying quiet is not a “trick” or “tactic.” It is an important part of the journey and is more about giving both people time to think and deal with their feelings.

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, it 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 goal is to improve your position before taking the next step.

Is It OK to Date During No Contact?

Dating during the no-contact phase can make things more difficult 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, the time frame usually recommended to stay away from your ex is almost always 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 hastily, 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? If you broke the rules early, just 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. It doesn’t mean you’ve ruined your chances by doing so.

Take heart:

You just need more support to stay on top.

Remember to use your friends’ and family’s network. 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: Do you lack willpower? Avoid alcohol during this time of silence (or moderate your intake accordingly.) I often hear from men and women who broke their silence because they got tipsy.

Keep yourself busy and focus your mind on productive and wholesome tasks.

How Do I Know If 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 that 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.

Should I Give Up After 2 or 3 Weeks of No Contact?

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 that your job is to find out what chance you have with your ex after the no contact period is over. You are not a 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.

And finally:

When You Must Break the No Contact Rule (Important!)

There are situations where it makes sense to break the rules and stay in contact with your ex. Let me start by outlining the obvious: If your ex believes you are ignoring them because of some “trick” you read about, they will double-down on their negative opinion of you. After all, no one likes to be manipulated.

Yes, even when it’s not true, and you are giving them space for healthy reasons? It doesn’t matter. Should your ex PERCEIVE it that way, you will get the same result. That means if they’re the slightest bit suspicious of your actions, the potential damage remains.

The result? What you gain in one area, you lose in another. And that’s a real problem.

Of course, it is true that many guys and girls will focus on tricks and games because they want to control the situation and “one up” their ex. But, even if that’s not you? You could still use the tips from my articles in the wrong way and accidentally cause your ex-lover to think you are following a set method. Which means they will think you are trying to manipulate them back into your arms.

You do not want that. It will damage your position.

Does that make sense?

My business is 100% about giving you the best chance. If your ex gets wind of any funny business, I’ve failed you.

So, for best results, pay close attention:

Most people will tell you not to RETURN text messages or phone calls during this time because it is against the rules, but I am one of the few who knows how this can hurt 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 was because you decided to follow a rule you found online? Yeah… not good.

My suggestion?

Use this time as more of a “no initiating contact” phase. Which means, if your ex contacts you, use your head to decide whether and when to respond. 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 free daily newsletter (not to be missed — if interested, see below.)

For now…

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.

👇 Oh, and one more thing:

Is Your Ex Having Second Thoughts?

How about I SHOW you three QUICK signs that your ex might come back to you?

Up to you 🤷🏻‍♂️

I’ve put this info in an email. And it’s ready to go straight to your inbox. Just type your email address in the box below, and hit the button.

And yes —you will also receive daily ex-back tips to the same email address (useful emails that will help you 👀)

MY GIRLFRIEND AND I BROKE UP LAST WEEK. I FOLLOWED YOUR INSTRUCTIONS AND WE ARE BACK TOGETHER — ERICK NELSON

About the author: Michael Fulmer is a breakup repair consultant and relationship coach. He publishes the Ex-Communication newsletter to inboxes all over the world. He also runs the Breakup Dojo, where he teaches you to make the right moves to outwit your ex’s negative feelings. Michael has been undoing breakups since 2011. No fancy suits, videos, or fake smiling photos. You won’t find Michael featured on Youtube, either.