The Complete 2020 Guide To the No Contact Rule

Last updated: August 20th, 2020

Michael Fulmer

The no contact rule is a key step to get your ex back, and I fully explain it on this page along with a warning. Please don’t skip it.

Popular opinion is clear on this: after a breakup, obey the no contact rule.

And after ten years of helping heartbroken men and women worldwide regain control of their breakup?

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 when your situation calls for it.

Contents:

Let’s begin!

No Contact Rule

No Contact Rule: Introduction

After a breakup, emotions go on a rollercoaster ride, making it hard to say and do the right things. The no contact rule can protect you during this time and minimize regret later on.

Let’s start with the fundamental questions about the no contact rule, including:

  1. What is the no contact rule?
  2. Why would you do it?
  3. How long should you do it?

After that, we will cover specific scenarios and discuss one of the risks of following the no contact rule and how it could make matters worse.

What Is the No Contact Rule?

The no contact rule is the practice of abstaining from all communication with your ex. Usually for a predetermined period (e.g., 30 days.)

No communication 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 from simple texts to posting on social media, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, etc. or 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 boyfriend or girlfriend. Not interacting with your ex will be one of the hardest things you will ever do. As such, you should remember why you are doing it.

So...

Why Follow the No Contact Rule?

Here are three reasons to get you started:

  1. The no contact rule 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. Your ex 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 your ex, 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 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.)

How Long Should No Contact Last?

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.

The thing is, I’ve seen many advise a rather specific duration of time to follow 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.

Illustration of timeline options for radio silence

No Contact Timeline

New: 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, follow the steps, 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 no contact tool to calculate how long to follow the no contact rule for, I can say this:

It would help if you did 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, 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 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.

What Is the No Contact Rule Success Rate?

In ~80% of cases, those who got their ex back successfully followed the no contact rule.

This is why most of the success stories you read mention the pivotal role NC played in helping their ex to reconsider the decision to separate.

In ~20% of cases, not following the no contact rule was more effective. However, in my experience, these cases more accurately use a less strict version of the rule, more so than “not at all.”

One way or another, it is best to treat the no contact rule as a prerequisite step for what follows the breakup, whether you want to reconnect with your ex or not.

During No Contact Can I Contact My Ex’s Friends and Family?

During the no contact period, most advise laying low even around the friends and family of your ex.

This way, your ex will not hear from you directly or indirectly, through the proxy of someone else, including friends and family.

Psst:

Radio-silence 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.

The fewer signals your ex picks up on you, the better.

Can I Spy on My Ex During No Contact?

While you could keep tabs on your ex without them knowing, don’t do it.

Don’t be a stalker!

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

Once you understand how going without contact is more for your benefit than for anyone else, you will appreciate and desire the value of tending to your own life over spying on your ex.

What to Do During No Contact?

Most people screw this part up.

If they manage to cease contact with their ex, they still waste the chance space gave them. They win in one area to lose in another.

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 around, 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 for the period of time to end. Be active. Don’t be obsessed with your ex. Be obsessed with improving your health, your appearance, and your mindset.

Listen:

The most significant benefit and reason to go no contact on your ex is that 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:

  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 I urge you to use this time to get active and look back over your relationships, behavior, 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 your no contact 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 ex.

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 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.

Don’t Speak of The No Contact Rule

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 for whatever reason, e.g., you can’t avoid them (because you work or live together,) the next best thing is to use the polite contact rule! Be polite and to the point. Be professional and put aside the feelings and history you share with this person, just for now.

No Contact Rule: Follow My Client’s Example

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.

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.

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...

This means handling your shared-responsibilities (as parents) for your children’s sake while minimalizing conversations outside of that.

Is No Contact 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 the space to reflect and process emotions.

The confusion here probably 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 ex guarantees you’ll reunite.”

Some information sounds too good to be true. And generally is.

So, post-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 here 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, the no contact rule works and applies just the same.

Simply withdraw from the online places you usually meet in (because it helps prevent temptation taking over.)

LDR No Contact Rule Advantage

The upside to a long-distance relationship is you will not “accidentally” bump into your ex...

Though long-distance or not, the objective remains the same: direct your attention toward yourself, not your ex.

Is It OK to Date During No Contact?

Dating during the no-contact rule can complicate things for you. In general, I do not recommend it.

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 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 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 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 before finishing no contact, realize 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.

Take heart:

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!

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 your ex trying to get in touch with you.

It does not get any better than that.

And if you find your ex to be more responsive after a break or less angry, you have firsthand evidence of why no contact is so effective.

On a personal level, though, if you find life is getting easier to cope with day-to-day and your anxiety levels have dropped since the breakup, no contact is undoubtedly working.

And finally:

Important Final Words (A Warning)

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.

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 even 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 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?

My business is 100% about giving you the best chance here. And if your ex gets 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 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 a “jerk” 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.

My suggestion?

Use this period as more of a “no initiating contact” phase (which means IF your ex initiates contact, use your brain to decide whether or not to return contact and respond, 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)

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. Deliberately 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.

Wait! Is Your Ex Giving You THESE Signs They Miss You?

I’ll give you SEVEN dead giveaway clues your ex wants you back or is having second thoughts...

Click me to find out what these seven clues are...

My girlfriend and I broke up last week. I followed your instructions and we are back together — Erick Nelson