Relationships

Why Is the No Contact Rule so Effective?

The no contact rule is a way of cutting off all communication with an ex for some time, so you can recover from the breakup and allow space for each other to heal.

However, this can be a challenging method, especially since we can easily stalk and check up our exes via social media.

But, why is the “no contact rule” so effective? Here are some experts’ insights.

Kevin Darné

Kevin Darne

Founder, Love Alert 911 |
Author, Pump Your Brakes! How To Stop Having Bad First Dates

One of the main reasons why so many people find it so difficult to get over their ex is because they really don’t want to move on. There is some part of them that secretly hopes for a magical reconciliation and a happily ever after ending.

Many romance novels and movies use a storyline whereby two people meet, fall in love, breakup, and find their way back to each other. A lot of people consider this type of love story to be the most romantic of them all.

It means acceptance of the break-up

The “no contact rule” is so effective because it means a person has accepted the fact the relationship is over. Putting away mementos, blocking phone numbers, email addresses, and unfriending an ex on social media are catharsis actions.

It also allows one to heal faster over time

It’s harder to get over someone or have them get over you if you’re still in contact. Your future lies ahead of you and not behind you. In order to move on you have to want to let go.

Never offer or accept friendship as a consolation prize.

Oftentimes the person ending a relationship will suggest being “friends” in order to keep themself from feeling like the “bad guy”. They really don’t want to be your friend. Their hope is you will freak out less if you know on some level the end isn’t really the end.

Being friends generally gives the hurt person false hope that there could be a chance for reconciliation if they stay close.

In some instances, exes might find themselves having sex. The hurt person believes they’re getting back together while the ex sees it as just sex.

Once you realize your ex saw the sexual encounter as a “friends with benefits” scenario you are likely to feel used and hurt again.

It’s unrealistic to expect to go from being red hot lovers to being instant platonic friends resembling siblings. Your ex is the last person who can help you get over them and vice versa.

Beware of the zombies.

Almost everyone has an ex who figuratively speaking refuses to die. Every few weeks or months like a zombie they pop up out of nowhere.

They contact you claiming they just wanted to “touch base”, “check in on you”, or they saw/heard something which reminded them of you.

Their timing is impeccable. Just when you started to relax and move on you find yourself playing another round of “whack-a-mole”!

Avoid the friendship guilt trap.

Sometimes the stronger you become the more determined your ex is to get in contact with you. It’s not because they want to get back with you but rather they need to prove to themself they could get you back if they wanted to.

Some exes will use tactics such as mailing cards, sending you gifts for your birthday, texts, or emails to get a response from you.

You are under no obligation to acknowledge receiving gifts, cards, texts, or anything from someone who dumped you or hurt you! Odds are once they verify you still have a soft spot for them they will go back to being distant and disinterested in you.

There are also those exes who take the no contact rule personally. They refuse to believe you are using it to heal and move on with your life. They’ll say if they ever meant anything at all to you, you wouldn’t cut them out of your life. Others claim the no contact rule is immature.

It is a common misnomer to believe by staying connected to an ex proves you’re mature or the bigger person. You have nothing to prove!

The best friendships between exes usually occur after a large gap in time whereby both people have found love and happiness with new mates. One day, they bump into each other and exchange email addresses and decide to touch base from time to time.

When you’re at the point where seeing or hearing from your ex no longer stirs up any emotion is when you’ll know you are truly capable of being friends. The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.

Related: How to Accept a Breakup You Didn’t Want and Move On (24 Great Tips)

Dr. Kim Chronister

Kim Chronister

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

There is something researchers call the “Scarcity Principle.” It means that we value what is scarce. Take for instance water and toilet paper for example. When do we value it…when it is in full supply or when it is difficult to find? We value what is not readily available to us.

Let’s use the example of when someone is taken for granted and dumped. The person who did the breaking up likely thinks that they can have the other person back at any time.

It serves as an action plan to adhere after a break-up

It is up to the person who was taken for granted and broken up with to re-establish respect (if they want their ex back) by not being available (at least until the other person misses them and makes a real effort to also get them back).

No contact, in my opinion, should typically be at least sixty-six days in duration. The reason for this time frame is because studies show that it takes sixty-six days to form a new habit. Therefore, the time to form the habit of not chasing the ex and truly focus on one’s own self-development would be at least 66 days.

Related: How Long It Takes to Get Over Someone After a Breakup?

There are at least two goals of no contact. One is to get an ex back (if that is truly what you want) and the other is to fully heal and get over the ex.

Instead of passively waiting for you to heal or for your ex to come back, you are able to view “No Contact” as an action plan that something you can commit to and adhere to after a breakup.

Lee Wilson

Lee Wilson

Relationship Coach, My Ex Back Coach

To use the no contact rule, a person refrains from contacting the ex romantic partner. It’s responding with dignity, maturity, and strength which are all very attractive qualities.

Sometimes, the “fight or flight,” response within us will explode and we will act in desperation to get our ex back even if our actions make no sense. We will beg, plead, cry, yell, and maybe even buy gifts to try to win them back after being dumped.

The problem is that none of these things address the reason for the breakup and, therefore, don’t work except in rare cases where an ex feels sorry for you or is tired of the whining and takes you back temporarily until he/she can work up the nerve to break up with you again using a method where escape from you is easier.

The no contact rule provides the best hope if you can focus more instead of on a hopeless effort to force something right now.

It stops the damage

If you respond with calm and poise when your ex breaks up with you, you let the relationship stand on its own.

It forces your ex to face their decision

Awkwardly sticking around, trying to use blunt force emotion and fit pitching, even if you think you are calmly discussing things only makes your ex want to be out of the relationship.

It doesn’t allow him/her to truly face the consequences of what they think they wanted. You simply put them on the defensive as they continue to have you present instead of absent.

It makes your ex miss you

Seduce them with silence! Assuming your relationship was a good one – that is, you didn’t fight all the time, get caught cheating, or call their mother a witch to her face, then the good from the relationship will begin to resurface in your ex’s mind.

By giving your ex space and by disappearing – which is what they requested – you give them something to compare the relationship to and that is not having it.

It separates you from the others

You contrast yourself with everyone else by being the one who showed strength, self-respect, and respect for your ex. Separating yourself from the others almost always makes your ex question their decision – if you stay strong and stay away until your ex comes to you.

Make yourself a stark contrast to the others out there by using the no contact and the odds go way up that your ex will want you back and will come back to you.

It shows that you’re a good listener

You can demonstrate to your ex that you possess the qualities they are looking for in a partner in that you are a good listener.

Instead of acting selfishly by awkwardly hanging around being annoying, you listened to what they had to say and responded by giving them what they said they wanted.

Katie Dames

Katie Dames

Relationship Expert, Feely Feelings

It breaks addiction

Relationships create a cycle of oxytocin in the body, which is known as the love hormone. Physical touch and other forms of affection release oxytocin which makes you feel good. This hormone is related to serotonin and dopamine which are the drugs associated with an addiction high.

The no contact rule helps to ease the pain that you feel from the lack of oxytocin. It’s for this reason that the no contact rule is so effective in helping you get over your breakup. You’re essentially going cold-turkey from the oxytocin you were used to receiving.

It allows you to remember what it’s like to spend time with yourself again

For those who were in a relationship that really sucked all their time and energy, the contact rule can be a great way to give you time to focus on yourself.

Whether that’s hanging out with friends, traveling, or just using your space wisely, the no contact rule gives you the freedom that you might have been missing in your relationship.

Related: What to Do After a Breakup

Janice Formichella

Janice Formichella

Break-up Coach, Broken Heart Repair Kit

It helps the body and mind reset after a romantic relationship ends

Have you ever heard that removing someone from your life impacts the brain in the same way that discontinuing an addictive drug does? This is because our systems get so used to interacting with another human being that it can feel impossible to stop contact, even if you are the one to end things.

If you want to truly move on from the relationship and into a new, beautiful future, having a period of no-contact with your ex is the most effective way to do it.

With each day that passes, you will become more used to life without your ex. The beginning will be hard, but if you give into texting back, asking for chats, or feeling like you need to check in on the person, you remain connected. The door to a new beginning will only remain cracked open.

Want closure? The other person can’t give it to you. You need to give it to yourself. A relationship ends for one reason: it wasn’t working.

Looking to maintain contact or discussions with your ex in order to get to some magical point of “having closure” is a losing game.

The time after a break-up is your opportunity to look inward for strength and learn how to show up for yourself.

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