Heartbreak

How To Use The 'No Contact Rule' And Why It's (Pretty Much) Guaranteed To Work

Photo: Dean Drobot / Shutterstock
woman holding her finger to her mouth

Whether we admit it or not, romance comes with a set of unwritten rules — laws we follow in order to win the dating game (and turn it into the mating game).

If you want to know how to get your ex-boyfriend back, one of the most talked about and effective of these is the "no contact rule," used after a breakup.

What is the 'no contact rule' and how do you use it?

The no contact rule is a concept that involves total separation.

The way to make no contact work is simple: After your failed relationship ends, you stop all communication with your ex for a certain period of time. How long should you follow the no contact rule? A safe estimate is between 30 to 60 days, or one to two months.

This means no seeing each other, no text messages, no phone calls, no emailing, no liking each other's posts on social media, and no letters sent via carrier pigeon. Don't even have contact with mutual friends. You have to stop cold turkey.

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Does no contact work?

Many people worry that it isn’t effective, as they focus solely on their ex’s possible reaction to this lack of communication. Will they hold a grudge? Will they move on? Will they run off to Vegas and marry the first person they see?

The problem with these questions is that they’re also focused on the other person (the ex), rather than on your own thoughts, feelings, needs, and perspective.

And it is your perspective — and your focus on shifting your own perspective — that is of the utmost importance when a partner leaves you.

If you were the one who was left, the no contact rule may not work to bring your ex back because your ex isn't the one who wants you. They may even feel relieved if you stop messaging them.

But it may make them realize they miss being wanted by you, hearing from you and being with you, and they may come back.

Needless to say, there may have been complications in your relationship where one or both of you were the cause of the breakup. But just because you were broken up with doesn't mean there isn't a chance that this technique won't work. In addition, it may send the message to your ex that you're doing just fine without them — which is a good thing for both of you.

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It's critical to understand that the no contact rule isn’t used to make your ex miss you. That may very well happen, but that’s not why you’re doing it. It’s for you — for you to learn more about yourself and the relationship, in general.

By evolving your perspective, you learn how to respect your partner’s choice to leave. By honoring their decision, you communicate strength, resolve, independence, and self-worth — all qualities that are very attractive.

Still, even if you’re communicating all of this, there is the fear it may fall on deaf ears.

In short, how can your ex know you’re strong and awesome if you’re not talking to them, not seeing them, and not texting sweet nothings into their smartphone?

The answer: silence speaks volumes.

Even if you’re not communicating in the basic sense of the term, you’re still saying something. No matter what you’re doing (or not doing), you’re always communicating. Even when you’re not in direct contact, you’re still speaking through the no contact rule.

Your silence says more about who you are and the status of your character than running back to your ex ever will. Your refusal to call them or “accidentally” run into them at the grocery store says more than knocking on their door and begging for their return ever could.

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Second, you get the time you need to start healing. It’s not a simple thing, of course.

When someone you love blindsides you, it hurts you, it feels like they've ripped your heart from your chest before proceeding to dance an Irish jig on top of the right atrium. Which sucks (to say the least). You feel sad and lonely and you just want to break the no contact rule more and more.

But, if you stick with it and you stay strong and resilient, you’ll be among the success stories.

The way to get him back — if you decide you want him back, that is — is to focus on one thing: yourself.

Do whatever you need to improve yourself in whatever way you’re able (all of us have something we can improve upon). Give yourself the chance and time to live your life and work on your mental health.

You might take up journaling or consult a life coach. You might find a new hobby, maybe throw yourself into yoga. You might join a trivia night team or a book club.

Consider talking to someone who is objective (as in, someone other than your mother or best friend). Someone who can hold up a mirror and enable you to see the person you are right now juxtaposed against the person you want to become.

All too often in relationships, we become so emotionally invested in a way that we begin to act in certain ways that deviate from our authentic selves. This can skew how we see things, preventing us from seeing what is right in front of us, including ourselves.

The time you spend using this rule is really nothing in the grand scheme of things. It’s the blink of an eye. Anyone willing to dedicate themselves to the no contact rule can make it work for a few weeks.

Once you’ve successfully avoided communication with your ex for four to six weeks and, in the process, demonstrated what a great person you genuinely are, your ability to decide whether or not the relationship is something worth saving will come to you much more naturally.

A healthy relationship might be worth a second chance, or it might not, but the break allows your decision to come from a more informed, balanced perspective — one of strength instead of desperation, and one of reason instead of fear.

If you want to get back together, start by talking and try to have a good time. You may have been in a relationship that didn't work for a long time, but now you both are ready to commit and make it happen.

Either way, the no contact rule will help you get exactly where you need to be — with them or over them.

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Clayton Olson is an International Relationship Coach, Master NLP Practitioner, and Facilitator, who offers private virtual coaching sessions and online group workshops.

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