Regardless of whether you saw it coming or if your breakup was a total shock, one of the hardest parts of any split is dealing with no contact.
You’re so used to having your ex around, that having him suddenly torn from your life understandably leaves a pretty big hole.
Maybe you were keeping your distance because you know deep down it’s for the best, and you want to move on after the breakup. Perhaps it was because you were hoping no contact will make him miss you. After all, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?!
You’ve managed to stay strong and avoid sliding into his DM’s or texting him for several weeks. If you’ve made it this far without seeing or speaking to your ex-boyfriend, here’s what comes next.
What is the no contact rule after a break-up?
The no contact rule refers to cutting off any contact with your ex following a breakup. It’s one of those essential survival tools to deal with a split.
This means no phone calls, texts, emails, or interactions on social media. And it probably goes without saying, but you’re obviously not allowed to see each other in person either.
Neither should you reach out to his friends or family to talk about him, or your breakup.
If letting him go feels like torture, it may offer some comfort to know that it’s all for a good reason.
Why is no contact so powerful? No contact allows you to focus on healing and getting yourself ready to start dating again — rather than focus on your ex.
It may sound harsh at first, but this is the only way to make sure you don’t end up in a situation where you fall back into old patterns. And if you do, then taking back your ex might mean you’ll be setting yourself up for another painful heartbreak.
So if you’ve made it this far, here are some important next steps to take and things to remember as you move forwards.
1) You’ve already made it to 3 weeks, keep going.
How long is the no contact rule? Well, no contact usually lasts for a minimum of 30 consecutive days, but plenty of experts say more like 60 days is better. And some people choose to go as long as 6 months to really make sure they’ve moved on before letting their ex back in their life.
This gives you time to truly grieve the relationship and start to heal emotionally. You also have time to reflect and figure out how you want to handle future relationships.
Is 3 weeks enough time for no contact? Probably not. Because you’re still in a fragile state, and most likely not thinking clearly.
I’m not going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. It’s your life and your heart.
But consider for a moment that giving in and reaching out to your ex-boyfriend right now might undo all the hard work you’ve been putting in over the last few weeks.
If he broke up with you —causing you pain— you need to think twice before letting him come back into your life. And if you broke up with him, then remember it was for a reason.
Answering the question, “Should I contact my ex” isn’t easy. If you find yourself thinking “oh well, maybe I could just text him one quick message”, think again. Don’t give in too quickly. The finishing line is closer than you think.
2) Know that it’s bound to be difficult, but it gets easier
Sadly it’s a truism of life that not everything that’s good for us feels good at the time. Think of no contact with your ex-boyfriend almost like exercise — no pain, no gain.
Breakups are essentially a grieving process, and there are many stages to it.
In the beginning, your brain is probably working overtime trying to understand why this happened, as well as feeling disbelief and desperation.
During this phase, you’re also most in danger of relapse — aka reaching out to your ex.
But here’s the good news. The later stages are where it gets easier. After you pass through the most painful parts of grief, then comes acceptance and redirected hope.
As Psychology Today points out, it’s this redirected hope that lets you see things from a different perspective.
“As acceptance deepens, moving forward requires redirecting your feelings of hope—from the belief that you can singlehandedly save a failing relationship to the possibility that you just might be okay without your ex. It’s jarring when forced to redirect your hope from the known entity of the relationship into the abyss of the unknown.
“But this is an opportunity to redirect the life force of hope. Regardless, hope is somewhere in your reserves and you will access it again as you continue to allow some meaningful distance between you and your ex.”
3) Try to make it easier on yourself
Yes, it sucks, but you can do some things to ease the process whilst you heal.
Practice a lot of self-care after your breakup. That might involve doing things you enjoy or that make you feel good. Take long hot baths, watch your favorite comedy shows, and treat yourself to your fave foods.
Making it easier on yourself also means avoiding things that are only going to trigger you.
Make an effort to avoid seeing your ex on social media. Even though it’s tempting to have a snoop, it’s only going to open old wounds or spark paranoia about what he’s doing now you’re not around.
If you’re serious about making no contact work, consider blocking your ex completely on social media if you know it’s going to be hard for you to handle the temptation.
Experts say deleting your ex from all of your social media is always a good idea. Relationship advice columnist Amy Chan told Insider, even if it’s only temporary, you need a break.
“One-hundred percent, detox from your ex. And it’s not because they’re a bad person. Detoxing from your ex doesn’t mean that you hate the person or it ended on bad terms. It also doesn’t mean you can’t be friends again in the future, but you do need a period of time for your mind, body, heart, and soul, to transition from a relationship that’s intimate or romantic to something else.”
If you find yourself thinking about your ex constantly, then you might want to consider taking some time away from social media altogether. Get out into the real world, see friends, and do things to take your mind off things.
Mindfulness on the present moment can help keep you focused and feeling calmer.
4) Wait for him to reach out to you
The hardest part of breaking up isn’t actually saying goodbye; it’s waiting for him to say hello.
That’s especially the case if you have been secretly hoping that the silent treatment will work its magic on your ex and make him come crawling back.
If you’ve been hoping he would reach out then questions like ‘How long does it take a guy to realize he misses you after a breakup?’ have probably been playing heavily on your mind.
Sometimes time and space can make a guy realize what he has lost, prompting him to reach out. But the unfortunate truth is that we cannot manipulate someone into behaving how we want.
If he does want to salvage the relationship he will get in touch, but either way, right now you need to focus your energy on yourself.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of worrying that you’ll never hear from him again. The thought of this in the early stages of a breakup can send you into a panic.
But in reality, you most likely will speak with him again — regardless of whether you’re going to get back together or not.
5) Think about your long-term happiness
When we are in the midst of heartache we have a tendency to reach for our rose-tinted glasses. We can look back on the relationship, remembering mainly (or solely) the good times.
Neglecting to see the problems between you and your ex now will cost you in the future. Ignoring the reasons you broke up isn’t going to fix them. Neither is reaching out right now, just because you miss him.
When the dust settles and the high of having him back in your life subsides, you’ll be back to square one.
You broke up for a reason and now is a good time to recall why. If you notice yourself playing all the happy memories on a loop in your brain, change the projection.
Instead, think about the times your ex hurt you, made you cry, or made you angry.
It’s not that you want to hold on to bitterness or pain. It’s more that, right now, thinking about the bad times is going to make you stronger.
6) Talk to someone who understands
Talking to someone who knows what you’re going through can help you stay focused and motivated.
Talking to a friend or family member can help you keep perspective and remember why you decided to cut off contact in the first place.
It’s also a good distraction. And it sure beats driving yourself crazy by keeping your feelings locked inside.
Especially because breakups can feel isolating, turning to others for support can be really useful.
But you certainly don’t have to head out partying in an attempt to totally distract yourself from your feelings. It’s important to take care of yourself.
If you feel like you need some time away from people and socializing for a while, then go for it. You don’t have to explain why you want to be alone.
7) When you want to give up, try to do just one more day
Willpower is a funny thing. Our resolve can seem strong one moment, but the next we’re ready to crumble.
According to the American Psychological Association willpower is the ability to resist short-term gratification in pursuit of long-term goals or objectives.
The rewards of managing to stay strong are well documented, with willpower associated with positive life outcomes like higher self-esteem, and improved physical and mental health.
But willpower fails when we’re exposed to emotionally charged situations where stimulus overrides your rational, cognitive system, leading to impulsive actions.
In short, wanting to stop the pain of missing your ex right now can mean you end up doing something you later regret.
You are bound to experience moments of weakness during the no contact process. Don’t beat yourself up for those moments. Just try to remind yourself that they aren’t permanent. They pass.
Rather than make a knee-jerk decision, allow yourself some more time to decide. If at this moment, going another week or even a month without talking to your ex feels too difficult to handle, then make a smaller promise to yourself.
Can you go another 24 hours? Sometimes taking it day by day makes the mountain we are climbing feel more achievable.
8) Science says he’s going to regret the breakup more than you
Sure, this time alone without contact is about doing what is best for you to move on. But it might offer you some comfort to know that research shows men, in the long run, tend to carry more regrets over their former flames than us women do.
If you’ve been wondering how no contact affects your ex, then you might be surprised (and potentially relieved) to discover that, despite the stereotype, research has shown men experience more emotional pain during breakups.
A study also found that after a split women usually reflect and then move on. In terms of regrets over the break-up, women eventually move past it completely.
Men on the other hand seemed to be much more regretful, with a tendency to ruminate on past loves and reminiscence.
Craig Eric Morris, an anthropologist at Binghamton University, told Vice:
“Women never say, ‘That was the greatest guy of my life [and] I’ve never made peace with it. [But], not one guy said, ‘I’m over it. I’m a better person for it,’”
So if you’re feeling down about being single, seek some solace in the fact that science may actually be telling you that you’re better off than your ex-boyfriend right now.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
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