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How to implement “The No Contact Rule” (no bullsh*t)

What’s the one thing you want to do the most in the world after going through a mind-numbing, heart-wrenching breakup?

That’s right: you want to subject yourself to it all over again.

However, you don’t have to be huddled on a couch, unshowered and unhappy for several months.

There’s one thing you can do to speed up the recovery process:

The “no contact rule”.

Yep. No calls. No Facebook stalking. No showing up at their house unannounced.

Cut off all communication with your ex so you can recalibrate your brain into becoming the functioning thing it once was.

What’s the No Contact Rule?

In a nutshell, the No Contact Rule is an unspoken rule that people have adopted as a way to cope with the loss of a relationship.

That’s all it is: a coping mechanism.

It allows you time to grieve the relationship, get your head on straight, and consider your options, all while trying to juggle the temptation of picking up the phone and calling your ex.

Why Use the No Contact Rule?

While it seems harsh, the No Contact Rule can actually help you figure a lot of things out about yourself and what you want from your next relationship.

Even if you decide in the end to get back together with your ex, you’ll be making that decision from a place of understanding yourself and what you want, instead of a place of desperation. 

Most times, couples end up back together because they don’t know anything else, or it’s been so long since they’ve been with someone else, they don’t know how to do it. It’s what keeps people single for years following a bad break-up.

But if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of coming out of this relationship unscathed, then following the No Contact Rule to a tee.

What’s Involved in the No Contact Rule?

In order for the No Contact Rule to be effective, you need to follow it to the letter. There are variations of the rule, depending on who you ask, but for the most part you can bet on a few things:

  • No contact (obviously).
  • No phone calls.
  • No texts.
  • No emails.
  • No calling his mother.
  • No stalking his Facebook profile.
  • No commenting on pictures he is tagged in on social media.
  • No combing through your old pictures reminicing about the past.
  • No going to the same places you used to go together.
  • No showing up at the same parties.
  • No showing up to get your stuff. You can get it later.
  • No checking in with his friends.

Have a Game Plan

If any of these things happen, especially if you end up in the same place as him, decide ahead of time that you’ll have a game plan for dealing with this.

It’s too easy to just let things happen when you are face-to-face. No contact means no contact, so honor it and yourself by sticking to your game plan.

If you run into one another on the street, smile and keep going. If you bump into one another at a party, smile and leave. It’s for your own good.

There will come a time in the future when you can be in the same room together, but now is not that time.

Now is your time. If you turn this experience into a growing experience for yourself, getting to know yourself again, and learn things about yourself, you’ll feel more confident about where you are headed in life.

How Long Does the No Contact Rule Last?

This is a tricky question because some people will need more time than others. For the most part, people can start to feel at ease with things after about four weeks.

Although, if your heart was broken by him and you are still reeling in pain, you may need longer.

Take as much time as you need. You don’t owe him anything, especially if he ended the relationship. You are allowed to work on yourself any time you choose, and especially where your heart is concerned.

You’ll be tempted to just give into the urge to speak to him, yell at him, or put him in his place if he’s wronged you, but don’t.

Breathe through it and focus on what you are doing as something that is good for you, not painful.

What to Do Instead of Talking to Him

If you are sitting on the sofa crying over old pictures and his favorite sweater, this is going to be a long month. Rather than be a sad sack on the sofa, do things you like.

Do you even remember what you like doing? So many women get caught up in their boyfriend’s lives that they lose sight of their hopes and dreams fast.

What is it you want to be working on right now? Do you have a project that fell to the wayside when you got together with the man you aren’t currently speaking to or sleeping with? What is it you want to do with your life? Take a dance class? Watch a movie? Take a nap? Get a new job?

The options are endless so don’t sit there and tell yourself you don’t know what to do with yourself.

Saying, “I don’t know” is a cop out and a poor excuse for not living your life. Give yourself the time you need to feel comfortable being around him and you’ll be glad you did.

It’s hard. There’s no question about it: it’s hard. But it’s worth it to find yourself and make your own mind up about what you want and where you are going.

If you’re still questioning whether you should try the no contact rule, read the below 7 benefits that might help you change your mind.

7 Benefits of Adopting the “The No Contact Rule”

Woman sitting on top of mountain. If you want to change your life, you can.

1) You Learn To Be Yourself

You spend so much time with someone that their personality rubs off on you, sometimes to the point that you forget who you are in the first place.

This is perhaps the primary problem of people who are stepping out of long-term relationships, especially those who were married or lived with their partners.

When you deliberately distance yourself from your ex and avoid any distractions, you start to discover your true self.

Your unfiltered beliefs, opinions, and convictions take center stage once more and you get in touch with the person you once was before the relationship.

So take a breather and maintain that distance.

There’s nothing more empowering, especially in the midst of a personal crisis, than discovering yourself and falling in love with who you are.

2) You Remember Life Before Your Ex

Ending long-term relationships suck, so much so because you have to re-imagine what life is like without them.

It’s only inevitable for couples to plan out their futures together, and to have that snatched away from you by a breakup can be a bitter pill to swallow.

In the process of healing, instead of looking into the future, take a trip down memory lane and remember the past.

Specifically, remember what it was like before you got into a relationship.

You can do more than just remember, though. By avoiding your ex, you’re able to relive that very reality and gain a much needed perspective.

You remember what it’s like to wake up fall asleep alone, as well as the little moments in between.

You’ll remember what it’s like to be in your own company and how to be content in solitude.

3) You Become Preoccupied With Other Things

Breakups can bring out the worst in us. It’s okay if you want to spend a couple of days being a bundle of wet tissues and god-knows-what-else.

What isn’t okay is you sending dozens of pleading messages to your ex.

When you hover around your ex’s favorite spots, you’re basically setting yourself up for failure.

Not only are you wasting your own time anticipating (read: obsessing) their presence, but you are also chipping away at your dignity with every message you send and every surprise visit you make.

Let go and move on. Move to another state if you have to. Do whatever it takes to physically distance yourself from your ex.

Once you’re no longer surrounded by memory triggers, your body will start expending all this pent up energy on something else.

We all know that heartbreak is the best trigger for a masterpiece. Use it to create something – a novel, a wooden miniature scale, a knitted hat, something!

4) You Let Yourself Grieve and Heal

If you’re set on moving forward, it’s crucial that you see pain as a process and not a project in and of itself.

Psychologists say that there are five stages of grief, namely Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance whether it’s coming from a breakup or losing a loved one.

Using the “let’s be friends” card is just you trapping yourself in the third stage, Bargaining.

You start reliving the good times and begin convincing yourself that there are steps you can make to turn things around.

You might even experience bursts of positivity in this stage; ignore it.

Remember that these positive affirmations are temporary, and are not, in any way, grounded on actual reality.

Trudge through the five stages of grief until you reach the fifth stage, Acceptance. Because trust us, the last stop is always inevitable.

5) You Don’t Relive Your Mistakes

The last thing you need is to bring yourself down from remembering the things you did or didn’t do.

Combat your feelings of loneliness with self-love and positivity.

Instead of channeling all your mental energy into dissecting how things could have been had you done certain things differently, cut yourself some slack and reflect on what should come after the relationship.

6) You Allow New Energy To Take Over

You become a different person post-breakup. You become more bitter. Less likely to laugh.

It’s also likely that you’ve stopped doing the things you enjoy doing.

The point is that you become trapped in your mental state that you become this lifeless, angry, and fragile simulacrum of a person.

That space is both physical and mental allowance helping and encouraging you to welcome new things into your life.

This includes the capacity to feel new things that have nothing to do with the relationship.

It’s the same as going cold turkey. When you want to quit an addiction, you restart your brain by staying away from your vice. The same should be done post-breakup.

7) You Get Your Power Back

It doesn’t matter who broke up with whom. The fact of the matter stands, you’re going to feel lost and powerless after a breakup.

You’re going to second guess your decisions and start making excuses just to get back into the comfort zone.

But this comfort zone often includes getting back with your ex because you love “the good old times”.

You become a slave to your feelings and you start acting on impulse. Ignoring your ex is a great test of mental strength and willpower, and this exercise serves as a training ground for you.

You learn to control your brain, and eventually your heart, on a whim.

From there you can start taking control of your life as you once did before your ex, and as you someday will after overcoming whatever life throws at you.

If you’re looking to use the no-contact rule to get your ex-back, then read on for the below 4 tips to do exactly that.

(To learn how to develop a successful, intimate relationship over the long-term, click here)

How to Use the No-Contact Rule to Get Your Ex Back

Every now and then a break-up happens that shouldn’t have happened.

For whatever reason, you decide that you are not done with your ex-partner and you want them back.

Unfortunately, making that decision for yourself does not always apply to the other person in the relationship. Sometimes people just want out of the deal.

But if you’d made up your mind and want to work to get them back, here’s how you can do it using principles from the no-contact rule.

It’s going to be a lot of work and you might have to change some things about yourself, but it will be worth it in the end to get the person you love back in your life.

And if nothing else, you can go through the process to find out if they really are the one for you or not.

1) Don’t beg.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned throughout the years, it’s this: don’t beg anyone to take you back. It’s pathetic. There is just no way around it and there’s no nice way to say it either.

So don’t do it.

Rather than sulk your way back into a relationship you are longing for, make yourself unavailable to them and spend your time with other people.

You might find that your longing for them is not as bad as you thought and you might carry on with your life in a new direction.

Or, at least if you give yourself some distance, you can decide how real the longing is. If it fades over time, it’s probably not real anymore.

If you are dead set against moving on without them, you might have to find ways to get them to pay attention.

2) Get them to miss you.

One of the best ways to get someone to notice you is to avoid them like the plague, but position yourself in places where they will be.

If you know your partner is going to be at an event, get tickets and make sure they see you, but don’t make an effort to see them.

Let them see you having a great time without them and give them time to remember how amazing you are.

Then, turn on your heel and walk in the other direction. Avoid the temptation to acknowledge them.

This isn’t about letting them see you are happy and acknowledging that you are happy all at the same time, it’s about painting a picture for them and letting them make the story themselves.

3) Don’t take their calls.

If they decide to give you a call, don’t answer it. Whatever you do, at all costs, don’t answer the phone.

First, it makes you look like you had nothing better to do than answer that phone.

Second, it makes them think they can get you to come back to them at any time – which of course is true, but you want to hold the cards in this transaction.

Third, and most importantly, it sends the message that you are literally at their beck and call.

And nobody wants to set that tone in a relationship whatsoever. So whatever you do, don’t take their calls.

And if you want to kick things up a notch, be sure to change your voicemail to something super sexy and fun that describes all the things you are doing in life now that you are single.

Okay, maybe don’t mention the single part, but definitely the having fun part.

4) Remind them that you are not like the rest.

Your ex might be tempted to lump you into the ghosts-of-girlfriends-past, but don’t let that happen.

Do something that they won’t forget. Be memorable. Be amazing. Make sure your friends are talking about how amazing you are and that his friends are talking about how amazing you are whenever he is around.

If they are on your side, they’ll gladly do this. If, even secretly, they are glad the two of you broke up, you’re on your own.

It’s not impossible to get him back on your own, but it is easier to get a partner back when the circle of friends around them reminds them of how great it was to have you around.

So whether you’ve just broken up or years have gone by, if you’ve decided that apart is the worst place to be, try some of these tips to get your partner back.

And if the no contact rule completely fails, have a frank and honest conversation about communication and how you want things to be. At least you’ll know where you stand and won’t have to play games to get them to notice you all over again.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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