7 Dumb Mistakes People Make After No Contact
What is the No Contact Rule?
If you are reading this article, then it is a safe bet that you already know about the principles of the No Contact Rule (NCR). If not, then you should first check out the positive benefits of recovering from a breakup using the No Contact Rule.
To briefly recap, no contact revolves around the premise of taking a break from your ex for a set period of time: typically, 30 days. In principle, the process is extremely simple but, in practice, it requires a great deal of willpower and self-control to see it through to its conclusion.
This means no drunk texting, calling or stalking your ex on social media. When used correctly, it can help ease the pain of a breakup and be a positive tool for salvaging your self-esteem. It can also be used to facilitate a reunion with your former partner although, this should not be your primary focus.
While no contact is extremely effective, it cannot perform miracles. It won’t repair a dysfunctional or loveless relationship. The problems that existed before you broke up will still be there afterwards. They cannot be resolved unless you are both committed to finding solutions. Furthermore, while your partner will undoubtedly miss you during the no contact period, they won’t fall back in love with you unless they still have some underlying feelings for you. You cannot create something out of nothing. Moreover, you should not look at someone else’s relationship and expect yours to turn out the same way. Your relationship is unique and will comprise a wide range of differing factors.
Whether you succeed after no contact is largely dependent on you and the choices you make. It also depends upon how you plan to measure your success. Initially, you may think this means reuniting with your loved one. Nonetheless, you should remember that getting through your breakup as painlessly as possible, is also a significant achievement.
Finally, it is important to acknowledge that some relationships cannot and should not be repaired. This is especially true of controlling and abusive relationships.
The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.— Theodore Roosevelt
Why the No Contact Rule Does Not Work
It's fair to say that a lot of people struggle to maintain 30 days, let alone 60 days of no contact with their ex. Even if your willpower is strong, it is not uncommon to go weak at the knees upon receiving a text or phone call from your ex-partner. You are filled with false hope and mistakenly believe that the nightmare you have been enduring is finally over. You are going to get back together and live happily ever after.
Sadly, this is rarely the case. In your fragile state of mind, it is easy to read too much into the significance of the call and to start obsessing about getting back together. Your ex may simply be contacting you to test that you will come running, as and when they want. Alternatively, it may simply be that they have not yet managed to find someone else to fill the void that you have left and they are bored. This is hardly the foundation for building a lasting relationship.
On the other hand, you may well have broken no contact by reaching out to your ex, albeit with mixed results. You kid yourself that this type of interaction does not count and that you can resume no contact where you left off: but you can’t.
Sporadically breaking no contact is probably the worst thing that you can do. You are lying to yourself if you believe that you have completed the full 30 days. Whilst a modified version of no contact is permissible in extreme circumstances, such as discussing the welfare of your children, it does not extend to contacting your ex because you left your favourite sweater at theirs. If you break no contact then you really need to start again from the very beginning.
As touched upon earlier, you may mistakenly start no contact with the wrong attitude. Instead of viewing it as a positive way of recovering from your breakup and helping yourself to become stronger, you may be obsessed with getting back together with your ex. Alternatively, if you are feeling bitter or scorned, then you may see it as a means of punishing your ex. These types of mindsets are wrong on so many levels and will only lead to further heartache.
The rules exist to serve a purpose. They are there to help you rebuild yourself. Sitting at home for 30 days, wallowing in self-pity is not going to cut it. You must take positive steps to reinvigorate yourself and your life.
Have you managed to go 30 days without any contact?
After the No Contact Rule Mistakes
Below are listed 7 mistakes that people commonly make after finishing the No Contact Rule. These may appear a little contradictory as emphasis has been placed on reuniting with your ex. Even though the focus should be on self-recovery, a reconciliation undoubtedly remains top of the wish list for many. Hence, the advice is intended to cover all eventualities.
Mistake #1: Panicking
It’s Day 31. You wake up feeling totally elated. You've done it! You have managed to go a whole 30 days without contacting your former partner. Now you start staring at your phone wondering when your ex is going to text or call you. After all, you’ve waited patiently for 30 days, you deserve this. Then, when the phone call doesn’t come, you start to panic.
What went wrong?
Was it something you did?
Has your ex found someone else?
Do they think that you’ve found someone else?
Should you contact them instead?
If this bears any resemblance to the thoughts presently rushing through your mind, then you need to stop. Did you not learn anything during your period of abstinence? Have you really gone back to Day 1?
Whatever you do at this point, do not start drunk dialling or texting your ex. If you truthfully believe that you can contact your ex in a rational manner, and think it would be productive to do so, then there are ways that you can go about this. Conversely, if you are in an emotional and highly-charged state of mind, then contacting your ex should not be on your agenda. Experiencing rejection will have an adverse effect on your recovery.
You must remember that you started this journey to help you to recover from your breakup. It was an exercise in damage limitation, a journey of self-healing and self-improvement: not a means of reconciling with your ex. You need to be totally honest with yourself. If you are truthfully waiting for that call, then you need to consider embarking upon a further 30 days of no contact. Ideally at this point, you should be looking forward and not dwelling on your past life. You should be so busy that you hardly ever have time to think about your old relationship.
Before making contact you also need to consider what your ex may be thinking about your silence. There is some adverse publicity surrounding no contact, which they may well have read. If they believe for one minute that you have done this to punish or manipulate them, then they are likely to feel hostile towards you. For this reason, it is far better to let them reach out to you. If you are inclined to contact them instead, then please don’t be so obvious as to do it on Day 31. Wait another week or so at the very least.
Mistake #2: Thinking There Are No More Rules
Upon finishing the first period of no contact, people suddenly think that they can forget about the rules that they have been sticking to. It’s a bit like dieting for 30 days, successfully losing 20 lbs and then starting binge eating the following day. What do you think will happen to you? Will you maintain your weight loss? I doubt it very much. You will end up back exactly where you started and possibly a little bit heavier. The same is true for no contact. Just like yo-yo dieting, you will end up in a far worse place, emotionally speaking, if you drop the new habits that you have been forming.
The only rule that has been relaxed is the ability to contact your former partner: assuming you still want to of course. Even then, it must be done in a controlled manner and you must be prepared for a knock-back, should they say no.
Mistake #3: Putting Your Life on Hold
After the first few days of wallowing in self-pity, you were encouraged to fill up your diary and keep yourself as busy as possible. Just because you have reached Day 30, does not mean that all of the new hobbies you began, the fitness regime you started or the friends that you went out with, should now be dumped. Your diary should remain as full as it did the week before. You need to have a backup strategy just in case things don’t work out as you want. Continuing to live your life as you have been doing, gives you less time to fret about your ex and more time to concentrate on the present.
Mistake #4: Giving Ultimatums
Issuing ultimatums rarely works. Firstly, you must be prepared to follow through with your stated action and secondly, you need to have a justifiable reason for imposing a deadline in the first place. Furthermore, your behavior may also be considered as emotional abuse. You are issuing an ultimatum in order to manipulate your ex-partner into doing what you want.
So let’s work through this using a hypothetical example. Assume that you have continuously stuck to 30 days of no contact and decide to reach out to your former partner. You ponder how best to do this and decide to leave it for a few days. You then send your ex a casual text message to ask how they are.
Now answer the following question as honestly as you possibly can.
Your ex doesn't respond. What do you do?
Doesn’t the answer seem blindingly obvious when it’s written down in black and white and not directly about you?
You need to start thinking of communication as being akin to a game of tennis. Player 1 hits the ball and Player 2 returns it. Player 1 hits the ball again and Player 2 hits it back. You get the picture.
The same applies in respect of communicating with your ex. What you must not do is:
a) Bombard your ex with a flurry of messages.
b) Get really angry with your ex and issue an ultimatum.
After a week has passed, it's fine to send a second message just to check if your ex received the first one. If you don't hear back after the second contact, then you need to move on and forget about it.
Mistake #5: Talking About the Breakup
When couples breakup, it is human nature to want closure. Typically, you will want to know:
- Why did it happen?
- Did you do anything wrong?
- Was anyone else involved?
- Have they been dating anyone else since you broke up?
Nonetheless, one of the biggest mistakes that you can make, especially in the early stages, is to start talking about the whys and wherefores of the breakdown of your relationship. Now is not the time to start interrogating your ex about why they split up with you. If you start coming across as clingy, desperate or demanding, your ex is going to run a mile. Any conversation you have with them should be undertaken in a light-hearted and positive tone. Your former partner should not feel under attack. You need to demonstrate that you are more than capable of living without them.
Mistake #6: Becoming Friends
Remaining friends with your ex may seem like a step in the right direction. However, if you still have feelings for them, then it is probably best avoided. Do you really want to become their confidante and hear all about their latest conquests and relationships? Furthermore, being labelled as a friend means that you are highly unlikely to ever become anything more than that.
A different type of friend also exists and that is a ‘friend with benefits.’ Whatever you do, please don’t go there! Whilst not wishing to stereotype, men and women perceive sexual intimacy differently. For men, it is a physical act that can be undertaken without any emotional attachment. For most women, being intimate triggers emotional feelings. The two are simply not compatible.
Just because you broke up, doesn’t mean that your ex-partner doesn’t still find you sexually attractive. Nonetheless, they do not want to be in a permanent relationship with you. Consequently, to avoid any injured feelings, contact of this nature should only be undertaken once you have permanently reconciled.
Mistake #7: Having a Rebound Relationship
Rebound relationships are never a good idea. You may believe that you are showing your ex that you have moved on but, in reality, you are simply exhibiting signs of desperation and insecurity. You are demonstrating that you are not strong enough to survive on your own and that you need someone to cling onto.
Initially, being in another relationship may boost your self-esteem. However, this is likely to be short-lived. When such a short period of time has passed following your breakup, it is more than likely that you will constantly be comparing your new date, to the perfect illusion that you carry of your ex. Rather than admire the qualities that the new person has, you will be focusing on what they don’t have. Not only will this make you feel sad and disappointed, but it is unfair on the individual that you are dating.
This is why rebound relationships rarely work. You need to give yourself time to work through your pain and open your heart to the possibility of finding love again. Substituting your ex for someone you consider as second best, will never work.
You can never make the same mistake twice because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, it's a choice.— Steven Denn
What to Do After No Contact Period?
You may feel that reaching the end of the no contact period comes as something of an anti-climax. You’ve worked so hard towards this goal, but what now? What comes after the No Contact Rule?
Hopefully, you will have used your time wisely and should feel in a much better place: both emotionally and physically. You may have realized that your relationship ending was actually for the best. Alternatively, you may not be prepared to give up on it and may still be yearning for a reconciliation. Neither is right or wrong. Whatever decision you come to, you must feel confident and relaxed about it. You must approach it in a calm and pragmatic manner. Remember, this time apart has given your ex space to reflect upon your relationship also.
If you decide to contact your ex, then you need to do it in a lighthearted, no-strings attached way. You must also consider how you would cope with rejection for a second time. If they do not respond as you had hoped, then you must be ready to move on. The world is full of amazing people and wonderful opportunities. You have to be prepared to take control of your life and your own destiny.
Perilloux, Carin, Buss, David M. Breaking up Romantic Relationships: Costs Experienced and Coping Strategies Deployed. Evolutionary Psychology. 2008:6(1):164-18. [24 July 2017]
- Rodriguez, L. M., Øverup, C. S., Wickham, R. E., Knee, C. R., & Amspoker, A. B. (2016). Communication with former romantic partners and current relationship outcomes among college students. Personal Relationships, 23: 409-424. [24 July 2017]
- Marshall, T. C. (2012). Facebook surveillance of former romantic partners: associations with postbreakup recovery and personal growth. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 15(10): 521-526. [24 July 2017]
Questions & Answers
© 2017 C L Grant