7 Dumb Mistakes People Make After No Contact and How to Avoid Them
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 7 Powerful Benefits of the No-Contact Rule. To briefly recap, no contact revolves around the premise of taking a break from your partner 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. 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.
The results of no contact are 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.
7 No-Contact Rule Mistakes
The seven most common mistakes after no contact are:
- Putting your life on hold
- Thinking there are no more rules
- Setting a deadline
- Demanding answers
- Having a rebound relationship
- Becoming friends
Each of these mistakes is described fully below. They may seem a little contradictory, since they emphasize the idea of reuniting with your partner rather than focusing on your own healing and growth, even though the focus should be on self-recovery. However, a reconciliation undoubtedly remains atop 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. 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 dialing 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, since experiencing rejection will have an adverse effect on your recovery.
You must remember that you took 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. Ideally at this point, you should be looking forward and not dwelling on your past. You should be so busy that you hardly ever have time to think about your old relationship. You need to be totally honest with yourself. If you are anxiously waiting for that call, then you need to consider embarking upon another 30 days of no contact.
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 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: Putting Your Life on Hold
The 30 days of no contact are designed to help you get your life back on track. You've had 30 days to create a new normal and establish a new healthy routine for yourself. Instead of thinking of those 30 days as an interruption of your life, you need to view them as an opportunity to remember what your life looks and feels like without that person. Don't get confused and start to think that the period of no contact is an interruption of your life when the opposite is true: Your individual life is what you put on hold during your relationship, and after those 30 days are over, you get to decide if your life is truly improved by that relationship.
Mistake #3: Thinking There Are No More Rules
After spending a few days wallowing in self-pity, you were encouraged to fill up your schedule and keep yourself as busy as possible. 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 pounds, and then starting to binge eat the following day. What do you think will happen? Will you maintain your weight loss? I doubt it very much. You will end up 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.
After completing 30 days, you should try not regress into the person you were 30 days ago. All of the new hobbies you began, the fitness regime you started, and the friends that you went out with should be maintained. Your schedule should remain as full as it did the week before. 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. The only thing that has changed is your ability to contact your former partner, if you still want to. If you do, it must be done in a controlled manner and be prepared for a knock-back if they're not happy to hear from you.
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
Mistake #4: Setting a Deadline
Setting a deadline 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, when you want.
So let’s work through this using a hypothetical example. Assume that you have completed 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?
Communication is like 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 pattern should apply to communicating with your ex. What you must not do is:
a) Bombard your ex with a flurry of messages.
b) Get really angry and issue an ultimatum.
After a week has passed, it's fine to send a second message just to check if they 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: Demanding Answers
When couples break up, 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 since you broke up?
Nonetheless, one of the biggest mistakes that you can make, especially in the early stages, is to demand explanations 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: 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.
If your presence doesn't make an impact, your absence won't make a difference.— Trey Smith
Mistake #7: 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! Men and women generally perceive sexual intimacy differently. For men, it can be merely a physical act that can be undertaken without any emotional attachment. For most women, being intimate triggers emotional feelings. The two goals 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, deciding whether or not you want to pursue a friendship should only be undertaken once you have permanently reconciled and gotten past your romantic feelings.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 brim with false hope and mistakenly believe that the nightmare 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 testing to see if you will come running. Alternatively, it may simply be that they have not managed to find something 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. If you don't say true to yourself and follow through on your initial plan, no contact probably won't work for you.
As touched upon earlier, you may mistakenly start no contact with the wrong attitude. Instead of viewing it as a healthy way of recovering from your breakup and helping yourself become stronger, you may be obsessed with getting back together with your ex. Some who are feeling bitter or scorned may see it as a means of punishing their 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.
Why Does No Contact Work?
The reason why putting a relationship on ice and unplugging all forms of contact for a specified period of time works is because sometimes, when you're too close to a person, you can't see them clearly anymore, and it's difficult to appraise a relationship when the emotions are clouding your eyes. Not only does no contact allow you to take the space and time to really see what the relationship is, but it gives you the time to remember who you are as an individual. Your new insight into both yourself and your partner will allow you to make more clearheaded decisions about the future of your relationship.
While no contact is extremely effective, it is not a miracle. It won’t repair a dysfunctional or loveless relationship. The problems that existed before 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, even if no contact worked for a friend, you should not look at someone else’s relationship and expect yours to turn out the same way. Your relationship is unique and comprises many differing factors.
What Should I Do If I Break No Contact?
The rules of the no contact plan are right there in its name: No contact means no contact. Although breaking it is permissible in extreme circumstances (for example, something dire happens with your shared child), it does not extend to contacting your ex because you left your favourite sweater at their place. If you break no contact, then you really need to start again from the very beginning.
Is No Contact the Same Thing as Breaking Up?
Just as a separation is not a divorce, no contact is not quite the same thing as breaking up entirely. Sometimes, it follows a tentative breakup, but sometimes, it's not completely clear if you have broken up or not. However, both parties of the relationship need to understand what "no contact" means if it is going to work. That means the terms should be carefully spelled out and discussed before you break contact with your partner. Tell them why you're doing it, how long it will last, and fully outline the rules and expectations. If you expect both partners to remain faithful during that time, then say so.
Have You Managed to Go 30 Days Without Any Contact?
How Long Should No Contact Last?
For most couples, 30 days is enough to gain perspective. However, if you've been in a relationship for quite some time, it might take longer to detox and clear your mind. Some people need 60 days to gain the clarity they need.
What to Do After the 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 next?
Hopefully, you will have used your time wisely and find yourself in a much better place, emotionally and physically. You may have realized that ending your relationship 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.
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 to cope with possibility of rejection. Remember, this time apart has given your ex space to reflect upon your relationship, also. 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.
What Do I Text or Say to My Ex After No Contact?
You'd think 30 (or 60) days would be long enough to come up with something great to say, but sadly, this is usually not the case. During that time it is likely that your emotions have fluctuated wildly and your decision to stay or leave have, too. If at the end of no contact you've finally decided to pursue the relationship, then you'll probably want to take some time to carefully consider your approach. And even if you've decided not to pursue the relationship, you may want to reach out to let them know your decision. Sit down and carefully craft a short line or two. Be direct and honest: Keep it short and sweet. Don't just rush to call them and then sit there stammering, trying to figure out what to say.
Will My Ex Come Back to Me After No Contact?
Of course, the answer to this question depends on you, your ex, and your particular situation. The break will likely give your partner an opportunity for perspective. But, as mentioned earlier, the main point of no contact is to gain clarity and strengthen yourself. The break may either give you the insight you need to repair the relationship or the strength to end it for good.
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]
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Me and my ex were together for over 3 years. She broke up with me because she felt under my thumb and at the end wasn't happy. We've been apart now for just under a month, but I keep messaging her. She said she's completely done. If I give her space do we have a chance?
Yes, you will have a far better chance if you stop messaging her. Give her some space and allow her to breathe. In the meantime, you should also do some soul-searching and ask yourself what you did to make your ex feel like she did.Helpful 70
It's day 31 of no contact, and out of the blue, my ex texted me on WhatsApp. The message said my name and something else. I didn't open it until later on. However, when I did, I discovered that he had deleted the message. What should I do? Why did he delete the message? Should I text him or ignore it?
What do you want to do? Would you like to get back with your ex or not?
How you proceed depends entirely upon what outcome you wish to achieve. If your ex has reached out once, then he will probably do so again. You did the right thing by not opening the message straight away. He now realizes that you haven't put your life on hold waiting for him. This may well be the reason he deleted the message.
If you do want to investigate the possibility of getting back together, then I would wait a week before messaging him. He has provided you with the perfect opening as you can now casually refer to his message and ask him if he had tried to contact you.Helpful 63
I broke up with my ex as he wasn’t committed to the relationship. He would go for days and sometimes weeks, without contacting me. However, whenever I got in touch with him, he always answered. I broke up with him, and now I regret it. Does the no contact rule work if you were the one who caused the breakup?
Yes, this is one instance where the person who initiated the breakup can use the no contact rule. Deep down, you know that his behavior was unacceptable and disrespectful. So why do you regret breaking up with him?
You deserve to be treated better. Don't think for one moment that you should accept second best. You weren't happy and now is the time to move on with your life.Helpful 45
We broke up 8 days ago and yesterday I got a pocket dial. Never ever received one in the whole relationship. Never even heard that he's done it to anyone else. He initiated the break-up, mainly because he's not sure if he wants his quiet life, not so quiet anymore. I've done the no contact since the break. Do you think he's just trying to get me to contact him. What should I do from here?
It does sound as if you are reading far too much into your ex accidentally phoning you. This is perfectly natural, as you are unlikely to be thinking rationally and probably prone to over-analysing even the smallest of detail.
Continue with no contact. If your ex wants to speak to you, he needs to make the call, not you.Helpful 42
I have completed 30 days of no contact but haven’t received any message or call from my ex. Her birthday is coming up in a few days. Should I contact my ex to wish her happy birthday? If so, then how should I go about it?
Personally, I would not contact her. However, if you do feel compelled to reach out to her, then a short, simple text message should suffice e.g. 'Happy birthday!'
However, you need to ask yourself what are you hoping this message will achieve, and how you will feel if she doesn't reply.Helpful 42
© 2017 C L Grant