CL Grant has authored many relationship books, including "30 Day No Contact Rule," "The Reality of Being the Other Woman," and "Ex Addict."
What to Do When the No Contact Rule Is Over
It has been a tough journey, but you have finally completed the no contact rule. Congratulations! You have accomplished a full 30 days of radio silence. Demonstrating resilience, determination, and strength of character, you only have one question remaining: When will your ex-partner contact you?
The no contact rule is about helping you to heal and not about getting your former partner back. Even so, maybe you don't think that applies to you. Yes, you feel emotionally stronger, but you also believe you deserve restitution for the anguish and distress you have experienced. You now feel ready to move forward and reclaim your ex.
However, it is vital you understand that what you do after no contact is equally as important as the steps you followed during the no-contact period. Your behavior now is capable of making or breaking any chances of a reconciliation with your ex.
If you decide that you are going to break the no-contact period, you must evaluate your reasons for doing so. You should also consider the potential ramifications for your emotional well-being and ensure you adopt a guarded approach in order to protect yourself from any emotional distress, as far as you possibly can.
6 Steps to Take Before Initiating Contact With Your Ex
Below are six actions you need to consider, after completing the 30-day no contact rule and before initiating contact with your ex.
- Why Do You Want to Make Contact?
- Are You Ready to Make Contact?
- Adopting a Positive Mindset
- Changing Your Emotional Attachment Style
- Making the First Move
- Building a Rapport After No Contact
Sometimes you miss the memories, not the person.
Step #1: Why Do You Want to Make Contact?
Firstly, you need to ask yourself what is motivating you to contact your former partner. While the answer may seem blindingly obvious, you must remember that you are a different person from the one your ex broke up with. So, do you:
- Want to get back together with your ex?
- Stay friends?
- Find out how they are doing and wish them well?
- Show them what they are missing?
- Want revenge?
- Need closure?
- Worry that if you don't contact them now, they will find someone else?
By answering the above honestly, you should be able to gauge the strength of any feelings you may still have for your ex. If you are still harboring bitterness and resentment, you are not ready to make the first move. It is vital you be perfectly honest and do not mislead yourself as regards your motives.
Step #2: Are You Ready to Make Contact?
Once you have established why you want to reach out to your former partner, you should also consider whether or not you are ready to initiate contact. This is an integral step in the 'after no-contact' process and should be taken seriously. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you believe that you can fall in love with someone else?
- Do you feel worthy of love?
- Was there any emotional or physical abuse in the relationship?
- Can you resolve any differences that you had?
- Do you trust your ex?
- Do you feel confident and independent?
- Are you thinking in a rational manner?
- Can you handle rejection?
The Importance of Emotional Detachment
Emotional detachment can have negative connotations when describing the disorder that depicts someone's inability to connect with others on an emotional level. However, it also refers to an individual's strength of character or emotional willpower. It is important you realize that it is the second definition that you are assessing when answering the above questions.
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Strong emotional willpower is your best friend following a breakup. It helps you to control your impulses and emotions, and also maintain personal boundaries. This type of resilience is essential for your mental well-being, particularly when faced with any emotional trauma caused by others.
Believing you are ready to make contact is a huge step and should not be taken lightly. If you come across as being needy or desperate, this is likely to send your former partner running in the opposite direction. You must exude confidence, independence, and positivity.
You must also be strong enough to handle rejection. If you are unsure about this, then you should seriously consider another 30 days of no contact. If your ex-partner rejects your approach or is dating someone else, you need to ask yourself how this will make you feel. If it means setting back your recovery, you are simply not ready for it. Remember, the world population exceeds 7 billion. There are a lot of single people out there and you will find love again.
Step #3: Adopting a Positive Mindset
Each and every one of us is wired differently. Some view life with pessimism, others with optimism. Nonetheless, how you view the proverbial glass—as being half-empty or half-full—can affect your chances of finding true love and happiness.
When you anticipate positive results, it is human nature to take action to precipitate these events. Similarly, if you believe only bad things happen to you, this negativity typically prevents you from acting to avoid or minimize the effects of these events. This is often referred to as a downward spiral or a series of thoughts or actions which serve to make a situation progressively worse.
The Law of Attraction
This thought process is widely referred to as the Law of Attraction. Successful author and motivational speaker Jack Canfield says:
“The Law of Attraction states that whatever you focus on, think about, read about, and talk about intensely, you’re going to attract more of into your life.”
If you stay focused on the positive aspects of your life, you will instinctively attract more of these towards you. If you focus on negativity, then that is what will be attracted into your life. Therefore, if you dwell on being rejected by your ex, then that is more than likely what you will eventually receive.
While you may be skeptical about self-help gurus, research on dispositional optimism, undertaken by psychologist Susan Segerstrom, supports the theory that optimists are healthier and more successful in life.
Dispositional optimism is defined as expecting good rather than bad events to occur. It is associated with a wide range of positive outcomes, including:
- Better performance
- Higher likelihood of goal attainment
- Better mental health,
- Better physical health
- Greater resilience to stressful events
Obviously, it is worth remembering that some life events are capable of altering your outlook on life, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Therefore, as Jack Canfield says, you need to:
"Start paying attention to where your attention is going!"
Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.
— Denis Waitley
Step #4: Changing Your Emotional Attachment Style
Everybody has an emotional attachment style that affects how they behave in interpersonal relationships. It is what makes some people fear rejection, feel insecure or unworthy of love. It is important that you evaluate your mindset before making contact and consider which emotional attachment style best describes you.
Research by Bartholomew and Horowitz identifies four types of emotional attachment patterns as follows:
These individuals have a positive outlook on life and feel secure in their own company. They set healthy boundaries and are resilient when faced with a breakup.
Those with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style feel insecure in romantic relationships and tend to be highly strung. They demand constant attention and dislike being on their own. They typically make jealous and obsessive partners.
Emotionally independent, these people have many superficial friends but relatively few close friendships. They often have difficulty committing to a relationship. Many narcissists fall into this category.
These conflicted individuals have low self-esteem, are dependent on others, and have few truly close relationships. Suspicious of others, they may have been the victim of abandonment or abuse. Although they desire romantic relationships, they also have a tendency to push people away.
It is not uncommon for individuals to have a combination of different attachment traits, which may alter over time. Adopting the wrong type of emotional attachment style will sabotage any efforts to rekindle your former relationship. Therefore, if you are planning to break the no-contact period, you must ensure you are in the right frame of mind and feel emotionally prepared for all eventualities.
For example, if you fear rejection, you may behave irrationally. Fear can manifest itself as jealousy, possessiveness anger, and desperation. You do not want your ex to associate these traits with you. If your worst fears materialize, you must be strong enough to resist acting on impulse. Adopting a positive mindset does not stop you from feeling distressing emotions. It allows you to experience them while controlling how you respond. By identifying any potential flaws in your emotional attachment style, you can proactive measures to minimize any negative consequences that these may generate.
Step #5: Making the First Move
After maintaining a period of no-contact, you may be confused about the best way to initiate contact with your ex. There are several options available from sending flowers to handwritten notes. However, I strongly recommend that you only consider sending a short text message, as your initial means of reconnecting with your ex.
Research shows that as individuals, we don’t like loose ends. Think about it: when you go to bed at night, do you mull over what happened that day, or do you fret about what you didn't finish and need to complete the following day? It is fair to say that most of you will do the latter.
The Zeigarnik Effect
This theory is borne out by something called the Zeigarnik Effect. Psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik discovered that human beings tend to remember incomplete tasks more than they do complete ones. In sending a text message to your ex, you are effectively creating a task for them to complete. Whether your ex realizes it or not, they will be driven to complete the task. Of course, they may choose to do this by deleting your message. Job done! Nonetheless, you will probably find that you will eventually elicit some type of response from them.
The First Text After the No Contact Rule
Assuming that you have decided that you will use text messaging, as a means of first making contact, then you need to ensure that it is:
- Sent at an appropriate time
What to Text Your Ex After No Contact
The next step is to decide what you should write in your text message. The following are some examples of what you could use:
- Remind them of a happy memory. (Remember that time when...)
- Tell them you saw something that reminded you of them. (I saw the latest Mustang today and it reminded me of the one that you used to have when...)
- Ask them for help or advice for yourself or someone close to you. (Do you happen to know where I could buy a replacement...)
Please remember that these are simply examples of the types of text messages that you could send. The last thing you want to do is to wear your heart on your sleeve. Don't refer to the breakup, tell them you miss them or start interrogating them. Think about the sort of text that you would send to an acquaintance. If it would be suitable for them, then it should be fine for your ex.
After you have hit the send button, make sure that you keep yourself busy and don't sit at home, staring at your phone, waiting for a reply. Arrange to meet up with friends or do something adventurous. This will have the added advantage of you being able to to let your ex know that life has not stood still for you.
It is important that you relax and remember that you have nothing to reproach yourself for. You are simply an adult who is taking positive steps to achieve your goals.
Step #6: Building a Rapport After No Contact
So you’ve made the first move by contacting your ex after the no-contact period. Well done! Typically, you will be facing 1 of 4 outcomes:
- Your ex responded negatively
- You received no reply
- You received a neutral reply
- Your ex responded positively
Negative or No Response
If you received no reply, or alternatively a negative response, then you are best advised not to make contact again. This is the simplest, yet hardest outcome to come to terms with. You have offered an olive branch and you cannot force your ex-partner to accept it. You must continue to rebuild your life and seek out new opportunities and life experiences.
A neutral response is typically when you receive a closed reply, with no follow-up question. For example, you might ask your ex how he or she is keeping. You receive a short reply from them such as, "I'm fine," but they don't reciprocate by asking how you are. This is why you should be mindful to send open-ended messages that require more than a yes or no answer.
Another type of neutral response is the, 'let's stay friends,' or 'let's be friends with benefits.' The reply may be worded in numerous formats, but the message is essentially the same. Your ex hasn't found someone to replace you yet, but wishes to enjoy all of the perks of your friendship until someone better comes along. Never allow your ex to relegate you to the subs' bench, especially if you still have feelings for them. You will never regain your status as a first-team player if you allow this to happen.
Alternatively, if your ex has responded positively, then you may continue to work on rebuilding your relationship slowly. There is a natural progression as follows:
- Text Messages
- Short Telephone Conversations
- Longer Telephone Conversations
- Short Face-to-Face Meetings (e.g. Coffee for 30 minutes)
- Longer Face-to-Face Meetings (e.g. Lunch for approximately 1 hour)
- Evening Dates
Rebuilding Your Relationship
When you first contact your ex, you want to keep the interactions lighthearted. Nevertheless, you do need to establish boundaries to ensure that you do not end up in the 'friends' or 'friends with benefits' zone.
Keep your text messages short and do not reply immediately. Wait for a few hours or even longer. If you receive a text message late at night, don't even consider replying until the following day. Also, do not panic if you do not get an immediate response to any messages that you send. The last thing you want is to come across as needy or neurotic. So, give your ex some space and do not bombard them with text messages.
Over a period of time, you will gradually build up the amount of contact that you both have. Do this slowly and steadily. Allow your former partner time to become accustomed to having you in his or her life again.
Naturally, there will come a time when uncomfortable conversations will need to take place. Don't rush into this and ensure that you remain calm during any dialogue. Plan out what you want to say and determine what outcomes you would like to achieve. If change and compromise are required, you must truthfully determine if this is something that you can live with in the long term. Ultimately, while you may still have feelings for your ex, you may eventually decide that they are not the right life partner for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the No Contact Rule Work?
People frequently ask if a period of no contact will help them get through the pain of a breakup. The simple answer to this is yes. It takes time, but with perseverance, wounds start to heal. However, the burning question undoubtedly tends to be whether it will help them get back together with their ex. The only truthful answer to this is maybe.
If you have researched the no contact rule online, you may have read some of the dubious promises associated with it. Is it possible to use no contact to get back with your former partner? Yes, of course. Is it guaranteed that you will get back together? Absolutely not. Nobody can predict a successful reconciliation. Anyone promising you otherwise is not being entirely truthful. It is imperative you grasp this and move forward in the knowledge that there are no guarantees when it comes to relationships.
Should You Wait for Your Ex to Contact You?
If you and your ex-partner are going to get back together, one of you must summon the courage to make the first move. Remember, while you wait, you are placing your life on hold. What if your ex-partner makes no effort to contact you? Are you going to remain single for the rest of your life?
You must accept that your ex may not contact you. They may well have moved on with someone else, or alternatively, may assume that you have found someone new. Either way, there is nothing wrong with taking control of your destiny and making the first move. Even if the relationship is not salvageable, the process will provide you with a degree of closure and set you free.
- Segerstrom, S. C. (2007). Optimism and Resources: Effects on Each Other and on Health over 10 Years. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(4), 10.1016/j.jrp.2006.09.004. [27 August 2018]
- Canfield, J. & Watkins D.D. (2007). Jack Canfield's Key to Living the Law of Attraction: A Simple Guide to Creating the Life of Your Dreams. Health Communications Inc, Florida. [27 August 2018]
- Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment Styles among Young Adults: A Test of a Four-Category Model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226-244. [27 August 2018]
- 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. [27 August 2017]
- Zeigarnik, B. (1938), "On Finished and Unfinished Tasks", pp.300-314 in W. D. Ellis (Ed.), A Sourcebook of Gestalt Psychology, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. [27 August 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.
© 2018 C L Grant