“The no contact rule doesn’t work!”
That’s what I often hear when people come to me for help after their breakup or divorce.
“How exactly were you doing it?” I ask them.
They look at me, offended by my question. That’s when I know what happened to them.
They have bought into the lie.
Have you too?
Everybody tells you to use the No Contact Rule to get your Ex back. They tell you to make them miss you so much, they realize how much they really need you.
There’s a whole industry around that.
And maybe that is what you want …
However, there’s one problem with it:
It doesn't take into account what is best for YOU.
It tries to solve the short-term symptom, but it doesn’t cure the “disease.” It’s more like applying a band-aid to a mortal wound.
Let me ask you this:
Is it really best for you to get your Ex back?
Do you really want to revive a dysfunctional relationship? Awaken a revengeful monster that will eventually hunt you down?
There’s got to be a better way.
And that’s exactly what this guide is all about.
By the end of this article, you will know everything about the No Contact Rule and how you can apply it to your situation.
It may not be what you expect. But I can guarantee that it’s what you NEED.
So, let’s dive in.
What You Will Learn From This Article
- What the No-Contact Rule really is and how to use it the right way.
- Four reasons why you should follow the rule so it works for you.
- The “golden rules” and how to follow them right.
- Everything that can go wrong and how to react.
- Problems you will face and how to solve them.
- How other people changed their lives after following the rule.
Table of Content:
What Is the No Contact Rule?
“I have a thousand things to say to you and a thousand reasons not to.”
“I’m off to see Sandra,” I shouted as I walked toward the door.
“I thought you guys broke up,” my father said.
“We did, but we want to stay friends.”
“Why would you do something so stupid?” he asked.
“Because I don’t want to lose her?” I was annoyed by his remark.
“You've already lost her,” he said. “And now you're just giving her permission to hurt you even more.”
What does it mean to follow the No Contact Rule?
It means breaking off contact with your Ex-partner for a certain amount of time after the breakup.
It means to physically (and electronically) remove yourself from your Ex, work through issues, push through pain, and gain a new perspective as a result.
The No Contact Rule protects yourself from the (direct or indirect) influences of your Ex-Partner so you can break your addiction to them and heal quickly and sustainably.
You’ll have time and space to heal.
In short: get your ass as far away from your Ex as you can and start working through stuff.
I know what you're thinking, and yes, this comes with challenges and problems, and you will have a hard time.
But the better and stricter you can follow the rules, the quicker you will be over your Ex.
We’ll talk about common problems later; for now, just understand that the No Contact Rule is about physical and emotional withdrawal from your Ex.
But there is much more to it …
Why You Should Follow the Rule
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
One of the worst pitfalls after a breakup is the fact that we cannot see the big picture. We just want things to go back to “normal.”
Our judgment is clouded.
That’s why we often do “crazy things” at the beginning (for which we hate ourselves later).
Here are four facts on how following the No Contact Rule will help you avoid the worst dangers and navigate you securely through the foggy waters of breakup recovery:
1. It Will Help You See the Big Picture
We can’t fully understand the underlying reasons that led to the breakup yet, even when the Ex-Partner explained their point of view.
It’s like they were speaking Klingon and we were just nodding to everything while thinking: I just want you back … god, I love you so much.
We are also possessed by the thought of figuring things out, “getting to the bottom of it.”
The only problem is … there is no bottom.
You will slowly start to see things clearly after some time without your Ex.
Much like awakening from a weird dream and suddenly facing the truth.
2. It Will Protect You From More Pain
This is one of the most beneficial aspects of the No Contact Rule:
It protects us from ourselves and from the harmful influences of our Exes.
In our efforts to “make things right again,” we will unknowingly put ourselves into all kinds of situations that cause pain. We keep putting our hand on the hot stove and then wonder why it hurts.
If we remove the source of our suffering beforehand, the possibilities for self-inflicted torture are limited.
Also, it prevents them from initiating contact and trying to “take care” of us.
Fueled by their guilt of leaving us, the Ex might try to make things “easier” for us. To see if we can “manage.” To see how they can “help.”
But what they really do is push us deeper into an emotional roller-coaster of hope and rejection.
We get the carrot and the stick — plenty of it — until we finally have enough.
Following the rule will save you from that.
3. You Will Heal Quicker
Your recovery progresses in stages (there are seven in total). Every mistake you make after your breakup will throw you back relentlessly.
And you will make tons of mistakes (I know what I’m talking about, as I’ve made ALL of them).
Facebook Stalking is one of the most fatal ones.
A study published in the journal, Cyberpsychology (Issue from 2012), found that “that Facebook surveillance was associated with greater current distress over the breakup, more negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth.”
If you follow the No Contact Rule, you will not only avoid this and other disastrous mistakes, you will also progress through the breakup stages faster.
You’ll come faster to the important conclusions that will jump-start your recovery. As a result, you’ll feel better much faster.
(MORE: 7 New Stages of Grief After a Breakup: The Ultimate Guide)
4. Use It to Get YourSELF Back
”What if I want them back? Can’t I use the No Contact Rule to get them back?”
Here is one of the most harmful misconceptions about the No Contact Rule.
As I’ve said before, everyone is trying to persuade you to use the rule to get your Ex back. That’s the wrong thing to do, and I’ve always taken a fierce public position against that, from the moment of this site's existence.
My strong belief and my mission are that you should use the rule for ONE thing and ONE thing only:
Use the No Contact Rule to get YOURSELF back, NOT your Ex!
Because what you may not realize now is that you have probably lost yourself in this relationship. A big part of your pain derives from this “loss of self.”
Restoring your SELF should, therefore, be your number-one priority after a breakup or divorce.
By working to get yourself back, you’ll invest into the long-term solution, as opposed to something that won’t last long, anyway (sadly, over 90 percent of those who reconcile break up again within a month).
You’ll invest in your life and your future.
The alternative is to constantly wait for a reaction from your Ex — always hovering in position, waiting for them to say/do something in your favor.
This goes on until you are completely powerless and disillusioned … AND you become cynical about love on top of that.
Don’t let that ever happen to you.
(If you want to read more about the “loss of self,” I’ve written a long article about that over here.)
So to summarize, what does the No Contact Rule achieve — what does it do?
It is a tool to restore your mental health and give you a new perspective. It removes the disturbance of external factors, like a sabotaging Ex.
That’s why the rule is so effective.
“But what if they forget me, what if they move on without me? Can’t we just stay friends?”
No, you can’t. But patience, we’ll get to this one …
How Does It All Work?
“This may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do.”
As I’ve said, you entirely cut off contact with your Ex for at least 60 days by strictly abiding by the following three rules:
The Golden Rules of No Contact:
- Do NOT call or send text messages, write, communicate, call and hang up, or Facebook Stalk, and no social media!
- Do NOT drive by, don’t go to places they visit frequently, no stalking!
- Do NOT leave any trace of your Ex in your place or anywhere where you can see it!
If you can follow these three rules for 60 days, you will get invaluable insights.
Yes, this might be the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but it can also be the very best thing that you have ever done for yourself.
When to Use the No Contact Rule?
Follow the rule after every breakup or divorce as early as you can, regardless of the circumstances (even when you were in a long-distance relationship).
It doesn’t matter if there’s still a chance or not; the rule will help you evaluate the situation objectively and gain insight on WHAT to do.
Isn’t This Unethical/Immature?
“That’s not like adults behave.”
I hear that a lot.
This comes mostly from people who are looking for an intellectual justification NOT to follow the rule. They are simply not ready for it yet.
Also, they probably don’t have a clue how to follow the rule as I teach it:
Going No-Contact does NOT mean that you disappear into thin air suddenly.
No, because that would be “ghosting”:
“Ghosting is the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just ‘get the hint’ and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested.” (Source)
We should always remain ethical and fair, no matter what the Ex has done to us (the exception, of course, being all kinds of abuse; in such a case, just get your ass out of there asap).
Here’s what to do instead:
We inform the Ex about our plans by sending out an explanation letter (or email). We tell them that we want to cease contact for 60 days in order to heal (we have the perfect template for this in our DETOX Course because you don’t want to do this the wrong way).
And THEN we start to follow the rule strictly.
Complete transparency and honesty toward your Ex and yourself is the key to lasting recovery.
For How Long Should I Follow the No Contact Rule?
After going through a terrible breakup myself and coaching thousands of clients and students since 2005, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best period of time is this:
It’s the time you need to break your Ex-Addiction, go through “withdrawal,” and re-connect to yourSELF.
It’s the minimum amount of time that you need to get over an Ex and move on.
What If I Break the Rule During the 60 Days?
If you should break any of the three rules during the 60 days, then you go back to Day 1. Without mercy.
PRO Tip: In my experience, most of us will break the rule at least once during the period. This will throw you back in your recovery and day-count, but it will actually work to your advantage.
It will strengthen your motivation, as you’ve learned the hard way how painful fallbacks are. You’ll know why you shouldn’t, for example, drunk-call your Ex after you’ve missed them so much.
It’s the “hot-stove” analogy finally starting to work to our advantage.
Now, you’ve finally decided to follow the rule. You are motivated and determined, waiting for the starting signal to start your run toward the end of the 60 days.
Here comes Day 1.
What to Do During the 60 Days of No Contact
“There is no such thing as helplessness. It's just another word for giving up.”
“Eddie, I’ve been doing NC for several months; we haven’t talked, texted, or seen each other. But I still feel so completely hung up on him, and it even hurts more than it did at the beginning. He started dating again already. What am I doing wrong?”
“Well, what exactly have you done for your own recovery in these few months of No Contact?” I asked her.
“Nothing … I just tried to stay away from him and didn't call him, and it took all I had.”
“What have you learned about yourself during this alone time?”
“That I can’t live without him, and that my happiness completely depends on him,” she said.
“So, you were completely focused on him?” I asked.
“What else can I do? I can’t get him out of my head.”
If you don’t do the re-connection work, you will have the same problem again in your next relationship. Simply existing without the physical presence of your Ex is not enough for a thorough recovery.
“Time alone does NOT heal,” I told her.
(Real conversion with a coaching prospect)
Let me be completely honest with you:
You will have an excruciating tough time during the first week. You will feel like you're wandering through a huge desert without water. In your underwear. Chased by wild animals and tricked by mirages.
I’m not telling you this to discourage you, but I want you to know and prepare yourself for what’s coming.
The urge to call them, look at their Facebook profile, or go to places they hang out will be almost unbearable.
This is when you feel that your situation is very much like an addiction.
Treat It Like an Addiction
Falling in love has neurological effects similar to those of cocaine.
What happens when you remove the drug from the addict?
The addict goes through physical and emotional withdrawal.
Neurologically, a breakup is very much like that. And if you treat it as such, you will better understand what is happening to you and how you get through it.
You will have more options at your disposal.
You could, for example, come to the conclusion that it’s much more beneficial to NOT just hang around and give yourself the opportunity to obsess over them … to keep thinking about consuming “your drug.”
Instead, plan out every minute of your free time.
Here are a few examples:
- Meet up with old friends you haven’t seen in a long time.
- Always wanted to do [insert activity here]? Now is the best time to start.
- Go to the gym as often as you can.
- Learn a new language, play an instrument, or try out a new sport.
Do what you have to do to avoid harmful over-thinking (believe me, you don’t want to spend time going over the “what-ifs” and “if-onlys”).
More on the addiction part later …
Do the Re-Connection Work
Here’s what you have to accomplish during the 60 days:
You must re-direct your focus from them to you.
Most people don’t do that, and it's why they haven’t really made progress in their healing, even though they may have done No Contact already.
You MUST use the 60 days to take a deep (and uncomfortable) look at yourself:
What are your essential wants and needs?
What really makes you tick?
Who are you deep down?
Find the YOU and reconnect with that true SELF.
That’s the real secret.
Trust me, if you can do that, it’ll be the best couple of days you’ve ever had in your life.
You’ll become a different person, enjoying life more and having fulfilled relationships in the future.
I’ve seen it so many times (I am living proof: I found my perfect-fit partner, and now my wife and I have twin girls).
Can things go wrong? Well, let’s see …
What Can Go Wrong If I Do No Contact? Can It Backfire?
When people ask this question, what they really mean is: will No Contact diminish their chances to get their Ex back?
“What if they forget me during the 60 days and don't want to have anything to do with me?”
Let me answer this plain and simple:
NOTHING can go wrong if you follow the rule; nothing will backfire.
Because you are doing it for yourself and NOT to manipulate your Ex.
You can only win.
The only way things can go wrong is when you break the rule and decide not to continue it anymore.
Giving up is the worst-case scenario.
How your Ex feels about your decision to cut off contact is irrelevant to you now.
You’ll revisit the relationship and its chances for reconciliation after the 60 days have passed.
That's the time for making a decision.
The Post-60-Days Evaluation
Is there still a chance for the relationship after the 60 days have passed?
Will your Ex still have feelings for you after that?
Can you still be friends?
While that shouldn’t be your concern at all when starting with Day One, it’s definitely something to re-evaluate after the 60 days' No-Contact period.
Now that you have a “birds-eye-view” of your situation, you can take a deeper, more objective look into your options.
Here’s where many of you will come to a shocking realization:
You don't want them back anymore.
Wow. Bummer. How did that happen?
You might start seeing the former relationship in a different (realistic) light, and you don’t really see a future for it anymore.
If you reach that verdict, fine. No Contact worked for you because it opened your eyes to the real nature of the relationship.
If, on the other hand, you still want them back AFTER the 60 days have passed, then your chances are much better NOW than they were before you started.
If your relationship was meant to be, your Ex will still be there.
Sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth.
More on that later …
(On a side note: if you are not ready to make a decision yet, then don’t do it. You’ll get there eventually and you should not strain yourself. It takes as long as it takes.)
How do you get through the long 60 days without quitting?
You do that by conquering all the obstacles and problems you will run into.
Common No Contact Problems
Starting with day one and forward, you will ask yourself the following question:
“The No Contact rule is killing me — it’s so hard and it feels wrong. WHY should I continue?”
In these arduous moments, when you think you’ll go crazy missing them and when all you can think of is picking up the phone and calling them, this is what you must remember:
- You are doing this to gain a new perspective on the whole situation — a birds-eye-view of this whole mess.
- You are doing this to become the best version of YOU, without anybody interfering (least of all, your Ex).
- You are doing this to find out whether to get back together again OR to let go and learn from this experience.
PRO Tip: Write down YOUR personal reason on a piece of paper and read it multiple times a day, whenever doubt creeps in.
Another popular objection to the No Contact Rule is the following.
No Contact When You Have Kids Together (or Work With Your Ex)
“It’s impossible for me to follow the rules because we have children together, and we both take care of them.”
This is when you must follow the rules of “Reduced Contact.”
“Reduced Contact” means having minimal physical contact with your Ex and keeping everything strictly business related.
No falling for manipulation attempts, no games, no arguing.
There is a certain set of rules that you must follow to protect yourself from attempts of (self-)sabotage while taking care of your children/business/work/circle of friends.
(If you need more help with this, you can check out our DETOX Course, where we offer worksheets and the full set of rules.)
The next objection, we have partially covered already:
“What if they miss me/want to come back/forget me/move on?”
Let me ask you a counter-question:
If your Ex was still in love with you and believed that you were the one, HOW would they behave?
- Wouldn’t they find you wherever you were, kick in your door, and proclaim their love for you?
- Wouldn’t they at least wait for you to complete your 60 days and then make their move?
- Wouldn’t they fight for you?
Point is, if they still loved you and thought that you were meant for each other, then the 60 days will change NOTHING.
If they want to get back together again, they will let you know. And then it’s on you to decide if there’s still a chance or not, once you have the necessary emotional distance.
Until then, you will lose nothing by completing the 60 days.
Trust me on this one.
“What if I’m addicted to my Ex?”
Oh, yes. That will make things much harder.
Note that there is always a certain degree of addiction when it comes to an Ex-partner (we've talked about this).
We are addicted to the idea of a relationship, the status that the relationship gives us, and the fact that there was always someone on our side, having our backs.
So, this is a multi-faceted addiction.
And of course, love-addiction and love-withdrawal are real things:
Researcher Helen E. Fisher (a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University) said the following:
“Romantic love is an addiction. It’s a very powerfully wonderful addiction when things are going well and a perfectly horrible addiction when things are going poorly.
“I think the brain circuitry for romantic love evolved millions of years ago, to enable our ancestors to focus their mating energy on just one person at a time and start that mating process. And when you've been rejected in love, you have lost life's greatest prize, which is a mating partner. This brain system becomes activated probably to help you try to win this person back.” (source)
All of this is true, but in the end, you MUST face and beat your addiction.
You must do cold withdrawal.
(On a side note, I once had a client who had been a drug addict in her past. She told me that she experienced first-hand that withdrawing from an Ex is almost the same thing as drug withdrawal.)
(MORE: Signs That You May Be Addicted to Your Ex)
How have other people dealt with the obstacles of No Contact?
What have they experienced after completing the 60 days?
What have they gained after fighting through this, and would they do it again?
Here are a few testimonials of those who did a great job with No Contact.
No Contact Rule Success Stories
I’m proud to say that today is Day 60 of NC! My ex reached out twice during it, but I ignored it both times. I wrote an email at the beginning, explaining that I needed more space in order for me to move on, so I didn’t ghost. I really didn’t have a problem not calling her, because I know no good would have come from it — fool me once …
I feel good, and I can say that I did feel a difference within the last few weeks. Missing her much less. I’m still ruminating on the ‘why’ but I am really working on that actively. I know my self-worth and self-esteem have been hurt quite a bit, so I feel that my process is now shifting towards fixing that.
—A. (DETOX Student)
Somehow I made it thru the 60 days of NC without even realizing which day it even occurred on. Never in a million years did I expect that to happen. I guess it's different for each one of us, the hurt we have gone thru, etc.
I think I knew for a very long time that at some point, it would have to end with him or he would drive me insane. It was there like background noise, and then when I finally faced it, mourned a bit, the NC provided just what I needed to clear my head.
You know what it did for me? It gave me freedom. It reminded me of who I am … who I forgot I was. Showed me that other men can and will find me desirable.
I'm happier now than I have been in years … actual years. I laugh (a lot!!!!), I go on trips, I love life. My home is peaceful and full of love.
One day I'll probably hear from him again … and when I do … I just may thank him for the life lesson because all of it brought me to where I am now. It's such a powerful tool and can help to heal you if you only hang in there and give it a chance … it's worth it.
—K. (DETOX Student)
I made it! Those first two weeks were so brutal and surreal — I never guessed I would feel so centered and strong in such a short period of time. That doesn't mean at all that ‘I'm over it,' only that the space of the 60 days gave me the room to do the work on ME, and not focus 100% of the time on my ex, which is definitely what I was doing when I started Eddie's program.
I smile more, I was able to run into a couple of mutual friends the other day and talk easily about stuff, about divorce. Just in general, I felt free and loose and untriggered and curious and open about the future.
—L. (DETOX Student)
“Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together.”
The No Contact Rule has a bad reputation.
That’s mainly because smart internet-marketers twisted its real purpose into their own agenda. They want to convince you to try to get back your Ex.
This is NOT what the No Contact Rule is for.
It’s not an Ex-manipulation tool to trick them into falling back in love with you.
Always remember this:If someone wants to leave you, let them go.
This rule is for YOU only.
To heal, to regain a healthy perspective, and to re-connect to your true SELF.
It gives you back the power of choice and shows you a way out of your helplessness.
I urge you to make the decision to follow the rule, break your addiction to your Ex, and use the time to focus on yourself.
I promise you that this will be the best 60 days you’ve ever had.
It will give you your life back.
If you need help doing this, you can either join our community (and if you aren’t on our newsletter yet, you can do that by clicking here).
Please let me know in the comments section below: have you ever tried following the rule? What have you experienced? If you haven’t, make a public proclamation to do it. We’ll hold you accountable.
Here’s the whole process as an infographic (stickman-o-graphic):
Embed This Infographic on Your Site:
I am on day 30 of my breakup and still feel horrible. We have a dog together so I still have to be in contact with him and see him periodically upon pick ups and drop offs: however convos are about the dog only. I was on the revised plan for no contact, but I can’t bear to see him every few days because I get angry due to his emotional cheating spree that he had with another woman. I came across the no contact for 60 days and I’m going to try it. I’m on day 2. I’m hoping I will feel a lot better 58 days from now. I want my sanity back.
I am on day 8 of no contact. This is the 3rd time I’ve attempted it, the last few times I told my ex I didn’t want to talk anymore he kept engaging and I would react. It’s been really difficult, especially because I finally committed to it after hearing from him that he has feelings for a new girl and they are seeing each other, and I couldn’t risk hearing anymore from him. We both exhibited toxic behaviors in the relationship, and I am definitely addicted to him. I also told him 21 days of no contact (which is what I was told was the minimum detox time), and he’s been respecting that, but now I’m worried about when that time is up because I know I won’t be ready to hear from him yet.
This is my 3rd attempt at NC. I made it 16 days the first time and 7 days the next time. I went out to a local hangout and he showed up there. I went up to him and asked him to drive me home . We went back to his place and I guess you will know what happened. We talked all the way home and he stayed for a bit and we talked more. It’s best that I end this dysfunctional toxic abusive relationship. I am giving my best this time. I have to get my self worth back and take my power back.
Don’t beat yourself up, Heather. Sometimes you have to build up the strength to do the full 60 days. Now you know what triggers you and what to avoid this time. Hang in there!