How To Use The No Contact Rule After A Breakup With An Ex

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A lot of us choose to go cold turkey after a breakup. That means no seeing or contacting our ex ever again.

Some people, however, choose to set a target length of time where they won’t speak to their ex, and then assess their options once this time is up. This might be 30 days or 3 months or some other period.

We’ll go through how you can use this rule in ways that suit you best – and how to stick to it!

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re going through a breakup right now and you’re tempted to message your ex.

Put that thought out of your mind for a few minutes, read through our suggestions, and see how you feel at the end.

Remember – this is temporary and you can get through it. We’re right here to help you…

If you’re doing it to get your ex back.

One of the main reasons people cut their ex out of their life for a few months is in order to get them back.

Now, that might sound backwards – why are you giving them the silent treatment if you want to be with them?

Well, there are a number of reasons for doing this.

Firstly, it gives you both space to cool off and get clarity on the relationship. Some time and space apart can make you both realize what you’re missing and just how great you had it before.

You can both get over whatever it was that drove one of you to end things, and you get the chance to rebuild your life and focus on yourself, so that you’re ready to commit fully when you do get back together.

When they see you again, they will have moved on from petty annoyances or arguments you had, and will see you as a thriving, independent, and attractive partner again!

That’s why the steps below are key – you can’t just not talk to your ex for 3 months (or some other amount of time), you need to focus on some self-improvement and growth…

Going no contact is also good because it gives you some time to focus on yourself and get stronger and more confident. This means that when you do then see your ex to talk about getting back together, you’ll be feeling great!

If you were to run back to your ex straight away, you’d probably still be very upset and might act in ways that you’d later regret. After all, it’s normal to be quite clingy or desperate when your partner ends things, but it probably won’t convince them to take you back!

By giving you and them space, your ex will see that you can be independent and do your own thing, as well as want to be with them. This shows them that you are capable of being mature, and they are more likely to want to get back together with you.

Nothing is more attractive than someone who has their life together, who has their own hobbies and friends, and who sees a relationship as something they want, rather than need.

7 tips to help you stick to the no-contact rule.

1. Journal why you’re doing this.

One of the best ways to stick to the no-contact rule is to write down why you’re doing it in the first place.

Be painfully honest with yourself when you do this – the deeper you can go, the more likely you are to be able to stick it out. Nobody else ever needs to see or know what you’re writing down, so get it all out.

You might want to think about why you broke up in the first place, whether it was their decision or yours.

Make a note of the things that led to the breakup – if one of you cheated, for example. Then go into some detail on why that means it’s best to avoid each other – you can’t trust them, or you make bad choices because you’re not secure enough with them.

By adding the detail about why these reasons are valid, you’re more likely to remember exactly how bad things felt when you were with your ex. These feelings are what will stop you from going back to them.

Use this journal entry or list as something to come back to each time you’re tempted to message them or stage an ‘accidental’ run-in. It will help you stay focused on exactly why you’re enforcing this no-contact rule.

2. Envision your future.

It can be so hard when you’re in the middle of a breakup, and it might feel like you’ll never be over your ex or the relationship. You get almost blinded by the pain of heartbreak that it seems as though there is no other option.

There is! Make a mood board or chat to friends about your future. Avoid mentioning romantic partners for now, and instead focus on the other aspects of your life and what they might look like.

This gives you some breathing room from thinking about love and relationships, and helps you focus on how much other stuff you have going on in your life!

When we go through a breakup, it’s as though we’re only defined by that. We forget about everything else in our life – like family, hobbies, work, friends.

Use this time to imagine what might happen, or what you want to happen, in the next few years. Be ambitious and let yourself get carried away!

Think about your dream job, where you’ll be living, that kind of thing. If you’re a very visual person like me, you can get as detailed as what kind of cushions you’ll have on the sofa in your dreamy New York penthouse apartment.

Whatever gets you excited again and gives you something to aim for – whether it’s cushions or careers…

3. Set a realistic goal.

It can feel scary to just cut ties with someone completely, and there are sometimes reasons that you do need to talk to an ex.

Give yourself a realistic goal to aim for – maybe you see them once to give them their things back, and then pretend they don’t exist for 30, 60, or whatever number of days.

There isn’t really a set time, unfortunately, but by giving yourself a reasonably long time away from them, you’ll really know how you feel about your ex.

It can take a few weeks or months of heartbreak before you can really focus on moving on, so factor in the time you think you’ll need. 

If you tend to take a week or two after a breakup to wallow around crying and eating ice cream, give yourself what you need and allow that process to happen.

If you only give yourself two weeks before you reach out to your ex after a breakup, you’ll probably still be in the intense, heartbreak phase and you’ll act based on those feelings.

Give yourself a chance to know what you truly want by taking a bit more time – you might feel so much better in a few months’ time, or you might realize that it was the real thing and you want to try again.

We’ll go into more detail on that toward the end of this article…

4. Allow yourself to grieve the relationship.

As we mentioned above, some of us really need time to just be heartbroken. It’s a bit of ritual we need to go through.

If you know that every breakup leaves you a sobbing mess for a few weeks, give yourself that time. You are absolutely allowed to feel sad and awful and like nothing will ever be okay again. You need to allow yourself to grieve the relationship if you’re going to truly move on from it.

Remember that this is totally valid. You have essentially lost a person and a relationship – as well as a version of yourself, and memories and hopes for a future together.

This is a lot to go through, and you need to process it all if you’re going to be able to stick to your no-contact rule.

If you try to skip this phase, you’re more likely to relapse and randomly get hit really hard by how much you miss your ex. That means that you’re then even more likely to want to message or see them.

To avoid this happening, take the time to grieve and feel sad – and then move on!

5. Remove the temptation.

A lot of us decide we’re not going to talk to our ex anymore… and then check their Instagram profile constantly, or re-read our message history.

We torture ourselves by checking to see what other people have liked their photos, or if their stories look like they’re on a date (already?!).

Or we read our past conversations and look for clues that they were about to end things, and we wonder if we’d still be together if we hadn’t sent that message a few weeks ago.

Sound familiar?

This is not at all helpful when you’re trying to get over someone – and that’s probably the reason you’re trying out the no-contact rule, after all.

If you’re actually looking to get back with your ex, scroll down to our section on that!

You can try to convince yourself that checking messages and profiles doesn’t count as ‘contact,’ but you know it’s not healthy or productive. 

Limit this by removing the temptation. Add photos on your camera roll to your ‘hidden’ album so that you’re less likely to look at them.

Export your WhatsApp chat with them – you can email it yourself so that you’ve got it (this somehow makes it feel less sad!), and then delete the conversation on your phone.

Unfollow them on social media, or at least mute them so that you don’t randomly come across their photos while you’re scrolling.

If you’re checking whether or not they’ve viewed your story, hide it from them. They’ll never know, and it stops you being so compulsive and wondering what it means that they’ve watched it (or not watched it), etc.

All of this will help you stick to your no-contact rule because you won’t be ‘ambushed’ by their virtual presence as much.

The less exposure you have to them, the less there is to read into – and the less you’ll want to message them or reach out.

6. Focus on yourself and stay busy.

One of the most important things to remember is that you are doing this. You have chosen to fully take time out from your ex – because you know that it’s the right thing to do.

This is so great, as it shows that you’re actively choosing to focus on your well-being. You are making yourself a priority.

In order to stick with the no-contact rule, you need to continue believing and showing that you are the priority here. That means focusing on yourself and looking after your mental and physical health.

A workout or meditation session might not be the first thing you think about when you’re going through a breakup, but try to find time to fit them in when you can.

By all means, go through the junk-food stage of the breakup, but try to make sure you’re eating at least some healthy foods, drinking enough water, and getting enough fresh air and sunlight!

By looking after your mind and body like this, you are committing to focusing on yourself. The more you focus on yourself, the less tempted you’ll be to focus on your ex.

Staying busy will also help you get through the no-contact stage with your ex after the breakup. If you have a good mix of plans – seeing friends, yoga, movie nights, weekend workouts etc – you’ll be distracted from your thoughts and you won’t be able to just sit and wallow.

Use the no-contact rule to take some time for yourself and fill your life with things you enjoy doing.

7. Have an alternative text buddy lined up.

You might be wondering… who do I talk to now?

When we go through a breakup, it’s so easy to immediately feel alone and lonely. You’re so used to texting your partner, calling them, checking in with them when you feel down because you know they’ll cheer you up.

After the breakup, you might be missing those small interactions.

Instead of being tempted to text your ex any time you feel sad or want to share something with someone, have a designated friend ready to act as a substitute!

Text them good morning instead, send them cute selfies or funny videos, tell them you love them before you go to bed at night.

It might sound silly – it’s not the same as texting your partner, we know – but it will help you.

This is a great way to implement the no-contact rule because you still feel loved and you still get to enjoy some interactions with someone who cares about you. 

Ask loved ones to help you. Sometimes, you just need to call in the big guns! Your close family and friends will know you very well, and will know how to help you during this breakup. Speak to them about what you’re doing and why – they’ll be supportive and will want to help you stick to the no-contact rule.

If there are some tough days coming up, let your friends know so that they can be extra supportive of you. Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays – whatever you think could make you feel tempted to text your ex, basically.

Using the no-contact rule as a relationship ‘break.’

Okay – so this is the big question. Are you taking a break from texting or seeing your ex, but ultimately wanting to get back together?

If you want them back, you might have decided to take a few months off talking to each other. In that case, you really want to be mindful of the time you spend apart.

It’s important to follow the suggestions above so that you can stick to the rule for the time period you have set yourself.

However, you’ll also want to spend some time thinking about what you really want.

Consider why you broke up in the first place – whose decision was it, and what happened to prompt it?

Do you really love them, or just the idea of them?

By taking a break from talking to your ex, you’ll have some time to focus on these questions, and dig deep for the answers.

Taking a break like this can be great, but you need to establish some ground rules.

Are they also taking a break or will they be texting you? Are you allowed to date other people during this no-contact phase? When will you first talk again, and will you both be completely honest about what you want?

Giving yourself the time and space to figure out what you really want is going to be so helpful for you. You might realize that, after a little while, you’re actually fine on your own. You might even be relieved that you broke up!

This is the kind of insight you can only get if you stick to the no-contact rule – if you talk to them or see them, you’ll be more likely to abandon your genuine feelings and get back with them just because you’ve missed being in a relationship, not necessarily this relationship.

What if they reach out to you – and you want them back?

So, what happens if they break the no-contact rule? If you also want to get back together, it can still be worth taking a bit more time apart.

Be mindful that they have technically gone against your wishes by reaching out – do you find that disrespectful, does it show a lack of appreciation for boundaries, do they need to work on communication?

Or maybe it shows that they can’t live without you, that they’re being romantic by making a gesture, and you were about to do the same thing anyway…

Only you can know how you feel about this one, so trust your gut and be honest with yourself! 

Remember that their intentions might not be the same as yours. Try to figure out what they want from you.

Did they text at 3am on a Friday night? There’s a chance they won’t actually want to get back together with you, so be mindful that they might just be drunk, lonely, going through something, or just after a hook-up.

How to get back together with an ex after no contact.

Consider whether or not you feel like you’ve had enough time to truly work on yourself. If you need more time to get to a stage where you’re confident and strong enough to try having a healthier relationship, that’s okay.

If your ex respects you and wants things to work enough, they won’t mind waiting a few more weeks or another month!

Make sure you’re making this decision because you genuinely want them back, and not just because it’s nice to have affection and attention again.

Taking a bit more time apart can really help you both focus on how to make the relationship work, and it gives you both time to get it together and really commit.

You might both have had the right time apart to grow a bit more as individuals, and feel more confident going into a relationship now.

Think about how much you both want the relationship to work, and the changes you have both made.

Are you both in the right place to get back together right now?

Have you healed from any hurt, and can you let that go and start again, or will you both be starting from a place of past resentment and bitterness?

Are you both ready to make the necessary compromises, and is the relationship definitely salvageable or has the time apart made you realize that it might be best to just call it a day and move on?

When they message you, show that you have taken this time apart to truly grow and work on yourself! Don’t be the needy, desperate ex that they might be expecting.

Instead, be flirty and fun, keep it lighthearted until you’ve both figured out what’s going on. Make it clear that you can survive without them – this is so attractive!

It might sound a bit weird, but knowing that someone is thriving on their own can make us want to be with them even more. Show your ex that they will be an addition to your life, not your whole life!

Should you message them first or wait for them?

If you set a very clear timeframe for when you don’t want to hear from them, and this date passes without them getting in touch, it might be a sign that they don’t see a future between you.

On the other hand, if you set the ground rules for this no contact period, they might just be waiting for you to make the first move.

If you want to try to make it work with them and they haven’t made any effort to contact you after the agreed upon period is up, messaging them is your only option.

It’s then up to them whether they respond or what they say.

But what have you got to lose?

Does the no-contact rule work for getting your ex back?

The short and not very helpful answer is… it depends.

It comes down to them and how they feel during this time. It might be the case that they realize just what they have lost. This might give them the motivation to put in the work to win you back and make the relationship work second time around.

Not being able to see or speak to you at all for a prolonged period of time is more likely to spark these feelings than if you are still present in their life, even just virtually via text.

On the other hand, just as you might realize that you are better off apart, they might reach the same conclusion and move on from the relationship.

The important thing is that the no-contact rule facilitates this clarity of mind, so either way, the decision to get back together or remain apart is likely to be better considered and more likely to work for you both.

How long should no contact last?

There isn’t really a set amount of time, but the bare minimum is probably 30 days. Any less than this and you aren’t giving yourself or your ex a chance to process your feelings and get your head straight.

You might set a specific amount of days such as 30, 45, or 60. Or 2 or 3 months if that is easier to calculate.

Or you can choose the end of a month as the cut-off point. So if you break up in the middle of March, you might say that no contact should last until the end of April. It’s sometimes easier to remember this because a 60-day period might end on a random Wednesday in the middle of a month, and unless you have this date in your diary, you might forget when it is.

Can I break no contact if I really really miss them?

Well, no, you shouldn’t contact them even if you miss them so much it hurts. The whole point of going no contact is to give yourself the time to heal from the breakup emotionally. You won’t allow yourself to do this if you don’t give yourself enough time.

What should you text your ex after the no-contact period is over?

Assuming you want them back, just keep it simple. Don’t send a great long message saying that you can’t live without them and want them to move back in immediately.

You don’t know how they are feeling and this might put them under a lot of pressure.

Instead, just keep it brief. Ask them if they’d like to meet up to chat. This is a lot easier for them to say no to if that’s what they want to do.

It’s also better to have a big chat about your potential future together in person because texts and calls can be misinterpreted.

I broke our no-contact rule, no what?

If you couldn’t resist temptation and texted your ex or even manufactured an ‘accidental’ meeting with them during the no-contact period, you probably haven’t given yourself enough time to work on your emotions.

Definitely don’t contact them again, and even consider adding on some extra days to the amount you initially said you’d leave it.

What if they reach out to you – and you don’t want them back?

If your ex reaches out to you during the no-contact stage, you might realize that you’re not actually that interested in getting back together.

Having some time apart can give you real clarity, and make you realize what you actually prioritize and want in life.

If this situation arises, you might be feeling a bit guilty that you’re not interested. Remember that you need to put yourself first and be honest – reaffirm that it’s over between you and that you’d rather not hear from them again.

Don’t end up trapped back in an unhealthy relationship just because you don’t want to hurt their feelings!

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Wow, we covered a lot there and we hope you found it useful! Whether you’re using the no-contact rule to get over an ex, or get an ex back, there are some great tips you can follow.

Remember to look after yourself first – a relationship is an extra, not an essential.

Still have questions about the no-contact rule or need help sticking to it? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

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About Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.