In today’s post we’re going to explain in detail four signs the No Contact rule is working, and why it’s the healthiest thing you can do after parting ways with your partner.
Breakups are often brutal, but what we do when a relationship ends impacts how we manage our grief and even move on.
Sometimes, we complicate our own healing by trying to hold on or to hash things out with an ex. In the first few weeks following a breakup, we can experience overwhelming emotions, which is why relationship experts suggest putting a No Contact rule into place.
The Who and How of the No Contact Rule
The purpose of the No Contact Rule following a breakup is to give both people the best possible chance to grieve, heal, and move forward. Here are the guidelines for using the No Contact Rule.
Who Should Use It
- Use it if you’ve just experienced a breakup.
- Use it if the relationship was toxic.
- Use it if the relationship’s loss fills you with grief.
- Use it if you’re hoping for time to work on yourself before eventually reconnecting and reuniting with your former partner.
- Use it if the breakup itself was challenging.
How to Use It
- Agree to avoid all forms of contact for 30–60 days. This includes in-person communication, text, email, phone calls, and social media interactions. Thirty days is often best for those who want to get back together while 60 days is ideal for those who want to move on without even resuming a friendship.
- Be specific about your intentions. If you’re hoping to later reconnect as lovers, be honest but say that you need some time first to either work on yourself or to process the relationship. If you’re hoping to one day continue a friendship but not a romantic relationship, let them know that you need a break and space but hope you’ll be able to continue a friendship in the future.
- Ask your friends to avoid talking about your ex during the No Contact timeline so that you have the best possible chance to deal with your emotions without constantly thinking about your ex.
- Use the time to reflect on the relationship and what went wrong and to evaluate what you want and need. The No Contact Rule provides time and space for you to grieve and to explore what you want.
- After 30–60 days have passed and you feel ready to make contact, reach out and let them know that you’re open to further communication. Your ex will either let you know that it’s welcome, let you know that it’s unwelcome, or ignore it entirely, which is a clear indication that they just want to move on or aren’t yet ready to reconnect.
Ideally, when the time is up, you’ll either get back together, be fully ready to move on and date other people, or be able to resume a friendship.
4 Signs the No Contact Rule Is Working
If you’re trying out the No Contact Rule, you’re likely to experience anxiety and wonder if it’s working at all.
It can be a painful time in your life when you cut ties with someone you shared an intimate relationship with, but this rule is an opportunity if you choose to see the advantages. Here are some signs that it’s working.
1. You Have Space to Grieve
Are you grieving your heart out? The good news is that this is what you should actually do when the No Contact Rule is in place.
You’ll need to break that immediate attachment if you want to move forward with your life and heal.
Even if you hope to get back together in the future, you need to cultivate the ability to be separated from this person and still thrive.
My grief after my last relationship drew to a close was terrible. It stole my breath, quite literally. I would find myself gasping from the pain of it.
Every time I remembered that the relationship was over, it felt like a gut punch. At the same time, hearing his voice was soothing. It was both the cause and the antidote to my suffering.
At first, it would alleviate some of the pain of grief. But once the phone call was over or the text was read and responded to, I would experience a fresh wave of grief.
I couldn’t move on as long as I was still holding on so tightly to the comfort that he represented. It was a false comfort when he wasn’t choosing to be with me.
You’ll know the No Contact Rule is working when you have space to grieve. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. You can work through anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance in whatever order they appear.
2. You Begin to Cultivate Stronger Social Support and Interests
During the No Contact period, you may find that you’re able to devote some time and energy into spending more time with friends or investing in your hobbies.
In other words, the space your ex used to take up will fill again with new people and new interests. This is healthy even if you hope to reunite with them at a later date.
During the end of my relationship, I was so caught up in a does he love me, does he love me not mentality that it was difficult to truly spend time with friends. I had a one-track mind running in a circle around my relationship.
But when we stopped talking and no longer had contact, I began to build stronger friendships.
I used the time I used to spend on the relationship exploring new interests and old ones that had fallen by the wayside. I began to remember myself and to shake loose some of the grief.
3. You Begin to Focus on YOU
Are you focusing on self-care, accountability, and personal growth? This is a sign that the No Contact Rule is working for you.
As you process your grief, you might have new perspectives on how you behaved within the relationship.
Some of what you see might be hopeful. Some might just be helpful if you’re willing to own up to your mistakes and learn from them.
During the weeks of No Contact, you can begin to refocus your priorities and take better care of yourself.
If you felt like you lost yourself in the relationship, this is where you reclaim your independent identity. This is also an opportunity to learn and grow through the experience.
Part of this process could involve making a list of everything you loved about your partner that you’d like in a future relationship (with that person or with someone else).
Then, make a list of all the things that didn’t work for you in the relationship. Use these two lists to decide on what you want and need in relationships and what you’re unwilling to settle for going forward.
Recommended read: 7 Subtle Signs Your Ex Wants You Back, But Won’t Admit It
4. You Don’t Feel Stuck Anymore
The biggest advantage to the No Contact Rule is that you stop feeling stuck at a certain point. It’s painful to stop talking to someone you care about, but until you do, you can’t really get over them or have the space necessary to gain perspective about the relationship.
You might feel like this is the person for you only to realize when you’ve had some time and space that the relationship wasn’t the healthiest or the best fit.
If you really want to know if the rule is working, ask yourself if it feels like you’re starting to move forward.
Don’t ask in the first week or even the first two weeks, but as time goes on, you might find that you’re shaking loose of that stuck feeling and beginning to accept the end of the relationship.
You can be sure that the other person misses you. You’ve had an intimate relationship, and cutting off the contact will likely be painful for you both. However, the other person could be busy processing all their grief, which can include anger.
You might want confirmation that they miss you and end up creeping on their social media, but it’s unnecessary. It only makes you feel bad when you don’t find it. The truth is that they likely miss you, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to want to resume contact one day. You aren’t in control of their choices, but you can control how you choose to think about it.
The No Contact Rule can work in nearly any amount of time. Sometimes, it doesn’t take 30 or 60 days for the other person to reach back out and let you know that they would really like to talk.
Whether or not you choose to break the rules depends on how you feel and the nature of the relationship, but there’s not an accurate estimate of how long it will take to work or even what “working” looks like beyond personally feeling like you’re healing.
It’s possible for the person who dumped you to reach out, but it’s not as common. The person who’s been dumped might have the greater need for closure, but even the person who’s doing the dumping could have strong feelings or even mixed feelings about their decision. They could reach out, but there’s no guarantee they will.
Sometimes, the dumper reaches out because they want to maintain a sense of control or power, but they can also reach out when they experience regret. Relationship Coach Lee expounds on this idea to include an initial sense of relief by the dumper followed by curiosity, preoccupation, and fear of loss.
It may only take a few days for the person who ended the relationship to go from relief to curiosity and preoccupation. They might have thought that leaving the relationship would make everything better and experience some emotional upheaval when they experience grief and loss instead.
The No Contact Rule can even work if you’re not the dumper. In this case, initiating the rule could give the other person the opportunity to realize that they miss you. It could also help them realize the value you brought to their lives. But far beyond that the No Contact Rule can work for you when you’ve been dumped. It draws the focus away from the other person and puts it back on you.
It hurts to get dumped. The rejection is terrible, and the grief can be overwhelming. The No Contact Rule isn’t meant to punish someone else or fill them with regret. It’s our best shot at taking the space we need to grieve, to nurse our wounds with some privacy, to heal, and to move on. It’s a time of growth and stepping back into our personal power … if we use it well.
I often wish I’d employed the No Contact Rule more often. I held so tightly to the emotional comfort of his voice on the line — but suffered every time. And I often wish I’d been brave enough to get the suffering out of the way so I could break that connection, that surge of love every single time I saw his name pop up on my notifications.
When the No Contact Rule came for me, it was months into a painful breakup. But I began to see the wisdom in having space and time away from my ex. I needed to grieve. I needed to take shattered dreams and see what could be rebuilt.
And I needed to stop wondering why he wouldn’t just change his mind. I had to start choosing people who would choose me back — people who would never leave me wondering why they couldn’t love me.
The No Contact Rule Isn’t a Punishment
The No Contact Rule isn’t to punish anyone else, and it isn’t to teach them a lesson. It’s a chance to heal. It’s one of the most painful and yet most self-loving things we can do. Whether you’ve been dumped or you’ve been the one to dump someone else, the No Contact Rule is a kindness — a kindness for yourself and for the other person.
Scream into a pillow. Journal it out. Cry yourself to sleep. But let that time and space be one of reflection and self-care. One day, you might want to reach back out. You might even find them reaching for you. But until then, the Rule is there to protect you. Are you brave enough to use its strength — and to find your own?
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- The Spiritual Meaning of Dreaming About Your Ex
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