The only thing worse than the heart-wrenching, mind-numbing, all-consuming pain of a breakup is the confusion and toxicity of an on-again-off-again relationship. If you don’t want to spend the next couple of years in the ‘where are we at?’ dilemma, the no-contact rule is your best bet.
Snapping the chord is the only way to recover from heartbreak. It also gives your mind the chance to recalibrate and adjust to a life without your ex. Before we examine the 5 signs the no-contact rule is working, let’s delve deeper into the concept, its different stages and effectiveness.
What Is The No-Contact Rule?
The no-contact rule means snapping all contact with an ex following a breakup. This means you don’t call, text or stalk them on social media, but also involves cutting all ties with their family and friends.
It is simply a coping mechanism that helps you process the hurt you’re experiencing after a breakup.
The idea is to divert your attention from your ex and focus it on healing and self-improvement. More often than not, people tend to overlook the self-care bit of the no-contact rule and start obsessing with making their ex miss them. Remember that defeats the whole purpose of this exercise.
You must use this as an opportunity to grieve the loss of your relationship, get your mind in the right space and think about the future. The no-contact rule can give you the time and space you need to figure out who you’re as an individual and what you want from your life.
Even if you decide to get back together with your ex, that decision will be an informed one. Rather than a desperate move to fight off your loneliness, you will know the kind of impact not having contact with your ex has on your life. You will know whether you can move on or you realize the relationship is worth saving. That’s why it’s imperative to follow the no-contact rule timeline religiously, without allowing yourself to fall off the wagon of self-control.
How long does the no-contact rule take to work?
Effective as it may be, following the no-contact rule timeline isn’t easy. When you’re lying in bed wearing your ex’s sweatshirt and staining your pillow with tears, it’s only natural to wonder how long does the no-contact rule take to work? Know that there is no set no-contact rule timeline.
It may take you a month or two before you’re ready to establish contact with an ex without being overwhelmed by emotional baggage. Or you may decide to get back together with them after a couple of months. Perhaps, the period of no contact will make you realize that you’re better off without their presence in your life.
In that case, you may decide to cut them out for good.
Stages of the no-contact rule
The no-contact rule is typically adopted by the one whom the break-up hits harder – which, in most cases, is the person who has been dumped. That said, it affects both the dumper and the dumpee. In different ways though. Let’s look at the stages of no contact rule from both perspectives, to understand how:
Related Reading: 8 Things To Do When An Ex Contacts You Years Later
For the dumpee:
If you are the one who has been dumped, this is how you will respond during the no-contact phase:
Stage 1 – Withdrawal: During the first few days of cutting all contact with your ex after a breakup, you will experience classic withdrawal symptoms. These can range from feeling low and dejected to experiencing mood swings and irritability, as well as panic and poor sleep.
Since this is one of the first no-contact rule stages, there is a strong denial about your partner dumping you, and you cannot begin to fathom not having them in your life. Not yet, anyway.
Stage 2 – Dejection and Improvement: In the second stage of the no-contact rule, you will hit your lowest low before seeing signs of improvement. The sadness and despair that you have been feeling since the break-up will become all-consuming.
It’s vital to resist the temptation to reach out to your ex at this stage. If they contact you, do not respond during the no-contact phase. Relapse is the only time when no contact does not work.
It is natural to think and introspect on your life choices when you hit rock bottom.
That’s where the process of improvement will take root. You will begin to see patterns of bad decisions or toxic choices that have held you back over the years. As a result, you will be better equipped to effect change in your life.
Stage 3 – Recovery: In the third and final stage of the no-contact rule, you will see some real signs of recovery and be able to think about yourself again. If throughout this journey, you have been wondering when does no contact start working, this is when your efforts will pay off.
You will be ready to venture out again, pursue new hobbies, make new contacts. Once you’ve recovered, you will be ready to start dating again. At this point, you can start focusing on the 5 signs the no-contact rule is working.
For the dumper
The person who calls off the relationship has a different grief cycle during this phase. The dumper goes through the following stages of no contact:
Stage 1 – Relief: Even if someone has emotionally checked out of a relationship, dumping a partner is always hard. That’s why when the no-contact rule is brought into effect, the dumper experiences a sense of relief. It gives them the perfect escape from dealing with difficult emotions and questions.
Stage 2 – Curiosity: After about a couple of weeks, the radio silence from the other end will stir up feelings of curiosity. This is the no-contact rule stage where the dumper will wonder why their ex hasn’t contacted them, what they have been up to and why haven’t they made efforts to get back together.
Stage 3 – Obsessive preoccupation: At the time when the dumpee is either in the phase of self-improvement or recovery, the dumper will become obsessively preoccupied with their ex. The question of ‘why their ex hasn’t contacted them?’ begins to occupy their mind space, almost hauntingly.
They will either try to initiate contact on the pretext of checking in and try to start things up again. Or even use a rebound relationship to grab the ex’s attention through incessant social media posts.
Stage 4 – Grief: The person who calls off a relationship feels in control. That’s why the breakup hits them later on. When the no-contact phase has lasted long enough, the realization that they may have lost their ex for good hits home.
That’s when they begin to feel the grief over the broken relationship.
Stage 5 – Letting go: At this stage, the dumper may try their best to win their ex over again and get back together. If that doesn’t happen, they struggle to come to terms with the break-up. They will now go through the stages of no contact that a dumpee goes through.
In effect, the no-contact rule makes it hard for the person who pulled the plug on a relationship to let go and move on.
No-Contact Rule Male Psychology
When considering the no-contact rule in the wake of a break-up, it is natural to wonder the kind of effect it’ll have on the man in the relationship. To understand that, you have to understand the no-contact rule male psychology. It is no secret that men and women are wired differently. Particularly when it comes to their approach to relationships and matters of the heart.
The no-contact rule male psychology works along the lines of reverse psychology. The technique of encouraging a person to take a certain action by propagating its opposite.
When a woman adopts the no-contact rule, the man begins to view the break-up as a mistake and starts second-guessing his decision. The absence of contact may make him long for his ex and push him to win her over again. That’s when the 5 signs the No Contact Rule is working begin to emerge.
Related Reading: How do you know when a relationship is truly over?
Does the no-contact rule work on men?
The answer to this question depends on what a woman perceives as the desired outcome of this process. If you want to genuinely snap all ties, let the past bury its dead and move on, then the no-contact rule male psychology may get in the way.
But if you want to use it as a means to get back together with your ex, then the no contact rule works on men 100%. Here how:
- Playing it cool: He will play it cool and make himself believe that the lack of contact doesn’t bother him
- Confusion: Eventually, your behaviour will start confusing him
- Wondering: He will try to find out what’s going on with you and why you have disappeared from his life overnight. The more you freeze him out, the more he’ll wonder
- Anger: The radio silence will make him angry. He may even get into a rebound relationship just to show you that he doesn’t care
- Longing: He will start missing you and longing to have you back in his life
- Regret: Regret over letting you go takes over. He’d be remorseful of all that’s been messed up in your relationship in the past
- Trying to get back together: He will take concrete actions to show you how much he wants you back in his life. At this point, his focus in on turning over a new leaf in the relationship
If getting back together is what you had wanted all along, this is your chance to make it happen.
5 Signs The No-Contact Rule is Working
Cutting out a person who has been an integral part of your every day is not easy. If you’re taking this approach that tests your willpower and resolve every step of the way, you’d want to be sure that you’re headed in the right direction. When you need reassurance, look out for these 5 signs that the no-contact rule is working:
1. Your ex tries to establish contact
You have vanished from their life suddenly. That is bound to leave your ex puzzled and curious. Especially if they were the one to call off the relationship and expected you to be wallowing and pinning over them.
One of the clear signs that the no-contact rule is working is when the radio silence gets the better of your ex and pushes them to reach out to you. Repeated texts, calls or showing up at your door are indicators that you’re on the right path.
Azel decided to cut off the guy she had been casually dating for the past couple of months after he unceremoniously ghosted her following a ‘where’s this going?’ conversation. Even before she had been through the no-contact rule stages, he created a new profile on Instagram and slid into her DMs.
He was apologetic and begged her to take him back. However, Azel didn’t want to act in haste this time. While she still has feelings for him, he remains consigned to the block zone and she’s using this time off to assess what exactly she wants for herself.
2. Self-love is among the 5 signs that no-contact rule is working
The no-contact rule gives you the much-needed space to focus on yourself. The break-up ought to have been hard on you. After going through phases of anger, denial, bargaining and depression, you’ve finally gained acceptance.
It’s one of the signs that the no contact rule is working when your well-being and happiness become your prime focus. You commit to caring for and improving yourself. Be it fostering self-awareness about the kind of life you want for yourself or looking after your physical and emotional health better, you indulge in self-love. This paradigm shift in focus is one of the subtle signs no contact is working.
Even if you decide to get back together with your ex, you will do it with much more certainty, knowing that this is exactly what you want for yourself. If the no-contact timeline makes you realize that your ex isn’t good for you, you will be able to move on without hesitation or remorse.
3. You start responding to overtures by others
All that work you have done on yourself during the no-contact phase is paying off. Others start finding you irresistibly attractive. If you can respond to their overtures or at least revel in the attention without your ex taking up all your mind space, it’s a clear sign that the no contact rule is working.
You have freed yourself from the toxicity of the past. One of the 5 signs the no-contact rule is working is that you longer put your life on hold, waiting to revive your old relationship. Your mind is open to new possibilities. Even if one of those possibilities is getting back together with your ex, you’ll be able to start afresh in true earnest, without the baggage or problematic patterns of the past.
4. Your ex becomes more responsive
One of the signs that the no-contact rule is working in your favor is a sudden spike in your ex’s responsiveness. They’ll make repeated attempts to initiate contact and be the first one to respond to all your social media activity. All in the hope of making their presence felt and getting you to reciprocate.
Seeing that the no-contact rule was working for Azel, her best friend, Josie, who had been caught in a hot-and-cold post-breakup equation with her ex-boyfriend of over two years, also snapped all ties with him. After nearly three months of radio silence from both sides, her ex started making overtures to get back together with her.
“It was almost like a Phoenix had risen from the ashes. His feelings for me were stronger than ever. Although the no-contact rule timeline was longer for me than it was for Azel, it did work in the end. But I’m in no hurry to get back together, so we’re taking it one day at a time,” she says.
5. Your ex wants to get back together
The ultimate sign the no-contact rule is working is when your ex does everything in their power to get back together with you. This means your absence has made them realize your importance in their life. From confusion to longing to regret, almost all stages of no-contact for dumper are driven by a need to restore the status quo ante.
Once they get to the stage of wanting to get back together, you have an important decision to make. Get back together or move on. Don’t let all the hard work you’ve done so far go to waste by letting emotions get the better of you.
Take your time, introspect and do what’s best for you.
This approach is the unsaid holy grail of coping with heartbreak. It makes you emotionally stronger and better equipped to deal with all the negative emotions that come in the wake of a breakup. As long as you don’t succumb to temptation, the question of when does no contact not work does not arise.
When it comes to yourself you know the no-contact rule is working when you get over your grief and find yourself in a space where you want to socialize and indulge in self-love. You know it’s working when the person who has dumped you starts fretting about your silence and wants to establish contact again.
Once you have severed all contact you will go through stages. First, there will be grief and anger. Then even if your ex tries to contact you, you will not respond and you will see your relationship from a different perspective. That’s when you will move on or if you still feel that your relationship is worth saving, you will get back together.
During no contact dumpers initially feel a sense of relief that the relationship is over. Then they start getting curious about why their ex never called. Then they start stalking the ex on social media to see how they are doing without them. Then they become obsessive about the ex but finally when they realize that they will not respond, they feel sad that the relationship is over.
If your ex initiated the breakup they might be relieved and enjoying their single life initially. But when the reality kicks in that you have not attempted to contact them, they start missing you. It could be a matter of a few weeks or a few months for this feeling to take over.
If you want to get back together, then the no-contact rule works 100% on men. A man would get curious about your silence, then eventually start missing you and try to establish contact with you again.
No, he wouldn’t. You would be on his mind. All the more because he would keep wondering if his position in your life was that irrelevant that you didn’t contact him for once. He would be nursing a hurt ego and there is no way he would forget you.