Does no contact work after a breakup? The short answer is yes. After all, the no-contact rule after break up is a time-tested psychological strategy used to move on from one’s ex. They say that if you go cold turkey on your ex, take some time to process the breakup alone, and allow yourself to really grieve, then the heartbreak is much easier to deal with — over time, of course.
But is it really that simple? We hear something as straightforward as this and are filled with doubts. Like us, are you too now thinking:
- How long should you go no contact for this to work?
- And how does the no-contact rule work?
- Does the no-contact rule work if you were dumped?
- What if you were the one who ended the relationship? Do the benefits of no-contact rule still hold?
- Is the impact of the no-contact rule permanent?
To answer these questions, we consulted psychotherapist Gopa Khan (Masters in Counseling Psychology, M.Ed.), who specializes in marriage and family counseling. She talked to us about the no-contact rule psychology and its benefits and her experience with clients to whom she advised following the no-contact rule. So, let’s dive right in.
What Is The No-Contact Rule?
If you chanced upon this piece and are wondering what in God’s name is the no-contact rule, allow us to give you a little initiation into the concept. The no-contact rule involves cutting off all ties with your ex, after a breakup, as a healthy way to grieve, cope, and heal. While it is hard to put a definitive number on the no-contact rule success rate — some say it’s effective 90% of the time, others peg the success rate at 75% — it is a widely accepted approach for getting over a past relationship while focusing on rebuilding your self-esteem, keeping your self-respect intact, and indulging in copious amounts of self-care to bounce back from the throes of heartbreak.
And why is the no-contact rule so effective? Well, simply because if you keep in touch with your ex, directly or indirectly, keeping track of their whereabouts, you will find it difficult to forget them and move on, what with the constant reminder of your life with them. If they are constantly on your mind, how do you plan on moving on? That’s where the no-contact rule comes in handy.
“The no-contact rule psychology is similar to the cruel but effective strategy of ripping off a band-aid. While it may be excruciatingly painful at first, it helps you in coming to terms with the fact that a romantic partner is no longer a part of your life. As you come to grips with this realization, you slowly but surely let go of the false hope of getting your ex back,” says Gopa. This creates space in your life and your mind to start a new chapter. But for it to work, you need to remember that there isn’t any scope for less contact or more contact. Only no contact!
Remember: When nursing a heartbreak, most people are tempted to use this as a way of winning back an ex. If that’s the intent, you may find yourself wondering, “Will no contact work to get my ex back?” or “Does no contact work to get ex-girlfriend back?” or “Will my ex-boyfriend come back after no contact?”
But is it healthy to play mind games to attract someone back into your life? Is it worthwhile to focus on someone else’s response and not your own healing? “This is a form of manipulation and will do neither you nor your partner any good. Just because the no-contact rule has made someone’s ex miss them so much that they came back, doesn’t mean you should approach it with the same intention,” adds Gopa.
Related Reading: How To Get Through A Breakup Alone?
How Does No Contact Work?
Now that you understand what the no-contact rule is, let’s turn our attention to another key aspect you need to be well-versed with to be able to effectively use this approach to deal with heartbreak: how does no-contact work? For that, let’s look at no contact after breakup psychology. When a relationship comes to an end, it’s safe to assume that there were problems at play. Your ex-partner must have played a part in it — made mistakes, behaved badly, mistreated you.
They may likely be waiting for you to react to these — scream, have a meltdown in person or on social media, and plead with them to get back together. It’s human psychology to get defensive and even justify one’s mistakes when someone else points them out. So if you, in fact, go ahead and react the way your ex-partner is expecting you to, you give them a chance to label you as “dramatic” or “clingy”, and feel better about ending the relationship.
On the other hand, if you go silent, the entire dynamic changes. Your ex has no way of knowing what you’re thinking or having a conversation that gives them closure or makes them feel better about their decision to call quits. They are on their own, stewing in the discomfort of self-realization and lament. That’s the power of silence after a breakup.
Gopa shares with us an incident. “A woman I was counseling had been dumped by her partner and wanted to practice no contact to win him back. The man, eventually, started missing her and came back. But, by then, the woman wasn’t sure that she wanted her ex back. Even though she had followed this rule to get him back, she had now changed her mind. She prolonged the no-contact period just to be sure of how she truly felt about the relationship and if the man was genuinely regretful. As far I know, they didn’t get back together,” she says.
So, you see, the no contact after breakup psychology is such that it can offer you a fresh perspective on a past relationship, leaving you better equipped to decide whether you want to give your ex another chance or move on for good. But how can you make the no-contact rule work for you? Well, for it to work:
- Both partners have to accept and commit to it
- You must focus on setting boundaries with each other and start respecting them
- Ask the people around you to respect your boundaries too and to not “update” you with information about your ex-partner
- Do not stalk your ex on social media platforms. Remember you have to get them out of your mind
- Do whatever is needed to eliminate the possibility of contacting, seeing, hearing about, or chancing upon your ex
Related Reading: 5 Signs The No Contact Rule Is Working
1. Does no contact work on men?
How does no contact work on men? The no-contact rule male psychology tells us that when you go cold turkey on a man, he may take some time to truly let it sink in. Speaking to Bonobology about the male mind during no contact, psychotherapist Dr. Aman Bhonsle said, “While experiencing the no contact rule, the man might go through anger, humiliation, and fear, sometimes all at once.” This may also lead to aggressive behavior, which you need to be prepared for.
To understand how a man may respond to no contact, you have to be mindful of the fact that men tend to focus less on heartbreak at the very beginning. They don’t allow their emotions to surface and focus on embracing their newfound “freedom”. The impact of the breakup hits them later (say a few weeks) and that’s when they start thinking about their ex. They look for distraction in the form of rebound relationships soon after. It is after a period of 6-8 weeks that most men really let the breakup sink in.
It is, at this stage, the no-contact rule male psychology begins to kick in. As per this Psychology Of No Contact On Male Dumper study by the DatingTipsLife website, 76.5% of male dumpers regret dumping their girlfriend within 60 days. Here is how you can expect your ex-boyfriend to behave during no contact:
- He feels humiliated at being cut out
- This triggers feelings of anger
- He bargains in a bid to get back together
- He tries to prove his love to you
- He experiences the fear of loneliness and losing out on love
- He may realize he wants you back and work toward that goal
- Or, he may realize breaking up was the right decision and focus on moving on
2. Does the no-contact rule work on women?
What happens when you practice no contact with ex-girlfriend? There can be a stark contrast between the way men and women respond to the no-contact rule. Unlike men, women have an immediate desperate response to a breakup. The initial stages are full of anxiety, grief, and heartache for most women. During this time, it is much easier for them to want to stalk their exes or plead with them to come back or let their partner back in their lives.
With time, a woman becomes much more resilient. If you are a woman, know that the no-contact rule female psychology tells us that it will only get easier and better with time. “A woman, who was in an abusive marriage, reached out to me for help. She was a homemaker and couldn’t leave because of the children. But she finally mustered the courage and moved out of her 15-year-old marriage. She had thought that she would never survive without her husband when she had just started. It became easier for her over time,” says Gopa.
This is a 30-day no-contact after breakup rule success story because her husband hounded her with phone calls and text messages, found out her address, and started threatening her to move back in with him. But the no-contact phase had given her the courage that she never had before. For the first time in her life, she stood up for herself and changed her life completely.
3. Does the no-contact rule work if you were dumped?
Now that we’ve talked about does no contact work on men and women, let’s look at this approach from the perspective of how it pans out for the one who ends a relationship and the one who gets dumped. Out of the two partners, usually one decides to pull the plug on the relationship while the other is left to deal with that decision that they could not control. The person who is breaking up has already gone through the process of snapping the cord mentally. So, it’s easier for them to cope, recover, and move on.
On the other hand, the breakup can come as a short for the partner who is dumped. They naturally take longer to heal. If you have been dumped, you might feel the urge to plead with your partner to take you back. You might think that going no contact will make them miss you and rethink their decision. Or you may find yourself agonizing over questions like, “Will no contact work if he lost feelings?” or “Does no contact with ex-girlfriend work if she has already moved on?”
“If you practice the no-contact rule with the ulterior motive of enticing your ex back into your life, it may not work out for you. There is no guarantee that your ex will want to give the relationship another shot. Besides, it goes on to show that you may be struggling with codependency issues and low self-esteem that impede you from cutting the cord and moving on,” says Gopa.
So, to answer your question, “Does the no contact rule work if you were dumped?”, not if you’re just going through the motions, waiting for your ex to want you back. However, it can work wonders if you look at it as an opportunity for personal growth and use it for improving your mental health and starting the healing process.
4. Does the no-contact rule work if you are married?
While there is no standardized way to measure the no-contact rule success rate, it definitely can be helpful for people dealing with marital issues. Taking some time off might be invaluable for people on the verge of divorce. They can decide to go for counseling or therapy after the no-contact period is over and even realize that they might have a chance together. And that is not a bad thing.
Even if a person wants to permanently move away or cut off ties or legally divorce a toxic person who is negatively affecting their mental health, is abusive, or is an addict, then it is imperative that they put a full stop to the relationship and not look back. So, the no-contact rule works even when one is trying to stay away from an abusive relationship and a toxic ex.
Related Reading: Hope You Are Not Doing These 10 Funny Things After a Breakup…
5. Does the no-contact rule work in long-distance relationships?
Can you reap the benefits of no-contact rule in a long-distance relationship? The answer to this question largely depends on the kind of long-distance relationship problems you have been having, the nature of your relationship, and what you want to achieve from going no contact. One thing is certain, it is easier to implement the no-contact rule in a long-distance relationship.
Whether you’re going for the standard 30-day no-contact rule or want to maintain radio silence after a breakup longer, it becomes easier to snap contact once and take space for self-reflection and introspection. This can offer you a fresh perspective on your relationship dynamic, which can be helpful if you’re considering getting your ex back because a lot of issues in long-distance relationships are a result of miscommunication.
“Other than allowing people to get back together, distance also gives couples an opportunity for a clean break and truly judge if they actually are happy with each other or just together through force of habit and codependency. Long distance in such cases may help a broken-up couple move forward instead of getting back together,” says Gopa.
Related Reading: 7 Things No One Tells You About A Breakup
How Long Is The No-Contact Rule After Break Up?
There is no definitive answer to how long is the no-contact rule after breakup. Different relationships call for different no-contact timelines. Usually, post-breakup, both partners take some time — usually ranging from 6 months to a year, depending on how emotionally attached they were — to get over each other. But as a rule of thumb, experts often advise a minimum of 30-day no-contact rule, to get some perspective on why the relationship ended and begin the process of healing.
However, this 30-day timeline is not set in stone. If you feel the need for it, you can extend the no-contact period to 45 days, 60 days, or even permanently. Irrespective of the duration you want to practice radio silence after a breakup, know that the first step in this direction is the hardest. The first few days and weeks will be difficult. You will feel sad and may even experience some withdrawal symptoms that leave you questioning, “Does no-contact work at all?”
“With time, it becomes increasingly easier to follow the no-contact rule because the mind accepts the fact that the relationship has ended. Practicing the 30-day no-contact rule (some even suggest 60) gives a person the window to deal with this sudden, major life change, spend time in peace understanding what they want, and then decide their future course of action,” says Gopa.
Once you get past the threshold of pain and longing, you will begin to realize why is the no-contact rule so effective. As difficult as it may be to hit ‘Block’ on their Instagram profile or delete their number from your phone, you will thank us later when you realize the amazing benefits of blocking your ex and practicing the no-contact rule after a recent breakup.
Should Everyone Practice The No Contact Rule After Breakup?
Everyone can tap into the benefits of no-contact rule given that it allows you the time to think, set boundaries, focus on personal growth, and really assess what a healthy relationship looks like to you. That being said, the dynamics of each relationship are unique, and going no contact may not be a possibility for everyone.
There are a few scenarios where the no-contact rule after breakup can be not only difficult but impossible to practice. The following couples will have to find their way around this rule, and be creative with their boundaries, to avail of its benefits:
- Co-parents: Snapping all contact may not be feasible in case of a marriage breakup with kids in the picture. This can be the toughest possible kind of breakup because most couples are busy dealing with custody rights, visitation rights, a crazy amount of paperwork, etc. Such couples don’t have a choice but to keep in contact with each other. These circumstances are extremely distressing. In such cases, the only way out is to take other steps to get over an ex while also displaying utmost maturity in maintaining a healthy functional equation with them.
- Coworkers/Classmates: After having broken up with someone, if you continue to see them at college or work, it gets hard to get over them. With very young couples, it gets even more difficult since their immediate society doesn’t acknowledge their relationship as serious and therefore treats the breakup too as non-serious. Such couples must be even more diligent to make it clear to their peers that they are practicing the no-contact rule and that they expect co-operation
“In cases of marriage, divorce puts a seal of finality on the separation. However, in the case of romantic relationships, breakups pose a different challenge of blurred boundaries and there can be plenty of push and pull afterward. Sometimes people break up and get back together again multiple times. And those relationships can turn very toxic and your best bet at getting out of them is to limit contact as much as possible,” advises Gopa.
Related Reading: How to Move On When You Are Still In Love With Your Ex?
Tips To Help You Go No Contact With Your Ex
Gopa shares her experience with advising her clients to practice the no-contact rule, “I tell my clients to avoid contact with their exes. However, most of them stalk them on social media. Or they try to find out details about each other’s lives through mutual friends. Some exes still meet each other in college or at the workplace. As you know it’s hard to get over someone you see every day.” In today’s world going no contact is not easy. At all. Here are a few things that may help you on this journey:
- Think of the why: First thing, keep your intention clear and strong. When you start missing your ex and find yourself going down the same rabbit hole of longing and yearning, asking yourself, “What do I want to achieve from this?” will help you
- Keep it about yourself: DON’T make this about your ex-partner. You are going no contact to save yourself the trouble of resisting their thoughts when they are constantly on your mind and not to play mind games with them
- Block them on social media: Apart from deleting and blocking each other’s numbers, it’s equally important that you do not let them access you in any form. Do not make it easy for you to reach them when you are feeling weak
- Focus on other relationships: Taking away your attention from your ex to other important people in your life can be very helpful. Hanging out with friends, spending time with family, and in due course of time, opening up your heart and mind to the possibility of a new relationship can make it easier to maintain no contact with an ex-partner
- Self-care: This is the time to focus on your happiness and engage in some TLC and self-love. Read more. Make time for physical activities that get those endorphins rushing into your bloodstream and make you feel happy. Pursue an old or a new hobby. Eat better. Travel. Do the things that make you feel good about yourself
- Stay away from rebounds: Treat this as a fair warning that by distractions we do not mean rebounds. Try to stay away from distracting yourself by jumping into new romantic relationships. It’s not fair to you or to the new person in your life. Give yourself enough time to heal and recover from heartbreak before you dip your toes into the dating pool again. Until then, focus on personal growth and becoming the best version of yourself
- No contact means cutting off all forms of contact with an ex for a short time, say 30-60 days, until you feel ready and have confidence to make decisions that are healthy for you
- Doing this is important because it helps you stop thinking about them all the time, putting you in a better mental state and making getting over your ex a lot easier
- Using this rule to manipulate your ex into coming back is not healthy. You must be honest with your intentions for it to help you in the long run
- No-contact rule works for everyone, even though it can be difficult for married couples seeking separation, who co-parent or have other dependents and additional liabilities. It can also be difficult for coworkers and fellow students for whom spending time together is non-negotiable
- To stay strong in this journey you must think of the why and keep it about yourself
If you still haven’t made up your mind about whether you should practice no contact with ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend, or are worried, “Does no contact work?”, then take your time to understand what you really want. It may be hard to distance yourself from your ex-partner, but it can still be the best thing for you. Keep an open mind and think of your well-being and you’ll know what to do.
But until then, we highly recommend steering clear of your ex if you can. If the breakup has been especially difficult for you and you are finding it difficult to manage your emotions during this period, do not hesitate from consulting a separation counselor. Should you need to get in touch with one, Bonobology’s panel of experts is here to help you.
The success rate of this rule is usually almost as high as 90% because the person who has broken up will inevitably contact you for one of two reasons. First, they may be missing you and feel guilty, and second, they miss having power over you and are curious to know how you are doing without them.
Usually, it’s a minimum of 30 days to 60 days. It can extend up to a year too. But since there’s no hard and fast rule on how long you should remain out of contact, you should probably stick to it for however long it takes to work.
Yes, no contact after breakup helps to process the grief and put things in perspective. You will be in a better emotional space to judge if you want to move on or if you want to get back with your ex if they contact you.
A lot of people ask, “Will no contact work if he lost feelings for me and I want to bring him back?” This can go either way depending on the situation. A lot of time, the dumper ends up contacting the dumpee after the no-contact period. This is natural as the dumper may feel powerless.