The no contact rule is the only way when you’re breaking up.
Whether you want to get over him or you want to get him back, after a breakup, you must follow the no-contact rule.
Storytime! Let me tell you about the time I didn’t follow the no-contact rule and ended up experiencing the most gutting, soul-crushing, devastating, traumatic breakup of my entire life.
I dated him during my Junior year of college and this one hit me like a freight train. The relationship was very unhealthy from the start but I loved him desperately and wild horses couldn’t tear me away.
After about seven months, he broke up with me. It was a very sad, but sweet, sort of breakup. He cried, I cried, he told me he didn’t want it to be like this but we weren’t good together… it wasn’t healthy… we needed to work on ourselves. And he told me he loved me for the first time while we were breaking up! The words I had been desperately longing to hear … delivered at the worst possible time.
He said it would be best if we went a month without speaking. At the time It sounded impossible. It felt like he was asking me to live without a vital organ. I had no idea how I would survive this.
At first, it was very difficult. The days felt agonizingly long. I would stare at the calendar, begging for time to move along just a bit faster.
When that didn’t work, I started to just get my act together. May as well make the best of things…
Then a funny thing happened… I started to feel like myself again. I started to feel a little lighter now that I was no longer weighed down by his darkness. I felt at ease, not perpetually stressed and on edge over the state of my fragile relationship. I had friends again! When I was with him, I was only with him and had no life outside of that relationship.
And then I started dating a new guy. He was wonderful and smart and emotionally healthy and sweet and even though I was emotionally fragile, it felt really nice.
Almost as if some sort of radar signal was sent off… as soon as I was getting strong and happy, my ex swooped right back in. The no contact period wasn’t over yet, but he called me desperate to see me.
I didn’t soften to him as I had always done in the past. I was angry. “Why are you contacting me? We’re not supposed to be talking right now, I can’t help you.”
He begged. I spitefully told him I was moving on and had found someone new. He broke.
“What? How can you be dating something else?” He implored.
“It just happened, I don’t know what to tell you.”
I tried to stay strong, but when he begged to see me I couldn’t withstand it and I caved. And it was the worst mistake of my life.
Now that I was strong, he wanted me desperately. The fact that I didn’t immediately take him back made that desire even stronger.
I was still dating the other guy, but it was hard to focus, and it was hard to connect. The ex begged me to take him back and when it came time to choose between the two of them, I went back to him.
And the relationship was even worse the second time around. Just as toxic, unhealthy, and codependent. But now it had a layer of resentment over it as well. Me resenting him for what he put me through, him resenting me for daring to try and move on.
The relationship was unraveling, and it got even worse when I went home from college for the summer and we were long-distance.
The codependence was suffocating, he needed to be in contact with me constantly by text or phone. There was no room for me in this relationship.
But then one night I didn’t hear from him. Hmm, that’s odd. I’m sure he’ll call me later, he always does. But he didn’t. And I knew it in my gut… I knew he was with another girl. The next day my suspicions were confirmed on MySpace of all places.
Before I even confronted him, before he even had the chance to apologize, I had already forgiven him and was ready to take him back. Like I said, I was in it for the long haul! But he wasn’t and he ended up leaving me for this other girl and I watched their entire relationship play out over Facebook because they literally documented every moment they spent together and I was a masochist and couldn’t tear myself away.
This relationship shattered me. I was a shell of a person. I was shocked, traumatized, aghast, confused, dazed, and literally rocked to my very core. I won’t wax poetic about that, anyone who has experienced heartbreak is familiar with that wrenching pain.
More than being mad at him, I was mad at myself. I shouldn’t have answered his call that day. I should have blocked him. I was getting so strong, so happy, I was moving on and catching my stride. But now I was in the deepest, darkest depths of despair and it took me years to fully climb my way out.
I hope this story sufficiently rattled you and motivated you to stay strong after a breakup by following no contact. If not, here are five reasons why it’s so essential:
1. It gives you space to emotionally detox.
A breakup can send your emotions into overdrive. You need to let him simmer. You need to feel your feelings, you need to mourn, and you need to just be with yourself.
It’s a process. And this process will be interrupted if your ex keeps coming in and out of your life. Don’t delude yourself: this will mess with your head.
Every time he comes back you’re going to have to start all over again.
Think of yourself like an addict in rehab (not such a stretch, love is in fact a drug), you can’t give in to your temptation even just a little. Yes, it may make you feel better in the moment, but you will be much worse off in the grand scheme.
2. It will give you perspective.
It’s only when you step outside of something that you can see it for what it is. Once you’re out of it, you’ll be able to see it all more clearly.
Breakups usually have a surface reason and a real reason. A relationship doesn’t unravel overnight, it happens steadily over time and is the result of a buildup of problems, resentment, and negativity.
And a lot of the time, things can’t be repaired and need to stay broken. Other times you may realize the problems are fixable and maybe you’ll realize the inner work you need to do on yourself to get there.
Having space gives you the room to see things more clearly and that’s always a good thing.
3. It will help you get over him.
Now maybe you’re thinking, “But I don’t want to get over him! I want to get him back.”
In order to get him back, you need to work on getting over him. You have to look at reality as it is right now. Right now you’re not back together, you are single. So you need to operate from that frequency. If he’s the right man for you, trust that he’ll be back. And if he doesn’t want to try again, at least you’ve actively been moving on so you’re not at square one.
As they say… time heals. But as I say, it isn’t a passive process, it’s active. You need to do the work and then let time make the memories more cloudy. And if he’s in your life still, then it won’t heal anything it will just keep you stuck,
The no-contact period gives you the space to cycle through the stages of grief, and this is a necessary part of healing. You can’t get over him if he’s right there in front of you. All you’ll focus on is how badly you want him and how much you miss him … and not on whether he’s the right guy for you, which is what you should be thinking about.
4. You need to remember you can live without him.
Sometimes it genuinely feels like we will not be able to exist outside of this relationship. But that is patently untrue. You can go on and you may even become an even better, stronger version of yourself.
It’s only when you’re away from him, fully away, that you’ll be able to realize this. You’ll have that space to get back in touch with yourself and your intrinsic value.
5. You avoid the endless on-again off-again cycle.
You might think it’s no big deal to meet up with your ex for a drink … or to show up at his door when he drunk dials you at 2 am … or even something as innocent as replying to his texts… but these are massive mistakes.
For one, you risk getting into what I call a post-relationship relationship, which I consider to be the worst type of relationship. You talk sometimes, and hang out sometimes, but you’re in a relationship no-mans-land.
None of the issues ever get solved. You get into a pattern of breaking it off, missing each other, getting together, feeling high on infatuation, realizing (again) that it isn’t working, breaking it off, and repeating the cycle. This has toxic written all over it.
Or you risk him meeting someone else and dropping you like a hot potato like what happened to me.
The moral of the story: no good can come from staying in touch with an ex after a breakup. So follow the no-contact rule until you feel strong enough to be in touch with him again. This means you would feel totally OK if he doesn’t want to try the relationship again. If the thought of this sends you to the pit of despair, you’re not ready yet.
Be kind to yourself. Breakups are brutal. But you will get through it and will be better for it in the end.