The basic “no contact rule” means 30 days without reaching out to your ex. According to ExBoyfriendRecovery.com, there are five psychological stages a man goes through during the no contact period. Stage one: your ex is calm and assured of his decision. This typically lasts three days to a week. In stage two, he is worried after he doesn’t hear from you. Stage three: he gets angry after he realizes he’s being ignored, which hits at two to two and a half weeks post-breakup. In stage four, he has a confrontation about what he lost. Enter stage five: the hope of contact, which happens at the three- to four-week mark.
We reached out to our heartbreak coach, Claire Byrne, to shed her insight on the topic and share how to navigate the no contact rule.
Editor’s note: Although this article uses male pronouns, the advice applies to all sexual orientations and gender identities.
“Gone be the days when you couldn’t find out what your ex had for breakfast, let alone with whom. Or when the only way he could reach you was if you were at home, waiting with bated breath for your landline to ring.
Implementing the no contact rule is an excellent action step toward healing and moving on from a relationship that’s no longer. However, “out of sight, out of mind” can seem next to impossible, thanks to social media and cell phones.
Sure, you can block him, but what if you’re now best friends with his sister and it kills you to unfollow her too, but then there’s still a chance you’ll find out what he’s up to and it will send you into a tailspin?
A lot more discipline is required today when nursing a broken heart.
What you must ask yourself is: How committed am I to letting him go and moving forward?
Sometimes we think we’re committed, but the way to figure out if you really are or not is by taking an honest inventory of your thoughts and behavior.
Even if you have cut off direct communication with him, are you constantly checking his social media? His best friend’s social media? Re-reading old exchanges from when he was super into you, or dissecting texts right around the time when you started to feel a shift in his interest?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it really doesn’t make a difference whether you’re in contact or not—you’re still dating him in your head by replaying your longing and indulging in shoulda-woulda-coulda-ing, which results in you continuing to be heartbroken.
Cutting off contact without managing your mind is similar to losing weight without managing your mind.
If you simply take action steps to eat greens and get on a treadmill five times a week, without investigating what the over-eating of crappy food and the sedentary lifestyle were numbing out for you, chances are, you’ll slip right back to your old ways and gain it back again.
If you stop communicating with your ex but allow your brain to obsess and wonder what he’s up to, who he’s with, and whether or not he’s thinking about you, you’re still going to find yourself not over him.
Disconnecting from the object of your affection is hard, but so is torturing yourself with story-making over the most innocent picture of him enjoying dinner with his mother.
And if you’re checking in to show “you care,” know that you’re putting your care for someone who no longer wants to be with you before the care you could put toward healing yourself and moving on.
“No contact” doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. Space after a breakup, whether you did it or were on the receiving end, allows for the dust to settle and time to take advantage of the opportunity to grow from your lesson in it.
So poosh him away for the time being. If you’re meant to reconnect as friends or partners, know that the chances of that happening are greater when you focus on your growth versus his whereabouts.”
Heartbreak coach Claire Byrne helps women stop wanting Mr. Wrong back, and ultimately find Mr. Right! She’s the host of her podcast, How to Stop Wanting Him Back.