When your relationship isn’t working for you as it is, you can change the situation in different ways, and implementing the no contact rule is one of them. In simple words, it’s taking a break in your relationship so you don’t have any direct contact with one another.
But when you don’t see each other, how to identify that the no contact rule is working? Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks to ensure the no contact rule is part of an important healing process. Here, we’ll review the 5 signs the no contact rule is working (or seems to be backfiring) in great detail.
“Couples might choose to take a relationship gap-year because of job opportunities, a desire to live in a location that they have always dreamed of that is away from the home, or pursuit of personal interests. People are most likely to take a pause in a relationship when going through a transition, such as changing jobs or becoming empty nesters.”
Marisa T Cohen, a relationship scientist and psychology professor
A no contact rule is simply a period of time during which you avoid contact with another person. This will usually be an ex immediately after a break-up. Although, you may also choose to have a no contact period with your current partner. For example, if you both are at an impasse over where your relationship is going, you can use no contact to gain some perspective before you discuss things. Check out the related reading if you want more information on the no contact rule definition.
Related reading: What Is a Break in a Relationship?
The no contact rule can be a valuable tool, but only if it works. Here are 5 signs that your no contact rule is going according to plan.
The beauty of the no contact rule is that it gives you time away from all of the stress and negative emotions a relationship was causing you. This allows you to focus on your physical and mental well being. Instead of spending time having the same arguments and rehashing old conversations, you can:
Isn’t that a positive thing? Also, if you’re looking for a new hobby that won’t break the bank, check out this great list. Before long, you will fall in love with your healthy and satisfying new life.
One of the main reasons for implementing a no contact rule is that your ex demonstrated they didn’t value your relationship. After you go no contact, you can tell things are moving in the right direction when your ex girlfriend or ex boyfriend indicate that maybe they are willing to make a deeper commitment if it means getting back with you.
Related reading: A Guide to Growing an Exclusive Relationship
For example, an ex who behaved irresponsibly might begin communicating with you about their plan for self-improvement. Someone who was hesitant to make an exclusive commitment may suddenly be willing to embrace monogamy after a few weeks under the no contact rule.
While this indicates the zero contact rule is working, be careful. If you get back together too soon, you could find yourself in the same past relationship that was problematic in the first place. Make sure your ex is truly going to follow through on any of their promises to change before you feel excited about a reunion.
“If you find yourself missing your partner during the break, that’s OK — in fact, it’s very normal.”
Megan Harrison, a licensed marriage and family therapist
Sometimes, you may contact your ex despite the no contact rule. For example, you may share bills, mutual friends, a pet, or even work together.But to demonstrate one of 5 signs the no contact rule is working, your ex should be very happy to hear from you when you do call, text, or meet them in person.
Here’s an example. Before you implemented the no contact rule, your partner may have treated your communications as a bother. It sucks to try and speak with someone over the phone or text them only to realize they aren’t invested in what you are saying. That leads to arguments and miscommunications in addition to hurt feelings.
Fortunately, one of the subtle signs that you have made the no contact rule work is that your ex finally does listen to you and absorb what you have to say. They may also communicate with more respect and understanding. For example, if you call to discuss an important issue he may actually engage with you instead of saying “ok” over and over so that he can return to his video games.
The no contact rule is working as planned when you begin to feel comfortable reaching out to others in real life or via your social media accounts. Often, the point of the no contact rule is to see if you are overly dependent on the relationship, or if you would be happier solo.
All too often, in a toxic relationship your prime focus becomes the other person. Sometimes, this is due to their manipulation. In other cases, it may be from your own unhealthy tendencies to want to fix a relationship by fawning over the other person, or spending all the time you have to spare on them.
Related reading: 21 Things Your Partner Should Never Say to You (and Vice Versa)
Here, no contact works to make positive changes, because it forces you out of those patterns. So, when you crave human contact, you might reach out to old friends or start talking to a potential new lover. In any case, this is a good sign that you are on the right path.
Of course, if this leads you to a new partner, that’s a clear sign your relationship ended the moment you went no contact. However, if you do get back together with your ex boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s best to retain those friendships and connections you rekindled. This will help your self confidence, and ensure you have supportive friends and family members in your life.
One of the signs the no contact phase is taking effect is that your ex contacts you without prompting. Going no contact makes them realize what they were missing. So, the phone calls begin. So do the likes and comments on your social media posts. They may even request a face to face meeting to talk. Don’t be surprised if your ex’s friends contact you on his behalf to see if there are still hard feelings.
Related reading: How to Play Hard to Get
While this is a great sign that you’ve finally gotten your ex’s attention, proceed with caution. His repeated attempts at contact show he still has strong feelings. He may truly get it now, and be willing to move forward in a healthy way. If getting back together was your ultimate goal, that’s perfectly fine.
That said, don’t ignore the possibility that he is so desperate to get you back that he is willing to say anything. He might even believe the promises he is making, despite the fact that he may not be capable of keeping them.
Also, by attempting to contact you all the time, he’s not exactly respecting your boundaries. If that was an issue in your relationship, it’s clearly still a problem, even if this is one of the signs the no contact rule is working. You may need your ex to show some self control and go cold turkey. If you still need space, ask them to back off on the text messages and calls. Then, commit to staying silent on your end too!
Now you can tell when the no contact rule is working. But, what are the signs the no contact rule isn’t helping your situation? Here are 5 main indicators.
Let’s start with the biggest. The ultimate sign that radio silence has gone wrong is that all the negative emotions are as strong as they were at the start of all of this. Even the most necessary communication ends in a fight. These are clear signs that no contact should simply become a permanent end of your relationship.
Another sign is that you simply can’t keep it up. Both of you are so desperate to spend time together, and feel sad when you are apart. If you are mutually violating the terms of no contact, maybe it’s time to get back together. You can still pursue other ways of working on things.
Related reading: Does Distance Really Make the Heart Grow Fonder?
A third sign that this isn’t working is when you’ve realized your ex has started talking to others. In your mind, this break was to give your ex time to reconsider things. However, they have taken your no contact rule as an open door to move on. This may not be precisely what you wanted, but it is a risk you take.\
Related reading: Coloring the Grey Zone – Is Flirting Cheating?
Sadly, when you set boundaries with some people, that can trigger some really bad personality traits and behaviors. They may pick fights, leave nasty remarks on your social media account, or even become threatening. At best, you should take this as a sign that it is time to get professional help from someone who can give you strategies and related reading to guide you. At worst, it may be time to end things permanently and maintain physical and emotional distance.
The fifth sign isn’t so much an indication that this isn’t working. However, you may realize no contact isn’t quite working like you imagined if you realize that you were more of a problem than you realized. Generally, when someone suggests a no contact period, they want the other person to change. Or, they want them to come to some sort of epiphany. Then, they are surprised when they realize that they were the one who needed that cold, hard dose of reality.
If you don’t do things correctly, a no contact period may just be a permanent breakup. Alternatively, a no contact rule just becomes something that neither one of you really follows. If you want this to have a positive outcome, follow these tips.
Do not go no contact on a whim. This isn’t something you should throw it during a fight. That will nearly always turn out badly. Instead, wait until you are calm, and make a list of what you want out of all of this. Your goals might include:
While you can certainly hope that some time off will change the other person’s behavior or thinking, be aware that you have no real control over that. So, set your expectations carefully and value your own life first.
What will zero contact look like for you and your partner? You don’t need to go into exhaustive detail or predict every situation, but there should be some ground rules. For example, in one case the best approach may be to have absolutely no contact at all. That means blocking on social media, no calls or texts, and certainly no meeting in person. To do that, you may have to ensure any loose ends are tied up.
Another couple might agree to meet once a week on neutral ground and see mutual friends. However, they may decide that sex is off the table, and that certain topics of conversation are off limits.
Related reading: Rules of Open Relationships
This impacts at least two people, and both have a right to their own thoughts and reactions to this. Your ex is allowed to be upset at this suggestion. They are allowed to express their feelings over it.
When it comes down to it, your ex is fully within their rights to end the relationship, set their own ground rules for no contact, or otherwise establish their position on this matter. Likewise, you have the right to proceed based on the feedback they give you.
Leaving things open-ended is unfair to both of you, so set a date to revisit things. Then you can decide what you will both do next. This introduces the predictability and maintains trust in your relationship.
Think about the state of your current relationship. Chances are, if you are reading this, there is something wrong. Both of you may have tried resolving it, but with the same arguments and angry messages result.
Something needs to change, but both of you feel helpless to make that happen. Worse, one of you may think everything is great while the other is miserable.
If you are tired of overwhelming emotions, and want to get off the emotional rollercoaster, perhaps it is time for no contact. But, before you dive in, let’s talk about some things to expect.
Embrace this ugly truth. Things have gotten to this point because your relationship is struggling. Hopefully this technique will put things on the right track, whatever that is. However, be prepared for a rough patch at the beginning. Feelings are raw, so you may find yourself engaging in petty arguments, allowing yourself to be baited, or even doing some of your own antagonizing.
This seems like a great idea at first, but what if you really miss them. This is a person you used to love, and maybe you still do. Even if the relationship was unhealthy, it was still your normal. It’s understandable that you may be tempted to just get back to way things were.
Be prepared that what you want at the beginning may change. That goes for the other person as well. For example, you may start wanting a commitment from the other person only to realize you are ready to end things with them permanently.
Every person you tell about your break is going to have an opinion that they are eager to share with you. Some of those opinions will be helpful. A lot of them will involve projection and bias.
Remember that it’s okay to set boundaries with other people. You may also find that some of the people you know really need to be put on an information diet.
Now you know the 5 signs the no contact rule is working for you, and it’s time to figure out what to do next. One thing you should know at this point is that it’s very important to keep your own needs as your top priority. Only then you can take some time to consider anybody else.
This isn’t selfish. It’s just that the no contact rule works because it causes you to realize that you deserve a healthy relationship without all of the negative emotions or toxicity.
If you decide the no contact rule is working, the first thing to consider is just leaving the situation as it is. One benefit of the no contact rule is that it can make you see that some relationships are simply bad for you. One way to demonstrate a bit of self love is to no contact a permanent thing. Then, start focusing on self care, or even finding a new relationship.