contacting ex

The No Contact rule

by Eharmony Editorial Team - November 2, 2017

If you’re looking for a happy, healthy relationship then maintaining contact with your ex could be holding you back. Natalie Lue of Baggage Reclaim explains why she advocates the No Contact rule

Still keeping in touch with an ex or two? Or even with people you’ve briefly connected with through online dating, despite these not being true friendships? It might surprise you to know that, just as excessive home clutter affects your emotional and mental well-being, often preventing you recognising and valuing what you truly want and need, maintaining these connections uses valuable emotional and mental space that’s needed to make way for the relationship you want.

In an age where we can stay connected to people via numerous means, it’s critical to be discerning about who we continue to engage with and why. This is why No Contact, the act of pausing or ceasing contact after a relationship ends, is so vital.

Maybe it’s because you need to have clear boundaries that differentiate how things are now from how they were pre-break-up. Or things haven’t worked out with the stranger you chatted with before things fizzled out. Or you dated but one or both of you didn’t see a future. You can’t take these people with you to the future where the relationship you want resides.

Let’s be real: keeping in touch is what we think ‘good’ people – good exes – do, even if it’s not in our best interests. Plus, we’re often secretly holding out hope that one of these exes will become available and/or change so that we don’t have to truly put ourselves out there again. We think it’s nice to get attention from past love interests, that it’s validation that we’re worthy or they haven’t moved on yet. In reality, it’s a rather draining distraction.

What is the No Contact rule?

No Contact simply means not being in touch or responding to contact, especially the ambiguous or inappropriate kind. Back when we only had phone, snail mail or face-to-face, it was obvious when it was time for contact to fade out. Now, we lack the natural signals that came from having to make more effort to keep in touch. Depending on how many people we’ve been involved with, however briefly, we can amass quite a collection of contacts in our phone. I once helped a woman delete thirty-seven and not one was a serious past relationship or genuine friendship! She was the ‘good girl’ who kept in touch, but also the woman who kept saying that she really wanted to settle down. It was time to delete.

Before the Internet, when you broke-up, you broke-up. Now, we make small talk over text and call it ‘interest’, get tapped up for sex, armchair therapy or an ego stroke despite no longer being together, follow them on Facebook and keep tabs on their lives. We can even tell when they’re online or when they were last online, which can give us a false sense of control or feed anxiety.

Why it works

This is why No Contact works. We often don’t know that keeping in touch is a distraction – or what’s really motivating us to do it – until we’re not in touch and can face ourselves.

If the idea of deleting anyone from your phone or Facebook causes you to pause, if you’re beset with anxiety about them moving on, or worried about where you’re going to get attention, then you know that these aren’t true friendships. In fact, you have unacknowledged fear about moving forward and committing to what you want.

We’re not in touch when we go No Contact because we’re moving on. That’s it. We don’t need to make it into a horrible judgement about us or them.

If you’re serious about meeting someone who you can create, forge and sustain a serious relationship with, you can’t devote time, energy, effort and emotions tending to your exes. It’s time to choose. It’s time to go No Contact.

Natalie Lue teaches people who are are tired of emotional unavailability, toxic relationships, and feeling ‘not good enough’, how to reduce their emotional baggage so that they can reclaim themselves and make space for better relationships and opportunities. Read more by Natalie at Baggage Reclaim