By Chris Seiter

Published on July 5th, 2022

Today I’m going to answer if the silent treatment actually works on an ex.

In my humble opinion, the silent treatment can be effective on an ex if you want to get them back and if you want to get over them. However, in both cases it requires you to have great emotional control and the ability to take your ex down off the pedestal you probably placed them on.

I’d like to have an open and honest discussion about how many of my peers warp the silent treatment (in the form of the no contact rule) for their own gain and completely miss the point. So today, here’s some of the things I’m going to dig in on,

  • The Silent Treatment Breakup Vs. Relationships
  • What Our Internal Research Has Shown About The Effectiveness Of The Silent Treatment
  • Finding A Worthwhile Purpose Outside Of Your Ex During The Silent Treatment

Let’s begin!

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The Silent Treatment Breakup Vs. Relationships (An Honest Discussion)

I think there’s a common misunderstanding that most people have when they hear about the silent treatment.

They believe it’s a perfect strategy to use to gain their partners attention but what’s often missed is this,

The silent treatment should only be used for a small period of time after a breakup and not during a relationship

I know this seems like a simple concept but you’d be surprised at how many of our clients miss this completely and almost fall in love with constantly using a no contact rule in their relationships to punish their partner.

So, here’s my declaration. Everything I’m about to say and break down about the silent treatment should really only be used on an ex who has broken up with you.

Got it?


Of course, most of the people who are probably reading this article have been broken up with from an ex and are often left reeling. ¬†Often, they’ve surfed online and learned a bit of the lingo revolving around the no contact rule and how it’s sold as the foundational strategy upon which your ex will want you back.

If you haven’t then allow me to quickly educate you. Most of my peers define the no contact rule as,

A period of time where you ignore your ex (no matter what) in an attempt to make your ex miss you.

And yes, technically that can happen. However, when studying real people going through real breakups the results of what actually works might surprise you.

The Internal Research On The Effectiveness Of The Silent Treatment

I think the first question we need to answer revolving around this isn’t so much dissecting the effectiveness of the silent treatment. We will do that for sure in a moment. I actually think we need to create parameters for what an effective silent treatment looks like?

Usually it’s revolving around reactions.

So, you use this period of no contact on your ex and they react in some way that indicates they miss you.

Some of the best examples include,

  • Literally telling you they miss you
  • Texting or calling you excessively
  • Showing up to your house unannounced
  • Asking for you back

Well, I hate to burst your bubble but more often than not the silent treatment isn’t going to yield these results. And that’s really my problem with the breakup industry. Many of my peers (and I suppose even there was a time I was guilty of this) but many of my peers they’ll frame the silent treatment or the no contact rule as a guaranteed way of getting these results.

What does the actual research say?

In 2020 I decided to poll our private facebook support group full of people utilizing the no contact rule (a form of the silent treatment) and literally ask them how often their exes reached out to them during it,

62% of individuals who responded to that poll said that their exes did not reach out to them at all during the no contact rule.

What does this tell us?

Put simply, the silent treatment doesn’t work the way you think it does to make an ex miss you.

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Well, we think it has something to do with attachment styles. Specifically the avoidant attachment style which many of our clients exes tend to veer towards,

One of the interesting thing about avoidant individuals is that after a breakup they aren’t likely to reach out to you. In fact, they are more dedicated to reclaiming their independence or distracting themselves from the pain but eventually the toll will come.

In this video,

I make the argument that,

Avoidants are free to long for an ex once that person is unavailable out of the relationship, and typically out of contact so they are untouched by actual engagement and their deactivation systems aren’t triggered, revealing their long-suppressed attachment and switching their operating attachment wound from the fear of engulfment to fear of abandonment.

So, only when they feel safe, aka;

  • You’ve moved on to someone else
  • They’ve moved on to someone else
  • A lot of time has gone by

Will the avoidant ex will give themselves permission to daydream about your time together. This is why we are flushed with so many stories of exes coming back into the picture months to years after the initial breakup.

So, this seems to indicate that even though an ex isn’t likely to reach out to you during a no contact rule the silent treatment might be essential for helping them to eventually reach out. So, it’s still an important part of the process.

Yet my team and I have learned something else interesting about the silent treatment and that leads to perhaps the biggest point of a silent treatment on an ex.

Find A Worthwhile Purpose You Care About More Than Your Ex During Your Silent Treatment

In 2020 we started really studying our success stories to figure out what separated people who succeeded in the art of getting an ex back versus the people who didn’t succeed.

Our big takeaway from this practice was that what separated successful individuals was that they embraced one simple philosophy.

They found some purpose that they cared about more than their ex before they started talking to their ex again.

As weird as this sounds half of the battle when it comes to ex recovery revolves around life coaching. About finding that magnum opus type purpose. I was just on a coaching call the other day and you’d be surprised at how difficult finding a purpose outside of an ex is for some people.

Here’s my point.

What you do during a no contact rule is even more important than if it’s working.

Don’t be fooled or seduced by the crazy stories you hear online of these men or women who implement a no contact rule and their ex comes running back. You can’t take a chance that you are the exception to the rule. A much better use of your time is to use it productively in pursuit of a goal that means just as much to you as your ex.

  • For some that’s creating a business
  • For others that’s painting a piece of art
  • Maybe it’s writing a book
  • Recording music
  • Being a better father
  • A better mother

Devote yourself to that purpose. Become a master and your ex will take notice. They’ll realize they’re missing out but that’s not the point. The point is you are realigning your priorities so that your world doesn’t revolve around your ex but rather this greater purpose.

You know you’ve found a worthwhile purpose when it’s all you can think about. Time and energy once spent on obsessing about an ex is now spent obsessing about achieving this goal outside of your ex.

Only then should you make a decision on if you want your ex back or not because it really puts your whole situation in perspective.

So, for me a silent treatment isn’t about manipulating an ex. It’s about taking back control of your life. Of course, it’s up to you to do that.

What are you waiting for?

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