The no contact rule is the most popular post-breakup strategy that I and most other breakup experts recommend, yet despite its popularity and effectiveness, about 80% of people break the no contact rule on their first attempt.
Today I’ll take you through everything you need to know about messing up the no contact rule such as why it happens, what’s going on in an ex’s mind when they guilt trip you into breaking no contact, and what you should do if you mess up.
What To Do If You Messed Up The No Contact Rule
Let’s start from the top and define the no contact rule.
Now, I’ve talked about the no contact rule for nearly a decade but after examining some shortcomings we’ve redefined what an effective no contact rule should be:
The no contact rule is a period of time where you ignore your ex on purpose. The intent of this tactic should NOT be used to make your ex miss you, but instead should be used to rebuild your own life so that you outgrow your ex. By doing this, the no contact rule can have the added benefit of making an ex miss you.
Over the years we’ve noticed that the intent of someone going into a no contact rule dictates how likely they are to make an ex miss them.
Most of our clients who jump into no contact only wishing to make their ex miss them lose out on any chances of self-improvement and therefore don’t really give their exes something new to come back to.
On the other hand, when people enter the no contact rule with the intent of working on themselves and rebuilding their life without their ex, they are often happier in the long run and have better chances of having their ex miss them.
The Three Types Of No Contact
The types of no contact might not seem relevant here, but this article only applies to one type so it’s important to understand whether you even fall in that category.
The three types of no contact are:
- Indefinite – The indefinite no contact rule is our suggestion for people who want to get over their exes. It involves staying in no contact forever – essentially ghosting or cutting your ex out of your life because they’re too narcissistic or chaotic.
- Limited – The limited no contact rule exists when there are unavoidable situations that force you to interact with your ex on some level, such as having shared children or working in the same office etc.,
- General – The general no contact rule is relevant to 90% of the population where there are no special circumstances forcing interactions with your ex.
Going forward, this whole article is about messing up the general no contact rule as this is relevant to most of you reading.
What Does Messing Up Actually Look Like?
First things first, as I already said – about 80% of our clients mess up the no contact rule at some point. So it’s much more common than you’d think.
Messing up a no contact rule basically means breaking it before the desired time period has been completed.
For example, if you decided on a 30 day no contact rule, you must ignore your ex for 30 full days. If you speak to them at any point before the 30-day mark, you’ve broken the no contact rule. There are lots of different ways people break the no contact rule but here are the three main issues our clients face:
You break it by responding to an ex when you feel bad
This usually happens when your ex reaches out and guilt trips you for not responding to them, so you feel like you owe them an answer.
You show up at their house or work to get their attention
This happens because you’ve grown so used to spending time with your ex and seeing them that when the breakup breaks that pattern, all you want is to see them again and somehow return to your routine. It’s definitely a creepy thing to do but certainly not as bad as the next one…
You put yourself in a position where you will “accidentally” run into them.
This usually happens with the people who are internally negotiating the no contact rule – their mind knows a no contact rule is a necessary step, but their heart yearns to see their ex, so they somehow make it happen. These people look for excuses like grocery shopping at the same store as their ex hoping to run into them or even changing their work route to potentially catch a glimpse of their ex.
Why So Many of Our Clients Fail the No Contact Rule?
When people usually talk about messing up the no contact rule, they usually just stress the importance of finishing that period, but they don’t really get on your level to explain WHY people are pushed to break no contact.
Maybe it’s because they don’t understand what it’s like to implement a no contact rule on someone that you love potentially more than anything in your life right now. Here are some really common components of the reasoning for why people fail the no contact rule:
They feel bad about ignoring their ex
If you’re a kind person implementing the no contact rule can feel like some unfair emotional manipulation. You might feel so bad doing it that you prematurely give up to avoid hurting your ex.
Their ex pulls the guilt trip on them
This is where your ex reaches out with some absurd messages meant to guilt trip you such as:
“You’re being super childish and immature”
“I can’t believe you would do this to me”
The point of these messages is to make you feel bad for upsetting them so you immediately break the no contact rule to calm them down.
They get worried that their ex will forget them
People get scared that ignoring their ex will make their ex forget them but this is just irrational thinking.
I have never encountered a situation where your ex will forget about you. The worst that could happen is that they will try to ignore you because of your anxious behaviors, but that still doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten you.
They become terrified that their ex will find someone else during the no contact rule if they are out of sight, out of mind.
I suppose this is the most valid reason out there but here’s what I have to say to this. One of the main reasons your ex broke up with you was so they could explore their options as they believed they could do better than you. Regardless of how you handle the breakup, your ex WILL be looking for someone else to replace you so the no contact rule does not affect this.
Besides, the no contact rule prevents you from making the fatal mistake of inserting yourself into your ex’s honeymoon period with someone else.
Is It Bad To Mess Up A No Contact Rule?
I’ve said this several times and I’ll say it again – every single time that you have to restart a no contact period after you mess it up, it loses a little bit of effectiveness.
That’s not to say it can’t still be extremely effective, it just becomes less effective every time you mess up. I like to describe this like rewatching a movie you loved the first time.
The first time watching the movie is definitely the highest emotional point for you.
The second time is still pretty good but the emotions are slightly lower than the first time because you already know what to expect.
The third time around it might be too predictable and the more times you rewatch, the more you’ll get sick of it and any emotional connections will slowly disappear.
The same thing happens with the no contact rule. If you keep doing it over and over again at some point your ex will catch on and it won’t be effective anymore.
Time for a rare call out:
If you have failed at a no contact rule five times, do not blame me because it’s not effective. Instead, blame yourself because you weren’t disciplined enough to see it through.
Now on to the ultimate question…
Exactly What You Should Be Doing If You made A Misstep
This is the easiest thing to answer ;
You start the no contact rule all over again.
It doesn’t matter if you broke no contact on day 7 of a 30-day no contact period or day 28.
You MUST start over each time because you’re clearly still missing the whole point of the no contact rule. If you’re undisciplined enough to break a no contact rule when it’s almost over it’s clear that you have not emotionally outgrown your ex.
Remember- the main point of a no contact rule is to get to a place emotionally where you outgrow your ex and no longer obsess over whether they come back to you.
As I already stressed – going into no contact with the intent of emotionally outgrowing your ex is much more powerful than trying to harm your ex or make them miss you.
The whole idea is that a successful no contact rule will leave you thinking that it’s cool if your ex comes back, but if they don’t you’ve still become a better person. Breaking the no contact rule and giving in to your ex means you’ve missed that point as you are still obsessive over your ex so you gotta go back to the beginning!
Now I want to circle back specifically to the situation where your ex guilt trips you to respond during no contact because I know it’s people’s number 1 fear.
How To Look At Being Guilt Tripped By An Ex
Implementing a no contact rule is a stark change from your past – whether that past was you anxiously blowing up their phone after the breakup or you both spending lots of time together before your breakup.
When you go from so much contact and emotional availability to being an inaccessible silent wall your ex will feel angry and annoyed.
They’ll try to reach out and guilt trip you about what you’re doing to them.
You might be tempted to give in because you don’t want to hurt their feelings but here’s how I would train you to look at this situation:
If your ex wanted immediate responses, they shouldn’t have broken up with you or suggested a breakup in the first place.
In this regard I want you to look at the no contact rule as a consequence of bad behavior.
Your ex’s bad behavior was breaking up with you first and then trying to play a subconscious game of guilt-tripping you till you respond to them.
If you end up breaking the no contact rule, you are just rewarding their bad behavior and giving the message that they can make you break no contact whenever they want.
On the other hand, if you stay strong in your no contact rule it will serve as the perfect consequence for your ex’s bad behavior.
This is more relevant to those of you who were broken up with as opposed to those who broke up with their exes. Finally, it’s crucial to understand the role anger plays in your ex’s response to bring ignored.
Anger is the ultimate defense mechanism that drives your ex to guilt-trip you
I want to explain this point with a real-life example from our private Facebook support group.
Our group has thousands of people who have purchased our ex recovery program and are willing to share their experiences, problems, and advice with others going through similar situations.
So this woman in the group explains that she’s in the middle of a no contact rule and around day 14 her ex starts to guilt-trip her by saying, “you are so selfish and childish; how dare you react this way.”
Her instinctive reaction is to feel guilty and concerned because her ex has never been this angry before.
To fully understand this situation and how to handle it, we must understand what anger really is. Anger is a defense mechanism. It is a result of being upset or sad or feeling shame over not getting something that they want. In this case, what your ex really wants is your attention.
They’re trying to find ways to make themselves feel better and tell themselves they’re not wrong. But we clearly know they’re wrong or they wouldn’t have broken up with you.
Having an ex tell you that you are selfish or acting childish for not responding to them implies that they are selfless and not childish, but when we look at the situation all you are doing is minding your own business and moving past a breakup. On the flip side, they’re the ones throwing a tantrum since things aren’t going their way. So, who’s actually more childish in this circumstance?
- Almost everyone who attempts the no contact rule fails at some point so don’t beat yourself up too much for doing it.
- People mess up in all kinds of ways like responding to their ex when they feel bad, showing up at their ex’s house, or orchestrating “accidents” to run into their ex.
- The reasons for these lapses in no contact can be because they feel bad, their ex is guilt-tripping them, they’re afraid their ex will forget them and fall in love with someone else.
- Whatever your reason for breaking no contact may be, the only solution is to restart no contact all over again.
- This is very important because the point of a no contact rule is to emotionally outgrow your ex and you’re not achieving that if you keep breaking no contact.
- Most importantly you must remember that the effectiveness of the no contact rule goes down each time you start over so try to be more disciplined and get through it the first time around.