So, is it a good idea to contact your ex after a breakup?
Well, honestly that depends on a lot of factors. If you aren’t looking to reconcile then no. It’s actually easier to just cut them off if possible and move on. If you are looking to reconcile then yes, at some point you’ll have to contact them but WHEN you do it is actually more important than what you say.
I’d like to operate under the assumption that you are at least interested in reconciling.
And I’d like to show you,
- That contacting your ex depends on what stage you are at on the value ladder
- Why it’s a bad idea most of the time to do it during no contact
- What the certain circumstances are where you no choice but to contact them
Let’s get started!
It Depends On What Stage You Are At
Have you ever seen this before?
This is a graphic of my world famous value ladder.
The way it works is simple.
You always start with a no contact rule and then past that it’s about slowly opening up communication with your ex and building value along the way.
There are multiple phases.
- The no contact phase: Where you enter into a period of 21-45 days no contact.
- The texting phase: Where you build value with your ex through text messages
- The phone call phase: Where you start building value with your ex through phone calls
- The meetup phase: Where you actually see your ex in person and build value on dates with them.
Now, obviously our official stance is to not contact your ex until you have started the texting phase,
We believe this for a number of reasons.
Why Is It A Bad Idea To Contact Your Ex Before The Texting Phase Most Of The Time?
Well, ultimately it boils down to four core reasons,
- Cortisol Is High (Making You More Prone To Falling Victim To Emotional Conversations)
- Your Ex Believes You’ll Always Be There For Them
- You are set up to be an emotional crutch
- You come off as needy (hit on the anxious vs avoidant thing)
Let’s take a moment to go over each.
Cortisol Is High
If you aren’t familiar. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone,
And it has a really fascinating relationship with breakups.
Here’s what the neurochemicals look like at the beginning of a relationship,
Cortisol is slightly elevated but so are all the other chemicals. I mean, just look at dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin. EVERYTHING is elevated.
Thank the honeymoon period for that.
Of course, what goes up must comes down. Here’s what the chemicals look like in the middle of a relationship,
Notice that dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and cortisol all went down.
Now take a look at what happens during a breakup,
Cortisol shoots way up and I mean WAAAYYY up.
And that’s one of the reasons that contacting your ex during a no contact rule is such a bad idea. You know what highly stressed people do when they break no contact?
They end up having conversations like this,
Conversations like that don’t really add any value to your climb up the ladder.
Your Ex Believes You’ll Always Be There For Them
Initiating contact with an ex too frequently can inadvertently foster a perception of constant availability, which might dilute the gravity of the separation that occurred in the first place.
This might cultivate a dynamic where the ex-partner assumes that your emotional support and attention are at their constant disposal, potentially breeding a sense of complacency and lack of appreciation for your individual boundaries and well-being.
Also there’s the fact that any incessant contact can signify a lack of growth and independence, as it might portray a willingness to prioritize the past relationship over one’s own personal development and future prospects.
You Are Set Up To Be Their Emotional Crutch
It’s a tale as old as time.
Your ex breaks up with you but nothing seemingly changes except the title.
- They still rely on you for emotional support
- They attempt to sleep with you
- They call you every night
- Text you every day
If you aren’t able to actually set up the boundary of silence your ex will just look at you the same way a narcissist looks at people.
If you aren’t familiar of what that looks like,
They just view people as supply for admiration, attention or sex.
I’m not saying your ex is doing that but what I will say is that constantly breaking no contact to talk to them before they’ve actually earned it sets up a situation where they are more likely to use you for emotional support at the very least.
You Come Off As Needy
I’ve made it no secret that our average client has an anxious attachment style,
While the average ex we study has an avoidant attachment style,
So, the dynamic we are often studying is,
Anxious (client) + Avoidant (ex)
One of the interesting things I’ve learned over the years is that avoidants often break up with anxious people during stage three of this death wheel,
Those “worrying things” they notice.
Ya, that’s usually anxious behavior from their partners. So, by constantly reaching out to your ex during no contact all you usually end up doing is reinforcing that ideal for the ex.
They believe you are an anxious person.
Your constant reach outs just continue to aggravate them and often you end up doing more harm than good.
Now, with all that being said there are some situations where you are forced to break the no contact early or temporarily.
The Certain Circumstances Where You Have To Break No Contact Early/Temporarily
I’ve done my best to categorize these for the discussion so I can move things along quickly,
- You Have Important Items To Exchange
- You Share Pets/Kids/Etc Together
- Their Loved One Passes Away
- You Are Dealing With A Fearful Avoidant
You Have Important Items To Exchange
So, your hand might be forced here a bit. If you are in no contact and your ex contacts you to ask for their things back then you’ll have no choice but to break no contact and respond.
But if they have your things and you want them back then I have one question for you.
How important are the items to you?
If they are incredibly important then you can break no contact to get them back but as is going to be the case in pretty much every circumstance. KEEP IT STRICTLY BUSINESS.
When you talk with your ex they’ll want to open up and talk about the relationship.
Do not engage with them on the topic. That doesn’t mean you have to be rude. Just keep things about the item exchange.
You Share Pets/Kids/Etc Together
If you want the deep dive on this I suggest you watch read this article.
But basically the protocol here is the same as any limited no contact version. You are allowed to break no contact to deal with pet/kid problems.
But once again, KEEP IT STRICTLY BUSINESS.
Their Loved One Passes Away
Once again, I wrote an entire article on how to handle this situation so I’d recommend reading the entirety of that article if you want to complete breakdown but here are the cliff notes.
We aren’t in this to be jerks to our exes.
Break no contact, offer your condolences, then go right back into no contact.
Let’s move on.
You Are Dealing With A Fearful Avoidant
This one is a new one and perhaps the most interesting on this list.
If you go back to that poll I attached earlier,
You’d see that while 67% of our clients believe their exes are avoidant a good amount, 20%, believe that their exes have fearful avoidant tendencies.
This means they believe their exes have both the core wound of an anxious and avoidant attachment style.
One of the things I’ve learned from dealing with exes who have a fearful avoidant attachment style is that usually a no contact rule can cause the exes “anxious” side to come to the forefront.
Which means you’re likely to get these types of things happening during no contact,
Now, generally if you are in a no contact you are supposed to just ignore that. However, if you have a fearful avoidant ex then often there is a risk with ignoring the FA outright. You see, doing so can cause them to swing back to an avoidant core wound and it will often take longer for them to trigger back to anxious.
Thus, one of the things we’ve been experimenting with is telling our clients who are certain their exes are fearful avoidant to actually nurture the anxious side a bit.
Acknowledge the ex but don’t fix the problem.
Look at the screenshot I attached above.
Most likely that ex wants to get our clients attention. Acknowledging them is to basically respond to them in a very neutral manner and then going back into no contact.
Remember, you give them the bare minimum, give them a touchpoint and then you go right back to focusing on YOU.