By Chris Seiter

Published on April 22nd, 2022

Today we’re going to talk about the no contact rule and the psychology it has on the dumper.

Specifically I have found that there are six main stages a dumper will experience if they are on the receiving end of no contact.

  1. Relief/Happiness
  2. Annoyance
  3. Anger
  4. Dyadic
  5. Phase
  6. Grief
  7. Acceptance

Of course, before I dive in to the six stages I’d like to point out that I crafted these six stages with a certain assumption.

(Assumption): You’ve actually successfully completed a no contact rule

So, bear that in mind.

Let’s begin.

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Stage One: Relief And Happiness

Contrary to popular belief, most dumpers will not contact you during the no contact rule.


Well, I think believe it or not the avoidant self fulfilling cycle has something to do with it.

If you aren’t familiar with what that is it’s the self fulfilling I cycle loop that avoidants often get caught up in.

There are typically eight stages to it.

  1. They start out wanting someone to love them
  2. They date you and things are great at first
  3. Eventually your need for open communication and intimacy triggers their avoidant side
  4. They begin to consider leaving the relationship
  5. They actually leave the relationship
  6. They are ecstatic that they left the relationship
  7. They begin to feel lonely and need to find a distraction for the loss
  8. They enter victim mentality and wonder why this is always happening to them

Now, bear in mind that this is the Avoidants perspective of the entire life of the relationship from start to finish.

Take a look at stage six.

They are ecstatic they left the relationship. Generally there is no dumper that thinks breaking up with you is a mistake. After all, a breakup is nothing more than an admission that the dumper thinks they can do better than you.

And so seeing as we recommend our clients use a no contact rule immediately on their exes after a breakup it makes sense that their exes are actually happy for the space.

Especially when you consider that most of the clients entering into our orbit are anxious while their exes veer more towards avoidant.

But don’t worry, relief won’t last forever.

Stage Two: Annoyance

Human beings and change.

Can you think of a worse pairing?

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In the past when talking about this stage I’d often tell stories about the routines couples fall into and how breakups interrupt that (only to be accentuated by the no contact rule.)

However, experience has taught me that annoyance from a dumper during the no contact rule isn’t often due to a change in routine.

Rather it’s a more philosophical misunderstanding of perspective.

The dumpers perspective of you is set. Assuming they are avoidant and you are anxious here’s some of the thoughts they’re likely thinking,

I don’t respect my ex They need to get their own life They need to be more self sufficient They are obsessed with me

So, this is there internal narrative at the outset of no contact. However, as a week or two goes by they grow particularly frustrated when they don’t hear from you.

All of a sudden that internal narrative that they have built up around you changes.

Maybe they don’t have you pegged the way they thought they did which inevitably leads to…

Stage Three: Anger

Coach Anna and I have talked in depth about anger and its effect on exes here,

And there’s one specific thing from that video that I really want you to take to heart.

If we look at situations where someone else is wrong and we feel correct we distract ourselves from feeling pain. That’s why so many exes feel angry and judgmental.

So, how is that relevant here?

The dumper just realized that you aren’t as desperate over them as they thought. They were wrong and instead of admitting that there are some hidden depths to you that they didn’t explore they get angry about it.

Additionally you are using the no contact rule on them. You aren’t talking to them.

You are actively ignoring them.

That’s a hard pill to swallow and so it’s easier to rage against the source of their pain (you) than to simply just “get over it.”

Besides, it feels good to blame others for your problems. You don’t have to take ownership.

Which leads us interestingly to stage four.

Stage Four: The Dyadic Phase

This is something that I’ve talked about before in another article on dumpers.

Except while that’s looking at post breakup behaviors (not really including no contact) we’re going to be applying it to the no contact rule itself.

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So, what is the dyadic phase?

Usually it’s when one or both partners try to fix the relationship. However, there is a hyper focus on them fixing symptoms and not actual problems.

During no contact this can appear in a few interesting ways.

Obviously the last stage was them getting angry. What happens when someone gets angry?

Well, usually they send a rude text message or do something to make you realize they are angry.

Sometimes a dumper will feel guilty about doing this and so they will try to “fix things” by doing the following,

  • Apologizing
  • Sending Gifts
  • Begging
  • Pleading

All to get a favorable response.

Of course, there is the other side of the coin that we need to consider.

Most exes won’t enter this phase at all, they’ll skip it.

As stated above, most dumpers will not be reaching out at all during no contact meaning they never experience the dyadic phase.

It’s not that they skip it all together it’s that it takes longer for them to have it.

No contact at its longest shouldn’t be more than 45 days and sometimes that’s just not enough time for them to want to feel like they need to “fix things” or “apologize.”

In fact, our research on avoidants has backed this up.

We’ve found that usually it’s only after our clients have moved on from the dumper that the avoidant dumper will feel safe enough to allow themselves to grieve the breakup. Once that happens nostalgia can kick in and they could potentially enter the dyadic phase.

Speaking of grief though.

Stage Five: Grief

Now, before I dive in I’d like to say that most exes won’t be finished grieving during the no contact rule. They won’t even accept the relationship is over until far after the no contact rule.

However, I felt stages five and six were worth talking about because many times the no contact rule gives incredible insight into how those stages play out.

So, let’s talk about grief.

With this one I really want to talk about age differences.

Specifically how young people grieve during the no contact rule as compared to old people.

So, what’s the assumption?

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I think it would be that young people grieve more than older ones during no contact because they lack the life experience.

Yet that’s not what we’ve seen at all in our coaching practice.

It’s true that young people experience grief in a potent way because they tend to have less experience dealing with breakups.

However, older people (65+) experience grief just as potently. For them it may be their last chance at a long term commitment.

They realize they’re not going to live forever and they’ve just gone through another breakup.

It hits them hard.

Here’s my point. Grief is universal and often times engage in a no contact rule, ignoring someone makes that grief even more potent.

To get specific here, when scientists studied breakups they found that going through a breakup is very similar to going through a withdrawal period (if you were a drug addict.)

By implementing a no contact rule on your ex you are essentially preventing them from getting their fix and as the no contact stretches on they begin to experience the roller coaster of emotions.

  • First they are on a breakup high (+)
  • Then they get annoyed that they may have had you pegged improperly philosophically (-)
  • Then they get angry (which makes them feel better because at least they can blame you) (+)
  • Then they try to fix things (maybe) (+)
  • Yet you haven’t responded, you’ve ignored them the entire time which causes them to grieve (-)

Those emotional value changes mess with them on a deep level and can almost extend their grief.

This wasn’t how this breakup was supposed to go. And perhaps the most ironic part of this is that most of the time our clients have no idea until after the fact that the no contact rule was having this kind of impact on the dumper.

Stage Six: Acceptance

I want to be very clear about one thing. When I talk about acceptance during no contact I’m not saying that they are going to get over you forever.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Rather, I’d like to use acceptance as an indicator of why you can’t stay in no contact forever if you want the dumper back.

If you don’t want the dumper back then just stay in no contact and ride off into the sunset.

Most of my peers will recommend long periods of no contact.

60-90 days in fact. But I personally feel that this is too long.

Theoretically if your ex was looking to get over you then it could happen in 66 days (how long it takes to form or break a habit.)

So, from an acceptance standpoint a 60-90 day no contact rule might be so long that your ex could literally get out of the viscous cycle of self imposed torture.

This is why all the no contact rules we recommend fall into the 21-45 day time frame.

But what the acceptance stage does show you is that for many dumpers there is a clock running. They won’t stay obsessed with you forever good or bad.

Eventually they too will move on.

Of course, we have research that sort of flies in the face of this logic as well.

After all, we’ve seen tons of exes come back years after the fact.


Well, weirdly after the acceptance stage occurs they hit this period of nostalgia it can almost kickstart them to go through a restart of some of the stages we’ve discussed in this article.

So, really the true experience of a dumper looks something like this,

  • Relief/Happiness
  • Annoyance
  • Anger
  • Dyadic Phase
  • Grief

(No contact ends)

  • Acceptance

(Time goes by)

  • Nostalgia
  • Dyadic
  • Grief
  • Acceptance

Fascinating, right?

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2 thoughts on “Psychology Of The No Contact Rule On A Dumper”

  1. Koti

    July 13, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    I hate that I am obsessing over your articles xD they bring me comfort! Is there one with exceptions on breaking the no contact rule? Like a birthday? It feels wrong to let him be alone that day

    1. Coach Shaunna Nicol

      July 18, 2022 at 9:07 pm

      Hey Koti, no we say many times do not reach out on their Birthdays if you are in the NC period.