Today I’m going to answer whether or not you should wait for your ex to contact you first in the post breakup period.
In my opinion, I think it’s far more important for you to reach out to an ex first with the right frame of mind. Often the expectation that your success during the post breakup process is reliant on an ex showing extreme interest in you is overrated and doesn’t line up with what we see in the field.
In this in-depth guide you’re going to learn,
- Why getting into the right frame of mind before you talk to your ex is so important
- Why what matters isn’t who starts the conversation but who ends it
- What research during the no contact rule has taught us about exes reaching out first
- Why my team and I believe you reaching out first is almost always the right move
The Importance Of Getting In The Right Frame Of Mind
Take a look at this graphic,
This is essentially a “birds eye view” of the process we teach to our clients assuming they want their exes back. Now, if that isn’t something you are interested in then I’d still urge you to pay attention to what I’m about to say next.
Everything about this graphic operates because of this part right here,
The no contact rule!
Now, lately with almost every article I’ve been writing about it I’ve talked about how most of the people who enter our orbit and think they know all about the no contact rule don’t really know as much as they think.
Take our official definition,
The no contact rule refers to a period of time where you cut off all conceivable communication with an ex after a breakup. 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
The important part of that definition that often gets overlooked is this part right here, “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.”
From an attachment style perspective most of our clients tend to veer more towards anxious behaviors.
- They are desperate to get their exes back
- Think the problem in the relationship is their fault (when it usually isn’t)
- They beg
- They plead
- They have trouble staying disciplined
- They just want to solve this breakup as soon possible.
One of the interesting patterns I noticed when I would interview success stories is that a good number of them mentioned that they had the right frame of mind before they even talked to their ex.
They had outgrown their ex.
Been ok with the fact that the relationship was over.
In some cases they even felt like they were too good for them. In other words, they had achieved the whole ungettable persona.
And I really took this concept to heart, being in the right frame of mind before you talk to your ex. There’s just one problem, what’s the right frame of mind?
Well, in my view you need to have something that you care about more than your ex in your life before you talk to them.
I like to call this my magnum opus concept, something that gives your life a greater purpose outside of your romantic relationships.
And really the no contact rule is the perfect time to begin fermenting this mindset shift. So, what I often tell my personal coaching clients is that they shouldn’t even think about reaching out to an ex first until they feel confident they have outgrown their ex.
Of course, there is one other stereotypical headwind that I have to face, especially when dealing with female clients.
Why What Matters Isn’t Who Starts The Conversation But Who Ends It
Our clients tend to be obsessed with one data point, did their ex text them first.
Really this cuts to the heart of the whole discussion we are having here in this article. Stereotypes in America have taught us that if a guy (or a girl) doesn’t reach out first then they aren’t interested in you.
Perhaps there is some merit to that when it comes to regular romantic relationships but when you add a breakup into the mix the question becomes quite a bit more confusing.
It wasn’t until I was introduced to a concept called the zeigarnik effect that my whole thoughts on who texts who first began to shift.
Put simply, the zeigarnik effect occurs when an activity that has been interrupted may be more readily recalled. It postulates that people remember unfinished or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.
To use a direct example. Imagine this is the natural flow of a conversation,
Let’s just go ahead and assume this conversation is naturally pleasing. So, as it begins it’s not particularly interesting or satisfying but as more time goes by, as more time becomes invested eventually the conversation becomes more and more interesting.
Of course, nothing great lasts forever and so eventually, if the conversation is given enough time to stale it will lose its momentum.
But according to the zeigarnik effect, if you were to end the conversation abruptly in the middle, near the high point,
It’s a lot more likely that your ex is going to remember this conversation better than one that overstayed its welcome. So, what does this mean?
Well, in my mind it suggests that the start of a conversation isn’t anywhere near as important as the end.
So long as you can keep a conversation going then how it starts isn’t wants remembered. The end is.
And some other research actually backs this suggestion up.
It’s called the peak end rule.
According to the NNGroup,
The peak–end rule is a cognitive bias that impacts how people remember past events. Intense positive or negative moments (the “peaks”) and the final moments of an experience (the “end”) are heavily weighted in our mental calculus.
The peaks and the ends.
That’s what we remember.
Now, if the start is a peak emotional experience, then yes, your ex will remember that. However, how many “peak emotional” moments happen at the start of a throwaway conversation?
Here’s my point, stop obsessing over who starts a conversation. What matters is who ends it and that needs to be you.
The Biggest Falsity Of The No Contact Rule
Part of the reason we are having this discussion on if you should wait for an ex to reach out to you first has to due with the biggest misconception about the no contact rule.
Often our clients get seduced by internet stories they read of someone doing a no contact rule and their ex freaking out and blowing up their phone.
I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, it does. All I’m going to make the argument for is that it’s the exception to the rule. In fact, a few years ago I ran a poll in our private facebook support group asking participants who had completed the no contact rule if their exes had reached out to them during it.
Over 60% of participants admitted that their exes had not reached out to them at all during no contact. So, it seems this story being spun about the no contact rule being this great tool to get an ex to reach out first isn’t entirely true.
And really in my opinion, having you reach out to them first in the post breakup period has too many advantages not to consider.
Why My Team And I Believe You Reaching Out First Is The Right Way To Go
There are really a confluence of factors that lead me to this decision.
- The no contact rule
- The zeigarnik effect
- The peak end rule
- You being in the drivers seat
All of these are huge advantages to reaching out first. Let’s go down the list one by one and explain why I consider them to be advantages.
The No Contact Rule
Usually if you are doing it on your ex they could hold some resentment and not want to reach out to you so you kind of have no choice but to be the one to reach out first.
Additionally, the no contact rule helps you get that much needed mentality of “outgrowing them” in order.
The Zeigarnik Effect And Peak End Rule
As stated above, I believe what matters more in todays day and age when it comes to dating isn’t who reaches out to who first but who ends the conversation first.
Adding another layer, when you end the conversation matters. Doing so at a “peak” moment during a conversation creates a long lasting impression that can make it easier for your ex to actually want to reach out to you first.
You Dictating The Terms Of Talk
Perhaps a bit of my control freak is coming out here but I like the dynamic of my clients controlling when a conversation begins and when it stops.
- They choose when they reach out.
- They choose when it stops.
- They put forth an impression of confidence.
Their exes look at them as a more assertive individual who knows what they want and won’t wait around for anyone. Just like an ungettable girl.
A famous saying in boxing,
It’s not the punch you see that knocks you out, it’s the punch you don’t see.
The same principle can sort of apply to texting.
Playing defense and responding to an exes text doesn’t give you a lot of time to prepare. If there is perhaps one advantage texting gives you it is the mediums ability to allow you to prepare.
You can sit back and think about what you are going to say making yourself appear more insightful than you could if you were put on the spot.
I suppose someone could argue that you could still do this if your ex reached out to you first. You could take your time with a reply.
And they are right but my point still is valid.
Based on my experience, anxious individuals who want nothing more than to rekindle things with their ex don’t have a lot of patience and they get roped into texting back as soon as possible.
Here’s my point.
You reaching out first has too many advantages to pass up.
So, wait, prepare but most importantly, outgrow that ex of yours.