By Chris Seiter

Updated on April 5th, 2021

Do you ever feel like there’s an invisible wall of hesitation and resistance when you try to talk to your ex?

Today we’re going to talk all about those psychological barriers your ex puts up after a breakup.

I will not only explain to you what a psychological barrier is but when can you expect your ex to have it and how you can overcome it.

Understanding the psychological barriers your ex puts up is essential to having any proper conversation with them, so pay close attention.

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What Are Psychological Barriers?

When I use this term, it is in terms of how your ex communicates with you.

When you go through a breakup, your ex is bound to put up certain thoughts or beliefs about why they shouldn’t communicate with you. These are psychological barriers that you need to overcome to get them to open up and have a real conversation with you.

What’s interesting about these psychological barriers is that once you clear up the first one, another will take its place that prevents you from talking to them again.

So, it can become extremely annoying when you’re trying to talk to your ex, and they just stop responding.

A lot of women who go through this program will sit and think things are going really well, but all of a sudden, their ex will stop responding.

This leaves them lost, thinking, “why?”

Well, often it’s because of their ex’s psychological barrier

If you’re one of those people who need examples to understand something, here’s a perfect one of a psychological barrier:

Let’s say you, and I go through a breakup in which I break up with you. The first thing is you wait 4-5 days to reach out to me, but I don’t respond. Why? It’s because my psychological barrier is up, and the internal belief I have at the time is that you’re extremely emotional or too mean, and I don’t want that in my life. That prevents me from wanting to respond to you.

When Do Psychological Barriers Show Up? 

Over the years of coaching people through this process, I’ve begun to notice that these psychological barriers come up at specific and super predictable points of the ex recovery process.

Without getting too detail-oriented here, I’m a big believer in this concept called the value chain or the value ladder.

value ladder

The value chain entails building value very slowly and methodically through different forms of communication.

These forms or steps of the value ladder include:

  1. No contact rule
  2. Text messaging
  3. Phone calls
  4. In-person interactions

As you go through each of these communication steps, you’re building value along the way that gets you closer to your ultimate goal.

However, as you move up each rung of the value ladder, your ex will keep putting forward incremental psychological barriers preventing you from transitioning to the next step.

For example, one of the things we spend the most time on is drafting that first text message that you will send your ex after a no contact rule.


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Simply because it’s highly likely that during the no contact period your ex has established a firm psychological barrier for why they will not talk to you, and we need to come up with a text message that will help them get over that barrier.

Now every time you overcome a barrier, it becomes easier to talk to your ex from a no contact rule to text messaging.

But you’ll find that it is MUCH harder to jump all the barriers between the no contact rule and meeting in person all at once.

Every once in a while, someone will get very lucky, but most of the time, when our clients try to skip our process by jumping into a meetup, they fail.

It’s because they tried to jump over multiple psychological barriers in one go, and their ex was not ready for that.

The best way to understand when you’re bound to enter into a psychological barrier with your ex is to focus on the points of communication where you’re transitioning the method of communication.

So, there’s a huge psychological barrier when transitioning:

  • From a no contact rule to text messaging
  • From texting to calling
  • From calling to in-person interactions.

Here’s the good news, though: if you do manage to overcome the psychological barrier from the no contact rule to texting, you’ll find that talking through text messaging becomes easier and easier.

Why do you think that is?

Well, to adequately explain that concept, I think we need to take a quick history lesson.

For the longest time in racing history, people believed that it was impossible to break the four-minute mile.

Many tried and failed until one man came along and finally broke it by six-tenths of a second.

3 minutes 59.4 seconds is all it took to change our perception of man’s running abilities.

However, once he broke the record, he paved the way for several hundred more to do that because they now had the confidence of knowing that it was not an impossible feat.

The same applies when you break a psychological barrier with your ex in communication.

When your ex thinks it’s impossible to talk to you from no contact to texting, once you break that barrier, you’ll notice it becomes far more comfortable to have conversations.

But this doesn’t mean that it’s easier to break the next barrier from texting to phone calls. So, it’s really important that you pay very close attention to these transitional areas because that’s where you’ll see these gigantic psychological barriers.

How To Break Down These Psychological Barriers?

I could give you a checklist, but I think you’ll learn better by learning from real-life examples.

I’m going to share three broad ideas for breaking these barriers based on examples of coaching clients I’ve worked with.

Let’s begin!

Idea #1: Create And Foster An Environment Where Your Ex Actually Wants To Talk To You

Initially, when I started the no contact rule concept within Ex Boyfriend Recovery, my thinking was that the psychological barrier that will cause an ex not to want to respond to you would be their stubbornness, so you will have to reach out first.

By reaching out first, you remove the pressure of having your ex reach out to you first so that may put them at ease.

We soon learned that’s not enough.

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You also need to add an element of curiosity to your text messages.

So for the longest time, we would advise our clients that the first thing you need to do is you need to reach out to your ex first, and the second thing you need to do is have a text message that makes your ex curious enough to respond.

But we then learned that wasn’t perfect either.

There’s a third element to this, too, that dictates that you need to have a semi-satisfying conversation with your ex and end that conversation first. T

hat will get your ex over his psychological barrier in a way that makes them want to talk to you more.

Basically, we’re trying to cultivate an environment where your ex will want to engage with you.

Idea #2: Concede Some Power

The second way involves some trickery, and it actually has to do with a personal coaching client I’m dealing with now.

If there is one flaw with our system, it’s that we try to create a “one size fits all” solution.

While a lot of breakups can be fixed with the general steps, every individual is different, and some exes might need a bit more persuasion to let their barriers down.

My most recent coaching client’s relationship was built almost entirely on the phone and not through text messaging.

As you can probably guess, when I advised her to try to break the first psychological barrier by messaging her ex first, it didn’t work.

We tried again because maybe it could have been a problem with the text message… still no response.

It wasn’t until we shifted our thinking and realized that the foundation of her relationship with her ex was on the phone, so maybe we should start to break the psychological barrier of a phone call first before they have any meaningful interactions.

So, we quickly shifted our attention to drafting a text message that would make her ex want to call her or get on the phone with her.

We tried different messages like the classic damsel in distress one, but he just wouldn’t bite.

Eventually, we hit the jackpot and thought to leave him a really intriguing voicemail that makes him want to call back.

We finally got a bite, and that propelled her relationship forward. While she hasn’t gotten her ex back yet, were definitely on the right track, and that would never have happened unless we broke down his psychological barrier.

What does that tell us about overcoming a psychological barrier?

Sometimes being too Ungettable can hurt you, and you just have to give some faction of power back to your ex for them to feel comfortable enough to want to participate.

Giving your ex power back makes them feel like they’re in charge of letting their barrier down as opposed to you breaking it down. That’s why our voicemail technique worked!

We don’t really recommend the voicemail unless we know our client’s case like the back of our hand, and in this case, we realized that her ex might have lost hope, or he feels like he’s too afraid of talking to her because he doesn’t want to get hurt.

Giving him some hope and power through a voicemail was the right way to go.

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Idea #3: Wait.

The third and perhaps the hardest option is to WAIT until the barrier drops on its own simply.

Timing is a really underrated aspect of this whole process. A lot of people come to me thinking they have no chance of getting their ex back, and they try to get their ex back and give up. A year later, they come back and tell me that their ex came back on his own, but they were over him.

Why is that? It’s because when they were trying to talk to their ex, the timing wasn’t right, but they were so eager for results they couldn’t exercise patience.

Sometimes patience looks like waiting 3 to 5 months or even more. I know that’s hard in times when we expect instant results and gratification, but this is one area where you just can’t rush an outcome. In fact, I’d argue that the faster you try to get results, the less your chances of getting your ex back will be.

Peak and End Rule

Over the years, you’ve heard me talk about the psychological process called the Peak & End rule. This refers to the concept that when we think back to experiences, we refer to two points – the peak of the experience and the end of the experience.

Often immediately after a breakup, you’re only thinking about the end of the relationship and how bad the breakup and circumstances leading to the breakup were. Sometimes it takes some time to romanticize the past.

I recently took a call on my podcast where a guy was talking about this very concept. He said that his ex-girlfriend broke up with him and moved on to a new guy. Nine months into that relationship, she’s talking to him again, reminiscing about the good memories and complaining about how she doesn’t have that with the new guy. Now that she’s had some time and distance away from the relationship, she’s starting to romanticize how good things were.

Sometimes you need to wait for that to happen before you reach out to your ex and see results.


An ex will erect psychological barriers whenever you try to move from one stage of the communication value ladder to the next.

It’s almost like a self-defense mechanism for them, but once the psychological barriers go down, you’ll see how effortless having conversations with your ex can be.

There are three ways to break down your ex’s psychological barriers:

  1. Cultivating an environment where your ex wants to drop the barrier.
  2. Giving your ex some power back
  3. Waiting till your ex is ready to drop their barriers

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4 thoughts on “The Psychological Barriers Your Ex Will Put Up When You Talk To Them”

  1. Gretchen

    June 19, 2020 at 2:35 am

    Me again! Thanks for the reply. By conversations more about him do you mean asking about interests or more his day/life/job etc?

    Update is he ignored that Sunday. I tried Tuesday, he ignored. I waited a week. He replied after 32 hours this morning at 1215 AM. I waited until 5 something PM. It’s 930 and no reply from him! I usually send articles that would interest him and ask his thoughts. We are both very political and opinionated and have similar views. This one was asking about deforestation (how he thinks people in Madagascar can prevent it as I mentioned it seems like it happens out of desperation) We went to Madagascar together and he’s interested in conservation. Should I try something new next time?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      July 12, 2020 at 11:41 am

      Hi Gretchen it sounds as if you are doing the right things with your conversations, it may just be timing (when he is less busy in his day) you may have to look at what you know about his daily schedule and when he is most responsive to you. As your conversations are about his interest, he is just not finding it a priority to respond to you at the time you are reaching out.

  2. Gretchen

    June 10, 2020 at 2:09 am

    Hi there!

    I did NC and have been texting almost 3 months. Ex and I have had good rapport and he even has initiated. The weird thing is he usually initiates after he almost gives me an NR and I don’t keep texting. I hadn’t had a true NR for 2 months until I reached out Sunday and he ignored. I had ignored a reply he gave me Friday in response to something thursday that he ignored for over a day. I texted today (Tuesday) asking if I could be honest about something (was going to say I am glad we are talking again) and he avoided it. I didn’t wait full 72 hours which I apparently should have. A week ago Tuesday he texted me after ignoring me a few days before that and then when I replied he responded rapidly.

    He has not accepted a phone call. He does not mass snap me but sends personalized Snapchats once in a rare moon.

    2.5 weeks ago we had a phenomenal conversation and he has been pulling and pushing even more since.
    He basically has been rubber banding since mid April when we had a couple very long text exchanges! How do I manage this? I feel like I have made no progress at times because he is insanely hot and cold!! I plan to take at least a week off after he ignored today and Sunday (Sunday technically could say I was replying to him from Friday changing subject)

    Any advice or insights?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      June 16, 2020 at 9:25 pm

      Hey Gretchen, it sounds as if you are making progress, although it seems slow I think your conversation topics need to be more focused on him to get him engaged in the conversations and then you need to stop replying to him first.