Today I’d like to go through exactly what an ex boyfriend is thinking during every single day of a no contact rule.
A few stipulations though,
I want to use the most common version of no contact, the 30 day rule, as a guinea pig.
After spending the better part of a day outlining I think the best way to tackle this complex problem is by looking at it in phases.
Specifically these six phases,
- Days 1-5 (Separation Elation Phase)
- Days 6- 10 (The Wonder/Annoyance Phase)
- Days 11-15 (The Anger Phase)
- Days 16 – 20 (The Dyadic Phase)
- Days 21 – 25 (The Realization Phase)
- Days 25 – 30 (The Acceptance Phase)
You’ll notice if you are an avid reader of this site that this article bears a striking resemblance to this one. I’m writing this article in a way so that the two can be used simultaneously to compliment one another.
Though this particular article is far more interested in the actual thoughts an ex will have when the no contact rule is being done on them.
Enough chit chat, let’s begin!
Days 1 – 5 (Separation Elation Phase)
The biggest misconception that people have about the no contact rule is that by enacting it an ex will suddenly grow anxious and blow up their phone trying to reconcile.
And sure, I’ve seen it happen before. I mean, come on, we’ve all seen it before. Stuff like this goes around in our Facebook group all day,
But our research has shown that this is actually the exception to the rule. In fact, most exes don’t even contact you at all during a no contact and that’s ok.
Instead, what’s most likely to happen is what I’ve coined the “separation elation” phase.
This is taken directly from attachment style research. Well, specifically attachment style research for avoidants.
Pulling a quote from my favorite avoidant resource, Free To Attach,
After a relationship ends, people with an avoidant attachment style tend not to show much anxiety or distress, often feeling an initial sense of relief at the relinquishing of obligations and the sense that they are regaining their self-identity, and not tending to initially miss their partner – this is “separation elation” as the pressure to connect is gone.
So, in the early stages of no contact, specifically in the first five days what you’ll probably see isn’t an ex who is deeply saddened but rather an ex who is overjoyed at their newfound freedom.
Common Behaviors To Expect In Days 1 – 5
- Snarky social media posts bragging about how great they are doing
- Jealousy ploys
- Hearing through mutual friends that they seem to be happy
Days 6- 10 (The Wonder/Annoyance Phase)
The next five days is where the magic of the no contact rule can begin to take effect.
So, the first five days your ex is partying.
They’re having fun.
Talking nonstop about how great the breakup has been for them.
This is where that changes, right?
Well, no, not exactly.
A complete 180 like that takes a lot longer to occur but this second phase is really where two things are going to happen.
- The first thing is they are going to start to wonder why you haven’t reached out to them
- The second thing is that they are going to grow annoyed at the fact that they may have had you pegged incorrectly.
The wonder thing is pretty easy to digest.
One minute you are clearly trying to reconcile and the next you fall off the face of the earth. It’s natural to wonder why your ex had a sudden change of heart.
And that’s what gets the wheels turning.
It’s that inception idea.
Your absence, your seemingly being ok with that absence plants an idea in their head.
Why is she suddenly ok with us being apart.
It causes him to rethink his assumptions about you.
And this annoys him. He may have had you pegged wrong. At the heart of every breakup is the childish notion of their being a winner and a loser.
Any guy who goes through separation elation is going to feel like a winner, right?
Well, your silence brings that into question.
And it’s annoying.
Especially when something that you wholeheartedly believed turns out not to be so true.
Common Behaviors To Expect In Days 6 – 10
- A slow down on their bragging about their life
- Snarky comments about you to mutual friends
Days 11-15 (The Anger Phase)
Recently, my wife and I have been watching Master Chef.
(Words I never thought in a million years I’d mutter.)
Yep, I got sucked into a darn cooking show,
Anyways, one of the things they have these competitors doing is dividing them up into teams to see how they can work in a group.
Inevitably, in a fast paced competition tempers are going to flare.
And there’s always that one guy (or gal) who messes something up, grows angry and finds it easier to start blaming other people instead of taking ownership for the mistakes they may have been responsible for.
That’s what I’ve noticed about anger during the no contact rule. In fact, Coach Anna and I had a really great discussion about this a few years ago on the podcast.
The argument we made was thus,
One of the best ways to distract ourselves from feeling pain is by growing angry at someone else.
Think about it from a guys perspective.
- It’s been over a week since no contact has been enacted.
- You’ve been on a separation elation high
- You’ve realized that maybe you didn’t have your ex pegged the way you thought you did
- It’s causing you to grow a bit angry.
So, whose to blame for this rollercoaster of circumstance?
Your ex seems like a perfectly good candidate.
Common Behaviors To Expect In Days 11 – 15
- Angry text messages
- Angry notes left on cars
- Bad mouthing you to mutual friends
Days 16 – 20 (The Dyadic Phase)
Ah, but alas, you can’t blame your ex forever.
This is where the Dyadic phase comes into play.
In the past I’ve defined the Dyadic phase as,
The situation where one or both partners try to fix the relationship. However, there is a hyper focus on them fixing symptoms and not actual problems.
But how are you supposed to view this if you just had an ex say all kinds of mean things about you?
Does the dyadic phase simply mean that they are going to try to “fix” the relationship?
No, instead, its best to think of it in terms of the drunk texting phenomenon.
Not to say that you’ve ever drunk texted anyone but let’s play devils advocate and assume you have.
Usually after the texting is over and you wake up with a massive hangover and survey the wreckage you’ve created while inebriated.
You are overcome with a wave of guilt and perhaps even a bit of shame. Next, it’s time to do the apology tour.
Well, your during this phase of the no contact rule your ex might experience something similar.
Regret for the mean things they texted you.
Shame for how they’ve acted.
This can cause them to be apologetic even. We’ve seen the common “takeback” texts after the “angry texts.”
It usually looks something like this,
This is the dyadic phase at work.
They aren’t trying to fix the relationship. Rather, they’re trying to make themselves feel better because in their own head they aren’t the bad guy. Sometimes for an ex this is all they have to hold on to and if that perception becomes flawed their entire world can come crashing down.
Common Behaviors To Expect In Days 16 – 20
- Apologizing for angry texts in the previous phase
- Acting like the angry texts never happened and trying to start a conversation
Days 21 – 25 (The Realization Phase)
It’s almost been a month and you’ve been completely radio silent.
They might have started stalking your social media profiles to see what you are up to. They see you posting so they know you aren’t kidnapped. Nope, just ignoring them. This is the phase where I think they start to realize that you never talking to them again might actually occur.
And I’m not really sure they’re ok with that.
This is often the phase where we see exes try one last desperate plea to get you to respond.
Which means you’re going to get this kind of behavior,
Common Behaviors To Expect In Days 21 – 25
- Another angry text
- Lying to get you to respond
- Showing up at your work
- Showing up at your house
Days 25 – 30 (The Acceptance Phase)
This phase is simple.
They start to accept life without you.
Don’t panic though, this phase is the crux of my argument for why I believe you should be reaching out after no contact.
Think of the roller coaster your ex has been on throughout this no contact period up to this point.
- They start off happy +
- Then they started to get irked at the fact that you were ignoring them –
- They got angry at you –
- That anger might have made them feel better for a moment +
- The feel bad about some of the things they may have said to you –
- They make themselves feel better by apologizing or trying to put a band aid over the problem +
- They realize they may never hear from you again –
That’s literally four emotional value changes.
They are up one moment.
Down the next.
And here’s the beauty of the way I teach the no contact rule.
YOU will be reaching out after it but only after they’ve gone through this journey.
Right when they’ve started to accept their new reality you give them one last value change.
You reach out to them.
Start a conversation.
Turn their negative into a positive.
Now, it’s not always as cut and dry of a scenario as I’ve outlined. However, I believe the theory is sound.
Of course, it’s undone if you break no contact prematurely (assuming you aren’t doing a limited version of it.)
It screws with the value changes.
So, I guess my ultimate argument is this.
Allow your ex to go through a journey during the no contact. Trust that the mere act of your silence will be enough to not only reorient your world but reorient theirs so that by the time the two of you get back in touch he’s a lot more willing to take you seriously.