Getting the silent treatment from your ex after a breakup sucks, especially when you don’t know what it means and why they’re doing it.
So today we’re going to talk about what your ex’s silence after a breakup actually means.
Now the first question people have when their ex ignores them is if their ex is over them…
Does Your Ex’s Silence Mean They Are Over You?
There’s no definitive answer to this question. You can’t dismiss the possibility that your ex might be trying to get over you or they’re already over you but you also can’t dismiss the possibility that they’re still hung up on you.
In this situation, I want to step back and look at the situation from a bird’s eye view by sharing what I’ve learned from our clients whose exes have been ignoring them.
I’ve often been on record saying that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.
In other words, an ex who is not in love with you anymore is just going to ignore you and cut you out of their life completely. Now, this might make you think that if your ex is silent after the breakup, they’re definitely trying to get over you.
Well sometimes that’s the case but most of the time it’s not.
You see, it all depends on the intent of WHY your ex is ignoring you. One of our most popular strategies after a breakup is the no-contact rule.
The no contact rule is where you are ignoring your ex for a period of time with the intent of outgrowing them and usually, if you do this properly it can make them miss you. Then you get back in touch with them and begin the process of reconciliation.
This is the general strategy that almost everyone in the breakup industry talks about, but nobody really talks about the real results of the no contact rule and this leads to false expectations. If you think the no contact rule means your ex will instantly miss your presence and come running back to you, you might be in for a rude awakening.
Effectiveness Of The No Contact Rule After A Breakup
Most people see the no contact rule as this strategy to make your ex miss you but over the years we’ve evolved the intended purpose of the no contact rule according to what works in real life. Going into a no-contact rule with the intent to make your ex miss you often fails.
I ran a survey on our private Facebook support group to see the effects of no contact. The private Facebook support group includes all of our clients and program purchasers. It’s a place for people to connect with others on similar journeys and it also lets us understand what is actually working for people.
So I went to the Facebook group and asked them,
“Those of you who have been in a no-contact rule: How often has an ex actually contacted you during no contact?”
I’ll be honest the results of this survey shocked me.
I was expecting that maybe 70% of participants in the survey would admit that their exes contacted them during no contact but the opposite was true.
We found that 65% of exes didn’t contact our clients during no contact… and it also did not have any significant impact on their overall chances of success.
Therefore you should assume that there’s a pretty high chance your ex won’t contact you during no contact and that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re over you. Your ex can have several other reasons for ignoring you as well.
Reasons Why Your Ex Is Silent After the Breakup
After some detailed research of psychology and our client’s experiences, here are the top reasons I came up with for why your ex is silent after the breakup:
- They Want To Win The Breakup
- The Revenge Mentality
- Rejection Makes Us Feel Bad
Allow me to expand!
The Winning the Breakup Mentality
Most of the time when you use a no-contact rule on your ex there’s this subtle game being played and I call it the “winning the breakup” game.
This basically means that both you and your ex want to “win” the breakup and there’s this ridiculous idea that the first person to contact their ex after the breakup “loses”.
Neither of you wants to lose so you both just end up giving each other the silent treatment.
Not wanting to lose the breakup is usually the most common reason for an ex’s silence after a breakup, but it goes even deeper than that.
While researching this topic I came across a fantastic article on the Atlantic titled “What You’re Saying When You Give Someone the Silent Treatment“. The article focuses on people who use the silent treatment as a revenge ploy to hurt others.
The article talks about this specific situation where a grown woman whose father refused to speak to her for six months at a time as punishment throughout her life. Her father died during one of those dreaded periods. According to the article, “when she visited him at the hospital shortly before his death, he turned away from her and wouldn’t break his silence even to say goodbye.”
Imagine the kind of hurt and guilt of seeing your father for the last time and knowing that he will not even speak to you. This is exactly the kind of revenge aspect of the silent treatment that no one really talks about. The theme of revenge is even evident in some people who use the no-contact rule.
A lot of people misconstrue the no contact rule as a way to make their ex miss them, but there is something else at play here too. There is always a part of you – the shadow self – that wants your ex to feel hurt when they miss your presence.
You want your ex to feel the pain they’ve put you through and you hope the no contact rule will accomplish that.
The same goes for your ex – if they’re being silent towards you after the breakup they want you to feel pain too, even if they broke up with you.
I know it sounds counterintuitive because they’re the ones that hurt you, not the other way around. But here’s the thing: a lot of dumpers or exes who initiated breakups paint themselves as victims.
They delude themselves (and possibly others) into thinking that they’re the victim because you made them break up with you. They make it seem like they had no choice and it was equally your fault, if not more.
So there’s a very strong revenge element to silence after a breakup, especially because your ex can simply get away with it. Even if your ex isn’t consciously thinking of revenge, they still want you to feel bad.
Rejection Makes Us Feel Bad
Social rejection sucks – there are no two ways about it. Nobody wants to be the last one picked in gym class, no one wants to be refused when they propose, and no one wants to feel alienated and alone.
Here’s an excerpt from a scientific study about rejection and how it impacts us:
“Social rejection provoked a response in its victims similar to that of victims of physical abuse. The anterior cingulate cortex area of the brain – the area thought to interpret emotion and pain – was active in both instances. Exclusion and rejection literally hurt.”
See what I mean?
Social rejection can deeply hurt and can do irreparable damage to your self-esteem too and your ex might be using silence to make you feel bad.
However, here comes a dilemma: if silence is so harmful, why do we recommend the no contact rule?
Is the No-Contact Rule as Vindictive and Harmful as the Silent Treatment?
The no contact rule, in and of itself, is effectively the silent treatment so it can obviously have the negative side effects we just talked about.
No contact can make your exes feel hurt – mentally and physically. So what gives? Why is it such a recommended practice?
Ultimately, there are two layers you need to look at when assessing silence from either party of a breakup:
What are you doing with that time?
The difference between a silent treatment vs a successful no-contact rule comes to the reason behind no contact and how you utilize that time.
A lot of people use the no contact rule to hurt their ex so they come back. Not only is that hurtful, but it’s also ineffective. Your ex won’t want to come back because you hurt them, they’ll want to come back to have a life with you.
Your goal during no contact should be to first heal yourself emotionally from the breakup and then work on improving yourself. That way, the no contact rule is actually a productive time when you’re working towards a better you and a better future relationship with your ex if you get them back.
The theory of making amends – You need to break the no contact rule
A lot of times people who are using the silent treatment on you (your ex) want you to reach out to them so they can feel good or feel like they’ve still got a hold on you. Now let’s get one thing out of the way – anyone can reach out first.
I face a lot of contention from my female clients when it comes to reaching out to their ex first because social conventions dictate that men should reach out first. I say it doesn’t matter who reaches out first, what actually matters is who ends the conversation!
So, the first key to making amends is that you need to break the no-contact rule at the right time. The timing of WHEN you reach out is key here which is why we recommend standard periods of no contact. Our no contact time frames (30-45 days) are designed to allow for initial post-breakup emotions to calm down so you and your ex can start having a real conversation.
The second key to reaching out is HOW you contact them and WHAT you say. A lot of people reach out to their exes after weeks with a basic “hey, what’s up” message. This accomplishes nothing and your ex probably won’t reply to you.
You need to have something interesting to say – preferably about a topic that your ex is passionate about. You also need to remember that your ex is going through a roller coaster of emotions throughout no contact. They’re too proud to contact you because they want to win the breakup but at some point, they’ll stop caring about that. Then they’ll just want to talk to you no matter what, and that is the perfect time to reach out.
Let’s recap why your ex is using the silent treatment on you after a breakup and what it means.
There are two main applications for why an ex would use the silent treatment on you: they want to win the breakup or they want to hurt you.
But ultimately if you can get them to go through their rollercoaster of emotions while fighting fire with fire (by using the no contact rule on them), you can level the playing field and change their paradigm.
You can reach out to them and start steering the conversation in your favor!