It’s the principle of No Contact, AKA cutting off your ex as soon as it is reasonably practical to do so. Ideally, that means as soon as the break-up is final but in reality may mean once you have divided your assets/bank accounts/Corningware. (The one exception, of course, is if you have children. This article may not be for you and you can go back to binge-watching Billions.)
While the principle of no contact isn’t new, it’s amazing how often it is ignored by people when they are newly single. And being connected in myriad ways via social media means it extends way beyond not calling or texting.
I first learnt the wisdom of no contact from a podcast, breakup BOOST, in the raw, tear-stained aftermath of my most recent break-up.
The podcast’s host, Canadian relationships coach Trina Leckie, is a big advocate of no contact, ever (Foster Blake says 50 days is the minimum needed to make a lasting difference).
“When you commit to 30 days, that gives you enough time to see the power of no contact because you will see how far you have come,” Leckie says. “Plus, when people think ’30 days’, psychologically, it sounds more manageable. That said, if you are using no contact to move on, there shouldn’t really be a time frame involved.”
The thought of going no contact can make people panic because it’s the same as accepting that the relationship is over.
Trina Leckie, breakup BOOST host and relationships coach
Leckie first discovered the principle during one of her own break-ups “when you scour the internet for any type of guidance”.
She said no contact works both if a person’s goal is to move on, or win their partner back.
“After a break-up, emotions are intense,” she says. “People are often angry or very hurt. You need to give space between yourself and your ex so that these bad feelings can start to evaporate.”
She said while no contact seems simple, after a break-up “all rational thinking goes out the window”.
“The reason why people struggle is because it makes everything sound so ‘final’,” she said. “The thought of going no contact can make people panic because it’s the same as accepting that the relationship is over.”
There are so many reasons why people think they need to stay in touch with their ex, including some need to find closure. But, as Leckie says, most people are on a fool’s errand when it comes to getting (honest) answers from their ex.
“Exes don’t usually care if you are reacting with anger or not – they just want you to start engaging with them, especially if they feel as though they lost the power in the relationship after you go No Contact. Getting a reaction out of you makes them feel as though you still care.”
Leckie says no contact extends to deleting all of an ex’s social media.
“You can’t get over someone who is always right in front of you … even if you aren’t communicating with them. No contact means no contact. They have to be completely out of sight.”
Foster Blake agrees, writing in Love!: “Let [your ex] go, digitally. You need to focus on yourself, and make rebuilding your self-worth your priority. Not writing them texts or stalking them.”
February 15 marks eight months since my break-up, and, save for a few texts to pick up my belongings, the same period of no contact. My last verbal contact with my ex was June 16, the same day I deleted him off social media and scrubbed our many thousands of texts. And I haven’t looked back.
Love!, by Zoe Foster Blake (Michael Joseph Australia, $45), is out now.
Melissa Singer is National Fashion Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.