When it comes to breaking up with an ex and making it stick, sometimes the best route to go is to employ the No Contact rule. "The No Contact rule is where you don't call, text, or message an ex in any way after the breakup. It includes not talking to their friends or family about them or the breakup itself," says dating and breakup coach Lee Wilson.
The No Contact rule is so effective because it allows you to sit with your grief and wounds and not plug up any holes or feelings of brokenness with someone else, as sex and grief coach Breeshia Wade, explains. In painful breakups, "the grief can be so palpable that we will do anything to soothe the pain in a given moment, even if that immediate action leads to greater, long-term suffering," Breeshia says. When you go no-contact, this can help you properly acknowledge a loss and mourn it, and eventually create space for something new, Breeshia adds.
It's easy to trick yourself into thinking you might get back together if you keep texting your ex all the time and nothing really feels that different from pre-breakup. But, as Breeshia says, that kind of short-term soothing can be harmful in the long run. Denying to yourself that the relationship wasn't working isn't going to do you any favors, believe me. However, if you start to live without their presence in your life, moving on can become much easier. Breeshia also says that the No Contact rule can help you move towards experiencing and transforming your grief as opposed to distracting and soothing.
Yes, it can be really, really hard to block your ex's phone number, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—along with their mother, father, second cousins, and best friend, but it's worth it. Doing so pretty much kills any chance of reconciliation from both you and your ex (who is maybe still waiting on his text to be "delivered"). Taking the hard first step of going No Contact can help you get over a breakup faster than if you let it fester and eventually spill into the tricky "We’re friends!" category.
Doing so can then lead to a "Let's be friends with benefits" situation where you and your ex then fall back into the dysfunctions of the previous relationship, Stephanie D. McKenzie, a relationship coach, explains. Remember, you broke up for a reason.
And once you've gone and deleted their number and blocked them, it can be even more tempting to send them a work email or find some other way to pop back into their life when you start to miss them...but you must resist! Don't hit them up because you miss them, Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC says. Remember, "The function of this time is to process your own thoughts, feelings, and needs without the impingement of [someone else]," Dr. Sabrina adds. Sit with your grief and loneliness and learn to process it instead of running from it.
Remember, you broke up for a reason.
There's also no set timeline either. If it works for you to have a monthlong No Contact rule, do your thing. If you want to be like me and permanently cut them out of your life for good, go for it. "Do it for as long as it takes," says Lee. That said, it can be effing hard to master this rule. It takes a lot of willpower and personal restraint—particularly if you see your ex at your favorite dive bar.
If you're considering giving it a shot, here's what seven women had to say about their experience with the No Contact rule and why it might be your best bet at moving on:
- "This one hundred percent helped me. I couldn't go back to someone just because it was comfortable or because things got hard. Had I not cut things off completely, I would have gone back to him—or at least kept talking to him." -Sela, 24
- "I do it every time. Delete their numbers and unfollow them—no temptations! Suck out all the poison." -Katie, 28
- "It definitely hurt more, but it allowed both of us to heal and grow without being tempted to fall back into things." -Kate, 21
- "I completely cut him out of my life because I knew I couldn't handle having only a fraction of him." -Cassandra, 26
- "I'm currently trying it out, but it's not sticking. It's making it harder for me to move on. I was the one who suggested going a few months without talking, so I deleted his number and muted all his social channels. But every once in a while, he texts me and it confuses me. It definitely makes it harder to get over him, and every time he reaches out and we talk for a little bit, I feel like I'm starting over with my feelings."
- "I did it and it helped. By no longer letting him in, I was able to discover myself again." -Alex, 27
- "I chose to do the No Contact rule for six months because we wanted different things. It would've been very troublesome to stay in contact knowing that we wanted two different things. It hurt because it's hard to quit anything cold turkey, but it was a good choice because it showed me that I could be on my own and be happy without being in contact with him or having him be a part of my daily life." -Kaley, 25
Now, if you just can't seem to delete (or block) your ex long enough before the beer starts calling them again, that's okay—you're not alone. Try changing their name in your phone so you're reminded *exactly* what you're doing any time you pull up their contact.
"When you see your ex's name, it may still bring sadness to your life or quite literally make your heart flutter," says clinical psychologist Tricia Wolanin, PsyD. "That's why I recommend changing the name in your phone temporarily to 'pathetic asshole' or 'idiot.'" Hey, whatever works to stop you from calling or texting, right? This will look a lot like your beginning to happiness—TRUST.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.