3 Ways No Contact Hurts Your Chances (Attachment Styles)

Question: I’ve read many of your articles and answers and you say no contact hurts the chance of getting back an ex. I think no contact if used properly is way more powerful than you give it credit for. When I broke up with my girlfriend April 09 I went straight n/c for 4 months. No texts, calls, asking friends how she was doing, no checking her Facebook page, no information, no anything. It was very difficult for a while but it got easier with the passing of time.

Then out of nowhere she texted me! She wanted to talk and see if we can work things out. This week she again decided she needs to figure out if I am the one for her. I’m letting her do what she wants but I’m going back to n/c.  I’m confident that she’ll contact me again. No Contact is hard but I believe it works well. 

Yangki’s Answer: This is what I don’t understand with people who say “no contact worked”. After 4 months of ‘no contact’, she wanted to talk and work things out, and I am sure you were happy and excited that “no contact worked”, but she’s gone again and so now you are back to ‘no contact’. If “no contact worked”, why are you back to “no contact”? What if the same thing keeps happening, do you keep doing “no contact, and for how long before you realize that you are doing the same thing over and over? 

I am not saying, you shouldn’t do what you believe works. If you believe that ‘no contact’ works, you should do what you feel is right for you. My role as a coach is not to discourage people who want to do it from doing it. My role is to help those who are not sure if it is the right strategy for them to make an informed and educated decision.

The No Contact Strategy is designed to trigger attachment anxiety

If you are working towards becoming more securely attached, it’s important to know this about no contact.

1)  ‘No contact” is an avoidance/deactivating coping strategy meant to help those overwhelmed by break-up emotions distance from the stress-causing event or person so they can move on.

2)  ‘No contact’ used as a strategy to get back your ex is designed to trigger attachment anxiety in anxious-preoccupied attachment style (high-anxiety/low-avoidance) and fearful avoidant attachment style (high-anxiety/high-avoidance). These two attachment styles already score high on attachment anxiety and have a fear of rejection and/or abandonment.

No Contact does not work with securely attached and dismissive avoidants

While dismissive-avoidants (low-anxiety/high-avoidance) use “no contact” following a break-up, “no contact” does not work on dismissive avoidants. They score low on attachment anxiety and no contact needs to trigger high attachment anxiety (fear of rejection or abandonment) for it to work.

People with a secure attached attachment style (low-anxiety/low-avoidance) are the least likely to use ‘no contact” and the least likely to be affected by “no contact” because like dismissive avoidants, they score low on attachment anxiety but unlike dismissive avoidants, they score low on attachment avoidance as well.

As a strategy to attract back an ex, ‘no contact’ not only undermines your attempts to become more securely attached:

1. No contact damages the very foundation of a relationship

In the short term, making an ex feel anxious, scared and fearful looks like a brilliant strategy. The fear of rejection and/or abandonment will make your ex contact you and your ex may even come back. In the long term, the damage you create is deeper than you realize.

Once you use someone’s fears against them, it will be very hard for that person to trust that you will always have their back. This is why many people after no contact struggle to emotionally connect and/or get an ex to open up.

Put yourself in your ex’s shoes. You meet someone you think is your person and allow yourself to be vulnerable and confide in them about your childhood abandonment issues. The relationship like most goes south, and next thing you know, they are using the information you shared with them to make you feel worse than how you felt as a child. Would you fully trust that person again? Would you let yourself be that vulnerable again?

Even when your ex comes back, the fear that you will cut off contact and make them feel abandoned the way they felt in childhood will make your ex cautious and unable to fully open up emotionally or fully trust you. Most exes disappear after briefly re-establishing contact and others break-up again soon after getting back together, and for good reason.

2. No contact takes away your control of the situation

Some of my clients who did ‘no contact” prior to signing up for coaching with me have told me that when they cut off contact they felt like they were ‘taking control’ of the situation. But since re-establishing contact, they have felt that their ex controlled the process.

The sense of control you feel when doing ‘no contact’ is short lived at best and an illusion at worst. In reality, when you go ‘no contact’ you are giving up control of not just the situation but also of the process of getting back together.

Here is how you are giving up control of the situation and the process:

1) While you are in ‘no contact’, you can not contact your ex, but your ex can contact you.

Who is in control? The one who controls contact or the one who can’t do anything because they committed themselves to doing nothing?

2) When you commit yourself to a ‘no contact’ period, the goal is that after you complete ‘no contact’, you will reach out to your ex and begin trying to get back together. So far so good. Here is where the illusion of control hits you square between the eyes.

You finally complete the “no contact” period and have your first text to you ex ready to go. You hit “send” and wait. Seconds… minutes… hours… days… weeks…months. No response.

Now who is in control? All that time wasted waiting to contact your ex, you would have found out sooner that you ex does not want you back.

3) Let’s assume that your ex responds. The two of you exchange a few positive texts but struggle to emotionally connecting. Too much time has passed, and it feels like talking to a stranger.

You wasted 1 – 3 months in “no contact’, it’s going to take you another 1 – 3 months, maybe even 4 months to get some real emotional momentum. You have now been broken up for 6 months or more. Realistically, time is not on your side.

My point is, ‘no contact’ is like shutting all the doors, windows, vents, chimneys (all access your ex would use to get to you) and expecting your ex to burst open the wall and come begging you to take them back. Good luck with that!

3. No contact sends confusing messages to your ex

When you cut someone off and block your ex everywhere, the message it sends to most reasonable people is that you want to be left alone or want nothing to do with them. Most people get it. But when out of the blue you contact them 30, 60 or 90 days later acting like everything is cool it can be confusing to many people. Most exes will be like, “seriously?”

I tell my clients: Before you do anything ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?” “Why am I behaving this way?” “How will my actions right now help/hurt me later on?”

If you are doing the opposite of what you want, chances are your actions will hurt you later on.

If you what you want is:

  • Your ex back and behaving like you do not want them back, you are hurting your chances.
  • Closeness but behaving like what you want is distance, you are hurting your chances.
  • Show your ex that you still love and care about them but behaving like you don’t give a rat’s ass, you are hurting your chances.
  • For your ex to see that you have changed, but acting like the same old passive aggressive, manipulative, cold, angry and vindictive you, you are hurting your chances.

Not everyone needs to distance themselves from an ex after a break-up

Do ‘no contact’ if you think it works for you. But keep in mind that ‘no contact” only works when attachment anxiety is triggered. If you are working on becoming more securely attached, ‘no contact’ undermines those efforts.
People in relationships that were generally good and healthy, and people who had a no “too much” drama break-ups have no good reason to cut off their ex or distance in order to ‘feel better’. In fact, the opposite is true. Directly dealing with whatever needs to be dealt with may not feel good in the short term, but in the long term, it’s the healthier and securely attached thing to do.

Staying through an emotionally trying situation (especially one you played a role in) when everything in you is telling you to run (avoidance coping) is what builds emotional resilience. It moves you close to becoming securely attached.

RELATED:

Why No Contact Will NOT Work On A Secure Attachment Style

This Is How An Avoidant Ex Reacts When You Reach Out After No Contact

7 Reasons Why Fearful Avoidants Do ‘No Contact’

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  1. says: willow

    I refused to do the no contact after her broke things off. I protested my undying love for him! LOL Then I took time to think about what went wrong and out loud. I mean to him in texts and emails. I wanted to know everything he was feeling and what I did to make him unhappy. I then made a game plan to fix my mistakes. I did that with him knowing exactly what I was doing the entire time. He was skeptical but I could tell he was interested in seeing where it goes. I asked to be friend and still see each other. He agreed. He still even got me gifts. He had broke up with me right before Thanksgiving.

    I asked to see him once a week randomly. He agreed. I talked about a place he took me to last holiday and he said I will take you there this year if it makes you feel better. So we went. If I didn’t text him every few hours he would check in with me as if he liked me constantly texting him and when I didn’t he worried or was concerned. I fixed my finances, starting training for a marathon again like I use to do, make sure I was always happy when speaking to him and emailed him my game plans and process constantly. I told him I would never give up on “US”. It took three months but we grew a stronger better relationship in those months and it worked.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Congratulations. You put in the work and it worked!!!!

      Good for you for recognizing that contact/connection is what works best and fast for an ex high on attachment anxiety. Many people blindly doing “no contact” don’t realize that some exes need constant connection, validation and reassurance to feel, loved, valued and wanted, and respond very well to the approach you took.

      Just so people reading this do not run and start doing what you did, I need to clarify that if an ex is high on avoidance, constant contact, validation and reassurance will backfire. It will not work with a fearful avoidant high on attachment avoidance and it will DEFINITELY not work with a dismissive avoidant. But neither will ‘no contact”.

      Finding the right balance of contact/connection and respecting an avoidant’s inherent need for emotional distance is the right approach to attracting back an avoidant. But it’s not as simple as it sounds because avoidants often have other unmet emotional needs (often unspoken and unacknowledged if they are dismissive), that if those needs aren’t met and/or they don’t feel the safety and security they need to feel, even the right balance of contact/connection and respecting an avoidant’s need for emotional distance will not work.

      Creating a safe and secure environment where an avoidant feels safe to allow you into their inner world, the world they protect with their life literally is the first step. If you can do that, you are pretty much set for success.

  2. says: Frida

    I always had my doubts about the no contact rule, it didn’t make sense to me why two people who didn’t fight, have mutual respect for each other and still love each other but have to work on some personal issues have to go no contact.

  3. says: Larry

    My ex broke up with me because she did not feel loved and appreciated. I was advised by exgirlfriend recovery expert to do no contact for 30 days. Before that we were texting and friendly, she even called me ‘babe’ and then tried to take it back. We both laughed about it. She also told me she was not saying never but I hurt her deeply and she needed to find and love herself again.

    Fast forward to a month and 4 days, I contacted her and she was cold and distant. I think I made her feel the bad memories of not being loved and appreciated with the no contact rule.
    Now she has blocked me in every way. I hate myself for doing no contact.