3 Ways ‘No Contact’ Hurts Your Chances (Attachment Styles)

Question: I’ve read many of your articles and answers and I think n/c 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, no email, no letters, no phone calls, no 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 and the reason I write about ‘no contact’ is not to discourage people who want to do it from doing it, but to help those who are not sure if it is the right approach for them make an informed and educated decision.

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.

While people with a dismissive avoidant attachment style (low-anxiety/high-avoidance) may use “no contact” as an avoidance coping strategy following a break-up, “no contact” does not work on dismissive avoidants because they score low on attachment anxiety, and no contact needs to trigger attachment anxiety 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 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 because 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 intentionally triggering attachment anxiety to manipulate an ex into contacting you or coming back 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 and all their ex’s access to them, 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 can reach out when they feel like it 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 you followed faithfully like a religion 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 if you had done pressure-free contact.

3) Let’s assume that your ex responds. You exchange a few positive texts but there is no momentum and things stall like they always do when you are not emotionally connecting.

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. When out of the blue you contact them 30, 60 or 90 days later acting like everything is cool, and even sending them video messages or YouTube videos, 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 exact opposite of what you want, chances are your actions will hurt you later on.

  • If you want your ex back and behaving like you do not want them back, you are hurting your chances.
  • If what you want is closeness but behaving like what you want is distance, you are hurting your chances.
  • If what you want is to 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.
  • If you want to show your ex that you have changed, but acting like the same old passive aggressive, manipulative, cold, angry and vindictive you, you are hurting your chances.

So 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, and not everyone needs to distance themselves from an ex after a break-up.

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 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 and moves you close to becoming securely attached.

More: 7 Reasons Why Fearful Avoidants Do ‘No Contact’

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  1. says: Emma

    Thank you, I really needed to read this today. 5 years living together and talking everyday and him not talking to me for months really destroys the foundation of a relationship. If someone’s okay with not talking to me for months, then they don’t really need me in their life. This gives me the strength to move on. I can’t see a relationship with him after this.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I hear you. Most people don’t realize that whatever you do, whether it is a fight, a break/separation or break-up, you should never EVER put the other person in a position where they question or doubt your love for them. Once someone questions your love for them, the foundation of the relationship is shaken. This applies both ways.

      Some people with a lot of work can heal the foundation of their relationship, but most people can’t. They may even get back together but the damage is done. They keep having one problem after another and don’t understand why they can’t make the relationship work.

  2. says: Melinda

    I followed all the material with NC and all that for 12 weeks but my ex still won’t talk to me. I texted him on his birthday, “I hope you have a good time.”, never heard back from him. Waited one week and texted him asking him how he was doing and let him know I’m fine. Nothing. Waited another week and then texted him asking him if he wants me to stop texting him. FINALLY, got an email back, “Sorry, I’m busy. I don’t have time to text you.”

    I really love him but the fact that he won’t talk to me even after all this time has passed tells me it’s probably better to move on.

  3. says: Christina

    You have no idea how happy I am to find some people who dont approve of the NC system for all situations. I tried it and it just started making things worse between us, so I scraped that idea and I am now just myself around him.

    While I was trying the NC it just made him feel rejected, he felt awkward to talk to me, and that he was losing his best friend. The last thing I wanted was to hurt him because I love him and I want him in my life. We didnt break up because we hated each other, we broke up because we are in our mid twenties and dont know what we want out of life right now, he wanted time to be single to see what it felt like because he has never had the opportunity to do that. I just hate mind games and that is a tricky mind game that could have really back fired on me.

  4. says: NeoPush

    We broke up May, went n/c for 2 months then emailed her. She emailed back and we had 3 -4 email conversations then she went silent. I’ve emailed/called her several times and nothing from her since mid August. I think the best thing to do is end this right now. Send an email telling her I’m not going to waste my time anymore. Done!

    1. Let me get this right… you’re thinking of sending an email to an ex you have emailed/called several times and hasn’t responded just to tell her you’re over her? Looks like a case of who was over who first? I think the real waste of time here is you sending her the email you’re thinking of sending.

  5. says: Edsmutts

    I was very angry at her, however, now that I’m almost done sorting through my emotions I want to contact her. My fear is that she might not want to talk to me after 3 months with no contact of any kind. Should I write her a letter? Send her flowers? Wait for her to call me?

    1. It’s fairly normal for an ex to be cold, distant or even still be angry when you contact them the first time, especially if the breakup was hostile. A letter or flowers for first contact may be a little too formal/over the top for first contact. In my eBook I encourage text or email depending on the form of communication you used most when you were in the relationship. It’s best to start slow/casual and build on it than start full blast and run out of steam very quickly.