6 Psychological Reasons People Use No Contact

There are many reasons someone would use “No Contact” after a break-up. If one has to use “No Contact” (not everybody wants to, or needs to), there are “healthy” reasons to do it. For example: to heal from the break up, space to reflect on one’s shortcomings in the relationship, do some changing and growing; and sometimes one just wants to “forget everything” and move on with his or her life.

But not everybody understands that “No Contact” is about THEM. Some people, even those who might say they’re using “No Contact”  for themselves make it about the other person. They try to use “No Contact” as a strategy for gauging their ex’s feelings and interest. Many feel even more hurt when they find out that they’re not as “valuable” to an ex as they thought they were.

Some people have gone as far as using “No Contact” to try to “hurt” their ex. Their reasoning is that if their ex feels ignored, that’ll make him or her feel rejected and unwanted.

Over the years working with men and women, young and old, from all backgrounds, I have identified some much deeper reasons why most people feel that they have no other option but use “No Contact” to resolve relationship problems, deal with a relationship conflict or get an ex back.

1. Feeling helpless

“No Contact” especially appeals to people who fear that any kind of contact could increase or intensify the problems in the relationship. Because they feel helpless to change anything, they choose instead to “hide” and hope that the problems will go away on their own — and when they reappear from “No Contact” everything will be fine.

2.  Things ended badly

Most likely the break-up was nasty – things that should have not been said were said, or an ex is angry and hostile, so the person thinks that “No Contact” is a good way to avoid further “messing things up” and that it’ll allow any bad feelings to go away. Most are unaware that this very act of “trying not to further mess things up” may actually create new problems.

3. Lack of self-confidence

Someone who is not psychologically prepared to deal with the emotions involved with trying to get back a loved one, or lacks confidence in the process because he/she has no plan strategy might see “No Contact” as an attractive strategy for getting an ex back because he or she doesn’t have to do anything that involves working to improve the relationship. All he or she has to do is try so hard not to contact an ex — and wait!

4. Issues with being needy and/or controlling

If one was clingy, needy, dependant or had less “power” and control over what happened in the relationship, “No Contact” may make him or her feel like he or she is finally in control of his/her emotions and of the situation. Because of their past behaviours, they’re so afraid, that any kind of gesture may be interpreted as a sign of weakness and their ex may conclude that they’re still desperately in love. For as long as they’re not contacting an ex, they can hide their feelings (and undesired behaviours). It’s an illusion. Once contact is re-established (it eventually has to if one wants to get back his or her ex), the clinging, neediness etc, begins all over again.

5. Hesitation/reservations about the relationship

An ex who is not sure if he or she wants to give the relationship another chance, one who thinks there is someone else out there, or one who is already seeing someone new might opt for “No Contact” to avoid making a decision one way or the other. “No Contact” or minimal calculated contact buys them time to have it both ways until they can make a decision or be forced to make one.

6. Way of dealing with a great loss

For some people completely disconnecting with an ex is their way of dealing with loss. For others “No Contact” stops them from having any false hope of getting back together. Theirs is “if you don’t hope then you won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t happen.”

On the other side, an ex who does not want to say or do anything that will give the other person false hope might see “No Contact” as a polite way of sending someone off – gently.

To many, these reasons for using  “No Contact” make a lot of sense and even seem rational. Unfortunately, they also are not the “healthiest” ways of dealing with relationship problems, resolving relationship conflict or inspiring a loved one to return to a relationship. More often than not, problems are left unresolved, the conflict gets worse, or things simply backfire.

Even for those who some how manage to “get back together” after “No Contact”, the reunion often doesn’t last very long if the relationship dynamics have not changed for the better. Some so-called “Got back together after No Contact” relationships are nothing beyond “re-establishing temporary contact”. Hurray! My ex contacted me… Damn It! Gone Again.

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175 Comments

  • I’m right now in NC because I am sick and tired of my ex playing mind games with me. She said she wanted NC for 3 months but a few days later contacted me. I responded but no further contact from her. I thought may be she wanted her space but a couple of weeks later she sends me a text “hi, how are you?”. I replied. “I’m okay. How are you?” No response. NC has helped me gain perspective and I find I don’t miss her as much. She has since made contact 2 times and I didn’t respond. She doesn’t deserve a response and I don’t really care how she feels anymore. I am moving on with my life and dating again.

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  • Thank you for that response, it validates what I’m thinking and feeling. I have to say the temptation to get pulled in to her games is still there but I’m getting stronger. Reading your blog daily has really helped me see how toxic the relationship was. I’m proud of myself and it’s a long time since I felt this way.

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  • I have been invlolved with my ex for nearly 2 years. We have been on and off the entire relationship. He has used the no contact with me from the go. The most recent being Thursday. I will never understand why he does this. In the past he has always come back and it will be good, until I do something to piss him off. Then it’s the same thing, I have found myself modifying my behavior and apologizing for my feelings. The end result of all this is i am insecure , clingy and find it difficult to let go. He has blocked me from text, phone and email. This is a cruel way to treat someone.

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  • Thank you for replying and your absolutely right. I have allowed him to treat me this way. I am tired of this hurt and i feel horrible about myself. He puts everything on me, saying things like ” you never let me break up with you”. This is a person who is never forced into doing anything. Thank you for being honest, how do I change this?

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    • The way you presented the situation before was a little different. After reading this… you are not going to like what I have to say…

      ” you never let me break up with you” sound like words from someone frustrated with you being needy and clingy. I don’t think it’s necessarily being mean trying to extricate yourself from someone who is suffocating you. It’s survival.

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  • I am a big believer in the value of time apart to strengthen the relationship if it’s done in the right way for the right reasons, and if there are clear agreements from the start.

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    • I agree that there can be value in time apart, for SOME people, situations or relationships. The catch is that it’s of value only if it’s done the right way, for the right reasons, and with a clear agreement and/or reasonable expectations.

      It also depends on the bond between two people. If the bond is so weak (one or both parties have been distant or not connected for a while), time apart may actually hurt instead of help. In such cases, it’s best to try to become closer and more connected than stay apart and become even more disconnected/grow further apart.

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  • Yangki, I love your website and especially love everything you say about No Contact. As a recovering alcoholic with codependency issues, what is well understood is the AA circles is that enmeshment and total cut-off are two sides of the same coin. For people with codependency issues, there seems to be no middle ground. It’s either total enmeshment or complete cut-off.

    I just thought this might add some insight into the background drama behind No Contact.

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    • Thank you so much for this additional information, and thank you for sharing your personal struggles. I just wish more people were as honest about the “the background drama behind No Contact” as you are, they’d have better chances at getting back with the one they love.

      I wish you continued success staying sober… (:

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