Your ex has completely cut you off. They unfriended you, blocked you, won’t respond to your texts and will not pick up the phone. It’s like they suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth. No warning. No explanation. Nothing. It sucks! Doesn’t it?
What do you do?
1. Ask yourself why they suddenly cut you off
It’s possible that you were being overly emotional, unreasonable, needy or threatening, and your ex (rightfully) feels that ‘no contact” is the only way to get you back to rational behaviour, or out of their life. You can’t fault someone for trying to protect themselves from drama, unreasonable behaviour or being harassed with texts and calls.
2. Assume they want nothing to do with you
If you went to someone’s house and when they see you coming they lock all the doors, windows and draw the blinds, it is reasonable to conclude that they don’t want you there, that they want you to leave. Same thing if someone intentionally cuts you off and blocks all access for you to contact them, you have to assume they want you gone. The only self-respecting thing to do is leave them alone. Don’t keep trying to contact someone who is sending you a clear message, you lose their respect.
3. See it for what it is, manipulation
If withholding attention, affection or love (silent treatment or cold shoulder), or trying to make you feel anxious, jealous, clingy or desperate is something your ex has a habit of doing or has done in the past, “no contact” is just more of the same.
You know what they say: “You teach people how they treat you.” If you take back someone who thinks it’s okay to punish you for ending a relationship that didn’t meet your needs, was deeply troubled (too many arguments and fights) or that was simply moving too fast for the level of commitment you were ready for, you are only re-confirming to them that withholding attention, affection or love works.
4. Give your ex a chance to break the pattern of dysfunctional relating
If you still have feelings for your ex and and can find a way to somehow reach them, tell them that you understand if they need space or a clean break to move on. You will leave them alone. But if they hope to get back together with you someday, “No Contact” is not the way to do it. It’s immature, manipulative and undermines any efforts to have a healthy relationship. If they doesn’t see what’s wrong with this approach to resolving conflict, then it’s best that you both move on.
Don’t just say it as another mind game to try to satisfy your own need to regain control, mean it. If you doing this as a way to get them to respond, you are playing mind games too. The cycle just doesn’t end.
If refusing to continue a dysfunctional dynamic does not make your ex want to change, then you know that the behaviour will continue if you get back together. You can’t change someone else. The only person you can change is you. Saying “NO!” to emotional manipulation and/or abuse is taking care of your own emotional health, and cleaning up your emotional energy so that you will be ready for a relationship in which you will be treated with the respect, affection and love you deserve.
5. Leave them to contact you
Most people doing ‘no contact’ as a strategy to get you to miss them and/or want them back are fearful-avoidants. Fearful- avoidants have low-self esteem and doubt that the person they love wants to be with them. Most of the time they want you to contact them first because it makes them feel wanted. But if they still doubt that you really love them and want them, they will keep going back and forth – getting close then pulling away. In this case, to make them feel wanted (secure), initiate contact to show them you are not going anywhere anytime soon.
But when they unfriend you, block you and won’t respond to your texts for an extended period of time, it means something is making them feel unsafe and they need to get away (attachment avoidance) to regain a sense of safety. Sometimes it has nothing to do with what you said or did, it’s just their attachment avoidance has been triggered and they need to pull away. In this case, leave them to contact you first. The more you keep contacting them, they more they feel unsafe.
6. Respect your ex’s wishes
Not everyone who suddenly cuts off all contact is doing it to get you to miss them or manipulate your feelings. Some people use “No Contact” because they believe it’s the best way for them to heal from the pain and move on. You may not like that this is how they choose to move on, but respect their wish. Some day you’ll want someone else to respect yours too.
7. Move on
Since it is sometimes hard to tell whether someone is cutting off all contact to manipulate your feelings and get you to miss them or doing so to heal and move on, especially if they don’t tell you know why, it’s always best to assume that they are moving on and start the process of moving on yourself.
Fair? Probably not. Heartbreaking? Yes. Healthy? YES!