Question: From an attachment styles perspective does no contact hurt my chances of attracting back my ex?
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 early April and I went straight no contact 30 days. No texts, calls, asking friends how she was doing, no checking her Facebook page, no information, no anything. Then out of nowhere she texted me! For 3 weeks things were really great but 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 no contact. No Contact is hard but I believe it works well. I’m just curious to know why you think no contact hurts my chances from attachment theory perspective?
Yangki’s Answer: First of all, 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 no contact 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.
In your case even if you say “no contact worked’, it’s obvious it didn’t work if you’re going back to doing no contact. In your own words, 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 going “no contact, and for how long before you realize that you are doing the same thing over and over; and getting the same result?
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result.
Does no contact hurt your chances? Yes, in so many ways than many people realize.
1. The no contact rule is a cruel strategy
‘No contact” is 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. This is a healthy use of no contact.
As a strategy for getting back an ex, no contact is a cruel strategy because it’s designed to trigger the fear of rejection and abandonment. People with an anxious attachment become distraught and panic-stricken when an ex doesn’t respond or goes no contact. This is because “no contact anxiety” triggers feelings of rejection and abandonment they experienced in childhood and activates their attachment system. The activation of the attachment system cause someone with an anxious attachment to frantically seek reassurance and validation and to try to re-establish connection. The more reconnection is denied, the more anxious and distressed they become.
Intentionally triggering someone’s attachment trauma is cruel whatever the reason for doing it. But most people don’t see how cruel no contact is because no contact is such a common strategy for getting back an ex that most of us have come to accept it as the “rule”. But just for a moment imagine your ex in a vulnerable moment showing you a scar of an injury from childhood. They also tell you that even if it’s a long time ago, it makes some movements hard and painful. And you have witnessed them in pain a few times.
Would you if they broke up with you intentionally punch their scar to make them feel pain? Would seeing them in intense pain make you feel vindicated and justified since they broke up with you? Would you be asking “how do I make my ex feel even more pain?”, “How long will it be before my ex stops crying and reach out?” Etc.
Our childhood attachment trauma and attachment wounds and scars are invisible to the eye. And many of us don’t even realize that we have these wounds and scars until something like a break-up happens, and we feel the attachment trauma in real time.
Attachment theory is like an x-ray that shows the wounding and scaring that affects how we act in close and intimate relationships. We can either use these insights to make someone relieve their attachment trauma in real time or or use it for healing for both ourselves and the people we love and care about.
In the short term, making an ex feel rejected and abandoned seems like a brilliant strategy; but the long term damage of no contact hurts your chances in ways you may not realize.
2. No contact does not work with secure and dismissive avoidant attachment styles
No Contact does not work with exes with a secure attachment style or dismissive avoidant attachment style because these attachment styles do not have an inherent fear of rejection or abandonment. They also score low on attachment anxiety, meaning they are not affected when an ex does not respond of goes no contact.
People with a secure attached attachment style are also the least likely to use ‘no contact” as a means of getting back an ex. A secure attachment style is about providing security and not triggering insecurity. Dismissive avoidants on the other hand although not affected by ‘no contact’ may use no contact to create even more distance with an ex.
If you’re working towards becoming securely attached, triggering insecurity in an anxious person undermines secure attachment. The question you ask yourself before doing no contact is, “What would someone with a securely attachment style do if they wanted their ex back, but needed space and time to deal with their emotions?”
3. 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. Many people after no contact become emotionally timid and unsure of how to engage an ex because they feel powerless.
4. 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 no contact will hurt your chances.
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
Should you be doing no contact to attract back your ex? That’s a decision you have to make for yourself.
Does doing no contact make you a bad person? No. I don’t believe so. I think most people doing no contact do it for different reasons. Most are hurting, and some desperate. When are hurting or desperate you are only focused on how you feel and what can make you feel better.
If you are working on becoming more securely attached however, 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.