How to Respond (Not React) to An Ex Pushing You Away

It’s a shock to the human system when someone you love, care about and want to be in your life stops responding and you don’t know why. It’s even more of a shock when they come out directly and tell you “I don’t want you to contact me”.

If you acted needy and desperate, you probably saw it coming but even then, there is still a sense of “this is not fair”. If you haven’t behaved in a manner that would make them push you away like that, you may be at a complete loss.

There are two ways to handle this. React or respond.

We all know what reacting to being rejected or pushed away looks like, but what does responding to an ex saying “I don’t want you to contact me” look like?

1. Accept their request not to contact them.

Don’t agree that not contacting each other is a good thing or pretend that you are happy about it (both are wrong moves that’ll haunt you later). Accept it as something your ex has requested of you.

Sometimes an ex needing ‘no contact’ is about them rather than about you. They may need time to heal, to work on an issue, school or career, to get over an ex, to finalize a divorce, to be clear on what they want from a partner or in life, to get completely clean from alcohol or drug habit, to pursue their spirituality. The reasons are many.

Instead phrase your response in such away that your ex knows that you don’t just care about you and what you want, what they need and want is just as important to you, may be even more so.

You need to make it clear that you’d rather stay in contact but if no contact for a while is what they want, you are willing to forgo what you want for what they want.

Just by doing this, you have earned yourself some good-will points… you’ll need them later.

2. Ask if they’ll be okay with you reaching out for a good reason.

After you accept your ex’s request not to contact them (this is important), ask if thy’ll be okay if you contact them on their birthday, to ask about an important event (e.g exam, job interview, illnessetc) or to communicate important information.

This requires a little tact because you can easily come across as needy or still unable and/or unwilling to accept the break-up, but it is important that you ask for two reasons.

One, you want to know where your ex’s boundaries are and two, it gives you a relatively good idea if
“I want no-contact” is about your ex needing time for themselves or if it’s your ex wanting you out of their  life.

3. Ask how long the ‘no contact” period will be.

Again tact is required here but it’s important that you ask because you want to know when it’d be okay for you to initiate contact without coming across as needy, pushy or putting pressure.

Not everyone feels comfortable communicating exactly what they need and what their boundaries are (or even know what their boundaries are). You only find out you’ve violated a boundary when your ex responds not-so politely or acts mean towards you. That’s why it’s necessary not to get a better sense of where your ex’s boundaries for contact are.

Whether it’s for you to know when to reach out, how much is too much contact, if you are falling into the friend-zone or if you even have a chance, knowing where your ex has drawn their boundary for connection with you is very important. It’s not only a sign of respect but of maturity as well.

Say for example, if you ask when you can reach out or how much time your ex needs and they say “I don’t know”, it’s up to you now to work out what you think is reasonable time before you contact your ex. Some exes need two days, some need two weeks, some need two months and there those that need two years without contact, depending on why they need time away from you, and/or what they need the “time” for.

Some exes say “I don’t know” because they really don’t know, and others say “I don’t know” to mean “never”. If you don’t ask, you will never know why they need time away from you, and/or how much time they need.

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