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One of the most difficult challenges confronting couples who break up is their desire to still stay connected. Sounds strange, right? But just as children have an attachment figure (usually a parent), so do adults. When a grown-up attachment figure leaves, just like kids, adults often experience separation distress. That umbrella term encompasses a plethora of intense emotions: anxiety, panic, depression, anger, and even desperation. Unfortunately, these often tough and painful emotions can lead to behaviors that can be quite damaging to one’s self-esteem.

The major fix for this very unpleasant, unbearable, and often-torturous condition is the dreaded NO CONTACT RULE (NCR). Just as one must go cold turkey to break an addiction to alcohol or cigarettes or caffeine, to mention only a few, those who are having problems breaking free from an ex must do the same. Yes, you can indeed become addicted to a person.


The No Contact Rule (NCR)

The NCR may seem brutal to those struggling with breaking free from an ex, but why continue having contact with someone who has made it clear that they no longer want to be with you? In the long run, by committing to the NCR, you will feel empowered, and you will be taking back control—in a situation where you have felt powerless. The NCR gives you time and space to heal on your terms. It also gives you the opportunity to grieve the loss of your former partner and all that you had with them. The desire to stay in touch is very natural—after all, your ex was familiar to you and you depended on them for companionship and friendship. Now you are in a position where you are forced to talk to others. To contact your ex might give you a very temporary high, but you will quickly crash. So stop begging to reconnect and put the NCR into effect.


Dos and Don’ts of the NCR


  • Commit to the NCR for at least eight weeks.
  • End financial entanglements.
  • Delete your ex’s contact information from your phone.
  • Meet with an attorney to understand your rights.
  • Have a mutual friend or family member pick up your belongings after you separate. Make a clean break with no excuses to keep in touch.
  • Tell your friends that you do not want to hear about your ex.
  • Tell your friends and family about your NCR.
  • Block your ex from your social media sites.


  • Contact your ex. That’s the point of the NCR. That means no texting, no voice messaging, no emails, no cards or letters via snail mail, nothing. Not even a birthday card.
  • Respond to any messages from your ex.
  • Show up in person at your ex’s home, work, gym, school, or anywhere that you think they might be.
  • Put your ex’s family in an awkward position by calling or texting them.
  • Obsessively check their Facebook relationship status.


Exceptions To The No Contact Rule

Certainly, all situations are unique and the NCR might need to be tweaked. In some cases, limited contact might be necessary. Try not to see your ex in person. Here are some times when the NCR might need to be adjusted:

  • You are married and are legally separating and need to work out issues with your attorney or mediator regarding child custody issues, etc.
  • You want to contact your ex to let them know that you are initiating the NCR. Again, it’s best to do that via short text or e-mail.
  • You own a home together and need to figure out what your next moves will be.
  • You work together or own a business together and need to work on ways to get along.
  • You have a major trip (or other activities) planned and need to discuss what to do about those events.
  • You have pets together and need to make decisions about “custody.”


What To Do During The No Contact Rule Period

Remember that the goal of the NCR is for you to heal and grow, NOT to use it as a manipulative ploy to seek revenge on your ex. Use it as a time to reconnect with those old friends you ignored while in your relationship, engage in fun projects you’ve been putting off , travel, ride your bike, or rescue a fur baby. And before you know it, you’ll probably be asking yourself why you were ever with your ex to begin with. Or, you might even wind up being the best friends that you should have been in the first place. But however it turns out with your ex, get to know you!








Dr. Robyn Zeiger
Dr. Robyn Zeiger
Dr. Robyn Zeiger is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with a private practice in Silver Spring, MD. Her clientele includes both individuals and couples.
Stacey Williams-Zeiger
Stacey Williams-Zeiger
Stacey Williams-Zeiger is the owner and Principal Broker of Zeiger Realty, Inc, an equality owned residential commercial brokerage licensed in DC, MD, and VA.