Struggling with no contact?

No contact is of the utmost importance when it comes to recovering from any unhealthy relationship.  Why, then, can it be so hard to maintain?  How is it that we can do so well for long stretches and then become instant Jell-O with seemingly little warning?

Of the myriad of struggles we may experience during recovery, this seems to be one of the most common snags.  The cold reality is that we are going through withdrawal and there is no methadone to ease the pain of this addiction.  Making matters worse, each and every time we break it, the clock starts over, feeling worse than we did previously.

However, from experience, I know that we do get to the point where we truly do not care to emotionally interact with our past counterparts.  We also genuinely get to the point where their attempts yield little or no emotional response from us.  At the same time, I also know that the road to that place can be quite long and challenging.

Recently, I realized that another interesting snafu exists regarding the no contact rule: successful implementation with one individual often does not automatically carry over into other relationships where the same is necessary.  Yes, we may pay better attention to various red flags and recognize certain behaviors and know what must be done, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily smooth sailing.  However, with diligence, we can do it.

How can we fight the urge to talk, text, or write?

1.  Examine the feelings causing the need to want contact

Other than in cases where we were so deeply involved that we became “addicted” to our pathological other halves, fear and old habits are two very common reasons we consider re-connecting with our pasts.

Believe it or not, one of my past no contact struggles was prompted by a dinner conversation with someone I had known much of my adult life.  Over steak and a Stella (Artois) the nicest man in the world (not a psychopath) revealed that he was interested in a relationship with me.  Instantly, the twinge from within took over.  “Me?” I asked  in a shocked, surprised, and probably fairly horrified voice.  “Yes, you.  You are beautiful, smart, and strong.  What guy wouldn’t want that?”

From there it got fuzzy.  I began to sweat profusely and my head began to spin.  However, once I got past the shock, I mentally reviewed my past relationship life.  The sad fact was that I didn’t think I could be attracted to a “nice” guy (an issue for another article, which, by the way, I now have totally figured out, at least in theory, even if not in practice.)

So, what did I want?  Why did a nice person make me long to reconnect with someone I have absolutely no business being with?  Much like a dieter looking for a cheeseburger, I wanted to travel back in time to something that felt more comfortable; I longed for an unhealthy relationship where I could give, give, and give some more, while only receiving small amounts of reciprocity along the way.

Being a “fixer,” giving more than I get comes naturally, but it shouldn’t and fear of the unknown and desire for familiarity should not be the driving force behind contact, especially when the outcome would not yield satisfying results.  Thus, just because it’s comfortable, doesn’t mean we should return to it.

I resisted.

2.  Examine what happened after the previous communications….and there probably were previous communications

It is likely that prior attempts did not work or we wouldn’t be here.  No good can come of making contact with someone who either does not want it with us, is just not that into us, or is pathological.  Therefore, we must examine our motives.  What do we hope to achieve from our communication?  Unless the answer is more heartache or irritation, which will send us reeling and feeling terrible, we should not do it.

How many times have we poured our hearts out and offered explanations for things not working if we wanted to make peace with an ex or ex-interest?  How many times have we tried to explain “just one more time,” for some semblance of closure?

We are famous for owning everything; the things we should take responsibility for, as well as those we should absolutely not!  They know this.  It takes most of us concerted efforts to stop that…and we should stop it.  Although counterintuitive, it will bring us to a better emotional place, as we take control of our own peace.

When I thought about all of this, I resisted.

3.  Review “old material.”

Most of our counterparts assume we have short memories.  In some ways we do, but not always.  For most of us, it is in our nature to try to see the good in others and forgive.  Many of us have also endured such extreme trauma that we block quite a bit out.  However, for those of us who are savers of correspondence, it helps to resurrect what we have.  It’s like relationship Soduko.

When last I felt  weak over a past connection, I wanted to text to say something…anything, exactly what I didn’t know.  I spent the better part of two hours talking myself out of doing so.  While my heart and rational brain dueled like two pianos in a night club, I pulled up his name in my phone.  Fortunately, I am not one to delete much, so I scrolled to the last break-up conversation (there are a few) and read what he had written.  Needless to say, I put the phone down.  There would be no text from me.

I decided that I did not really care for how he spoke to me in those texts.  I re-visited the feelings the silent treatment that followed evoked.  There was a time when I minimized the words, but not at that moment.  The words were mean and I felt empty.  I did not care that my reactions to them were not perfect (they were not.)  I was able to re-live the experiences in my mind and chose me and my well being.

Likewise, years ago, I felt I needed reassurance that my decision to enlist no emotional contact with another individual was warranted.  While years of experience should have been enough, the volumes of past e-mail and the journals I kept were what really told the tale.  “Normal” was not part of the equation.  The pathology in that correspondence was like graffiti on a wall and the ability to see the big picture, a written gift.

With that, I continued to resist.

4.  Examine the situation objectively

What would you tell your girlfriend to do if she came to you for advice, assuming the tables were turned?  If the answer is run, resist contact.

This goes hand in hand with using old material.  We can pull from past conversations and experiences, re-examining the negative feelings those situations created, and acknowledging the red flags we noticed throughout our relationships.  We should try to trust in our initial reactions to them.  If we felt hurt before, they will hurt again once re-opened.  It helps to step outside ourselves and recognize our own worth and beauty, just as we would a friend’s.

When I thought about how I’d counsel my bestie, I resisted.

5.  Give it time

Sit on your desire to initiate contact for at least one week or some other extended period of time.  It’s a good idea to use this time to think about all of the potential consequences.  The wait will probably be worth it.

Isn’t this difficult?  Trust me when I tell you, this goes against every fiber of my being, but the wait time will clear us for the option and allow us to choose what’s best for us, which is probably resisting.

What about when they dangle the carrot and casually contact us first?

Resist.  Truly.  Resist.  Depending upon the circumstances, we may or may not choose to respond.  Just as we did above, when we were thinking about initiating contact, we must ask ourselves what we hope to achieve by answering them, as well as what the consequences could be for either.  If it is a communication that does not require a response or would send us backwards, we should let it go.  If we choose to respond, keep it short and unemotional.  If we cared or care more than they do, we are the ones at risk for becoming emotionally entangled again.

There is always the possibility that the contact may be legitimate, unless, of course, the person truly is pathological, which may or may not be the case.  Regardless, if they tell us they are thinking about us or they miss us, they may.  We may actually be on their minds.  Truthfully, however, it probably means nothing near what we tend to turn it into.

Typically, when they make contact, they are merely “fishing” to check in on our emotional states.  Our reactions act as barometers.  Therefore, we should guard what we give back.  We may truly no longer care, we may be full-on acting, or we may legitimately be somewhere in the middle.  But that’s ours to know.

What do we want for the long haul?

So…we had a bad experience or two.  That’s ok.  What matters is that we part with a clearer picture of what we see for our futures.  How do we want to feel and what are we willing to tolerate?  No contact helps us stay the course.

While various things will undoubtedly wreak havoc with our desire to maintain no contact, understanding the roots of our struggles and using our tools can be incredibly helpful.  Be strong, friends, and if you falter, know that it’s ok to re-set the clock, but also allow yourself extra care while dealing with the challenges that go hand in hand with that re-set.

Above all else, know that the day will come when the urge to re-connect will disappear for good.  If the need repeats itself with another individual, use what you know as empowerment.  If we were successful once, we can be successful again.  Always learning, always improving.

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159 Comments on "Struggling with no contact?"

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Oh please indulge! Then come to visit me in Australia and help me create a new wardrobe of clothes that I feel sexy in 😉
As for the size 4…there has been a lot of discussion about the way Americans view size, here in Australia. We haven’t changed from the old way and while the information has been available I haven’t bothered to by into it so as a size 10 (here) I’m assuming I’d already be considered a size 4 (ish) there? To me, at my age I think I’m doing well and have only a few issues about weight gain which have all been associated with the stress hormone cortisol. Once I start to feel good on a more consistent basis, I’m sure I’ll lean up like I’ve always been…that and finally getting a new kitchen and being able to cook again after 8 weeks of chaos and moving – kitchen booked to go in on the 19th = yippee I say with Thermomix and Nutri Bullet in a box waiting to come out to play again!

Ironic, you live in AUSTRALIA? I’m SO all over that. 🙂 I’ve always wanted to go there and cuddle a joey. I cuddled one here once and the cuteness was overwhelming! I’m picturing you saying all your words now with an accent. lol

I haven’t gone through menopause yet, but I hear weight gain is inevitable. I’m trying to ward it off as long as I can, but I will accept whatever my body does naturally as it ages.

It took me over a year to accept the ‘red flags’ that were there from the start and to begin to look objectively at my ‘ex’ and the relationship. Having gone through the ordeal I now have the strongest, healthiest self esteem of my life! Thanks for the part that you all, here, played.

I hope you gave yourself Enormous grace for not seeing red from the start. NO ONE goes into a relationship looking for sociopaths. I have learned to assess and LEAVE sooner (rather than stay and hope that I’m wrong) and I think that has saved me from a couple nefarious jerks trying to con me (not romance but in business).

I am desperately struggling with no contact. I posted here a few years ago and am sad to say that I went back. I gave him 2 more years…off and on…of my life.

This past time we were “on again” for 3 months. He finally got his divorce. He introduced me to his son, and I introduced him to my kids. I met his entire family for the fourth of July, and I went on vacation with him, his son, and his family for an entire week in August. Then after vacation all hell broke loose.

I felt the shift. It was our last day at the beach. He started being cold and mean, and we got in an awful fight which led to him leaving me at the condo alone while he and his family went out. He then came back and locked me out of his room. He knew I was heartbroken, but he would not talk to me. The trip home was awful, and I tried to make things right that first not back, but it ended with him throwing a fit, yelling and screaming, and walking out on me. We tried talking on the phone a couple more times, but he was so irrational. I didn’t even know why we were fighting! So I packed up his things and left them on his doorstep. I didn’t hear from him again for 2 months.

So last Thursday, he showed up at my work and left a note on my car saying “Dinner tonight? Call me!” Just like that. Just like nothing had ever happened. I didn’t call him because I have a new phone and phone number, and I don’t want him to have it. When I didn’t call him, he showed up riding my bumper when I left work that afternoon. I pulled over in a parking lot because I didn’t want him following me home, and I didn’t want to call him. He told me that everything was my fault. He said I left him…that I abandoned him! That I didn’t put him first. He said all the things that I would have said to him, and he left me feeling crazy like were we even in the same relationship? Was I crazy? Was I wrong? I didn’t give in, and it was so very hard. He grabbed me and kissed me and said I was making the biggest mistake of my life, and he got back in his car and drove off.

The next morning at 2am my phone rang and it was the front gate to my apartment. I can’t prove it, but I know it was him. He was hoping our meeting softened me and that I would let him in, or he was hoping my phone number would show up on the screen. Regardless, I lay there terrified that he would get in a bang on my door so I got up and put a note on my door that said “do not knock. My kids are here.” I haven’t heard from him since.

So it has been a week now, and I am struggling. I miss him so much, and I don’t know what I miss…the lies, the abuse, the abandonment, or the insecurity? Why can’t I break free of this. It takes every ounce of strength not to contact him, but I know exactly where it would lead. But at the same time, I think at least I would have a little happiness for the few weeks that he would love me. I would have a little relief from this depression…until he leaves again. It’s so very hard.

Dear aj1202,
My heart goes out to you. I’ve been exactly where you are and could feel your pain as I was reading your post. Sadly, what you miss is an illusion that he created for his benefit. It was never real. It was fabricated to pull you in for his use and then he moved on. And blamed YOU for everything that he did wrong. I’ve been there.

These days when the urge to contact my ex strikes, and it usually does when a certain song comes on, or I happen to remember a memory of us having a good time together, I try VERY HARD to hit PAUSE mentally. And I say to myself: I miss an illusion. This sociopath never loved me, only used me and then put me out on the curb like the trash and said that I was the one that abandoned the relationship. I keep saying this over and over again. If that fails, and sometimes it does because I find myself sobbing, desperate for that “love” again, I pick up my smartphone and write a note. I pretend that I’m sending a text (but I purposely put it in the notes app so that there is no way I could send it) to this ex that I miss so much. I write of a shattered dream; of a love that broke my heart and aches to this day. I write of how much I miss all the good times we had and the amazing laughs, fun, sex, meals…and then I pause again. This pause is much harder than the first. Believe it or not, when you actually write this to “nobody” you release all the emotion by writing it down. It takes away the power from the urge.

I don’t know if that will work for you, but since I started doing this a year ago, I have NEVER communicated with the ex. It’s really hard. But if you can at least convince yourself that what you had wasn’t real, that it was just an illusion created for his benefit, then it will make it easier to deal with the communication.

I wish you luck. Be strong.

to aj1202 and stillstrong
I sought out all kinds of ways to cope. This is one that really helped me on those days where I knew I was going to be vulnerable and alone or if I simply needed a pickmeup:

I would send a card to myself. I’d write a note from my caring self to my hurting self. Dear Hurting NWHSOM…
It would be delivered the next day. I also buy and send myself loving messages (Hallmark has lots of cards!), I send cards for Christmas (one of the worst days for me) and esp I send a card AND have flowers delivered for my birthday. That way, when he called or tried to hurt me (more likely) on my special days, I had a card that made me feel cared for.

It SOUNDS weird but it works. If I go on a trip, I send myself a postcard. I am amazed how intelligent I sound sometimes. I keep the cards in a box and at low points that come up in life, I read them because when I feel forgotten and alone, I FORGET what I have learned or appreciated that got me out of bad moments. They are a wonderful reminder that I CHOOSE to live a GOOD life. I don’t let him decide to be in my life, I CHOOSE that HE IS NOT. (Actually he EARNED not being a part of my life.)

It’s just so hard. I have so much guilt. Maybe I will try your idea. It couldn’t hurt, and I am looking for anything to ease this pain. Thanks for responding.

What a fantastic idea, I love it! How nice to have those messages to read when all is crashing around you. I think you are the best friend yourself could ever have ★

Thank you stillstrong. I have done that so many times. It does help, but it’s only a temporary fix. I miss him so much, and I hate him for all that I lost. I keep thinking that if he was for real…that if we had worked…that the end of my marriage and the pain I put my kids through wouldn’t be so hard to accept. But I gave up everything for a man that treated me horribly and tossed me aside. He is still logged on to facebook on my computer so I can go on facebook and look at his page without him knowing, and he is living his life, and I am suffering. Every second is a struggle. I know I could call him or text him and he would come over and take away this pain for a few hours or a few days or maybe I would get lucky and it would last for a few weeks, but then it’s more time wasted, and he would distance himself and then disappear again. But the pain is just so overwhelming. How can I love someone so evil and so heartless? How did I give him everything and end up loosing all that I loved?


It sound like he is really manipulating you. Consider that he manufactured that big argument because he was planning to go be with someone else, and when he was done with that he came back with a bunch of BS lines trying to get you to take him back so he could exploit you for awhile.

You love who he pretended to be and who you thought he was and who you hoped he would be, because you are capable of love. You’re a normal person who can’t just turn off love and commitment on a dime. It will take time to grieve your loss and betrayal, even if he was a jerk.

If you focus on not having any contact with him and make that a priority, you will feel better sooner.

My guess is you are dealing with a Borderline and this would explain his feelings of abandonment. Borderlines need your full attention, constant reassuring of love, and always love compliments. They lack a sense of security and often no matter how much is offered they are out of touch with reality. He needs therapy for sure. The reason his first marriage did not work is probably because of the mental abuse he inflicted on his former spouse. He will do the same to you unless he gets help.

There is this married guy. Who I met at a party. He started to call and visit me. When I realised he was married I told him I would not date him. And tried to shake him off. He seems like a good friend and gives good advice. I am trying to keep my distance and dont want to be rude cause he has been nice. I really dont want him visiting me , but its like with slightest excuse he wants to pass by and I have to keep making excuses. I dont mind keeping him as a friend but he will push the romance. An acquaintance who knows him says he is a terrible flirt, but wont leave his wife, He has made a play for her and was seeing another friend. I don’t want to be rude because he is somewhat important in our community. I think I will have to do a complete no contact, he cant take a hint!

He’s not “a good friend and gives good advice”. He’s a predator. That’s his schick, his gimmick to get his foot in the door. You already know he’s a liar, a conman, and a whore. No married man spends time being “friends” with a woman other than his wife. There’s always a hidden motive. You’re his target. Going NC is a good idea. Otherwise you are in for far more than just a fling. There is no way to describe the pain he will put you through and in your community, he will ruin you. Do your best! I wish I knew what my ex was before I nearly lost my life to him. All those wasted years, just so he could feel like a “WINNER”!!!

Thanks for your very frank reply, NotWhatHeSaidofMe,
It was a wake up call. I will have to do no contact and shake him off, for the final time. He is a relentless pursuer and he sees me as a lonely widow. I think sometimes as women we see the signs but ignore them. I am finding that I am attracting alot of these types, men with no honourable intentions. Where are the nice sincere guys , dont they pursue women too? Or do we have to go sniff them out from some far way place!

After my divorce was final, I was also very vulnerable. (well, I was vulnerable before too, but refused to be “friendly” because as a married woman, it was inappropriate). I met a neighbors friend, a guy who raced bicycles. We started to hang out. He had a bike accident so I went to say hi during his recovery. He was taking pain meds and the side effect loosened his tongue. He made some very crude remarks about not to bitch that his dick didn’t work. We weren’t even having sex so I got defensive and said that’s not why I was seeing him. I asked why he was seeing me. He TOLD ME! All divorced women get a settlement. He saw no reason that my ex couldn’t support him too, that it would be getting back at my ex twice, once for me and making him pay for the new man in my life.

You are right. SO many have NO honorable intentions. They just identify a vulnerable woman and zero in for their own scam.

I will say, I met some very nice divorced/widowed men through my volunteering. They are retired executives who wanted to keep their hand in the field but not take on actual projects. After the bike guy wake up, I didn’t trust myself to date, I wasn’t ready. But I think next year, I might test the waters again. They aren’t sexy salsa dancers but they are very intelligent and love cultural pursuits, which is just fine with me.

As an aside, I refused to see or talk to bike guy. I told him that I wasn’t ready for new friends. And didn’t want him as a friend either. He called me a bitch. I didn’t care. That pain killer he took had a side effect. He didn’t remember the conversation! That convo was like God protecting me. Hmmm. I think it was ZANAX?

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