Dr Isabelle Hung on why no contact, or limited contact will help you get over your ex faster
The first thing you need to do when divorcing or separating is to shift boundaries with your ex-partner.
It’s a big change to go from seeing someone nearly every day and thinking about them all the time, to them being, at most, a friend.
The quickest and, in the long-term, easiest way to do this and get over your ex is by following the NO CONTACT RULE.
Why shouldn’t I see my STBX (soon to be ex)?
If you’re still seeing your stbx, chances are that you’re not leaving yourself the space to grieve, free your mind from your stbx and make space for yourself.
Furthermore, as you miss the other person, it may feel necessary and a relief to see them. It may even be really pleasant, as you’re both making an effort to be kind to each other. You might even lose sight of the reasons you actually left each other.
Does NO CONTACT mean not seeing them face to face?
Partly BUT it also includes no emailing, no talking on the phone, no texting or Facebook-stalking etc. Do not ask friends/family about them and, in some cases, where your ex is not giving you any space, you may decide not even to read their messages.
This seems impossible! I HAVE to see my STBX!
This will be more difficult in some situations…for example, it you have children, run a business together, work at the same place or have the same friends. In fact research shows that 90% of us do look up our exes on social media!
Nevertheless, the principle remains that you need to redefine the relationship by giving yourself space.
If you need to maintain direct contact with your ex-partner, keep contact business-like. Limit communication to making arrangements or sharing necessary information about children or business.
Restrain yourself from asking how they are or trying to find out information about their personal lives.
I can’t do it, it’s just TOO HARD!
It is difficult, that is absolutely true… and you’re likely to have slip-ups.
The loneliness at times will be painful and you’ll want to find out more about their life. If this happens, be kind to yourself – acknowledge how difficult avoiding contact is, forgive yourself, and then get back on track with the NO CONTACT RULE.
Excuses I have heard to get out of the NO CONTACT RULE:
- I need closure/I need to get a sense of what happened
- I am trying to see if we can make this work
- I want to be friends
- I just want to give their stuff back
- I wanted to share something which would help them
- I just want to have sex with them
How can I make following the NO CONTACT RULE easier?
Keep busy and plan a distraction at times where it might be harder, for example, in the evening, or on special dates.
Call or go out with friends, watch a film, do a specific task such a cooking….basically anything that can keep you from contacting the ex.
Believe me, however tempting it is to remain close friends with your ex, it will be easier and faster if you don’t.
Good luck – and please do let us know your advice for limiting contact with your partner and ways to cope with loneliness, obsessing about your ex and the difficulties of letting go (or anything else) on our forum.
Dr Isabelle Hung is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and clinical psychologist. Having got through her own divorce just three years ago, she is now remarried and happy to report that divorce really is an opportunity for growth and positive change.