The #1 Breakup Commandment: No Contact for 60 Days
I hope you're paying close attention because I'm about to share with you one of the cornerstones of breakup recovery. If you follow one piece of advice that you find here on my site, choose this one: do not have ANY contact with your ex for 60 days.
This holds true whether you just broke up yesterday, or if it happened months (even years) ago and you are still caught up in it. Take 60 days without seeing them, talking to them on the phone, texting, emailing, looking at their online profiles, tweeting, sending smoke signals or, yes, even listening to those old voicemail messages you saved in your cellphone (you thought I didn't know about them, didn't you?)
And of course, you won't be taking their calls, texts, emails, etc. either.
Why no contact? Because after a break-up you're confused. Lots of feelings tend to swirl around, including regret, self-doubt, anger...the kind of feelings that tend to cloud our judgement. If emotional turmoil can be described as muddy waters, the aftermath of a break-up is a veritable Mississipi River Delta after a big storm. And for many of us, those troubled waters were already swirling for a while before the actual breakup happened. Time with no contact whatsoever provides the clarity you need in order to remember exactly who you are and find your emotional center. It will help you make choices that will actually support you and make you happy.
Why 60 days? There's something about this timeframe that really helps to activate an emotional reset button. I've seen it happen with clients, friends, and yours truly and it really works. I used to recommend 30 days, but it's really not enough--double that is just right.
Will it be easy to do? Maybe, but probably not. At least in the short term. For some people, after the first week or so they find themselves thinking about their ex/relationship a lot less. Some don't even realize when they hit the 60-day mark because they've stopped keeping track at that point. In general it tends to get easier with time, so don't be discouraged if it seems overwhelming at the beginning.
If you end up texting your ex on Day 15, or taking a call from them, that's okay. Just dust yourself off and start fresh -- it's a new Day 1 for you, my friend.
So if you feel challenged in getting over a breakup, I invite to to try this. I'll even help you get through it with your very own free Breakover Bootcamp program. You've got nothing to lose except heartbreak (and maybe that extra pound or two you gained sitting around waiting for the phone to ring?)
QUESTION: But I really just want to be friends! Why do I need to break contact for 60 days and risk damaging our friendship? Won't they be mad at me?
If you're honestly interested in a friendship with your ex then some time apart will actually improve your chances at a having just that, once the emotional fires have cooled a bit. And anyone who is truly interested in being your friend will understand your need to have some time to clear your head and wouldn't blame you for it.
QUESTION: I think my ex may be the love of my life and I have a feeling we will end up together, but what if I lose that chance by doing the no-contact thing?
Let's just imagine that you're right. If you really are meant to be together then some time apart shouldn't change that. And no matter what you're thinking will happen eventually, clearly things haven't been going well lately or you wouldn't have broken up. Taking 60 days will allow you both to get clear about how you really feel and what you really want, and if you both decide to get back together it will be because you want to, and not because you were scared/confused/etc.
(Note: The more you find yourself objecting to the 60-day idea really strongly and finding reasons why you shouldn't do it, the more you probably really need to do it. Behind all of those reasons is a fear of loss and letting go. Yeah, I know, likely not what you wanted to hear, but I'm here to help you, not lie to you.)
QUESTION: How will my ex know not to contact me if I don't tell him about the 60 day thing? Isn't it mean to just stop responding to him? And it will be so much harder to stick to my plan if he keeps trying to contact me and I have to ignore him!
Okay okay, if you wish, you can send him one email in response to his first attempt to contact you (no callbacks, texts or online chats).
I need to take a break, so I won't be contacting you, or responding if you try to contact me for a couple of months. Thank you for understanding.
(Your name here)
That's all she wrote! ("She" being your fabulous self, of course)
QUESTION: Can't I just get over it without trying this?
Sure, it's possible to move on from a breakup without taking this step, but it will be more messy, drawn-out, and painful than it needs to be. Why do that to yourself?
QUESTION: What happens after 60 days?
It's really up to you. When you've done your full 60 days you can contact your ex, or decide to respond if they contact you, but you may find that you don't really want to at that point. What's great is that you'll be able to make that choice with a much clearer, more settled mind. Nice!
Remember, if you want detailed, step-by-step support as you go through your 60 days of no contact check out my free Breakover Bootcamp program here. We'll go through it together. And no crewcuts or army fatigues required (I don't know about you but drab green does absolutely nothing for me).