As a breakup coach (yes, that’s a real thing), I receive emails from women all over the world asking me to help them with their broken hearts. Of the women I actually speak to, I can tell within five minutes who is truly ready to move on from their relationship and who is not. It’s all about who is willing to follow the No-Contact Rule.
The No-Contact Rule is one of life’s necessary evils. No one likes it, especially the brokenhearted, but in order to really heal from a rough breakup, it’s pretty much non-negotiable. Not speaking to, seeing, texting, sleeping with, emailing, or exchanging Morse code with your ex is crucial in allowing your heart to heal. It’s kind of like a detox, helping you clear out all the sadness, bitterness, and sexual tension that’s holding you back from starting the next chapter of your life.
Some women argue with me about why they should stay in contact with their ex. In most of these cases, I don’t think it’s me these women are trying to convince. In my experience, the more resistant someone is to the No-Contact Rule, the more they need to follow it. So unless your split is radically amicable, which probably means you’re not looking to hire a breakup coach, you may want to seriously consider it. It hurts like hell at first, but in the long run it’s for the best. Just like ripping off a Band-Aid.
Experts say it takes about 21 days to stick to a new habit, but I’ve found that heartbroken people need a little more time than that. So similar to Greg Behrendt, author of It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken, I recommend following the No-Contact Rule for two whole months. Within those two months, here’s what’s probably going to happen:
1. Clarity. Going back and forth with an ex often causes stress and confusion. Imagine how clearheaded you’ll feel once you eliminate both of these things from your love life. Cutting contact means you’ll have one less distraction keeping you from objectively processing your breakup, one of the key steps to healing.
2. Strength. There was once a time in my life when I believed I could never stop talking to my ex. For four years we had spoken every single day—that seemed like a daunting habit to break. After deciding to try the No-Contact Rule, I turned it into a game, keeping track of each day I stuck with it. It felt great to keep a promise to myself, and soon I started to realize that I didn’t need my ex to survive. Since I no longer needed him, I began to focus on whether or not I wanted him. It didn’t take long for me to decide that I didn’t. That made me feel strong.
3. Hope. Maybe you’ll get back with your ex and maybe not. Either way, I promise if you make the most of your two months apart by taking care of yourself and embarking on new adventures, you’ll regain your zest for life and hope for the future. If you’re not completely over the relationship by then, you’re probably well on your way to believing that healing is right around the corner.
Certainly, if you work with or have children with your ex, following the No-Contact Rule is not exactly feasible. Because these situations require extra consideration, I advise enlisting someone (your best friend or sister, maybe?) to not only help you but remind you to take good care of yourself and keep the contact to an absolute minimum.
Also, I’m not saying that you can never speak to your ex ever again. Many people eventually become friends with their exes and that’s a wonderful thing if you can do it. Unfortunately, friendship is usually only possible after a painful time apart when both people have taken a step back from the relationship. Transitioning from lovers to friends can’t happen overnight.
Going through a breakup? Try giving yourself two months, and if that seems too scary, just focus on one day at a time. No, it won’t be easy, but breakups rarely are. So just go for it and see what happens. The clarity, strength, and hope you gain just might surprise you.