You made the decision to go No Contact after your breakup. Whether it was because the relationship was unhealthy or because you were struggling to cope without clear boundaries and self-care, No Contact was necessary. And for a time, you managed to keep your distance and not make contact or respond to their attempts. Until you didn’t.
That may have been days, weeks or months, but that ‘streak’ has come to an end, and you might be giving you a hard time about it. This is especially so if you’ve already recognised that No Contact or not, the relationship you’d prefer to have with this person isn’t possible. Even though engaging might feel good, albeit temporarily, it’s ultimately painful. The proverbial fire still burns.
One of my most frequently asked questions about No Contact (NC) is: Does breaking NC mean starting over from scratch?
Yes and no. Yes, in terms of your X-day/week/month streak, you’re starting a new one, but what you did before breaking NC is not a waste. While I know that many of us, myself included, love the fairy tale ‘ideal’ of doing something in ‘one take’, in a linear streak of success, that’s not always possible. There’s learning in doing the thing, in building up the streak, and there’s learning in failing to meet our own expectations.
Twenty-five years after I finished school, I took up learning French on the language app, Dualingo. The app encourages you to keep your streak going by learning a little each day, and there are a few times that I’ve missed a day. Having done so, though, doesn’t mean I no longer know French. I’ve noticed the pattern to when I miss it and now do it in the morning.
And, sure, missing a day or few of French isn’t as serious to us as chancing it with our ex and experiencing The Disappointment Cycle, but the parallel of investing in something and faltering, and then continuing (or beginning again) is there.
Understanding the factors that contributed to you breaking NC helps you to gather intel that supports this journey to freeing you of the relationship.
Having spoken with thousands of people over the years about painful breakups and NC, sometimes it’s taken falling off the NC wagon to finally let go of the fantasy. OK, now I’m done. Now I can let go.
Don’t use the fall to justify engaging with your ex or to beat you over the head with. I don’t know your flavour of NC-requiring relationship, but depending on what you’ve been through with this person, as well as in your past, doing right by you may have felt wrong. It could be that you are going through a difficult time about something else. Hello, at the time of writing this, we’re in a global pandemic. Throw in that you might be experiencing loneliness, uncertainty, grappling with loss or frustration about something else, and you can see how you could become vulnerable to breaking NC. And now you know better.
This person may have gradually ground you down with their attempts. Hell, you may have given this person more credit than they deserved and not gone all the way with NC. You might feel guilty about cutting the tie because they remind you of one or both of your parents, a caregiver or old bully.
Whatever it is, there are reasons for why you broke NC. Identify them.
Get honest about what happened and why, including what was happening in the preceding hours, days and weeks. Something I’ve learned from many of the stories shared with me is that people to tend to break NC when they’re at the point of making the greatest amount of growth.
And get clear on your intentions–the why behind you doing NC. Doing so ensures that you will experience more successful outcomes but also that you will want the outcome: ending this relationship and moving forward.
Yes, you’re starting again, but you’re starting with experience under your belt. Take care of you.