You’ve decided that you should go “no contact” with your ex, but you’re finding that it’s much harder than you anticipated to cut off all contact. Why is it so difficult to go “no contact” after a divorce or breakup?
This Person Was an Integral Part of Your Daily Life
Just weeks ago, this person was listed as your emergency contact. When you had a rough day, this was the person you turned to for comfort and understanding. They were the first call you made when you received important news and the first person you thought of when contemplating making a major change.
And now, you’re trying to pretend that they no longer exist.
It’s no wonder that it’s hard to cut off all contact. It’s as foreign and uncomfortable as losing an arm. Only in this case, it’s your heart that feels like it’s been removed. It feels so wrong to know that they’re out there and yet acting as though they are dead to you.
You Fear Being Forgotten
Even worse than seeing them as dead to you, is wondering if they no longer think of you at all. You reach out, not so much because you want to speak to them, but because you want to know that they are missing you.
After being a team for so long, it’s disconcerting to contemplate your former partner moving on without you. You want to be remembered. You’re desperate to know that you were important to them. And you’re afraid that if you fade into the background, that your legacy will as well.
Contact Has Become a Habit
It’s no wonder that we refer to love as a drug and we describe the early stages as a rush – love is addictive. And that’s even more true on the downslope of love. When we receive the alert of an incoming message from them, it sends a little rewarding shot of dopamine to our brain. And this is especially true when the contact is intermittent or unexpected.
Even a heart-wrenching glimpse of them with a new partner on social media provides a little chemical reward. And so even when there are negative consequences, we keep going back. Often without even putting much thought into it. Contact has become less of an intention and more of a habit.
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Or, at least it makes the brain more forgetful. When we’re away from someone, the memories become fuzzy. The reasons that the relationship ended no longer see so important or so terrible and the positive recollections rise to the surface.
Doubt may begin to creep in – “Was this really the right decision?” “Did I make a mistake?” So you reach out in order to test the choice of ending the relationship.
We Believe Our Personal Narrative
Maybe you told yourself that this person was “the one.” Or, you’ve created a story to excuse their years of bad behavior. Regardless, it’s easy to become so immersed in our own story that we neglect to account for the facts that are in front of us.
When there is dissonance between our beliefs and our actions, we can experience intense discomfort.
There May Be Residual Guilt or Regret
If you ended the relationship, you may be feeling guilty for creating pain for your former partner. Perhaps you’re reaching out in an attempt to soften their discomfort and to alleviate your guilt.
Additionally, if you’re experiencing feeling of regret for things you said in the relationship or for the way you behaved, you may be initiating contact to try to explain yourself or to get another chance at making it work.
The Drive to Fill the Void is Powerful
The emptiness left at the end of a relationship is as gaping, tender and strange as the hole left from a pulled tooth. And the desire to immediately fill that void is strong. It’s natural to reach out to someone where there is already that shared intimacy and that history.
Going “No Contact?”
Read the rest of the series:
Signs That It’s Needed
What Are the Benefits
Strategies to Make it Work
Why You’re Struggling to Stay Away
Understanding No Contact