When you break up with someone, whether it was you who did the breaking up or not, it is absolutely vital that you make no contact with your ex. That means not even a text or a phone call or a drive by their house. No leaving voice messages or responding if your ex calls. Not even reading old texts (delete them), checking their Facebook page (unfriend them), or even asking a mutual acquaintance how they are doing. It’s cold turkey time—no exceptions.
Making contact is just a way to avoid experiencing the grief that comes with a real ending. But grieving the relationship—even though it hurts—is the only way to get over it. You need to create distance from your relationship so that your mind, body, and spirit can grieve and then heal. A new door cannot open if you keep peeking through the old door.
You may invent reasons to reconnect: you need closure; you need answers to why the relationship failed; you believe you still can be friends. Be honest with yourself, and recognize these for the excuses they are. You don’t actually need any of these things. What you do need is to detach and grieve, and then understand why you keep making the same unfortunate choices.
The only time couples need to be in touch after a break-up is if they are co-parenting. Make those visits brief and, if possible, drop off and pick up the children in public places to avoid going into each other’s private space. Limit phone discussions to issues only about the children.
We know it’s tough to go cold turkey, but you can do it. Here are some ideas for smoothing the transition after a break-up and more can be found in my book, The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking your Obsession.
- Make a contract with yourself not to e-mail, text, phone, instant message, or check social media with your ex.
- Don’t go to places that you know they frequent just to make contact.
- Find supportive friends you can call any time the urge hits you to reach out to your ex.
- Join a support group, seek a licensed psychotherapist, or find an online group where support is only a call or session away.
- Take good care of yourself. The acronym HALT is a great way to remember all the ways to do that: Avoid being hungry (H), angry (A), lonely (L), or tired (T).
- Journal when you get the urge to see your ex. Write about what happened that made you feel that way. Look for patterns and triggers you can avoid.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of the award winning book The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse. You can take her quiz to find out if you are co-dependent or sign up for a 30 minute strategy session with Sherry. Check out Sherry’s new book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession.