Will My Ex Forget Me With No Contact?

You’ve heard me parrot on incessantly about the value of no contact as a get us back tool, and not as a get them back gimmick.

Great! Well, sort of…

Let’s face it, we’d be lying through our collective teeth if we didn’t admit that being objective and resolute is one thing, but hoping that the enduring silence helps them come to realize what they had taken for granted is quite something else.

So, for once, I’m going to drop the objectivity and delve headfirst into the crux of a timeless issue: will my ex forget me after going no contact?

It’s Time For Our Scorecard

relationship gradeOn the one hand, it is definitely true that no contact can smooth over some negative aspects of a previously unhappy routine and highlight the highs of the relationship. But if we’re hoping that time will simply erase the negative memories entirely, we’re going to be in for a shock.

Modern advances in the field of psychology tell a more chilling tale. Say hello to our human tendency towards a negativity bias. In a nutshell:

Negativity bias is the psychological phenomenon by which humans have a greater recall of unpleasant memories compared with positive memories.

While there is a chance that they may genuinely regret their decision to break up with you, time alone will not always equate an increase in the desire to reconcile. Well, at least not a genuine one.

The reality is that in the long-run it will be the past relationship itself, your history, and what you really mean to each other — outside of insecurity — that determine the odds of being remembered.

Insecurity Trumps Negativity

That — however — is the long run, and it can take a great deal of time (years) before complete emotional solidity is reached with regards to our exs.

Even if the relationship was turbulent, and the breakup dramatic, chances are you will undoubtedly be missed in some capacity, and no contact might actually make the longing worse.

At this stage, given my point about the negativity bias, you might rightly be wondering why no contact would actually increase the chance you’re going to be missed. The answer is simple, because logic and reason while dealing with insecurity simply don’t matter.

You might remember all the bad stuff incredibly vividly, you might even know that reconciling is patently unhealthy for both of you. None of it matters though, because your unconscious mind wants its comfort-zone back — and it wants it back now.

So, will your ex forget you? Not any time soon. But does this mean that there’s always a window for reconciliation? Absolutely not.

The House Of Cards

house of cardsInsecurity makes great emotional glue. Even if there is no chance at long-lasting reconciliation, it is usually enough to keep exs in each other’s lives (at least as long as that insecurity continues to exist).

But at no point should we assume that instances of impulsive and vague messaging, hot and cold behavior or unrealistic compromise are anything other than the product of insecurity. And what happens once that insecurity inevitably passes? Ouch, exactly (which is why over 80% of the time second chances last less time than first-ones do).

Of course, it might all be based on genuine longing, and going no contact may well have caused them to stop taking you for granted, and come to realize what it really is that you mean to them. But even if this does occur, there’s no guarantee that they will risk further rejection, and potentially compound their healing by reaching out.

When it comes to reconciling, limited contact is a far better strategy because it allows important communication to flow freely without pride or guilt. The longer no contact goes on, the greater they might miss you, but the taller the wall that separates you is growing.

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Comments

  1. Lydia says

    Hi James I totally agree with you- NC is the best and only way to move on and regain the interest of someone you once dated.

    After more than six months of no contact I got a text from my ex asking how i was. He made a lame excuse as his reason for texting me and then asked twice in one message how I was. I didn’t reply. I felt like these were bread crumbs after all this time. Did I do the right thing or will he think I am bitter/moved on?

    If history is any indication, I think he will contact again because he hates being ignored, but who knows. I know him contacting me is supposed to be a good sign, but I feel like its a trap lol.

  2. James Nelmondo says

    Thanks Lydia!

    NC is the perfect anti-crumb. If he knows that contacting you will confuse you, then obviously NC is the only viable route, especially when he contacts to say nothing at all. However, I don’t think that full NC is the best way to reconcile, if that is what you’re after.

    LC, as described in the last paragraph of the article, is a better solution (in my opinion), because it keeps the connection somewhat alive and also helps both partners detox. However, if all LC results in is crumbs, then yes, NC is the only viable solution (for our own sake).

  3. Ashley says

    James, Thank you so much for this site! I have shamefully been obsessing a bit with the loss of my husband. He abandoned me, and our 2 small girls, 3 months ago after 5 yrs of marriage. I did LC(Only contacting about children) for 2 months and he is still adamant that he does not miss me or think about me(But I am Sure I am a pretty awesome woman who neglected his needs and disrespected him subtly over the last year while he dealt with his own insecurities of not working) He had his mind made up for some while before walking out but I never saw it coming(Denial on my part.) He has constantly blamed me for every big and little thing(some obviously not my doing like him not re enlisting in the navy last yr) and stays in an angry state even when I try to be nice, light hearted, going about my life and in a rush to go when he comes for the tots(Since he is making it clear there’s no chance for our marriage.) So I had an emotional outburst in the beginning of the week over him deciding to take a job 4 hours away and not be near the children, which reverted back to how it isn’t his fault(I Made him Need to leave- he feels) and he won’t be with me or think of me- during this outburst i hinted at being done with him which he calmly replied he is done. OK sorry so long, but I Also feel I’ve been through my fair share of relationships and agree with your blogs but my emotions are TOO involved here. So from the begining, after a couple weeks of anger I initiated NC which he seemed to careless lol and I acted calm cool attractive and living fine without him… Doesn’t seem like anything is working?! Please Please help this momma out

  4. Ashley says

    BTW A Month ago when he came to get the kids I casually asked if he sold his wedding ring to where he replied ‘yea, why’ I said just needed to know- and kept moving, heading out the door the same as they were- & mentioned we needed to sit and talk about how to raise the kids. Later, when bringing them back, he wanted to talk and didn’t want it to end- when I tried. It was heart felt but i foolishly claimed my faithfulness and idea of us being considered married regardless, for the long term-his eyes perked to see my conditions for accepting divorce– as he claimed he went on a drinking binge and failed a class in the beginning yet is not miserable at all Now and doing better than ever(obvious enough sign of missing me, from your blogs) He also told me how my job led to him being unattracted to me and he felt perfect in our marriage(Denial at it’s finest.) At the end he asked what was wrong a couple times and I admitted I missed him where he twisted his lips and looked down but couldn’t utter a word and I told him I didn’t expect a response as I was teary eyed and he replied please don’t, I haven’t cried yet-even when I thought about it. And I said I won’t, as I turned to head for the door. -sigh- sorry I’m blabbing but I am at a loss and Need to have a 3rd perspective

  5. James Nelmondo says

    Hello Ashley, I’m sorry to hear about your situation.

    Smokescreens of indifference are rarely an accurate portrayal of what is bubbling inside. I don’t say this to foster false-hope regarding reconciliation, merely that it seems there is a great deal of potentially redundant self-criticism on your side. I obviously can’t claim to know you, however, you seem to be battling pain on two fronts.

    Pain of separation (by this I mean both for your own sake and that of your child), and the ego-driven pain of guilt. Almost every relationship hiccup you have stated is a quintessential mistake we have all made, and will all continue to make. Taking certain aspects of the relationship for granted is part and parcel of any co-dependent routine. And he will undoubtedly have done the same to you in some capacity.

    On his side, his actions seemed tinged with a little spite. Knowing full well the impact of separation, he willingly chooses to rub salt in the wounds and contrast your panic with his indifference. These are egoistic actions, which drive me to believe that they are not the death of feeling, rather an subtle form of emotional payback.

    These kinds of situations tend to find an emotional re-equilibrium should the manipulation stop having its desired effect. Which is probably that of baiting manifest loss and regret out of you. If you was done — but fundamentally cared, he would do so with a margin of respect. I suspect that an ego-driven game continues to be played here. And I say this because it is (understandably) working. Your feelings are too involved because they are not the product merely of separation, but a systematic destruction of your self-worth.

    I can’t know your ex-husband, nor can I see where this goes, but I would stick to NC, if only to rebalance emotions and to distance myself from the destructive guilt games. If there is a chance at reconciliation comes, it will be when he is no longer able to brim his own cup of self-esteem at your expense.

  6. Ashley says

    Thank you. That makes perfect sense and you have a great understanding of what is happening. He is full of anger and spite and your insight of him doing this for his own ego hit home. I believe it gives him justification and comfort for me to admit my faults and apologize(Which I have done sincerely and mainly to go forward and better myself regardless the outcome) His denial of any part in our emotional distance and then separation is heart breaking, mainly to know he justifies leaving our family. I thought it was funny(I forgot to mention) when he wanted to talk later after the wedding ring questions, he felt obligated to let me know he didn’t simply sell it but pawned it and couldn’t afford to get it back. And made it so clear he never cheated During our relationship(Which i expect he went from binge drinking to getting involved with someone new.) I have the hardest time trying to figure out his reasons to stay 4 hours from our children(& me.) I truly feel it is out of spite and that he is fighting any feelings he has for me, to prove it is over. It bothers me to think that NC could give him the healing to move on but I don’t see much else choice since his anger is underlying at every encounter(No matter how kind and -on my way- I am.) I suppose it will take much more time than these 3 months for the anger to die down, and for him to regain his own self respect and repair himself in ways. I had wrote him a letter, after my own anger ceased and I started taking responsibility, that focused on my taking responsibility- no excuses, no mention of him. I would like to write an additional letter to him that explains how I felt let down through the last year and how he could have a better relationship(with someone else-even though I don’t want that, I won’t let him think I’m jealous if he does) for the future. I feel perhaps it could wake him a little from his victimization(He has a True flaw of being a victim through Many situations, I’ve noticed and chalk it up to severe abuse as a child.) I can’t thank you enough for your insight and response, I can guarantee my donations will be helping fund your site as soon as I’m sorted. Thank you :)

  7. James Nelmondo says

    Hi again Ashley!

    The more I read about your ex, the more I am convinced that his elaborate psychological facade has been erected in order to safeguard his own self-justification (probably not only with regards to the guilt of having left you, but also your daughter). What other purpose does spite serve, if not to degrade what he thinks of you (and thus make it easier for him to part ways).

    Needless to say this is only ever a house of cards, and sooner rather than later, he will run out of fairy tales with which to deceive his pride.

    What happens then is anyone’s guess. Some people simply can’t backtrack due to guilt or pride, some people do a great job at maintaining the ongoing delusion and others reach out with crumbs or a compromise. The good news, as I’m sure you learnt the hard way at one time or the other, is that by the time this happens the panic is over, and the emotional imbalance is restored in your favor.

    I’m not sure whether I’d personally reach out, however, because he is very probably hinging his own self-esteem on precisely that, and if you don’t bite, it may cause the house of cards to crumble. The corollary is also that it makes the pain of separation more acute for you, but if he is genuinely trying to walk away, this realization will nevertheless need to be confronted head on anyway (and undoubtedly already is).

    Thanks for your kind words and also, dare I say it, for the promise of a donation. It is much appreciated (but don’t feel obligated in any way).

  8. Anais says

    Your article on “How Long do Rebound Relationships Last” was very helpful for me. A man I was dating recently and became very attached to, started setting off some alarm bells that caused me to slow down the pace with him. I also mentioned something gently to him in this regard. I was concerned for my own emotional well-being that he was not ready for the kind of mature connection I want and believe we could have together. My purpose was to determine how much he might be rebounding and figure out if as a part of rebounding he was entertaining other women at the same time.

    He is a mid-forties academic 1.5 years out of a 15 year marriage to another respected academic (who appears to be an amazing woman and respected professional). An introvert and shy, he spent the 1.5 years in a depressed state isolating himself and not dating or even socializing. During this time he was still in contact with his ex as a kind of emotional ballast. Thus, I think now he is actually going through a kind of delayed rebound. (FYI I am an “appropriate age” for him.)

    In the month and a half he and I were together, he displayed all of the signs you list about a rebound relationship: moving really fast, erratic behaviour, very subtle comments about the ex, hot and cold, control of when he was available and when he was not available, mood swings. I very much didn’t want to be the rebound relationship and when I slowed things down mostly by pulling back on non-verbal or not face-to-face communication (which was hot and cold and erratic and over email or Snapchat – which being a grownup I had never used before and which is a whole other bizarre story about the divide between the generations) he ramped up into relationship with another female (one who I was suspicious was already also in the picture when he was dating me because she was the other Snapchat best friend with much higher points, and clearly got him using Snap Chat in the first place). Needless to say, it was bizarro world for a few weeks!

    Clearly, this relationship is textbook rebound – she is 22 years younger than himself, no compatible lifestyle interests aside from “music”, no professional compatibility, not athletic, only moderately attractive etc.. The last time he was single (in his late twenties) she would have been only slightly younger than himself, and an understandable maturity match. So I get that as a rebound this is about fun, no responsibility, reliving what he remembers about dating from two decades ago, the idea that he can start over again, a bit of a f^&* you to the world, the thrill he can pull a younger girl, and feeding off her “youthful enthusiasm”. For the girl, who is also rebounding from her first serious relationship, he has disposable income, is very different from the other boys she would normally date, and is lavishing her with need and affection (on his terms and timing). She is also pretty much the polar opposite of his ex, and myself for that matter. There are other concerns. She is 22 years younger and a fairly unremarkable undergraduate student at a university at which he is a tenure-track professor. They met through a student activity group in which he is involved as a member of faculty. (At this particular university there is no policy saying professors can’t date enrolled students, it is just strongly advised that they do not, and it is scorned upon by peers in academia.) I don’t wish her ill, but she is behaving foolishly and putting him at professional risk. She has started to advertise the relationship all over social media with all her twenty-something student friends chiming in about how cute and sweet he is. In doing this she is also branding him her property (I’m sure she doesn’t know he’s still using his online dating account to talk to other women). All of this may have serious professional repercussions for him in the near future.

    For obvious reason, I have ethical problems with his current choice of “girlfriend”. It really is a silly career move and a text-book personal move for a man mid-forties and just out of a long term marriage (15 years).

    However, I am still attached to the potential of renewing my intimate connection with this man when and if he gets over this phase. I’m not waiting for him, I’m dating and I have some interesting options, but I’d like to keep the potential open. Foolish maybe, but honest as there is unique compatibility between us and I know the timing was lousy. It may have been the right guy at the wrong time and instead of getting mad about that, I can get strategic.

    I’m thinking about the long game and the psychology of attraction. If I do want to keep my options open with him, how do I use limited contact or no contact to my benefit?

    For limited contact, I can see him at the gym we go to (every time I do see him he makes sure to get alone time to talk to me, and then follows up later then same day with a text or email communication). I have been responding to these messages, and we start corresponding and then after about 48 hours he goes silent again until I see him again. (When he stops responding, I stop.) I’ve only recently confirmed this past week that he is now openly involved with this younger girl rebound girl and now understand this is why he stops corresponding. I know from his behaviour that he’s still keenly attracted to me and he’s keeping in contact to make sure I am still there (is this bread crumbs?)…but I don’t want to be strung along while he indulges in this very public rebound. At the moment he doesn’t know that I know about the younger girl. He hasn’t come out and told me directly, and is still making vague comments about he and I having time together.

    When he sees me in person he seeks my attention. I also know that he doesn’t like it when texts or messages are ignored. So, I’m looking to you for some suggestions about how to behave when I see him in person, and how to respond with the inevitable follow up text and email from him after he sees me. I presume I do not bring up the rebound girl unless he shares the information with me. Nor do I tell him off. I play dumb. My male friends are telling me no contact for 2-6 months, even if he attempts to reach out a few times, is the best way to go. No contact at all means I change my schedule so I make sure not to see him at the gym.

    If anything, my question is an experiment about no-contact versus limited contact. Maybe playing a long game is worth it, maybe it’s not…it’s still kind of interesting.

    ;)

  9. James Nelmondo says

    Hey Anais, thanks for stopping by and valuing (a priori) my opinion.

    I like your question, and I feel it should be considered more often. No contact is often jumped upon as a solution to all problems. It is a teeth-grinding detox-via-pain way of moving on. And it does work. But it works in the same way that alienating responsability and creating a new worry-free life works, where we are in complete control of every variable (your ex’s rebound to a T — the “age” factor with regards to authority, her being moderately attractive may also make him feel in charge and of course her age).

    The problem though is that it will usually cause one or both parties to burn their bridges. Which may be worth it if a relationship is patently unhealthy. I often feel that no contact is a great way to deal with abusive or addictive style relationships — and a 15 year marriage between two people who continue to value each other’s presence doesn’t really seem to qualify.

    I would say limited contact is a great choice, however, there may come a point where attempting to fuel hope for reconciliation can become detrimental. And our romantic aspirations become a bit of a groundhog day. Only at this point would I urge no contact. No contact is a catalyst for abrupt change. Limited contact is a way of giving life a little time to bring objectivity (I.E waiting for rebounds to collapse).

    I admire your strength and patience in considering the long-game. I’m certainly guilty of self-destructing in insecurity and grief, and will hold fast to no contact in order to assuage self esteem and deal with certainties and so I don’t feel I’m in a position to offer advice here (I’ve stressed the fact that I’m no relationship expert, just someone who fundamentally enjoys discussing the topic). But I do feel that it is undeniably our best choice should we have the strength to adhere to it, and also assuming it is an endeavour that shows a modicum of promise, and is worthy of a constant investment.

  10. Tiffany says

    I am currently on day 2 on NC. I’m just alittle confused with my breakup so I’m not sure how to handle it. My bf has a horrible past with one of his ex-gf that completely ripped his heart out-cheated on him, took his money, and took away his confidence. He definitely took all of this to heart and never got closure so he lets that completely guide his life. He has dated girls in between her and I, but he said none of them really did much for him; until I came along. He said that the first time he met me, all his coworkers asked him why he was so happy and why it looked like he was floating on a cloud. We were long distance (about 2 hours away) and we were dating for 8 months. We talked on the phone and he told me that he really needs to just work on himself because he does not feel like the guy he used to be; he doesn’t feel happy, he doesn’t enjoy the things he used to love. He’s always told me that I was the girl he prayed to God for and he honestly believes God brought me to him. He always told me I made him better, he could trust me more than anyone in the world and we were just so connected emotionally and physically. He’s just scared to drag me along, making me wait for him just in case he never gets his feelings back–he says that I don’t deserve to be dragged into all of this. I know he is telling me the truth, because he has always had moments throughout our relationship that I knew he was feeling this. He has always said “oh its just hard for me to live in the moment and just be happy.” There were definitely moments of highs and lows because of how he was feeling within himself. He is a genuine guy who is very into being truthful and honest at all times.

    On the phone, of course I was emotional, he was telling me that all of this isn’t fair to me, but I am irresistibly beautiful, he misses me, he misses talking to me and having fun, I’m sweet and kind and so intelligent but he just feels so overwhelmed (he’s going to law school in fall and I’m going to medical school). I asked him if he was ready to fall in love, would I have most likely been the girl he would have ended up with, and without a pause he said, yes probably. He says that he knows he’ll most likely regret all of this. He even told me that he’s absolutely terrified that he will be alone for the rest of his life bc of these feelings he has. And I know he loves and cares about me ( we even talked about him applying to the same school I was going to in the past). We always talked about a future together. He tells me that he doesn’t know if he was ever in love with me, but I know that’s a life he’s covering up bc of how he showed his love for me; it was undeniable. He told me that I have a part of his heart that no one can ever touch (that sounds like love to me). He told me his mom asks about me all the time, and I asked what his parents say about all of this and he said that they just shake their head and they just know what he is dealing with right now. How do I approach this situation? I do think we need some time apart, so he can just work on himself, but I don’t feel like our time is over together. I know this makes him just as miserable as it is making me. I know for a fact he is unhappy with all of this.

  11. Andre says

    My partner was doing all the things a cheat does and claimed he was working one night but he wasn’t -?
    I text him and told him that I was packing his stuff – he came home the next morning but I was so mad – we had been together for 8 years and I just wanted the truth. He didn’t say a lot and said he wasn’t going to argue and went. Two days later he turned up to collect his clothes – I offered him a coffee but he said he had to go to his brothers house to take his gear for storing (even though he had just said that he had not told any of his family about our break up) he just wanted to get out of the house.- He wanted to come back the following day to collect the rest of his gear but I tried to phone him and he was just ignoring me so I said that he was lying yet again and that I would drop his stuff round, and that he should say where.
    I have not heard from him since – it has been two weeks and as much as I would really love to call him, I know that he won’t pick the phone up as he is stubborn.
    This happened before but he did not leave, this time he has just gone.

    Is our future over? He has not explained himself, and I feel that we have not had any closure which I am desperate for. I really love him and the longer this is going on the harder it is becoming.

    Why did he not defend his cause? because it really was happening? he had his phone with him all the time and did the typical things a cheater does but I have no proof or evidence as such, just my heart!
    Please try and help me understand his mind, if you can

  12. Sarah says

    Hello, to begin with I have read all the stories on this page and they are all AMAZING and motivational. It is good to know that I am not the only one that is going through what I am going through. I just wanted to share my story and see if you guys can give me some guidance. I have been with my boyfriend for the last year when we first met he told me that he was married but separated with her and he had not yet finalized the divorce but that he was going to do it and move on. We began to get very close to one another and by the 9th month of our relationship we started thinking about moving in together. I advised him that the 1st step was him reaching out to her and getting a divorce. They have no children nor a house so it would be a simple divorce. So he did and to make a long story short I noticed that they started speaking to each other more and more everyday and about things that had nothing to do with the divorce. It got so bad he would delete all of her text messages and calls and I started to become suspicious till one day I could no longer take it and I texted her.

    She confessed to me that he had still been seeing her and sleeping with her and I was devastated! I was so hurt I called him and confronted him and he was sorry he tried to fix things but I wanted her to hear the lies he was telling me so I 3 wayed her and him and she heard everything. I felt as if I was so weak and I cried he began not to care and would tell me that it was all my fault because I was always insecure and he was going to eventually end things with her and get back with me. This was a lie because as the days went on he continued to contact both her and I and wanted us both to be there with him. I would speak to her and we met up and confronted him he was more upset with her because she told me everything and he felt as if she betrayed him. 

    After the confrontation he did not call or text me but I called him crying so we may speak to each other about everything and he was not interested he was being tough with me because I was being weak with him. I decided to begin NC with him that day for 2 days he called and texted me and I stayed strong and that night I decided to pass by his house and I saw her car parked outside. I know I messed up and did the wrong thing but I got out of the car and confronted them both. He lied to her saying that I had been calling and texting him and that I was crazy when that was a lie he was the one that was calling and texting me. She turned her face on me and went into the car and left with him. Later that night she texted me and asked me to send her the proof and I did which I still regret doing. Ever since that day he has not called or texted me since it’s been a month. He got back with her and he has been with her ever since. I feel so terrible and hurt I was betrayed by the both of them. What type of woman does that to one another? I am still in shocked and not to mention him and I had an AMAZING relationship. I was there for him when no one else was. Do you think he will regret what he did? I am so sad and devastated and what hurts me the most is that he has not cared to say sorry. Is it that he is busy with her? How could he just forget about me so fast like I was a piece of garbage? he would never spend the night with her and recently he has been spending every night with her ever since I found out. After all the lies he told her? What should I do? And if he does text me again which everyone says he will should I go no contact? I know in my heart that this is not the last time I hear from him but I think he thinks that now every time he calls or text me I am going to tell her which is not the case. I just do not like it when people lie to me. I dont want him to call my phone if he is going to work things out with her. Why couldnt he just be honest and tell me I want to work things out with her. I would have at least had closure and would have felt a little better about this situation.

    We were best friends while we were together and we had an amazing relationship the only fights we would get into were the ones about her. I could honestly say I felt as if he loved me dearly but how did that all go away from one day to the next? How could he have just cut me off from day to night? Why do I care so much and as the days go by I get stronger but do you think he also misses me? We have never gone 1 day with out speaking before this happened. How could he have left such a good relationship for one that didn’t work in the 1st place. PLEASE HELP ME! I am so sad. 

  13. LOFC says

    Hi,

    My situation is that I was in a 5 and a half year relationship which ended after we had about a year and a half of ups and downs which I believe was due to a lot of negative outside influences such as my ex being in hospital for periods of time and falling out with her family. I also think that my reluctance to marry at the time was also a factor. Anyway, we broke up and I chased after her for near enough 6 months. I got my 2nd chance. Things were going great for 3 months then we had a big argument on our annniversery and we split again. I had told her previously that we could work towards getting married to show her I was serious. I was surprised that it ended because of one argument, even though it was a big one. Again, I tried to get her back. She was giving me mixed signals before finally telling me we should move on. I didin’t contact her for 2 months and was moving on. Then she came out of the woodwork saying I was the only one for her and that she didn’t want anyone else. I agreed to give it another try. Within a month and a half we saw each other I felt that she was not really giving her all to make it work and she decided that we shouoldn’t carry on. She says she still loves me but that it isn’t enough. I haven’t spoken to her for 23 days now. She’s gone on a holiday which wasn’t planned and has just blocked me on whatsapp. I was wondering if there is anything I could do to save this relationship or even if it’s worth it