By the time we set our no contact plans in motion and ignore our ex, chances are our ego has been in the dryer for longer than we’d like to admit.
Whatever connection we might have had with our ex is by now profoundly shaken. Our intuition is in tatters and nothing seems to make sense. It is at precisely this moment, as we drown in introspection and uncertainty, that we are likely to engage in mind games. Something to grant us the illusion of control we so desperately lack. Something time-tested and objective, something that gives us hope.
Yes, playing mind games offers some short-term relief. For two reasons:
- It keeps us connected with our ex. Which might be better than accepting that such a connection no longer exists .
- The idea that we have a strategy or plan puts us back in the driving seat, even if we were the ones that were left hanging.
The problem with this is that the focus of our efforts is on finding a short term fix for our insecurity rather than rebuilding the relationship. So, in a sense, going no contact and ignoring our ex is less about getting them back than it is about getting us back.
If that’s good enough, you can stop here. If, instead, reconciliation is the end-goal of your efforts, please keep reading.
No contact can induce insecurity in our ex, because whether they like it or not we represented a long term comfort zone. We were a staple of their routine. Having that torn away will hurt, even if it was an objectively good decision.
Starving them of communication may lead them to reach out to gauge whether this comfort zone still exists. The problem is that while this may look like a good sign on the dumpee’s end, this reaction is not a sign they want to reconcile, but is a response to feeling lost and confused.
If you’re wondering why all the half baked promises about meeting for coffee or missing you terribly always fade into nothingness, it is critical to understand that if you are playing with their insecurity (which is what ignoring your ex usually amounts to) then those promises come from an emotionally unstable place.
Granted, sometimes ignoring your ex is not about playing with supply and demand, but is about seeking clarity for yourself. Great, but it pays to understand what effect suddenly withdrawing may have on your ex. If they seem uncomfortable with the newfound silence you have imposed, are they looking to plug a hole, or are they looking to build a future?
I would suggest a middle ground. Enough of an opening to shred crumbs and over-analysis on your part, but enough to allow you both to feel welcome to communicate objectively.
Feeling welcome is important, but so is not receiving mixed messages which ultimately lead to misinterpretation, over-analysis and resentment. Limited contact addresses this by restricting communication to important stuff only. Do away with the chit-chat, Facebook pokes and late-night SMS forget-me-nots.
This level of communication is usually best kept to impersonal media such as Email and text to preserve objectivity. If the emotional situation is fragile then having some kind of mask between you (like a computer screen) will allow you to manage conflict more effectively.
What To Say
Two words: The necessary.
If all your ex is looking for is the comfort of knowing you are still there as a fallback plan, keeping communication to a minimum will not allow them to string you along for their own benefit.
It will also prevent burnout and resentment. The only thing that should be communicated are well defined and clear messages aimed a receiving well-defined answers. Anything else is just an excuse that will only lead to more confusion.
I know that many of you might feel that I am being mechanical and detached, and that is a possibility. Retaining a friendship is possible in the wake of a breakup. But if you found this article you probably did so by searching for ignoring your ex, which is not the path to long term friendship. It is a make or break mechanic with the aim of reconciling.
I would argue that by limiting contact, rather than going no contact, you are improving both your chances at reconciling and also protecting what semblance of friendship exists. Because you are operating on an honest platform and not redefining your connection on the basis of manipulation.
Ignoring You Back
It goes without saying that ignoring your ex is a game you can lose. Yes, there’s a chance they might cave into their insecurity, but what if they double-down instead?
Ignoring an ex will not only increase your risk, it will double it. Why? Because even if there is the underlying will to reconcile by both partners, the increased distance will mean that this desire is never communicated.
For example: If an ex is ignoring me I’m going to take that as a sign they want nothing to do with me. To me, silence is an answer. Its not the answer I wanted, but I’d rather deal with certainties than what-if every crumb of contact.
If your ex is prone to thinking along these lines then going no contact will only ensure they fade off into the distance even faster. If the silent treatment goes on too long then they will let go purely based on the fact that living with uncertainty is absolute hell.
Silence is a dangerous game. If the stakes are too high, then don’t gamble.