Warning: Don’t Ignore Your Ex If You Want Them Back

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.

Effective Communication

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?

Limited Contact

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?

Yikes.

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.

About the author

James Nelmondo

James "the Unknown" Nelmondo is a self-styled relationship enthusiast, former infant, part-time dumper and full-time dumpee.

4 Comments

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  • A great day to you! I hope you’ll be able to read this and give light to my problem. I just went through a break up a month ago.Here’s what happened.

    My boyfriend and I (we’re gay) had been together for almost 4 years. And it was totally a great relationship. We see each other for at least 4 days a week and he spends his weekend in my house. I’d say our relationship was special. But, months ago, my boyfriend admitted to me that he’s falling for someone else and said he was sorry and he loves me. So I told him that I understand and that as long as he’s not doing anything to pursue that person, it would not be an issue. Then months went by I have found out that this other person keeps on pushing himself to my ex, which made him fall even more to that other person. Then one time my ex was crying and apologized saying that he kissed that other guy and that he was guilty. He said he’ll do anything so I would forgive him. I said, I won’t leave him and I love him and he has to just leave what happened so we can still be together. However..days passed and things seem to change

     He suddenly told me that he needed time and space. He wants us to be friends. He said his love for me was replaced by shame from what he had done. Then..it was like 2 weeks of contact. Most of the time I convinced him to get back to me but he always say that he’s too weak to do it. Then I found out that he spends time seeing that other person and his friends. So we went through an argument until such point where he finally said that we are never getting back together and that I deserve someone better. So I did no contact..after a week he reached out and responded to him and told him about how insulted I was because this other guy whom he likes messaged me and told me that he’s pursuing my ex. My ex said he was sorry..the next day I stopped contacting him again then he reached out again a week after.. And I responded hoping that he changed his mind. However when I opened the possibility of us getting back..he said he’s ashamed of getting back because he doesn’t deserve me. Then  I stopped contacting him againg for 12 days then my ex reached out again asking me if I would attend his graduation day (that was 30 days after we broke up). I went there because he asked me and his mother also told me that she wanted me to be there( she doesn’t know about us..she thinks we’re just bestfriends). So fast forward..his mother invited me to stay for the night in their home. So I did. I stayed in my ex’s room I was in the bottom bed of the double deck..Then he seemed quite happy seeing me. Then I tried to talk to him that I want him back but he said “I don’t want you anymore. Sorry.” Then I said “ok. I shouldn’t have shown up.” Then I heard him. He was crying. Then I tried to hold his hand. He was persisting at first but soon he let loose and let me hold his hand..then someone came in so he let go of my hand. Then the next day I went home. He texted me and said “thank you for coming. Take care.” I did not respond. Then that afternoon I invited him to go with me to a museum but he said he can’t. I found out that he’s going with his friends along with that other guy that he likes. So I messaged him a lot of times telling him that he won’t be able to be happy long term if he’s just going to hide away from the problem. All he said was just the same.” He doesn’t deserve me…he feels ashamed of what he did..” so I decided to stop contacting him again..I also found that througout that month that we broke up. He’s been hanging out with his friends and that other guy. They seem to enjoy being together but I am sure they’re not yet an item now..my questions are

    1. Given the circumstance.

    Do I get any chance of getting him back when it’s been a month and he still seem firm about his decision.

    2. Did responding to him is “breaking no contact”? Cause I have heard from videos that if they reached out
    ,I should not ignore them. He was always the one to start the conversation. Does that count as breaking no contact?

    3. Is it too late for me to go to another no contact?will it still be effective?

    I pray and hope that you’ll give me a response to this. I feel so horrible and hopeless right now. Sometimes I’m literally gasping for air when I think about the break up. Please give me some advise and thoughts about my situation.

    • Hello there HH, sorry to hear about the predicament. It sounds like torture.

      1. If it was truly love, then one month isn’t really a very long time at all. Given also his tendency to break down, despite standing firm, it doesn’t sound like having feelings for you is the issue. If you’re asking my opinion, because it is an opinion and nothing more. My gut instinct tells me that when you couple this “breaking down” with the fact that feeding you the line he “doesn’t deserve you” is, to me, clearly horse manure. It sounds like he isn’t being honest with you regarding why he’s breaking up. I’m willing to bet there’s something else. It just doesn’t add up. Maybe he feels suffocated rather than loveless, that would explain, to me, part of his actions.

      Is it only because he met someone else? I’m not entirely convinced because if it was, his contact with you is also a betrayal of sorts to his new interest.

      I don’t know how to rate chances accurately and I don’t like guessing (it can feed false hope or lead to burning bridges preemptively), but the facts dictate that despite wavering he isn’t backing down.

      2. I don’t believe in using no contact as a script because love isn’t an algorithm. It works for some, it won’t for others. I’d say that not ignoring him is the right way to go, simply because otherwise you’d be punishing him and this will lead to the kind of resentment that will mean no chances in the future, no matter what you do. Answer if you care about him, but tell him to back off if the anxiety is killing you and contact hurts. But tell him either way.

      3. It’s never too late to go NC if it’s about your healing. It’s about putting yourself first. But it sounds like it isn’t to me. It still feels like the idea of NC is something you’re clinging to because it is your last chance to stay connected.

      I’m sorry if I sound harsh or made you feel worse, I’d love nothing more than telling you it’ll all be okay. But I don’t believe in lying to people about what I think, and feel people are better served by me being brutally honest. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m right. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. But there you have it.

  • Hi have a good day.

    My boyfriend dump me a week ago and I’m so confused as he doesn’t really wants to do anything from me. He even deleted his whatsapp so I couldn’t contact him.
    Just a back story my bf an I have been in relationship for almost 6 years. We supposed to celebrate our anniversary this May 19th but he broken up with me.
    He just opened up a business and very busy and sometimes don’t have time for me which leads me to feel hurt and will start argument. It is normal for us to fight but then on our last fight he got very mad and said he was so tired of fighting. He didn’t contact me for 3 days and when he finally chatted me he’s already breaking up with me and said he doesn’t want me to contact him anymore he even blamed me for everything that i always initiate fight and I was immature when i’m not asking for too much. I was out of the country for the past month for a vacation and will go home at the end of the month. I am devastated because he only dump me in chat not even in call.
    Im so lost, i don’t know what to do as im afraid if i see him he will say the same things but I really love him and thinking of getting back again. What are your thoughts? We haven’t spoken since the breakup as I lost all the channel to talk to him and he’s the one who told me not to contact him.

    • Hey there Camzhibari,

      It sounds like he feels suffocated and the new stress of opening up a business may have been enough to push his tolerance over the edge.

      He is obviously being partly irrational by refusing to take responsibility for his side of the relationship and saying it is ALL your fault, which also makes me think his impulsiveness is tied to being exhausted either physically or emotionally. His anger is also a symptom of this unless he has always had a temper.

      I was going to suggest giving contact a break for week or so, but then again I don’t really see what choice you have here. Can you contact him via Email?