It’s one of the most commonly asked questions after a breakup: Can we be friends? But staying in contact with an ex isn’t necessarily a good idea. It can prevent both parties from moving on and mending their broken hearts or result in one taking advantage of the other. So if you’ve recently parted ways with a mate, consider following the No Contact Rule. That means no contact whatsoever with your ex—be it keeping tabs on him on Facebook, emailing him, texting him, calling him or seeing him in person. If any of the situations below apply to you, it’s time to go radio silent on your ex.
You’ve Been Dumped
If your ex dumped you it’s particularly important to follow the No Contact Rule. He’s made it loud and clear that he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you. Have some dignity and don’t call, text, email or see him in a person. It will either stroke his ego to see you pining away for him or ease his guilty conscience to know that you’re still willing to be friends after he rejected you. Persuading him to come back may work temporarily but he’s likely to ditch you again soon afterward, according to relationship expert Jenn Clark, author of How to Be a Goddess.
“It’s my opinion that a goddess would never want to be with a man who doesn’t want her,” Clark says. “Even if you’ve been dumped, it’s not your job to work to get him back. It’s his job to realize he made a huge mistake.”
You’re in an On-Again/Off-Again Relationship
If you can’t remember how many times you and your ex (for the moment) have broken up, you should definitely give the No Contact Rule a try. It’s high time for the two of you to figure out if you want to be in a relationship or not. This isn’t a matter of “can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em” but a matter of commitment. For some reason, perhaps because you actually aren’t a good match, the two of you can’t leave this dysfunctional relationship behind or commit to making it work. Consider going No Contact for a month or two to identify what you want from a relationship and from a partner. If your ex contacts you during this time, ignore him. Unfriend him on Facebook and block his number from your phone. Ask yourself if a few years from now you still want to be in an on-off relationship with your ex. The No-Contact Rule can help you out of this cycle.
Your Ex Is a Predator
If your ex was a creep—your family and friends hated the guy because he was an abuser, a liar, a cheat or a con artist—cut all ties with him. You don’t need this jerk as a friend, let alone as a boyfriend. After all, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, so if your significant other screwed you over in a major way when you two were an item, he’s likely to repeat his bad behavior. Why risk exposing yourself to such heartache all over again? As Don Miguel Ruiz points out in his book The Four Agreements, “If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal.”
You’re Being Used
Your ex may not be a sociopath but he’s not the most morally upright person either. He calls you when he needs a favor—a loan, a ride to the airport, a home-cooked meal—or for late-night booty calls. In other words he wants all the benefits of a serious relationship without doing any of the work. If you’ve found yourself running errands for your ex and having sex with him, it’s time to move on. You’ll hate yourself for allowing your ex to use you, especially if he’s nowhere to be seen when you need help.
Your Ex Has Moved On
If your former flame now has a new flame, don’t torture yourself with all of the gory details by staying in touch with him. Don’t look at pictures of him and his new girlfriend on Facebook. Don’t try to run into your ex and his new mate. Doing so will likely cause you to compare yourself to his new flame or to become angry with your ex for rebounding so quickly after your relationship’s demise. The fact that your ex has moved on while you’re still grieving the loss of your relationship is not a measure of your worth. Moreover, looking at photos of your ex in the next chapter of his life won’t answer why your relationship didn’t work out or whether his new relationship will last. If your ex has moved on, take it as a cue to move on as well—not necessarily by finding a new partner but by picking up the pieces of your broken heart and making a concerted effort to enjoy life again.