It can seem like a bad relationship will haunt you forever, especially after going through an arduous divorce process. One of the ways to heal after a divorce is to put in place the “no contact rule” to remove your ex from your life. No contact is especially helpful if there is a lot of anger or the divorce was full of conflict.
Though it may seem illogical, it is possible to have a no contact rule and also have shared custody. Just because you have children with someone doesn’t mean you have to have constant contact with that person. You can work around the issues that come up with children and your ex with limited contact.
The “No Contact Rule"
What Is the No Contact Rule?
The no contact rule prohibits direct or indirect contact with another individual or group, such as a family member or ex-partner. Contact includes phone calls, letters, and going within sight of the protected person.
Essentially, the no contact rule means you refuse any and all contact when possible. If you don’t have children, this is a simple process. It entails breaking bad habits, self-control, and faith in yourself to get past the relationship and on with your life.
If you do have children, use the rule to set boundaries. Maybe you will only talk in-person with your ex about drop-off and pick-up and refuse to communicate another way. In these situations, be sure to set some guidelines for emergencies, and don't let your ex (or yourself!) break those guidelines for any reason.
Things to Avoid When Going No Contact
With a no contact rule in place, you must exhibit the self-control not to reach out when things remind you of your ex. This should be heeded especially if you simply want the gossip about their new life without you—you should never have a reason to ask how their new partner compares to you or even lurk on their online profiles to figure it out on your own.
This also applies to sharing news about your child, except for emergencies and other serious matters. If they just won the spelling bee, let your child deliver the news; you would have nothing else to say about it anyway, and the temptation to let the conversation drift could be a backslide in your healing after your divorce.
Simple Rules for No Contact
- Unfriend your ex on Facebook.
- Unfollow your ex on Twitter and Instagram.
- Only keep the most essential phone number in your contacts—if you both agreed only to contact via their landline number, delete their cell.
- Remove their email address from your contact list and never respond to an email from them (unless it relates to the children).
- If you run into them in a public place, nod and move on.
- Stay away from places you know you may run into them. Don't go back to old haunts you two used to frequent.
- Don't call their family, extended or otherwise. Don't talk to anyone who can carry tales back to them.
Any channel you previously used to communicate with your ex is now off-limits. It won’t be easy on those lonely nights at home by yourself. The temptation to reach out will seem overwhelming but if healing emotionally is the main concern, playing by the no-contact rules is essential.
Additional No Contact Rules for Co-Parents
- Have a good parenting plan in place and live by it. No negotiating the terms of the parenting plan. Doing so means more need for contact and that defeats the purpose.
- Only communicate about children’s issues via email, if possible. Use a court-approved email system so you have evidence with the court of every email exchange. Respond to emails with “yes” and “no” answers. Do not engage in arguments or attempt to defend your position via email. If she wants the children during your weekend visitation, simply reply, “No, I will pick the children up at the scheduled time.” Then ignore further emails about the situation.
- Don’t go to events you know your ex will be attending also. If there is maximum conflict, have it put in the parenting plan that you two swap dates for attending your children’s functions. It is, of course, best to put on a good front for your children but if your ex is irrational this may be an impossibility.
- If it is visitation weekend with the non-custodial parent, you don’t need to see or communicate with your ex. Pack your children’s bags, put them by the door and kiss them on the way out. No need to walk them to the car, peek your head out the door, or show yourself in any way.
Parents with small children can find a workaround and, in some instances, two angry parents not talking to each other can be the best thing for the children.
The best way to get over someone is to get them out of your life. The no contact rule is going to help you move on with your life by helping you set boundaries when it comes to talking to them, seeing them, and before long, thinking about them.