No Contact Rule
No contact rule situations happen frequently. If you have ever dealt with a toxic family member, you might understand why. There are just some situations that demand that contact be ended. It’s not a personal attack on another person. Instead, going no contact is one of the hardest and most needed forms of self-care out there!
What happens after you go no contact?
To be clear, I am referring to a no contact rule imposed by a person of their own free will. This is not in reference to a situation that includes a court order or restraining order. That has different boundaries and requirements that I have no experience with. Instead, I am sharing from experiences I have going no contact with multiple toxic family members.
Why did you go no contact?
The first thing you need to do is address your why. People don’t make the decision to go no contact without a great deal of thought behind it. In fact, there is usually a great deal of trauma that leads up to this decision. Understanding why you went no contact can be incredibly important. It’s also important that you get specific with your why.
- What was the main reason you had to stop contact? – When you go no contact with someone it can be tempting to focus on everything they did wrong and every hurt. When sitting down to discuss your why, focus on the core reason why. It will be important to remember this fact in the future.
- What is your why for staying no contact? – Life will sometimes put the person you went no contact with back in your path. At this point, it can be tempting to reinitiate your contact with them. This is when your why will be more important than ever.
They may continue to test boundaries
When you go no contact with someone it’s generally because they didn’t respect your boundaries to start with. When going no contact, there is a strong chance that the new no contact rule will not be received well. The person you went no contact with will violate the no contact and try to re-establish contact. You will have to decide how you will handle those situations. Here are a few tips to consider.
- Does seeing a text or message from them upset you? – When going no contact, there can be a need to block text messages or social media messages from someone. If you are upset and reexperiencing the pain each time they reach out, it may be time to block them.
- Does the sound of their voice bother you? – When someone doesn’t want to accept the no contact rule they will often leave you voicemails to attempt to reinitiate contact. It can help to block their phone number so that they can no longer call you.
It’s time to talk to friends/family
One of the things that will become so important when you go no contact is a conversation with friends/family. Well-meaning friends and family will not understand the rule. Some will think that contacting you on their behalf is reasonable. Others will feel like updating that person about your life is acceptable. Here are a few boundaries to consider.
- Set boundaries with family – When you go no contact with someone there are family members who try to “help.” Their “help” can come from a place of kindness but ultimately can be damaging. Be clear about what information you want shared with a person about you/your family.
- Know what to keep to yourself. – Not all family will be willing to honor your boundaries. This means you will have to be more selective with what information you are willing to share with them. If they can’t respect your desire to be no contact with someone than they don’t get they information about you or your life.
You’ll have to build a new family!
My kids have stand in aunts, uncles, and even an abuelo and an abuela. Family isn’t about blood. It’s about the people who will show up for you, honor your boundaries, and choose what keeps you safe. Sometimes the people we share DNA with are the worst for us. When you go no contact with a family member, you may have to build a new family dynamic for yourself.
- Choose people who choose you. – When deciding on a new family dynamic, make sure to pick people who will choose to put your mental health and safety first. It’s important that you don’t leave one toxic relationship to run into another one. Don’t rush the process and you’ll find quality people to do life with.
- Set boundaries for safety. – When you come back from a toxic situation it can be easy to unintentionally put yourself in unsafe situations again. Be very clear about your boundaries when getting close with new people. If they genuinely care for you, they will be happy to honor your boundaries for yourself and your children.
Don’t underestimate the value of therapy.
Going no contact with someone you cared for and thought cared for you can be traumatic. After enacting the no contact rule, reach out to a therapist and start ongoing sessions. This will help you to work through the things that have happened. Having a quality therapist can make the transition easier and help you to process it in a healthy way. Don’t go through this alone.
Decide if there is a path to a restored relationship.
Take some time to decide whether there is a path to a restored relationship with this person. Is there an apology that will fix it? Do they need to respect a certain boundary? Is there anything they can do to make the relationship healthy for you? Having an honest conversation about expectations for restoration or whether it’s possible can save you pain later. If it’s not going to work for you to redeem the relationship, it can help you to fully grieve what could have been and move forward.
It’s important to ask yourself and your therapist if the transition to having restored relationship is worth it. Not every relationship should be restored. Trust your therapy and framework you establish when you aren’t emotionally longing for the idea of something.