Why The “No Contact Rule” Is Crap

150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

The "No Contact Rule" won't work to save your relationship.  Here's why.Let me start by being clear, the “no contact rule” has nothing to do with the legal “no contact order.”

If you are not familiar with the “no contact rule,” it is a technique that is floating around the internet.  Before I tell you what it is, please promise you won’t use it.  Okay?

Here is the rule:  if your partner leaves, have zero contact with them for 30 days.  During that time, so the theory goes, the person will become curious, even obsessed with you.  The person will literally be driven crazy and come begging back to you.

Except it doesn’t work.  Or more precisely, it rarely works.  Sometimes, the person comes back — but I have a feeling it had nothing to do with the “no contact rule.”  In fact, I checked a couple of times, and my suspicions were correct.

Why does this rule, then, keep getting passed around?  Well, we all want a little trick, a little technique, that will solve a problem.  But rarely do tricks really work.  And it does give a little relief, because you stop focusing on the other person (but you can do that without the “no contact rule.”)

And yes, there are some therapists who suggest this rule.  Most have read the same articles floating around — or more likely, they are individual therapists who are helping you move on.

I have been asked, “But doesn’t ‘absence make the heart grow fonder?'”


Absence only makes a fond heart grow fonder.  It does not have the same effect on the hurt, angry, or distant heart.

All the “no contact rule” does is prove the point to the other person — you don’t care enough to even try, and the decision was correct.

As one person told me, “I started the ‘no contact rule’ when he left.  It was supposed to be 30 days.  I am now 6 months in, and he has not contacted me.  He sent me one text when I reached out after a month, ‘Why now???’  That was it.  He has moved on.”

Don’t get sucked into the “no contact rule.”  It is crap.

Listen to this week’s podcast for more reasons why people suggest it and why it is so dangerous.

NOTE:  If you are ready to try a “no tricks” way to restore your relationship, GRAB my Save The Marriage System HERE.

Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Dr. Baucom is internationally known for his methods and approaches to saving marriages. For over 25 years, Dr. Baucom has been helping people around the world to save, restore, and create the relationships they desire and deserve. He is the author of the book, How To Save Your Marriage In 3 Simple Steps, and creator of the Save The Marriage System, as well as numerous other resources.

All stories by: Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.
  • Mo

    I feel a partner leaves because they do not feel valued, recognised or respected. The no contact rule only confirms that feelings. But then harassing then with constant messages and begging also have the wrong results. From experience I can say an occasional message saying ‘I miss you’, ‘still love you’ or ‘are you ok’, give them the space they need and show you care.
    The secret is prayer and balance.
    Never attack you spouse for leaving, their feelings is just as real as yours, even if they don’t make any sense to you.

  • Mo, I’m going to agree with you. Wrong message, wrong results. “Space” does not mean distance. It means not crowding the emotional space between you.

  • Very Frustrated

    This is perfect timing, but I can’t seem to figure out how to ridge the gap. My husband has basically moved out. The kids don’t know yet because he comes home every morning and takes them to school. He works evenings and they assume he comes home after they are in bed. This has been going on for about 2 weeks. He has a lot of resentment and anger towards me. He is upset because I don’t understand his point of view a lot of times. Anyway, this past weekend, I asked him to move back in because we weren’t growing together by not communicating. We have stopped some of our old patterns, but mainly because we aren’t around each other. He was very defensive and very against it, but he did spend Monday here (no school) while I worked. When I got home, my daughter asked if we could go shopping. Her dad agreed, and I wasn’t planning on going-giving him space and letting him spend time with the kids. He asked me to go. We had a pleasant time, not talking about us at all, not arguing at all.
    When we returned home, he flipped out and said he wasn’t comfortable and that there was no way he could stay here. He asked how I felt about the time shopping, and I said it was a bit awkward but I had thought it was pretty good. This angered him more that I didn’t see the problem. I hated seeing him freak out. I hated the anxiety that my presence made him feel. I don’t know how to move past this without a no contact rule because his reaction was so extreme. But I don’t know how to move past it without contact and trying to connect and create a new path.