I’ve written a few articles about No Contact which define the boundary and explain the exceptions of when to use it. I have not focused enough on explaining when and why not to use it and I am seeing LBS’s trying to apply the boundary too quickly or for the wrong reasons. No Contact also seems to be something that is becoming more heavily advised to newcomers to the forum as something to consider as a main tool to apply from the beginning.
No Contact advised as a general rule is bad advice! No Contact advised to anyone without consideration of the unique context of their situation is bad advice—even for those a few years past Bomb Drop.
I want to be very clear that I am talking about the No Contact Boundary. Many of you talk about not having contact with your MLCers, but how many of you have communicated that to your MLCer as a boundary with rules? If you do not set the boundary, you may still have no contact with your MLCer. I advocate not initiating contact and I advocate not responding to all of your MLCer’s attempts to contact you—and some MLCers will not initiate any contact with you. My concern is with the over application of the boundary.
No Contact seems to be popular on the boards right now. This is a forum specializing in midlife crisis and infidelity and my recommendations regarding No Contact are within that context. Though some of you are also dealing with personality disorders, addictions or other forms of abuse, these are not the focus of this forum and the guidelines for applying a No Contact Boundary in those situations will differ greatly. I am not in disagreement with No Contact from someone who has been violent toward you, addiction is a whole other beast and I personally advise wariness when Standing if there is a true personality disorder at play. Please understand that when I talk about No Contact I am not addressing those special circumstances.
No Contact: What it’s Not
- No Contact is not when you stop contacting your MLCer—for whatever reason.
Not initiating contact with your MLCer is something I advocate, but it does not mean that you will not answer a contact initiated by your MLCer to you.
The No Contact Rule
There is a No Contact Rule common to get your ex back advise: Do not contact your spouse (or girlfriend/boyfriend) for 30 days if they leave you. The idea is that they will miss you and return. I have also read articles encouraging No Contact as a method for getting over your spouse/partner.
- No Contact is not a manipulation to get your MLCer to contact you
- No Contact is not meant to help you get over your MLCer and accept the end of your marriage.
If these are your reasons for setting a No Contact Boundary, stop now! The target audience and situation for much of the literature about The No Contact Rule seems to be for couples who are either younger than the typical MLC-LBS couple and thus have been married for less time or not married (or in marital style relationships)—and so they too are likely to be in a younger age bracket than that for midlife crisis Left Behind Spouses. The purpose and situation for the target audience is different than for MLC situations which means those articles are not for your situation even if they seem valid since they are about getting your ex back.
Why No Contact is a Bad Idea
(Why Having Contact is a Good Idea)
Reconciliation is impossible without contact. Really it is that simple, how can you ever reconcile if you never contact each other? You can remain married, but being married does not make a marriage. Paving the Way is a vital part of Standing and the opportunities for Paving the Way directly may be greatest in early MLC soon after Bomb Drop. Admittedly this does create a dilemma. If you are in Panic & Anxiety and have not made progress in even starting detachment, contact with your MLCer may send you spinning and make things worse because you are more likely to beg-n-plead, pressure and guilt your MLCer. This is why it is so vital to get started on Detachment now, or rather yesterday! Start with Mirror-Work and by learning to redirect and reprogram your thoughts.
Absence Does Not Make the Heart Grow Fonder
Lee Baucom explains this concisely: Absence only makes a fond heart grow fonder. It does not have the same effect on the hurt, angry, or distant heart. (Baucom, 2015) In the beginning your MLCer has been fantasizing about escape and freedom. You may think that they will quickly figure out that freedom from you is not as great as the fantasy of having it. Sorry to burst your bubble, but with an MLCer, you are mistaken. They are often in the throes of in-fatuation with an alienator which means they are flooded with hormones which literally make the world seem brighter and more wonderful. In-fatuation is like a temporary insanity; now add that to an already unstable MLC situation. The alienator is filling in the space that might otherwise be used to miss you. Sorry, but that’s the truth and it is still true even without infidelity and in-fatuation.
Why? Because this is midlife crisis which is a crisis of identity. No matter how wonderful you are or how great your marriage was, you and your marriage are not the solution to their crisis. This is an inward journey and those who are at crisis levels of a transitional journey avoid. Fear is their driving force and they want to avoid who they are or what they might discover about who they are. This force is more powerful than your relationship—at least for now.
Part of avoidance is regression and you are the obstacle standing in your teenage MLCer’s way. You are either being angry and controlling or desperately crying like a puddle on the floor amidst beg-n-pleading. Who is going to miss that? In the beginning a Left Behind Spouse is so shocked and upset at what their MLCer is doing that their behavior often confirms the MLCer’s reasons for leaving.
No Contact: What It Is
No Contact is a boundary and you are supposed to mean it when you tell your spouse not to contact you. If you are Standing for your marriage, the boundary either comes with an exit plan—do not contact me until… or it is set for a specific and limited period of time.
Not having contact is not the opposite of a No Contact boundary. The boundary is applied to your MLCer and since it is a boundary, it is something you communicate. If you do not communicate it, then it is not a boundary and you are Dark. You can have no contact without being in a No Contact boundary; this is often how the situation plays out with Vanishers.
Purposes for No Contact
When Dark isn’t sufficient for your detachment, growth and healing
Time Type: Time Limit
- It is a tool that can facilitate detachment, help remove the toxicity from your life and help you separate from the emotional cycling.
- The need for space to heal: It isn’t merely about removing the toxicity, but some MLCers are a constant presence which can be smothering.
- Space for your MLCer: Allows MLCer space and distance without your presence as a reminder of his guilt.
Consequences for choosing to have a relationship with someone else, Monstering, choosing to no longer have a marital relationship, other abuses.
Time Type: Until an escape clause is activated
No Contact and Reconciled Standers
I wouldn’t change a thing about my level of contact as my husband has told me that is what kept him going and what also brought him back.
I asked him what I had done to make it easier for us to reconcile and he said ‘Compassion.’ He saw losing me as a natural consequence of his actions and was trying to accept that. He didn’t expect me to be so kind and if I had gone quiet on him, he would have assumed that was natural and he deserved it.
Most of the cases of reconciliation did not use No Contact other than sparingly. Continuing positive contact with your MLCer maintains the MLCer’s hope—not just hope for reconciliation since many don’t think they want that, but you are helping them believe that they are worthy of being loved and that someday life will be better again.
These are good examples why I feel that you should beware of using a No Contact boundary; know the consequences that may result before setting this boundary. All tools have their uses when applied properly, but some tools are meant for a limited and specific use; No Contact is such a tool.