The No Contact Rule
Why must we maintain No Contact (or if you were married to your narc, Minimal Contact) when the relationship is over? You are recovering from an abusive relationship and it is vital you go No Contact to give yourself the space to regain your strength. As soon as you allow contact, the gaslighting and manipulations will start up again. It’s a power play to him, a game – he wants to see if he can hook you back in and break down your boundaries and resolve.
Think of it this way. How many times did you repeat the break up and get back together cycle when you were together? Depending on how long you were with him, it could be three, five, twenty, or even more than that. And the reason that cycle continued for so long is because on some level you were not done. When he got back in touch each time to press the relationship re-set button, you opened up communication again. The only way to ever put an end to the cycle is to close communication down.
No Contact means exactly that: No texts. No emails No calls. No following him on any social media. No catching up with his family or mutual friends in the hope they might feed you information on what he’s up to. No drive bys of old haunts or hangouts just to see if he’s with someone else (please don’t lower yourself!) No looking at old texts, emails or photos. No contact means NO CONTACT WHATSOEVER. You must go cold turkey to kick this dangerous habit.
it is imperative you give yourself time to break away from the manipulative game you have been involved in and if you allow a narcissist any contact at all, he will only continue the same pattern. You will basically have taken a hit of the drug that has caused so much damage.
So how do we go about No Contact? If you are friends on FB or other social media, delete him – you do not want to see what he is up to because that is like picking at a wound that is trying to heal. Do the same with your phone. Don’t text or email him on his birthday or any other special occasion. If you were close to his family it might feel discourteous not to remain in contact in some way but please don’t use his family as an excuse either – examine your motives as to why you want to get in touch on important occasions. If it’s because of a genuine desire to wish them well and nothing more, then by all means do it. If your real reason for maintaining contact with his relatives is because you secretly hope to hear something back about him at the same time, then you’re still hooked. Trying to find out information about him can only lead to grief. You won’t feel better knowing he’s just bought a new car, apartment, or how young, pretty, successful, petite, tall, thin, curvy, or whatever the OW is. All it will do is make you feel even worse. If you are really serious about moving on, then you don’t need to hear about his life. Concentrate on rebuilding your own instead.
Likewise don’t give him the satisfaction of finding out anything about you either. If you have mutual friends you might need to distance yourself from them for a while too. Let some time pass until you feel stronger and can hear his name without it sending you into paroxysms of anger and grief. This will also stop you from trying to send messages back to him via his friends about how upset, broken, strong, or moving on, you are. Chances are that if he hears you’re sad or hurting, he will only derive some smug sense of power from that knowledge – ‘Oh look, I’ve treated her like crap but the poor thing is still pining away for me, that’s how mighty and amazing I am.’
There is also no need to seek revenge - that would be working from the same base energy as the narcissist and you are bigger than that. The best revenge is getting on with your life and being happy.
If you have children together then the No Contact rule is clearly not an option. In this instance you need to reduce contact to the absolute minimum required to deal with any day to day arrangements involving your kids. Don’t engage in any of his dirty tactics where he might try and manipulate or use the children as a tool to leverage against you. Keep any communication about them, such as school activities, parental visits etc, conducted in a firm, polite manner, either via a quick call, text or email. It pays to put as much as you can in writing in case you need this at a later date for any legal proceedings. Stay civil and polite and keep the emotion out of any discussions, simple yes or no answers are best – he is bound to try and push your buttons, so don’t give him the opportunity to do so. If he cancels or changes plans involving the children, make sure you set boundaries and say, ‘I am not OK with that.’
If you were the one who chose to end the relationship then he will have suffered narcissistic injury and will want to punish you at all costs. You need to stay cool, calm and collected and not buy into any of his game plays. The same goes for how you speak about him in front of your children, especially if they are young; he is their father and they deserve better than to hear you bad mouth him or try to influence their opinion. No matter how frustrated you are, refuse to stoop to his level. What goes around comes around and eventually they will grow up and see him clearly for who and what he is, without you having to point it out to them or try to manipulate their affections. No matter how hurt you are, do not play the victim role with your children, it will only confuse them and could damage them emotionally later on in life. You want your children to have healthy relationships when they grow up so focus on giving them your love and support and don’t worry about him. Children know instinctively what real love is, so stay strong in this.
Remember he is not in control anymore. You are. You have made a decision to put this relationship and dysfunction behind you. And you are not buying into his games or manipulations any longer.
You can’t control what he does – you can only control your own reactions to it, so focus on keeping your cool. He will eventually lose interest if he knows he is not getting a rise out of you.
What If He Gets In Touch?
If he contacts you at any point after the final breakup, a few weeks later, a few months later, or even longer, it does not mean he can’t live without you and that this time around things will be different. It more than likely means that something has going wrong in his life. Maybe he’s arguing with his New Supply and is after an ego boost from his Old Supply - you. He is simply testing the boundaries you’ve created to see if the door is indeed firmly closed, or whether it’s still slightly open and he might be able to wedge his foot back in for another round of the game.
Make sure the door is locked and triple bolted. Every time you start fantasizing about how good things were, remind yourself of all the times he disappointed you, disappeared, or let you down. Remember how you took the brunt of his bitter and angry moods over and over again.
And always, remember the golden rule – A leopard does not change its spots.
Lastly, if you want him to get in touch just so that you can do No Contact and not reply, then on some level you are still seeking validation from him that you’re OK. In other words you need him to contact you so that you can say no because it will give you some sense of power that you feel you have lost. Let that go. If he calls, don’t answer the phone. If he texts, do not reply. If he emails, don’t email back – not even to tell him how strong you are, what a jerk you think he is and how you don’t need him in your life. If you reply you only give him a chance to get that foot back in that door.
Remember every day that you can maintain the No Contact rule, is a day you strengthen yourself. The only message that gives him a clear message you are done, is ZERO COMMUNICATION.
(This article contains excerpts from Titanium: Strength After a Narcissist, copyright Susan Williams 2015. www.susanwilliamsauthor.com)