The biggest and most challenging part of no contact is mental. Anyone can tell you how to block your cell or unfriend someone on Facebook. But for chumps the difficulty of no contact is giving yourself permission NOT to engage. To stop trying to seek consensus. To walk away from the tasty bait the freak in your life keeps casting at you. Which takes us to our first rule of no contact:
1.) Say NO. No, I do not have to accommodate your schedule. No, I do not have to comfort your distress. No, I do not have to defend my position to you.
In other words, allow yourself boundaries. Saying no does not make you an asshole. You know what makes you an asshole? Batter-ramming someone else’s boundaries. If you’ve been with a freak, they feel very entitled to you accommodating them. They’re used to you having zero boundaries where they are concerned. And when you got uppity before, they knew exactly how to put you back in your place — with guilt, or anger, or even charm. But now that isn’t working for them any more. So when you try NC out on them, fully expect your freak to lose their shit. They will push those boundaries harder. Your job is to disengage.
This takes some practice, but I promise you will get the hang of it, and every time you do, it will feel a bit exhilarating. It’s liberating to say no! Cue the Leslie Gore, “You Don’t Own Me.” Remember, when they cheated, they fired you from the job of caring about them.
2.) If you don’t have kids with them — go cold turkey. If you’re still working out the details of your divorce, make sure all communication goes through your attorney. Block their email, cell phone, and texts. Change your number. There is nothing they need to say to you that cannot be said to your attorney. It’s over, so the only thing left to discuss is logistics. Anything else — a relationship autopsy, an apology, recriminations — is a ploy to keep you engaged with them for cake. Details about the storage unit or sale of the house? The lawyers can work that out.
Is this expensive? Yes. But nothing says firewall to your soon-to-be-ex like legal counsel. It’s one thing to try and intimidate you for a better settlement. It’s quite another thing to try that shit on a member of the bar. They’ve seen it all. Please let your lawyer handle it and enjoy the peace of mind — and no contact — that you’re getting for your money.
Also consider that unless you’re dealing with a wing nut who represents him or herself (pro se), there is a cost for them too in fucking with you because they have to pay their attorney. Most disordered people may try this for awhile, but my experience is that it’s not very satisfying for them. A) They don’t get a reaction from you, just your attorney. Not as much fun. And B) Even wing nuts feel it in their pocketbooks. And that sadly, is the most effective deterrent I know of. They won’t quit harassing you because it’s the right thing to do, they’ll quit harassing you because there is a financial consequence to them for doing so.
3.) If they’re stalking you, have your attorney write a no contact letter for you, as the first step toward legal harassment charges. Consider a protection from abuse order as well, if they have threatened you in any way.
4.) If you have children and legally must maintain some contact, keep all communication short and business-like. Communicate only by email so everything is documented. Use the smallest sentence structure possible, and only discuss kid logistics, schedule, and finances. If they try to lead you down the rabbit hole of engagement — “That’s why Taylor is flunking geometry — she inherited your math stupidity!” — don’t go there. Reply, “Taylor will be ready for her visitation on Friday.”
5.) Don’t ask them questions, if you can at all avoid it. Don’t ask “Will you be taking Taylor this Friday?” Say instead “Taylor will ready for her visitation on Friday” if Friday is the court appointed day. Showing up is fucktard’s responsibility. Fucktard doesn’t show? You document that with another email. (The court system values documentation highly!) The ball must always be lobbed into their court.
6.) Don’t do their job for them. It keeps you engaged with their idiocy, which opens the channels of crazy talk, as you plead and negotiate with them to Do The Right Thing.
Here’s an example — child support. My ex paid less than baseline CS for years, and he didn’t even pay that very often. Finally, after YEARS of this, I had the state dock his wages. (A paperwork nightmare, but I persevered.) Old chumpy me, just rolled with his lack of support, I accommodated, I bristled at his lame email excuses about “bank errors,” and I sucked it up. Until I didn’t. I finally realized his obligation to his child, his COURT ORDERED obligation to his child was between him and the Commonwealth of Virginia. And I let the state impose the consequences. Which he hates. A lot. But my child support has been a lot more regular since then.
I know when you have kids, they have you by the curly short hairs. You will always want to throw yourself on that grenade of crazy for your kids and protect them. I’m not saying don’t make reasonable accommodations to the schedule, (do it by email, business-like), I’m not saying be rude to their other parent — no, as I’ve said before, regard them with all the politeness you reserve for you local county tax assessor. What I’m saying is — don’t pick up their slack if you can at all help it. If they’ve got a court ordered obligation to do something? Hold them to it. If they don’t do it? Enforce consequences. Document all of it.
Here’s another example. I used to tie myself in knots on my son’s summer schedule. My ex had to give me his summer dates on February 1. He NEVER did it. Never, ever. April, May, June would roll around and I would plead with him about the summer schedule. He couldn’t commit. He wouldn’t say no, but he wouldn’t say yes. It was all “fluid.” No matter how I accommodated him, he was pissed off about something. Until I finally asked a lawyer about this mess and she said “He missed the deadline? Hey, you have no legal obligation to give him ANYTHING.”
Know your power. If they fuck up, you aren’t obliged to make it right with them. I’m still amazed at my chumpiness. I was so used to his entitlement about me accommodating his inability to commit to plans. It was my normal. But this shit isn’t normal, and I realized I didn’t have to play crazy ball any more.
Do you have any tips for no contact? What worked for you?