The benefits of No Contact

One of the most effective methods for neutralising limerence is also one of the most obvious: stop spending time with LO. No contact FTW! But given the amazing capacity for limerents to daydream, plain dream, and generally relentlessly obsess about LO, actually being in their presence isn’t necessarily a requirement to sustain the addiction. So why does no contact work? Why is it one of the few effective strategies for wresting back control of ourselves?

1) You don’t have to see them anymore

Well, wow. What an insight.

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Blinding!

Obviously it helps to not see LO anymore. Seeing them triggers the ingrained cycle of physiological arousal, anxiety, and potential pleasure, which moves them to the centre of your attention. Also, spending time with them (especially if the meeting is enjoyable) is likely to reinforce the associative memory between LO and reward. This is obviously a barrier to overcoming your LO addiction, so not seeing them anymore removes that barrier.

No contact means no more overarousal, and no more behavioural reinforcement.

 2) It starves the fire

The fuel and oxygen of limerence are reverie and uncertainty. Without the possibility of future meetings, uncertainty is eliminated – there will be no more reciprocation or rejection. Eventually, the fuel of old memories will be used up, and the flames will fade to glowing embers.

A potential downside here is that your memory of LO is likely to relax back to an idealised version of them. LO as the elaborate mental construction that you have sculpted, perfectly shaped to your emotional needs. So if, in reality, LO is a bit of a dick, you are depriving yourself of potential negative experiences which can be useful in extinguishing desire. While this could be problematic, it is probably offset by the gain that you will not have new positive memories of LO to incorporate into fresh fantasies and ruminations.

Even though the mental avatar of LO remains with us, their image in our mind’s eye loses focus over time, without new reinforcement.

3) You become free

Most limerents allocate an inordinate amount of mental bandwidth to thinking about LO. This could be rehearsing imagined future conversations or events. It could be going over previous interactions and forensically scouring them for evidence of reciprocation. It could be planning charming or witty retorts to impress LO, in case a particular topic of conversation comes up.

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Hmm. What if he mentions Sport? I should know about Sport, and then he will be impressed by me.

Imagine being freed of all that. No more meetings means no more wasted energy planning for those meetings. Just think how much mental capacity that frees up for exciting new enterprises!

Even more importantly, freedom from future LO planning means you have the headspace to reorient yourself back to who you were before the Madness came. That’s a really important step if you are going to be able to make good choices about how your actual, real future will pan out.

4) You demonstrate personal decisiveness

The best basis for no contact is making the active decision yourself to end contact. You have taken a positive step. That is huge, psychologically. You are telling yourself that you know better than your junkie brain, and that you are in charge of your behaviour from now on. No more subordinating your needs to getting an LO fix. No more surrendering your moods to someone else’s behaviour. You are in the driving seat and aiming for the open road.

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Leaving them in your dust

The benefits of no contact really start to stack up. Beyond the obvious relief from LO’s company, no contact is a virtuous cycle of short-term relief, middle-term recovery of your old mental clarity, and preparing yourself for a long-term future in which limerence is a tamed beast. It’s worth it, if you can.

15 thoughts on “The benefits of No Contact

  1. Well said! Yes it is worth it and NC is the best method. What is hard is to take the first step AND stay on the path. It’s easy to stumble and fall back to old patterns, at first. After about 4 months of NC I still catch myself in reverie rather frequently, especially when under stress. It’s quite an internal battle, but I tell myself I have to reclaim my freedom, my territory i.e. headspace and heartspace. I tried to avoid places with associative memories of LO, but decided the best method is to be brave and confront it, even thoughit did wreak havoc emotionally when I went to those places. The key is to keep my schedule full, seek out new experience, be active, and do not contact LO. It’s really about management and determination to me. The emotional storm would always calm down and I reemerged with mental clarity and a renewed sense of personal power and freedom. If I can manage it once I can manage it again.

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  2. In practical terms, NC works because it separates the threat (i.e., LO) from the vulnerability (i.e., Limerent) thereby reducing the influence the LO exerts on the Limerent.

    There are two components to influence, effectiveness ( or impact) and exposure. It’s real life application of calculus in that influence is the area under curve with Impact on one axis and Exposure on the other. An unwitting LO may not have a lot of impact but, over time, he/she can have a lot of influence. A brief encounter with a complicit LO or an LO that really sings to you can have you walking into walls. If you’re working on a NC strategy, especially in in professional environment, it helps to understand that.

    Because of the circumstances of the relationship, I never went through the idealization relapse with LO #2. I had a brief period of idealization with LO #4 but it wasn’t the first phase after we went NC, it was the second. As the significance of the LE with LO #4 faded and the finality of things settled in, the idealization faded along with it.

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  3. Aaah I also really needed this today, thank you. Three months into NC and although absolutely sure it’s the right thing, some days it is really hard. I miss LO, and find myself thinking I shouldn’t have gone NC, should have found a way to make friendship work. This blog gets me through those days.

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      • Thanks so much Lee. It’s a lonely old business, as I guess you must know, so I appreciate that 🙏

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      • NC was thrust upon Mr. Lee & sometimes I see him mooning, but far less frequently than before she left for a new job. He avoided her as much as possible before she left but that wasn t always possible.

        Your choosing to go NC reflects well upon you. I know it’s tough. Worth it though!

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  4. Re-reading this excellent post as I’ve been presented with the option of NC now. LO is leaving my workplace and whilst there’s still a few weeks of necessary contact ahead, after that I’ll have the chance to go full NC. The question is whether I just do it, and effectively ghost her, or whether I explain my reasons (without full disclosure)?

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    • There is a middle way between ghosting and disclosure. Civil, positive, but not emotional. If she texts after she leaves, take a while to respond, and be friendly but neutral. Take a little longer each time. Be less responsive and less engaged, and she will get the message.

      You can choose to part with her on friendly but professional terms, just as you would any other employee. It would be better for both of you, and with much less risk of recrimination or anger. The only real cost is to your pride. You don’t get to confirm to yourself that there was something “real” between you, and it wasn’t that you were being a fool or being manipulated. If you try to dance on the line of disclosure in the hope that you can pick up a hint of how she felt about you, it will feed the limerence uncertainty (and you may tip over the line and regret it).

      I may be wrong, but I think you will respect yourself more in the future if you disentangle cleanly, than if you use your last period of contact as a final opportunity to hint about something deeper between you.

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      • Thank you, that staged withdrawal makes a lot of sense, and is less hurtful to her than ghosting. I know full disclosure is a likely bad move but as we’ve already hinted at something deeper, my thoughts were that I could refer to that conversation but not go further.

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      • Yes, it’s controlled deceleration rather than slamming the brakes on. Sometimes emergency stops are required, but in your situation it’s more a case of wanting to part on good terms but without any further damage to your professional or personal lives. That deeper connection happened and was hinted at, but you made the choice to not escalate it or prolong it.

        If it helps: on my LO’s last day, I had all sorts of plans about how I was going to phrase my last goodbye, how I was going to respond to requests to stay in touch etc. When it came to it, none of that preparation made any difference. LO was in a right emotional state and so was I and we played out a masterclass in clumsy miscommunication. I basically got through the day in “boss mode” (i.e. focus on tying up the last loose ends of business), she opted for “dam up all emotions”.

        It was frustrating, but about an hour from close of play I realised that my future life was going to be free of all this emotional turmoil. It was a relief. The sacrifices of not knowing for sure how she felt, and not being able to express how I felt, were worth making – and mostly about my vanity, ultimately.

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      • You really don’t know how she’ll respond.

        In her goodbye, LO #4 said, “I wish you no ill will.” (nice of her)

        When I relapsed 2 years ago and posted something on her site’s FB page, the post lasted 8 minutes and I lasted 9 minutes before she blocked me. That was the last action I did that elicited a direct response from her.

        She didn’t do exactly what I asked but she did enough to prevent the recurrence of future robo-emails. So, I sent an email on the business account thanking her and wishing her a happy birthday. She’d know that I knew. I expected silence in return.

        Four hours later I had an email from her personal account. It was only 4 words but it was a direct response. Once again, I miscalculated. Lesson learned: 2 yrs of NC and I could elicit a response from her. The limerent Scharnhorst would have taken that and ran with it. The post-limerent Scharnhorst sees it as warning.

        Be careful. There’s usually an unexpected consequence.

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  5. “I know full disclosure is a likely bad move but as we’ve already hinted at something deeper, my thoughts were that I could refer to that conversation but not go further.”

    First off, you’re only controlling one side of the conversation, she may want to take it further. You think you know how she’ll respond but you don’t know until you try it. Nothing about that conversation will take you anywhere you really want to be.

    A more subtle disclosure but disclosure none the less. Why bring it up? If you’re serious about getting free, don’t refer to it.

    Now, if you want to prolong “the dance,” go for it and make sure to include the possibility of a comeback later on. At this point, she’s expendable. You can probably get as good a buzz playing back that conversation in your head later, revising what you said over and over, and wondering if she’ll ever take you up on it than you had actually dealing with her. Nothing like when the text notification goes off or checking the one email account to get your mind going and the letdown when it’s not her. That’s cyclical and you may be able to manage it. It can be quite enlivening on a dull day.

    The upside is you’ve moved the limerence back into your own head. The downside is that you didn’t get rid of the limerence and she might come back. Also, there’s no guarantee it won’t get away from you, again.

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