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No Contact

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

Where Dim and Dark are emotional states, No Contact is a literal term. It's physical, verbal and textual. It doesn't mean that when your MLCer calls you'll speak briefly and refrain from a relationship discussion; it means that if you know it's your MLCer calling, you won't answer. There are exceptions for breaking the No Contact such as emergencies or necessary communication regarding the children or finances. But if these are regular communications, you aren't in a No Contact, but are more likely Dark.

I'm not an advocate of strict No Contact in early MLC which is often a fertile time for Paving the Way because MLCers disconnect gradually. Use this time to begin laying a foundation for a future return, because MLC gets worse and contact and communication may decrease, along with your opportunities for direct contact and communication to Pave the Way. If your goal is reconciliation, at some point you need to start rebuilding communication—even though rebuilding is a future event if this crisis is still new. The start of rebuilding isn't usually something that follows the crisis; it's during the crisis. If your MLCer cycles away again, you'll have added some safe paving stones to the way home and you can step back toward Dark or No Contact and continue to be patient. But each situation is different and everyone has different thresholds and triggers which affect detaching; do what works for you.

No Contact does not mean an MLCer will not try to contact you; it means you will not respond to their contact attempts and that you will not initiate a contact. To Monster it's a game and setting a rule can be providing Monster with something to resist. A benefit of being no contact without an official No Contact boundary is that if you initiate or respond to contact there is no need to explain why you broke your own rule a nd Monster did not get you to break a rule.

No Contact is an advanced tool mainly meant for later in the crisis when you have caught your breath—even though you may still feel wobbly. That does not mean you should never apply No Contact in the early days or weeks of the crisis, but the application is different and limited.

When to Use/Apply No Contact


Purposes for No Contact
  1. Healing
    When Dark isn't sufficient for your detachment, growth and healing
    Time Type: Time Limit
    1. It is a tool that can facilitate detachment, help remove the toxicity from your life and help you separate from the emotional cycling.
    2. 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.
    3. Space for your MLCer: Allows MLCer space and distance without your presence as a reminder of his guilt.
  2. Consequence
    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

Healing
To have contact or not can be a double bind. There are circumstances where No Contact is the healthiest option—even in early MLC. In the first months after Bomb Drop physical or electronic contact can erode your strength and yet without contact you may go into panic and anxiety. You can become stronger with brief periods of No Contact. As you gain and stabilize your strength, you're rebuilding resistance and you can reduce your contact limitations to Dark or Dim. No Contact for healing is not a tool to apply for a single extended period unless the situation escalates and is dangerous to you—mentally or physically and it is not necessary in all situations. If you feel the need to use it in early MLC, do so for brief intervals and sparingly. A brief No Contact boundary needs to be long enough to get through your no contact anxiety and short enough that you are able to continue Paving the Way with your MLCer. If reconciliation is a goal of yours, you are going to need to communicate! It may seem to you that your anxiety increases as you have less contact, but this is because you don't maintain No Contact through your withdrawal anxiety; like an addict in the first hours of withdrawal, you breakdown and contact your MLCer directly or indirectly by initiating or answering contact. If No Contact is too short it can take you a few years to gain and stabilize your strength, if too long, your MLCer may not consider changing their mind about leaving someday because they believe you are done.

I recommend the boundary last 3-4 weeks. A boundary is something you communicate to your MLCer; give them a start and end date. Be honest about your reason: you need time and space to heal. They may not abide by your request, but it's your responsibility to refuse to respond until the time limit is complete.

MLCer Reactions
  1. The MLCer becomes angry because they think you aren't contacting for manipulative reasons; they may contact you to accuse of being manipulative.
  2. Panic or anger because they want you at their beck-and-call; though they left, they thought you would always be there when they needed you.
  3. Panic coupled with a switch from distancing to pursuing when they fear they're losing you. This is dangerous because it gives you the message you want. But if you break the contact and become the pursuer again, they'll become the distancer again. It's important to maintain the boundary.

Consequences
No Contact as a consequence is not for early MLC! Use it later in MLC when cake-eating is a problem and your MLCer feels reassured that you are not done with the relationship; there is always an escape clause which you communicate to your MLCer; use words and phrases that imply conditions like while, when, until, if… These show that there are things your MLCer can do to make amends and that you're willing to have a relationship in the future without directly saying you want a relationship or are waiting.

  • While you're committing adultery…
  • While you're choosing to divorce me…
  • We will have no relationship until…
  • When you choose to be an appropriate spouse…
  • If you want any kind of relationship with me you must...

In early MLC you're not withholding contact because of their MLC transgressions (abandonment, infidelity, general Monster abuse...), but in later MLC they often feel reassured that you are there for them and cake-eating becomes abusive, they need consequences for their abuse and to fear losing you.

Boundary Reminders
You can occasionally respond to a text or email in order to remind your MLCer of the boundary or how to get out of the boundary. Here's an example:

I love you and while you are unable to be an appropriate husband I can only love you from a distance. When you choose to be an appropriate husband/wife we can discuss what to do to repair our marriage.

An even better response would be to paste a previous explanation you have given with a list of conditions which you have already given previously. So use the above example and then if your MLCer tries to get you to respond to an email or text again, paste that answer again. Do not respond by verbally repeating a message, only do this in a written format.

Bomb Drop was a year ago and my MLCer comes home and does chores every week, but he seems to be cycling away and I think he moved in with the alienator. When do I set a consequences No Contact and does it mean I can't allow him to come to the house to do chores even if I'm not there?
Yes, it means that your MLCer is not allowed at the house. Exceptions may be made for child-exchanges, but in No Contact that means you need to be somewhere else or at least stay in a different area of the house and doing chores is not an exception. No Contact means you and your MLCer will not see each other—even if it is from a distance. Attending the same events separately are not included in this—you both may be at your children recitals or sporting events, but do not sit together.

As for when to apply the escape clause that is about not being with two partner's or being an inappropriate spouse, that is not as clear—even though it may seem like a clear issue to outsiders. The indicator is reassurance. How reassured is your MLCer that you want to reconcile your marriage? How do you know when they feel reassured and how much reassurance is enough? One of the biggest indicators is cake-eating. Has your MLCer returned or tried to return a few times? Premature returning is another indicator and an attribute of cake-eating.

There comes a time when the Stander needs to draw the firm boundary line in the sand. That doesn't have to mean an ultimatum about never reconciling—though it can. When the alienator is still involved in the situation, I recommend that line be No Contact. Notice that I did not simply state that should be a boundary when an alienator is involved, but rather when an alienator is still involved. In the beginning the dynamics of the situation are not yet set. Is this an MLC affair or will it end quickly and will your spouse seek marital healing and do the work to repair? This may seem confusing, maybe Bomb Drop was your spouse leaving and moving in with an alienator—that sure seems like it won't end quickly and they are not interested in doing the work to repair, but you still need to allow the situation to settle so you can learn what methods will work in your unique situation.

I'm Kenda-Ruth and I believe in marriage.
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