Breakup Advice: Go ghost

Go_GhostI’d like to address a timely trend we are noticing within recent emails and posts sent by breakup sufferers. It’s related to the premise of “going ghost” following a breakup. It’s not a tool to make your ex wonder what you’re up to, or a component of gamesmanship. This is a self-preservation tactic designed specifically for you. Going ghost is the single best method of preventing regrettable acts. You cannot be remorseful if you have not taken any action but to be still.

But, this is a piece of advice rarely given without the response, “So, when can I contact her/him!?” I counter that question with another question: “What is your agenda in making contact??” Based on your response, you have your own answer. People ask this question because they’re intensely afraid of being forgotten, or inadvertently appearing disinterested to your ex. The underlying fear is that there is something you can do “fix” the situation and stave off further pain. Interestingly, probably the only thing you haven’t tried as a breakupee is “doing nothing.” Whereas your constant attempts at soliciting a response or repairing the situation have only put you further in the hole.

So, if your agenda is to get him/her back – or – if ANY of your actions cause you to return your focus on him/her, then it’s probably best to do the opposite: Go ghost. Directing or maintaining your attention on the source of your pain will bring you more what?? Hint: PAIN.

If you’re playing with a loaded gun and it goes off, shooting you in the dick, do you keep playing with the gun? Or – more logically – do you call 911 and get the hell away from the weapon?! HINT: This is a rhetorical question. You just got shot in the dick. I’m not saying that your ex is armed or is aiming for your prized appendage – even though that isn’t uncommon. But, your immediate post-breakup response should be the same. You’re wounded. Not mortally, but it feels so. You need to tend to your heart wound. You do this by gaining some distance – not by running back to the source.

Look, I’m no mountaintop oracle, or your designated breakup overlord. I’m just a guy put on this carbon-based sphere to prevent others from self-flagellating post-breakup. You don’t want to lose your shit over this. Unfortunately, I cannot implant a chip in your noggin and control your moves from my Xbox. I can only advise you virtually from my clandestine, subterranean Breakup Command Center. You can heed my counsel, or type some profane diatribe, hit “Send,” and return to your diabolical plan of reconciliation.

But, first consider this: In the absence of any reconciliation or cease-fire by your ex, the “No contact” rule is the most apt policy to obtain any semblance of healing, while avoiding maladaptive behaviors. IF things are going to work-out later (assuming they should), they stand the best chance without your irrational meddling while in the throes of breakup anxiety. You are simply not of sound mind this early on to emotionally navigate this course and achieve your goal. So the best action is no action. Going ghost is going to save you further damage – self-inflicted or otherwise.

Now, back to your original question: When can you make contact?

Answer: If you’ve got anything that must be said right now, write it and mail it USPS with no return address. Once.

If you are seeking any type of response or outcome, you have likely already communicated all that is needed to repair things at the time of the breakup. There is no further action needed right now. If s/he wants to get back together, they will let you know.


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