Why Ignoring Your Ex Is Powerful? (9 Psychological Reasons)

Let’s face it: Breaking up sucks.

Especially if you are the dumpee, the emotional impact a breakup may have on you could be devastating.

However, it doesn’t have to be! If you play your cards right, you can get your ex back and improve yourself in the process. 

How? Start ignoring your ex. 

I know that right now every fiber of your being is telling you to contact your ex, to show up at their doorstep and beg them to take you back. 

BUT, I can tell you for sure that’s not going to work. 

Instead, applying the no contact rule and completely ignoring them will! 

There’s a catch, though: While ignoring your ex is a powerful technique that you can use in your favor, it doesn’t work on its own. 

Living your life as a couch potato while feeling sorry for yourself won’t bring your ex boyfriend or ex girlfriend back just because you won’t talk to them.

What will? Taking good care of yourself and improving yourself constantly definitely will. 

Meanwhile, let me tell you why ignoring your ex is effective. Maybe the info below will convince you to refrain from acting desperate. 

Here it goes:

The Psychology Behind Ignoring An Ex:

Listen, the no contact rule is a serious thing. It’s not an idea someone randomly woke up with one morning. No! It’s actually based on the following psychological principles:

The theory of reactance

Simply put, the theory of reactance is about behavioral freedoms. To be more precise, your ex is used to having the freedom to talk to you whenever he or she wants. 

But if you take that away from them, they’ll feel compelled to try and get it back. 

As you already know, communication is key in healthy romantic relationships. Research shows that couples thrive if they reach a certain level of communication. 

This basically means that a lack of communication won’t go unnoticed either. On the contrary, it will make them want to talk to you even more.

The element of surprise

Here’s the thing: Your ex doesn’t expect you to ignore them. This is especially true if they made the decision to split ways with you. 

They actually wouldn’t find it surprising at all to hear from you very soon after breaking up. In fact, they might want to keep you as a backup plan or as a friend with benefits. 

I know! Shocking, right? Well, that’s why you should use the element of surprise. 

Your ex will ask themselves questions such as:

  • Is he or she really over me?
  • What is going on with him/her?
  • What’s with the sudden change in attitude?

The grass is greener syndrome

Are you familiar with the saying, “The grass is greener on the other side”?

It basically means that the things we don’t have, sometimes appear to be better than the things we already have.

Now, I know this won’t sound ideal to you. But ignoring your ex works because while you cut off all contact, you give them a chance to realize how good they really had it with you.

Yes, it’s true this might mean they’re seeing other people. But, in a way, that’s what you want. 

You want them to compare other people with you because that’s how they’ll know what they’re really missing out on.

And the best part? You won’t have to witness the whole process and get hurt.

The concept of scarcity

Ignoring your ex also works because they will perceive you as someone who is hard to get. Now, according to the concept of scarcity, your ex will want you back because of that.

This concept works on many levels. For example, when we notice that there’s little shampoo left in the shampoo bottle, we tend to use less of it or we use it more carefully. 

Or, if we go shopping and we see a warning sign that says “low stock”, we’re tempted to buy more of that product just because we think there aren’t more left.

Painting a picture in your ex’s head that you’re hard to get will motivate them to chase after you. That’s how they’ll see you as more desirable.

The fear of missing out

A relatively new construct, the fear of missing out aka FoMO, has a powerful psychological impact on people. 

Although this phenomenon was observed on social networking sites, you can successfully apply it to your relationship with your ex.

How? By using your ex’s need to stay connected to what you’re doing in your favor. 

Research shows that when a person’s social needs are unmet, they can suffer negative emotional consequences. 

For example, your ex could feel inferior, lonely, or very angry at you for completely shutting them off. 

In turn, their feelings could determine them to act compulsively just to maintain the social connection they have with you.

9 Reasons Why Ignoring Your Ex Is Powerful:

Now that you have all the reasons to believe that ignoring your ex actually works, it’s time to understand how else it could benefit you.

1. That’s how you get to set boundaries and gain control

They left you. Now what? 

  • Do you allow them to contact you whenever they miss you?
  • Do you respond when they ask you for your help with something?

You shouldn’t do any of the above. Instead, you should give them the silent treatment. In this way, you set clear healthy boundaries: You’re not friends. They are not entitled to ask anything from you.

On top of that, if you protect yourself from their influence, you’ll regain control over your own emotions faster because they won’t be able to bring you down anymore.

Your ex won’t be able to affect your actions in any way. The result?

You will be able to focus on your own healing and personal growth without having to deal with their bullsh*t and experience any emotional harm.

Not to mention, self respect is a beautiful trait. If you don’t treat yourself right then don’t expect the same from others.

2. You get to focus on your emotional healing

Look, even if you don’t want your ex boyfriend or ex girlfriend back, ignoring them can still benefit you. Without them in your life, you can focus on your emotional healing and your mental health.

After a breakup, your emotional recovery should be a priority. You shouldn’t care what he or she is doing or feeling. 

What’s more, you should definitely not keep in touch. That could only hinder your healing process and prolong your emotional distress. 

Being in tune with them no longer serves you. Actually, the opposite would do you much better. 

Regardless of how hard you try, you can’t get over someone and find closure if you don’t distance yourself from them.

It’s absolutely essential for your mental health. So, don’t compromise on your own happiness.

3. It gives you a chance to rebuild attraction and desire

Do you want your ex to come back crawling to you? Then use the power of the silent treatment.

As I mentioned above, if you apply the no contact rule, you can make yourself look more desirable – almost instantly.


Because your ex will start to miss you. 

They’ll wonder what you’re up to.

Everyone does this; no exceptions. However, if you don’t let them in anymore and cut all means of communication, they won’t know what to do. 

Due to their FoMO, they might react in unexpected ways. If that happens, remember this: You should not give in to their first attempt to get in touch with you.

Unless enough time has passed and you feel that you are more emotionally stable and have grown, breaking the no contact is not recommended.

4. Your ex will miss you even more if you ignore them

Are you always one phone call away from them? That’s not good!

Just think about it… Would you miss someone who is so easy to reach? No, you wouldn’t! You’d simply call them whenever you felt like it. 

By taking this luxury away from your ex, you make yourself unapproachable. And that’s something that will drive them crazy. It gives them taste of their own medicine.

Making this move is powerful and it puts you in a position of control. You are basically sending the following message:

“I don’t want to talk to you or share anything about myself with you. I am living life on my own terms.”

Their reaction? They won’t be able to believe it, which means they’ll be intrigued, which in turn means they’ll be interested, and so on.

5. Your ex has more time to reflect on their mistakes

Everyone needs to spend time alone and reflect on their mistakes after a break up. It doesn’t matter if they’re the dumpers or the dumpees. Everyone has to do it.

Otherwise, they won’t realize what went wrong or what they did wrong. 

It goes without saying that none of you can do that unless you give each other time and space. 

Men, for example, won’t start reflecting on a relationship that just ended right away. Women, however, will try to assess the situation at a faster pace.

So, whether your ex is a man or a woman matters because their response could be different. 

However, no matter how long it takes, ignoring your ex will encourage them to reflect on their wrongdoings.

6. It’s a way to reinforce your self-worth

Ignoring your ex puts you in a position of power. How so?

By not talking to them or reacting in any way, you show them that you know your worth. If they wanted to break up with you, then removing yourself from their life is the best decision.

It suggests that you can walk out of a relationship with your head held high, without doing anything to humiliate yourself or to demean yourself in any way. 

In addition, you clearly suggest that you don’t need them. This means that you are a capable individual who is their own person and someone who can take care of themselves.

7. It gives you the needed space to think clearly

When you ignore your ex, you’re not only distancing yourself from them to allow them to do some thinking. 

You should also do this for yourself. Even if ignoring your ex is the last thing you want to do, just think about the benefits:

  • You have time and space to reflect without distractions
  • You can get in touch with your real feelings and understand them
  • You could see your ex more clearly, especially their flaws
  • You have a chance to take a rational look at your past relationship
  • You don’t repeat the same mistakes when you reflect on everything that happened

8. That’s how you stop acting clingy, needy, and/or desperate

Honestly, I think that the ignoring your ex was first invented just to help us avoid acting in the most embarrassing ways. 

The danger of acting clingy, needy, or desperate after a break up is real. Many people panic (including myself) and resort to all sorts of unfortunate gestures.

For example, some people show up at their ex’s place of work, at their parent’s house, in places where they usually hang out, and so on.

And when they do, they embarrass themselves. 

So, to avoid that altogether, you only have to do one thing: Ignore your ex. 

9. You distance yourself from things that might hurt you

Ignoring your ex also means, among others, that you won’t be aware of what’s happening in their life.

This is a great thing!

Here’s why:

First of all, you’ll be able to focus on your own healing and work on your self-improvement without any distractions.

Second of all, you won’t witness your ex’s attempts to move on and date other people. Or, you won’t feel the urge to save them if they engage in destructive behaviors.

Simply not knowing is sometimes a blessing. It can’t affect you in any way or put you off the right track.

What are The Downsides of Ignoring Your Ex?

So far, I’ve talked to you about the pros of ignoring your ex and why it’s so powerful. Now it’s time to learn about the potential downsides of ignoring your ex.

Your ex might get the wrong message

One day, you tell him or her that they’re the most important person in the world for you. The next day, you act as if they don’t exist. 

If you do that, your ex will be confused. They won’t know what to believe. They might choose to think that you don’t care and it was all an act.

This is one possible downside of giving an ex the silent treatment. In the absence of any sign from you, they might accept the situation and try to move on themselves.

To avoid that, before you cut off all contact with your former partner, send them one last message and say something like:

“I’m not going to lie: I am heartbroken and wish things would be different between us. However, I respect your desire to break up. I think it’s best if we don’t talk anymore.”

The conflict between the two of you might escalate

We are all different. Some people react well when they’re left alone to process things. Others… not so much. 

In case you’re dealing with an angry ex, someone who needs answers and won’t accept that you don’t comply, the conflict between the two of you might escalate. 

If that happens, it’s best to respond to your ex’s concerns. Ways to de-escalate a situation are:

  • Listen to what your ex has to say
  • Try to understand their concerns
  • Allow them to express frustration
  • Let them talk about their feelings
  • Use a non-confrontational body language
  • Express empathy to make them feel heard

How Long Should You Ignore Your Ex?

When it comes to how long you should ignore a former partner, experts seem to think differently. 

There are dating coaches who recommend giving them the silent treatment for 21 to 45 days, depending on how serious your problems are and how badly things went down when you broke up. 

However, there are other relationship experts who agree that no contact should last for a minimum of 60 days. 

Now, it goes without saying that if your relationship lasted for a total of 3 months, you shouldn’t wait for 60 days. That’s too much time apart compared to how long you stayed together.

Waiting this long is advisable if you split ways after at least one year of being in a committed relationship. 


Ignoring your ex is a powerful technique effective on multiple levels. If applied correctly, it can help you get your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend back

A lot of people block their ex to get their attention. It’s based on psychological principles that ensure its success, such as the theory of reactance, the element of surprise, and FoMO.

At the same time, you can use it to facilitate your emotional healing. Ignoring your ex will leave you with a lot of free time that you can use to focus on your self-improvement.

In this way, you’ll do much more than patch yourself up and get yourself together: You’ll improve yourself and you’ll be more desirable as well.

However, Giving an ex the silent treatment doesn’t come without risks. So, think twice before you get yourself into a situation you can’t handle! 

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Daniela Duca Damian
About Daniela Duca Damian

A journalist by profession, Daniela has been sharing her knowledge and personal experience in the psychology of love and relationships for the past 5 years. Her work is based on facts, practical advice and is meant to help everyone achieve their romantic goals. When she isn’t writing, she challenges her friends with meaningful questions about life.

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