Welcome brother! If this is your first time reading Woodshop Wisdom, this is a place where, every Monday, we answer a specific question from the men’s community. We give straight-forward answers to a variety of relationship problems and the challenges men face everyday as a provider, father and husband. And often we will challenge you to go much deeper in your understanding of the problem and how to think about it more effectively.
Let’s get started.
My girlfriend told me she wanted space and that we need to take a break. This is not something I want. She said she is stressed, overwhelmed and feeling like she can’t trust me. I read online somewhere that I should do “no contact” and that it will make her miss me and attract her back. Should I follow this advice? Does it work?
I understand how you must feel. I am taking a guess here that you feel trapped between your strong desire to keep the relationship you had and doing this “no contact” scenario and risk losing everything you hold dear.
These are the fears I had when I learned about the option of “no contact”.
Fear #1 of No Contact – I’m worried she will feel abandoned and that I never truly cared about her or the relationship. It will create a void between us that is insurmountable. We will never get back together.
Fear #2 of No Contact – It will leave a void in our lives where outside influences can enter her life. I worry she will have the opportunity to see someone else. If I exit, someone else will enter.
Fear #3 of No Contact – I question whether she will ever understand the depth of love I have for her and how much I can change. If I don’t talk or text, how will she ever get to know what I am thinking or feeling. This can’t possibly work to bring connection to our relationship.
Fear #4 of Full Contact (the opposite of no contact) – If I pour on the romance, do all the things she asks, and start showing how much I care I can make her realize that we are meant to be together. The problem here is that it will feel like intense pressure and she will probably be repelled away. It is not honoring her wish for space and reflection.
These are the questions and fears I faced when presented with this scenario. I didn’t know what to do. I felt lost.
I tried at two different times to implement “no contact”. I will let you decide how you want to proceed after each story.
My first attempt at “no contact” was because nothing else “worked”. I was trying to do the right things to attract her back. I was focused solely on the relationship and the outcome of getting her to see me again and to want to be with me again. The letters I wrote to her, the long talks about the relationship and even counseling wasn’t convincing her that things could change. I was trying everything to fix it…why not try this too.
So, I stopped asking questions. I stopped sending texts throughout the day. I stopped initiating contact whenever I saw an opening or excuse to talk to her. I waited…and I watched.
I watched to see if she would notice. I watched to find any sign that she was coming back towards me. I analyzed every text about the kids. I thought about what she was doing. I dissected all the hints of information her friends might accidentally share with me. I checked social media for clues.
I was so focused on the outcome of fixing the relationship I almost missed the reason why no contact can work.
But I caught glimpses of truth in the moments I wasn’t focused on her. It was in these down times, outside of the relationship, that I started to find answers.
This was becoming less about her and more about me and who I am.
As I began moving my attention towards my own individual journey and figuring out who I am and what I want, I started to feel clear and more confident. I still had a relationship to deal with, but it was becoming apparent that my own personal issues needed closer inspection. The relationship became less of a priority when compared to my own mission and individual work.
After months of watching for a reaction from her, I began looking towards a greater purpose and connection. She wasn’t the center of my attention anymore. I didn’t need her to fill a hole in my heart. I was slowly and deliberately taking care of that on my own.
My personal story ultimately led me to a point where she asked for a divorce. I was devastated by the ending of what could have been a wonderful love story. A story written by two willing and capable participants. I was only half of that equation. It was time for me to finally let go and heal.
I decided to attempt another version of “no contact”. This time it was to give myself the space and time to heal from this immense amount of loss and pain I was experiencing. It was a place I needed to be in order to grieve, accept, and let go of the dream I held for our future. The time would be spent taking care of myself and my children.
It wasn’t about her anymore. I didn’t live my life hoping she would change her mind. I started directing my life how I saw fit, regardless of outcome.
It is funny what happens when you are not looking for a specific thing. If you just live life experiencing your present surroundings, beautiful opportunities pass through that otherwise go unnoticed.
She did eventually reach out again. It was months after I consciously decided to try “no contact” for the second time. In fact, I forgot I was even “trying” it anymore. I was just living my life one day at a time and building something new inside of me.
We started having a few meaningful conversations again. I felt we started a new connection that was deeper and more honest than we had in the past. She said she missed me. I was open to a new version of a relationship together. In the end, though, we were not able to continue.
If you want to try no contact, do it with clear intentions. This time apart is for you. It is not for her or for the relationship.
The no contact dynamic is not a trick or a ploy to get some other person to notice you. It is a time for YOU to see YOU again.
Let’s change the name from “no contact” to “100% Individual Reconnect” That feels more intentional and really what this it is all about.
Thoughts From The Woodshop
Short story here to reiterate intent. Intent is just a reason ‘why’ you are doing things.
Over the years we have gained a reputation for having the strongest, well-built drawers in the market we serve. It is funny, because one customer in particular, Pete, has stated this to us directly and sends other customers to us with that expectation. I have had word-of-mouth customers from Pete tell me, “I heard I can stand in your drawer and it won’t break.” Mind you, I don’t advertise that myself, but it seems to always come from friends of this particular guy. It’s probably true, but I don’t recommend standing in drawers. The slides are only rated for 100 lbs, unless I get heavy duty slides…oh, never mind…that’s not the point of the story.
The point is this.
I have re-engineered this drawer box construction and materials probably five times in the last 20 years. We are constantly trying to improve our processes and systems in order to deliver the highest quality, cost effective product we can. This drawer is stronger than ever. Pete doesn’t even know this. He hasn’t bought a new kitchen from us in 20 years. Yet, his client recommendations still come in with the expectation of this drawer you could stand in.
If my intent was to please him and this expectation, I would have been focused on this claim to provide this service that I never really endorsed in the first place. I would have either never implemented the necessary changes to this product or over engineered it and priced myself out of the market by working towards someone else’s interpretation.
My intent was to build to my standards and to the expectations I have of myself.
The by-product of this intention is that the people will naturally notice and respect you for it. They will be drawn to you because of it. And you will see those results as just the icing on the cake.
Where to go from here?
I see you man. I see that you are ready to engage, you are ready to create something new. I see that you are ready to pick up the tools we have available and get back to building something in your life that is beautiful, impactful, and meaningful. I look forward to seeing it.
It all starts with a question – what do you want to build?
Most of us men spend a lot of time in our heads. We have conversations with ourselves but never show that thinking and feeling side to anyone else. The question and answer example above is exactly like the wise conversations we have every day ALL day in the Mentoring Men Community. This is the smartest, strongest, most caring and courageous group of men I’ve ever known.
We meet weekly for group coaching calls and have deep conversations with men around the world 24/7. This online men’s group is like none other out there. This is what we hear.
“Thank you, Thank You, Thank You for reminding me of who I really am and helping me kill that annoying hummingbird. My wife has seen an immediate change in my attitude and outlook while she has struggled to make progress of her own. She has even made the statement that “I want to be where you are and want to find something that I can connect with and that will make me a better person.”
Join us and start changing your life faster than you ever thought possible.