The Real Reason You Break No Contact (It’s Not What You Think)

By Kim Saeed | Break-Ups

Aug 24

The toughest ordeal in detaching from a toxic relationship with a Narcissist or other personality-disordered individual is implementing and maintaining No Contact (or Modified Contact in cases of shared custody).

The word on the street is that, on average, it takes leaving a toxic partner seven times before finally leaving for good. From my experience and that of my readers, it often takes a much larger number of attempts before ultimately detaching and moving on.

Some people never truly leave and instead are placed into the “Friends with Benefits” category while their toxic Ex strings them along whilst living out his or her “real life” with someone else.

So why do we break No Contact?  Why do we monitor the Ex’s social media, looking for any shred of evidence that the person we thought existed might still be?  Why do we ruminate obsessively, sometimes becoming dysfunctional in the process?

Trauma-bonding?  Partly.

Psychological conditioning and manipulation?  To a degree.

Fear that our partner will never approve of us or consider us worthy of love and affection?  Most certainly.

There are many factors that determine why we break No Contact, but one is the biggest underlying factor in this self-destructive cycle.  When we break No Contact, we are essentially trying to recreate and repair the traumatic childhood memories and emotional injuries we sustained when we, as young and innocent children, couldn’t understand or process why we were ignored, neglected, invalidated, and/or abused.  Ultimately, we internalized the abuse and mistreatment as meaning we were innately bad and there was nothing we could do about it.

Childhood trauma and repetition compulsion

Many psychologists and thought leaders have recognized a tendency for humans to be drawn to situations that trigger unresolved traumas from earlier in their lives. A child who has an abusive parent may later be repeatedly drawn to abusive partners.  Someone who was often abandoned may be drawn, unconsciously, to people who will become close to them and then suddenly detach and leave.[1]

In the world of psychotherapy, this tendency is referred to as repetition compulsion, which was coined by Sigmund Freud as “the desire to return to an earlier state of things.”

Narcissists are masters at figuring out what our weaknesses, wounds, and fears are.  Since most of these developed during our childhood, it only stands to reason that they choose to push buttons that trigger our childhood wounds.  In fact, the narcissist brings the childhood wounds that we’ve suppressed from our subconscious mind to the conscious, turning our innermost sufferings into everyday reality. This is precisely how they keep us compliant and obedient – and enmeshed in a relationship with them.

Revisiting the trauma

In most cases of dysfunctional relationships with narcissists, the disordered individual represents a parental figure or caregiver.  When the adult who was supposed to be a source of safety and nurturance became simultaneously a source of suffering, we maneuvered to re-establish some sense of safety. Instead of turning on our parents and thereby losing hope for protection, we blamed ourselves. We became fearfully and hungrily attached and anxiously obedient.  [2]

This perfectly describes the relationship dynamic that plays out with a narcissistic individual and his or her target.  We want to be the “good girl” or “good boy”, literally doing whatever it takes to get a nod of approval or acknowledgement, often accepting deplorable behaviors such as infidelity, perpetual unemployment, pathological lying, and daily emotional torture.

Cognitively, it makes no sense to go back to a person who mistreats and abuses us, but these curious behaviors are driven by our subconscious minds – and have us waiting in vain for our abuser to “rescue” us from our feelings of unworthiness or to give us confirmation of our negative self beliefs, which is a peculiar unconscious desire of countless codependents and narcissistic abuse victims.

And who better to do that than the narcissist we know?

Don’t believe everything you think

The important thing to remember is that the negative, underlying beliefs that we may have regarding our worth are not facts.  Many of the beliefs we hold about ourselves originated in childhood due to repeated disappointments and the inability to comprehend that our parents or caregivers treated us the way they did because they were damaged themselves (or, worse, were narcissistic).

Our internal scripts, or the beliefs we have regarding our worth, can be changed.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) can provide effective treatment paths for reshaping thought patterns that lead to self-defeating behaviors. These types of therapeutic approaches focus on bringing awareness to cognitive distortions, irrational beliefs, and negative thought tracks.[3]

Alternative approaches to healing include transformational healing methods such as:  reiki, energy healing, psychic cord cutting, spiritual counseling, and getting help from a coach who can guide you in creating clarity, reality-based relationship analysis, and assist you with useful skills to help you break through to the next level in your healing journey.

Resist the urge to break No Contact

Coming to terms with what is can go a long way in implementing and maintaining No Contact.  No matter how many times you fall for the hoovering or reach out to the narcissist yourself, the relationship and the accompanying damage will not improve.  No amount of forgiveness or compliance extended to them will cause them to look at you or your relationship in a different light.  In fact, with each return to the relationship, the abuse gets worse because the narcissist then sees that there’s no need to put forth any effort for damage control or pretend to have basic decency because they can do whatever they please, yet suffer no consequences.

Nor will breaking No Contact repair your painful childhood.  Only by maintaining bona fide No Contact will you have any hope of healing and finding relief from the very wounds that keep you enmeshed with a toxic narcissist.

Copyright 2016  Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach



[1] THE REPETITION COMPULSION. (n.d.). Retrieved August 22, 2015, from


Van der Kolk, B. (1989, June 1). The Compulsion to Repeat the Trauma. Retrieved August 23, 2015, from


DeName, K. (n.d.). Repetition Compulsion: Why Do We Repeat the Past? Retrieved August 23, 2015, from

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