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How do you make no contact work if you and your ex share the same friends and work/study together?

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I will try to keep this as short as I can. My (ex)boyfriend broke up with me about four weeks ago after a six months relationship. The break up came out of a sudden and hit me hard. I have to mention: He suffers depression (but is in therapy and gets medical treatment and knows & accepts that he is not healthy mentally and wants to get better) and has a dismissive avoidant-attachment style. During the relationship I could really handle his disease and tried my best to be there for him and support him without smothering him and I told him that I am okay and that I love him and that I won't leave him because of this disease. I tried to give him the space he needs and as much space as I could offer.

I knew how much he suffers, but it seemed like our relationship gave him much more than the disease demanded from him. That it was something really good for him. It was a beautiful relationship, it felt deep and I know that these feelings have been on both sides. The weeks before he broke up had been full of love and connection, he wanted to have me around, made plans, wanted me to meet his family, he was caring and loving. One week before he broke up he told me how much he loves me. We had a fight three days before the break up and after some days of silence ended our relationship.

We do not have contact since then.

We met each other at university when we started the same studies at the same time. Due to this we now share the same group of friends and fellow students and even have to work on the same projects together. As I said we do not speak to or text each other privately, but because of the group-project we work on together with two other fellow students/friends we have to maintain a certain kind of communication (via WhatsApp-/ Discord-groups and in online courses). During those courses and in online meetings with our group he even answers to me, speaks normally as if nothing happened and even laughs when I say something funny. Everything beside these situations is pure silence (except that he‘s still looking at my instagram stories, but well…).

I am in a circle of being incredibly sad, missing him, feeling pure anger, wanting him back and at the same time working on myself and careing for my own needs – and enjoying it. I feel really good discovering a new me – or the me I really am and want to be. But still there is this me that does not want to give up on him and on us. I understand that he needs his space and I want to respect that – for him as well as for myself and my own healing and his healing. But I do believe that we could do better at a second turn. I reflected a lot, looked into myself and I know so much more now than months, even weeks ago and I really believe that it could be different. I am seeing a therapist myself now. I know now that while I tried to be there for him I forgot to be there for myself, too, and to work on my own issues. I know my boundaries now, what I want and need in a relationship and I am willing to find a way together to meet everyone‘s needs in the middle. I love him and feel deeply connected to him. I just want to talk to him to reconcile and get back together – or to get a final closure. But I also want to give him the space he needs.

So far no contact worked well – he didn‘t contact me or anything, but I am working so much on myself and feel how I finally beginn to see my own value (don‘t get me wrong: This is an issue I am dealing with for a long long time now, nothing our relationship took from me).

But now here‘s the problem: As I mentioned we share some same friends and projects. After four weeks of successful no contact our project group has decided to meet next week to discuss our project in person and have some drinks together.

Well, I could just leave after we discussed the „professional“, project related part and skip the socializing, but I want to be honest: I am new in this city, I came here six months ago. I don‘t know many people and due to the lockdown meeting new peolpe or the few I met and got friends with wasn‘t really an option. My ex and his flatmate were like nearly the only people I saw during this time. I want to be around people, I want to meet my friends and get to know my fellow students. I want to have fun and I deserve to have fun and feel good. I do not see why I should be the one to step back now while my ex doesn‘t? Why should I always be the one to step back?

Yes, I want to be with him, try again. (Or at least this one last conversation to get final closure). I want to keep no contact, I guess it is the best I can do now for me, him – and a maybe-second-try-relationship. But I want to enjoy life, too. I feel so good in my own self right now and I don‘t want to miss the joy life can have.

So my question: Is it a bad idea to attend (small) social events (with mutual friends/fellow students) if I know my ex will be there, too, when I actually want to reconcile and get back together with him? Or at least get the chance of a last conversation (when he's ready) to get final closure?

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28 minutes ago, leobutlostedition said:

So my question: Is it a bad idea to attend (small) social events (with mutual friends/fellow students) if I know my ex will be there, too, when I actually want to reconcile and get back together with him? Or at least get the chance of a last conversation (when he's ready) to get final closure?

Yes. It is a bad idea. Stay away from him and don't look for closure.  The break up convo is the closure. 

Being in university you do have many opportunities to make new friends. Yes? 

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37 minutes ago, leobutlostedition said:

My exboyfriend broke up with me about four weeks ago after a six months relationship. Or at least get the chance of a last conversation to get final closure?

Sorry this happened. You need to let go. 24 weeks is the time to observe if you can get along. In this case he has depression and you wouldn't let go or let him deal with it.

It's time to move forward in peace and stop pestering him for a relationship he doesn't want. "Closure" is a myth and you know that. It's an excuse to badger him to get back with you.

You can hang out with whoever you want and go wherever you want, but respect his wishes and leave him alone. he has friends, family, doctors therapist etc. who are there for him.

 My advice about looking into your own issues remains the same:


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On again, off again relationship success is extremely rare.People who break up normally don't care enough to stay and work on problems together. 

You'll have to change your mindset and just start thinking of him as an acquaintance study buddy. Be pleasant when you encounter him, just as you would with anyone in the group.

But stop giving excuses of him and his group being your only social outlet. Start joining some clubs. In college, I joined the ski club. We had parties and went on ski trips. My daughter was in an environmental club since that was her major. Maybe there's a woman in one of your classes you've never spoken to, but seems interesting and fun. Strike up a conversation with her. And you can do more one on one things with the friends and fewer group outings.

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Work backwards for a moment and re-evaluate what this person means to you. It doesn't sound like you've fully processed the break up or your differences and the reasons it didn't work. 

If you don't feel comfortable with next week's event, don't stay longer than you have to. Those would be putting boundaries in place and putting into effect what you've learned from your therapist.

Have courage and start meeting others outside of this group when you're ready. There is no rush to get out there and meet people but you have to have that idea and mindset of shedding the old and inviting the new. There's comfort in familiarity but there's also breathtaking adventure in all the rest that awaits you. Don't limit yourself.


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3 hours ago, leobutlostedition said:

I just want to talk to him to reconcile and get back together – or to get a final closure. But I also want to give him the space he needs.

Is best that you don't... he does not have the right head space for you now.


What' closure' are you looking for you?  You know him, you see him - so, other than already being aware of his mental health issue's,  what more do you want?

You need to find acceptance & healing within yourself now.

As for your friends/ work mates, fine, be around them as you choose.  But, try to turn your focus away from HIM.  Just do what you have to around him, then carry on. Even if you hang more with a separate friend for a while, may help.

If HE finds it awkward, he can choose to leave earlier,  Neither of you control the other.

In time it gets easier.  

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What has always worked for me in cases where I'd need to cross paths with an ex in school or work or socially is a case of convenient and selective amnesia.

I made it easy on both of us by treating him as kindly as I would a stranger. This allowed us to discuss necessary stuff while avoiding the discomfort of addressing our status as exes.

This helped me to keep my dignity even while it allowed for me to operate as I wished in shared spaces and company.

I did NOT pursue any convo about 'us' in any way, shape or form. If ex pursued that with me, I'd stay kind as I explained that this isn't the time or place for that.

If ex ever decides that he wants to pursue something beyond civility with you, he will have no trouble letting you know that. Your best chance for that to occur is to keep your head, stay professional, and make yourself proud.

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First of all, I want to apologize that my reaction to all of your kind and honest answers comes so late. The last days had been a bit tough emotionally, but I also spent some quality time with one of my friends which made time brighter 🙂

Thank you for your answers. You're all right and I somehow already knew all these things in my heart under all the missing and hoping. But I guess these two, the missing and hoping, are quite normal after only four weeks and such a sudden break up. As I said I am working a lot on myself, my mindset, having a therapist and a psychological counselor helps a lot. I am focussing on my own growth and the things I like and burn for – something I should have done so so long before and I do understand now, that that by swallowing my own issues I impacted not only my own mental health and well being, but our relationship, too. Putting "his weight" on my shoulders, too, and not communicating my needs & boundaries enough just couldn't work out. I just wanted to show that I care and that I am there without smothering him – but forgot to take enough care of myself, too. It is not my job or responsibility to "heal" him or being his therapist – as well as it isn't his to be it for me. Yes, you can be there for each other – but you can't do the work for one another. I don't want to put all the blame on me. There are two people in a partnership and I can't be the only one reflecting and trying to meet the needs, he also needs to do some of the work. But this is what I learned and what I would do different a second time – or in a different relationship.

Having no contact helps me – first, it was in the hope of a second chance and maybe it still is somehow, won't blame me for that, having hope is part of the process. But above all it helps ME to find my way and after four weeks I feel how my mindset starts changing. Maybe I was a bit confusing – I DO meet other people than this certain project group. I was lucky and met many nice people shortly before the lockdown and try to spent time with them as much as I can. I try to make all my days a mix of being alone (and being okay with being alone) and being productive (which is great for my self value and growth:) and meeting friends. Works great! So there are people outside this certain project group. This situation with the same project and the possibility of seeing him (and being casual as if nothing happened) is just a bit emotionally confusing. But I decided to keep it "professional", separating private things from college-related topics as it should be and deciding spontaneously how the situation next week feels like. Right now I guess I will just leave after we discussed the project and spend time with some other friends instead.

Yesterday he texted me after four weeks of having no contact. He apologized that he didn't reach out earlier after my last text weeks ago. He said that he still doesn't know what his mind is about "all this sh*t", but also in general. He wanted to ask me if I want to keep the sculpture I made last semester which is still at his apartment and if yes, that he would take it with him when he and his flatmate move out today. He told me that he and his flatmate have finally found a new apartment after desperately searching for one for months. He said that he really hopes that I am doing and feeling well. And he said that he would get in touch soon – if I want to – and answer more detailed and suggested to do this in real life, but just if that's okay for me.

Well, I can't deny that this of course created some hopes, but I guess he just wants to talk and reconcile to make moving on for both of us easier. He was very polite, like with an aquaintance, and he probably just reached out because the situation (him still having my stuff and moving out today) demanded it, but the way he said it was kind and open and he tried to make me feel comfortable with him reaching out, offering me time and to decide myself if I want a conversation.

I answered in a polite, non-emotional way and told him it would be nice if he could take the sculpture with him and that I am happy for the two of them for finally finding a new home. I told him that he may get in touch again and that we can see each other somewhen and that I would prefer meeting in person. And I wished him good luck for the moving day.

Of course hope's there that this could mean something. Maybe it does, who knows. I will know as soon as we talk. But I guess he will finally end what was between us, but actually we already broke up, so it will just be the confirmation of it. And maybe that will be a good thing – it will help me leaving my last hopes and clinging to our relationship behind and finally move forward. I can't have this conversation right now, I need some more weeks for my own processing and clarifying what I want and feel. But with even more stability I am ready to talk. I gave him the control and space to decide himself when he is ready for it and I think he needs it, too, as he said he still doesn't know where his thoughts go about all of this.

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spend time with friends one on one vs "the group".  branch out and make new friends. If he is on a project with you, you cannot change that now. Only communicate as necessary for the project. do not make small talk. Do not talk about the relationship. Then when the next project comes up, don't pick him for a project partner. That is the most adult way to handle it.  Also, when someone has mental health issues, they do not often have anything left over for someone else. Even if it seemed like he benefitted from the relationship - there was a honeymoon period -  and then it was too much for him.  Please let him be.  Communicate with your friends outside of the group chat.

Maybe even tell the woman you are closest with in the group that you broke up and would appreciate not being copied on every convo with him.

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On 6/3/2021 at 8:39 AM, leobutlostedition said:

Or at least get the chance of a last conversation (when he's ready) to get final closure?

You have "closure" - he doesn't want the relationship to continue.  If you are in a mutual relationship, you say farewell to someone who is going on a boat trip, but has not broke up with you - its just a trip - and they don't come back - yeah trying to get closure - figuring out if they are alive or dead or are in another country with another woman probably is a good idea.

you have closure - you just want him to tell it in a way you want to hear. You want to hear that its not over and want one more chance to plead your case.  he is not capable of a relationship, studying AND taking care of his mental health. When something is new, someone can skate along for awhile, but the mental health will rear its head.  Please respect his wishes

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