maintain modified contact

How to Maintain Modified Contact on Father’s Day

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What’s it like to maintain Modified Contact?

It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time.

You know you were meant to do more with your life than being stuck in a marriage or relationship that makes you hate yourself.

But then, starting a new life feels risky — and the thought of failing and crawling back to your Ex to beg for another chance paralyzes you with fear.

You yearn for independence and to see where your new life takes you. But having these desires is not enough, and you know it. To make it work, you need to maintain Modified Contact with every cell of your being.

However, if you share custody with a narcissistic Ex, you may be teetering between forging ahead with your newfound future…or giving the Ex another chance while falling for their tempting promises. 

Because let’s face it, most people who share custody with narcissistic Exes haven’t implemented Modified Contact in its true form.  And with Father’s Day around the corner, it’s likely you’re being bombarded with emails and texts which promise change and yellow brick roads.

It’s irrelevant whether your Ex is male or female.  Father’s Day is a prime occasion for narcissists everywhere to try and lure their former partners back into their maze of crazy…but if you give in, you’ll soon learn their promises are nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

So, what’s a would-be survivor of narcissistic abuse to do?

Well, first, there’s a huge difference between running into obstacles while doing something the right way, and failing because you fell for the same old lies again.  In case you’re riddled with cognitive dissonance in the face of Father’s Day, following are five ways to ignore Father’s Day fantasies and maintain Modified Contact.

1 – Consider changing your cell phone number and letting them contact you by email

The whole point of Modified Contact is to lower the Ex’s access to you.  Leaving them with open contact through your cell phone only keeps you deeply embedded in the cycle of abuse. 

In the spirit of full disclosure, I cannot offer legal advice as it pertains to custody arrangements, but I can tell you from my own encounters with shared custody that it’s possible that you aren’t required to give them access to your cell phone.   From experience, unless your legal custody order specifically states that your Ex should be allowed to contact you 24 hours a day, seven days a week regarding your children through your electronic devices, then it’s likely you could arrange to have them contact you via landline or email, instead.

Changing your cell phone number and letting the Ex contact you by email is especially nice since most everyone has their email set up to go to their phone, anyway. This way, you can read the email and decide whether you need to respond right away. It also cuts down on ambushes because emailing takes more effort.

Texting, SMS, and messaging platforms are easy venues for the Narcissist to attack at will. Cut out that option for them. Of course, your Ex will throw a hissy-fit, so be prepared.  However, not only will this decrease the number of stealth attacks, you will have some nice email documentation to present to the court if you ever need to file a harassment order or simply want to demonstrate his or her instability.

Summary:  Letting your Ex contact you by cell phone is a self-sabotaging snare, especially on the occasion of Father’s Day.  The holiday hasn’t changed your Ex or inspired them to improve their behaviors.

2- Don’t give in to the fantasy that this time could be different

It may seem your situation is different from everyone else’s.  That maybe you and your Ex are tortured soulmates, long-suffering best friends, or that you’ve traveled many lifetimes together.

But, the hard truth is this – if they were going to change, they would have done it by now.

Consider this quote by Pema Chodron:

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Narcissists show up in our lives to bring our core wounds to the surface.  Only by facing these core wounds can we begin the work of healing and banishing self-sabotaging behaviors.  Unfortunately, due to the traumatic nature of narcissistic abuse, many targets get stuck in repetition compulsion rather than exiting the relationship and moving on to the first stages of healing.

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.  And they know that all they need to do is keep you hanging onto the fantasy of their potential…which is especially appealing during Father’s Day.

3 – Don’t compete with or compare yourself to their new partner

It’s enticing to believe you can win back the narcissist’s heart, leaving their new partner feeling rejected and undesirable – especially with visions of a restored family unit dancing on the horizon.

The important thing to remember, though, is that if your Ex has a new partner, yet is telling you how much they miss you, it’s prime breeding grounds for triangulation.

When the marriage or relationship ended due to the narcissist leaving or your discovering their infidelity, it was your signal that things were over.  Going back to them is NOT the solution to your problems or the end to suffering and loneliness.  The damage is done. 

If you give in to the urge to accept the narcissist back into your life, the only thing you’ll get in return is the temporary high from thinking the fantasy will come true at long last…followed by more disappointment and heartbreak.

Before you know it, you’ll be hearing all about your Ex’s relationship problems with their new partner while you take the position of The Fallback.  You’ll be expected to pass the handkerchief and be a shoulder to cry on. 

Or, if your Ex is malignant, you’ll fall prey to their diatribes regarding how you could never compare to their new love, ensnaring you in a “trance of unworthiness” which you’ll feel perpetually compelled to resolve through the humiliating “Pick Me” dance and accepting crumbs when you really want the whole loaf. 

4 – Nothing good can come from “Getting Together for the Kids’ Sake”

This request appeals to your desire to protect your children from a broken family and the impact of divorce.

But if they really cared about ‘the sake of the kids’, they wouldn’t have abused you, cheated on you, or subjected their children to a toxic environment.

Imagine sitting over a nice Father’s Day luncheon, when your Ex turns and asks, “Do you really want to break up our family?”, followed by a dramatic, Oscar-worthy turn to the children and “Kids, your mother/father wants to break up the family.”

Translation:  Why don’t you own their crimes and continue hiding their immorality from the children?  In return, they’ll mete out some mind crumbs now and again. 

Alternately, the narcissist will be on their best behavior, pretending to have had The Epiphany, only to morph back into their true self at a later time, imparting more cognitive dissonance and emotional trauma to you AND the children.

Never mind that the new partner is waiting patiently for the narcissist to join them after your lovely family get-together. 

5 – Give yourself the chance to experience something different

How many times have you forgiven your Ex on special occasions, only to have everything collapse in a heaping mess around your ankles? 

Why not try something different?

Don’t think of it as losing out on a potential reconciliation.  Narcissists don’t reconcile – they recycle, reuse, and re-traumatize.  

Your potential doesn’t exist with the narcissist.  Your potential is harnessed through the power of your decisions in each moment. 


[1] THE REPETITION COMPULSION. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2017, from

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Leave a Comment:

Shirley Akpelu says June 15, 2018

Hi Kim, Thanks again for sharing. We have not celebrated Father’s Day in about three years. This year will be no different. He did nothing for Mother’s Day. I will do nothing for Father’s Day. My son can if he chooses to, but I will remind him that his father does not know what love is and to keep that in mind. If he loved us, he would be providing for us. If he cannot obey man’s law how can he obey GOD’s law?

Candyce says June 26, 2017

My Narc will not leave me alone. I have initiated the No Contact years ago..but he came to my table while I was in a restaurant with my friends a couple of weeks ago and much to my surprise decided to call me out of the blue this week. It’s been 3 years. I had his number blocked but I guess you have to keep blocking their numbers. I am surprised that he would try to call me but I’m even more surprised that I’m frightened by him. I’m not scared of him but I’m frightened about he wants. It can’t be good…right? I hate to keep bothering my friends about him because I finally quit talking about him and the past. I’ve moved on…and thought he did too. He just got back from vacation with his girlfriend..a vacation spot we would go… what could he want with me? Any advice about how to proceed and why am I so frightened?

    Kim Saeed says June 26, 2017

    Hi Candyce,

    This kind of thing is precisely why I advocate for the No Contact approach, meaning never unblock their number because they usually do come from out of the blue when you least expect it. It appears you’ll need to change your cell phone number. I’ve had to do that a couple of times, even though I use my phone for work.

    Without knowing anything about your background, I don’t have an explanation for why you’re frightened, but it may have to do with feeling like your freedom is about to be taken away from you.

anonymous says June 20, 2017

I am not quite sure that all narcisists work the same way about not having your mobile phone number.

Mine went like this: Ok, you do not want me to contact you via phone so I will not contact you by email when there is need to contact you about our children i.e taking them to A&E, traveling abroad, …etc. and I will make sure they do not contact you by phone either as I will confiscate their phone and prevent them from sending you emails too while they are with me.

So I had to buy phone where you can block calls and messages in a way that it directs them in folder of blocked calls and messages but does not show on main pannels of the phone that there has been calls or messages from him.

I would choose moment when I could think of having the stamina and guts to look into the folder and see if there is anything in there. So for long silences when they were with him, I would go and check.

I also worked with counselor who helped me devise strategy that when his calls and messages are seen by me and I learn the contents to do meditation in order to prepare myself for facing with them once when I open the folder and messages.

I agree that they can annoy any time of the day but clever cunning ones know that can be shown to police and that would implicate them. So they are clever in not overdoing it but they concentrate on the strength of the punch embedded the message itself, so the impact of that not so often message is long lasting just till the next one comes.

Same with emails. Highly developed narcissist is on higer level of cuningness and is crafty in the know how not to be caught but still molest both the ex partner and the children.

    Kim Saeed says June 23, 2017

    Hi Anon,

    I had some of these specifics included in the court order. Specific days and times he could call…and this was on the house phone. He still could not contact me by my cell phone, and still can’t to this day.

    I usually suggest to clients that they might need to have their custody order modified to include these details, otherwise they are left at the mercy of the Ex to contact whenever they please. Also, using Our Family Wizard often cuts down on the nastiness, although you are correct in saying that sometimes they can still get away with cryptic messages. But I have found that only having access to the landline and having email go through OFW usually helps tremendously.

Ring says June 18, 2017

Hi Anon.

I guess I have no need to be concerned about Father’s Day this year….I was discarded by my Dad just yesterday. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I haven’t exercised no contact, but after about a year of the next closest thing I’m sure the discard was a result of his anticipating that he wasn’t going to get the Father’s Day fuel he wanted. He’s always been an ingrate so I didn’t even bother to send a card this year.

Whatever the reason one is unable to celebrate a healthy Father’s Day, it is painful.

Anaonymous says June 16, 2017

This is such good advice and for those that have a father who’s a narcissist—doubly so. It’s hard to stay no contact on Father’s day but when your father’s a N, you must resist. Nothing good comes from it. Painful but true.

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