Ex Encounters of the Third Kind
The unavoidable run in with an ex is a moment in life that many of us fear more than a flesh eating zombie outbreak. You’ve gotten through the “binge every season of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix and cry the whole way through” stage and moved past the “stalk your ex and feel worse” phase (that’s the worst!), and then BAM! There’s your ex. Plain as day. Standing there, breathing and existing. Instead of following your gut and running for the door, try these tips to appear cool and collected during any Ex Encounter.
Ex Encounter Do’s and Don’ts
DO prepare yourself
The two of you enjoyed doing things together at one point in your lives. You may have broken up, but you sure as heck didn’t break up with that awesome Mexican restaurant on 3rd Avenue. Your Ex might feel the same way. Make a potential run-in less traumatizing by conditioning yourself for the event. Make a plan, and stick to it.
The best way to go about this is to ask yourself, “What would I walk away feeling good about?” You could ramble on about your cat’s new special diet or share your disappointment about the time your DVR didn’t record Dance Moms, but those probably woudn’t fulfill that feel-good criteria.
DON’T pretend you didn’t see him
There was a point in your life where you were the first person your Ex noticed when they walked into a room. Just because you’re no longer together doesn’t mean you’ve become invisible to them. Hiding sounds like the easiest option, but it will most likely make your impromptu meeting even more awkward. Best to get acknowledge him and get it over with.
DO say hello
In the shock of an Ex Encounter, try not to completely forget your manners. It might sound super satisfying to give your Ex a piece of your mind if you run into one another, but you probably won’t feel too great about it in the end. Take the high road. Remain calm and confident, smile and say Hello. This gives you the power and puts you in control of the situation. Remember to KEEP BREATHING.
DON’T hug or touch…or breathe on each other.
No hugs. No high fives. No brushing against each other. Definitely no kissing on the cheek. This could re-open wounds, making you miss the physical intimacy you once had, throw you into a rage or downward spiral, or cause you to let your guard down again.
DO keep it light
Less is more. Get out before the conversation goes sour. There’s not much use to getting too detailed and getting your feelings hurt. Small talk is just fine, but if it starts to get a weird, make your escape.
DON’T reference the past
This usually brings up quite an array of emotions that you don’t really need to experience at this point in your life. Discussing funny inside jokes can make you miss the old days. Discussing your mistakes can make you experience the anger all over again. Keep your conversation in the present to avoid saying or doing anything you may regret.
DO have an emergency exit plan
Decide what you would like to do should the Ex Encounter go awry. Use your phone, friends, or work as an excuse. Anything to end the interaction before it goes any further. Make your excuse realistic, or he’ll know. (Then again, who cares if he does?) Keep it simple.
DON’T overthink everything that was said
Puh-leeeeease do not spend the rest of your day analyzing everything you both said. “What did he mean by ‘Things are great’? Did he mean they were never great when we were together?” “Why did I say that?!” These types of thoughts will not serve you in any helpful way. You won’t be able to change what was said. So, good or bad, let it be. Don’t torture yourself with unanswered questions. You’ve been doing a kick-ass job at moving on so far, don’t let this interaction derail your progress!
Become an Ex Encounter Expert
You got this. Remember: Have a plan. Act in a way that you feel good about. Keep it light. Running into your Ex is almost up there with death and taxes: it’s bound to happen at some point. The world will keep spinning, and seeing him won’t undo all of your healing unless you let it. Go into it prepared and in control and you will come out of it unscathed.