How To Survive Running Into An Ex

Running into Ex

Worried that you might run into an ex this spring? Here are our tips for surviving that first run-in, post-breakup. (No, you probably shouldn’t just run away.)

Plan ahead.
Instead of just fretting about potentially running into your ex, why not actually plan for it? Create a strategy now so you’re not caught off-guard if and when it happens.

Ask yourself, ”What would make me feel good about myself?” Lisa Brateman, a Psychotherapist and Relationship Specialist, tells Bustle. Preparing your response to a surprise run-in can ensure that you survive the encounter with integrity, she adds.

Imagine the worst-case scenario. What if you bump into your ex at the pharmacy on a sick day when you look awful? What if he has a new girlfriend with him? Anticipating the worst — and having a plan to remain composed in that situation — can help keep you from appearing flustered and insecure.

Say hello first.
If you say hello first, you have the advantage. You initiated contact, so any further acknowledgement is up to your ex, not you. She might ignore you, she might offer a few flustered words and keep walking, or she might stop to chat for a bit. The ball’s in her court, not yours. By saying hi, you’ve told her that you’re not feeling awkward about the encounter — even if you’re panicking a bit on the inside.

Or don’t.
If the relationship ended badly — or you don’t feel like you can handle saying hi just yet — you have no obligation to say hi. The relationship is over. Don’t force yourself to engage with an ex if it’s not healthy for you to do so.

Keep it short. Play it cool.
Say hi, keep the conversation light, and move on. Don’t bring up your old relationship. Don’t overdo the friendliness — unless you’re a naturally bubbly person just being yourself, of course. And don’t pepper your small talk with bitterness or sarcasm. Be respectful, take the high road, and refuse to pick a fight. Simply wish your ex well and walk away.

(Don’t linger, overshare or start texting your ex again after the encounter, either. You’re done as a couple. Just because you have some residual feelings doesn’t mean you should do anything about them.)

Expect nothing.
You might muster up all the courage you have to say hello and get nothing in response. He might not be ready to engage — or feel unprepared for your first meeting. That’s okay. You did your part. Continue on with your day.

Stay sober.
If you end up at the same party as your ex, avoid consuming too much “liquid courage” before speaking to her. Alcohol rarely, if ever, helps in awkward situations — and it often makes things considerably worse. Don’t add regret to the awkwardness. Talk to her (briefly) while you’re sober.

(And never, ever throw yourself at someone else just because your ex is at an event with a new partner.)

It’s okay to hurt.
Just hurt in private. Your ex is no longer privy to your feelings. If you’re still hurting from the breakup — or maybe the run-in triggered something — you can’t process that pain with the person who hurt you. Fake a smile until he’s gone, then address the sudden emotional upheaval with a good friend.

Dish to friends.
That’s what friends are for, right? After running into your ex, call a friend to process what just happened. Or meet up for coffee after work and unload to your heart’s content. When you’re still reeling from a breakup — or feeling vulnerable after awkward small talk with an ex — your friends are more valuable than ever.