If I had a dollar for every time I ran into an ex after a breakup and ended up making myself look like a total psychopath, I would be retired and living in Cabo to avoid any future interactions with the human race.
But here I am, not rich, not in Cabo, and my ex probably still thinks I'm crazy from that time I ran up to him drunk in the bar and begged him to take me home right in front of another girl.
While I may not be able to change his opinion of me or my previous actions, I feel confident that if I were to run into any of my exes today, I would still wake up the next morning with that "no regrets" feeling. I'd shock them with my newfound maturity and calm, cool and collected attitude.
It's hard to fake this "cool" attitude, especially when the breakup was recent, and you are not over the fact this person is no longer a part of your life.
You may have a newfound maturity and have been killing it since the relationship ended, but there is always an initial shock and panic when you wonder how pretty you look that day, if they are going to have a conversation with you or if this is going to be the moment when they finally realize they lost a great one.
If you have struggled with keeping your cool during that dreaded moment when you run into a previous love interest, you probably still worry about what they think of you, whether or not you still love them or if you came across like you are better than them.
After all, who doesn't dream of running into their ex with a tall, dark and handsome man on their arm, and a pearly white grin on their face that screams, "Look how much better off I am without you?"
Even if you don't have a new man in your life, you have been fighting off tears every night before bed or you decided to leave the house that morning in sweatpants and a t-shirt, there are plenty of ways to keep a cool air about you when you see the one who broke your heart:
1. Smile through the pain.
So, your heart is racing, you forget how to breathe and you avoid any direct eye contact so he can't tell you are plotting how to run away. Don't worry; this moment is not going to end your life.
Just take a deep breath and remember all the things you have been doing since you guys broke up. Maybe you see your friends more, maybe you have been going to yoga and all those classes are finally starting to pay off or maybe you just finished reading a good book.
There is definitely something in your life to be smiling about, and it helps to put on a nice, genuine smile and not think about your ex in this moment. Instead, think about the good you are doing for yourself.
Your friends have probably told you all the reasons you are better off, and you probably justify it on a day-to-day basis, so do not lose sight of that in this moment.
Yes, you may be hurt, but you definitely didn't forget how to smile. Flash off those bad boys, and he will never know the difference.
2. Less talking, more body language.
If you haven't actually been going to the gym, reading or doing things to better yourself (Who really has time for that?), just think about how you want him to perceive you.
It will come across in the way you smile and say, "Hey! How have you been?" Wait for him to say you look different or seem happier because he probably will notice it in your demeanor and the way you carry yourself.
Don't start spitting out every single thing you had for breakfast that morning and all the fun plans you have later that evening because you will sound desperate for attention.
If he didn't care about the things you were doing with your life before this, he probably doesn't care now. It's better to just stick to small talk, stand up straight and look into his eyes with all the kindness you can muster up.
3. Don't sound too eager and ask too many questions.
If you're not excited to see him and don't want to sound angry or upset, you don't have to try too hard to play nice. It doesn't help your case to sound like a 5-year-old who just saw the ice cream truck.
Yes, you want to kill him with kindness, but you also want to keep your attitude indifferent and stick to a few basic questions. He is probably going to have a conversation with at least one of his friends saying, "Guess who I ran into today?"
And if all you did was talk about him, asking him about the Instagram photo he posted three days ago or if he is doing anything later, he is probably going to spin it to make it seem like you are still obsessed with him.
News flash: Everything is not about him, so make sure he knows that and walk away before you sound like you are actually interested in what he has to say or figuring out how you can see him again.
4. Make up an excuse to leave and have a "sign off" phrase ready.
OK, you have entertained a conversation long enough. You don't want to ask too many questions, but you definitely made sure to ask him how he has been doing and if he's been up to anything new.
He is either going to keep talking about himself or turn the conversation to you, asking you the same generic questions. Either way, give him a chance to speak, answer his questions and then say you have to go.
The best way to come across like you have been up to a lot of great new things, without talking about all of them, is to appear busy.
"I'm so sorry, but I have to run. I am going to meet some friends for lunch/dinner, and I'm running a little late! But it was really good to see you!"
The "sign off" line is key. You definitely want to say it was good to see him or you hope he is doing well before you go.
If you were close with his family, tell him to say hello or send them your love. If you are feeling extra bold and generous, you can even throw in a compliment, but if he sucks, then don't butter him up.
Just make sure you leave the conversation on a high note in whatever way you feel the most comfortable. Don't force a hug or tell him he looks great if he actually looks like hell.
But, there's nothing wrong with saying, "I'm glad we bumped into each other" and walking away with some dignity.
5. Leave your house with confidence every day.
There is really no way to anticipate encounters like this, so remember when you are leaving your house to be thankful you are still standing and moving forward each day.
Indoors is where you can binge watch "Gossip Girl" with your box of tissue or eat a full carton of Ben & Jerry's. When you step outside, do it with grace, class and a positive attitude.
Life is still going to move on even without your ex, so it is up to you to make the most of each day. Maybe you need a little makeup to feel confident, or maybe you just bought a new t-shirt that makes your body look better than ever.
Point out a few of those things in the mirror before you leave the house, and don't let anything on the other side of the door get you down. There may be little things here and there that try to defeat you, like a cute couple holding hands, or a cafe where you and your ex used to get coffee.
Have a moment, and then take the high road. Be happy for other people around you and for moments in your life that brought you to that exact location.
Who knows? Maybe with all the positivity you have been radiating, you will meet someone new who makes you forget all about your ex, and you won't ever worry about bumping into him again.