Seeing your ex for the first time after breaking up feels like getting punched in the stomach.
The wind gets knocked out of you. It's an adrenaline rush; you don't know if you're grateful for it, or if you want to start sobbing.
Someone who was once the world to you is suddenly just a stranger. So how are you supposed to act when you see your ex? Kiss them? Yell at them? Hide behind a lamp, and hope that you somehow have the ability to turn invisible?
If you've recently run into your ex in public, or know that you're soon going to be attending the same event, here are little ways to cope with seeing your ex for the first time post-breakup. (And getting in a huge fight in line at the coffee shop is not one of them.)
1. Don't Over-Talk
I don't know about you, but when I get nervous, I talk and I talk and I talk in an effort to fill any potential silence. I'll talk about the weather, that documentary I just watched, the person I just saw trip on the street, the parking ticket I got two weeks ago.
Newsflash: It's not the silence that can be awkward, it's my blabbermouth.
When you run into an ex, the secret to a successful interaction is keeping it short and sweet. Keeping the conversation at under three minutes at most is key.
You don't need to catch up on everything that has happened since you broke up or find out how his cousins are. Keep the conversation kind and complimentary, and if you find yourself wanting to talk more, make plans to catch up another time.
Remember, when it comes to running into an ex, the more you talk, the higher the risk is for embarrassment.
2. Don't Overthink
Don't read into anything your ex says or does.
That hug doesn't mean that he wants to get back together. Just because he tells you that you look good, doesn't mean you two are still in love.
Running into an ex is an emotional experience. You long for the past, you get angry at your partner for ruining it, and let's face it: Sometimes, you get horny. Don't idealize or fantasize about the person you broke up with for a reason — and probably a good reason at that.
After running into an ex, leave it in the moment, and then, keep moving forward. Don't text all of your girlfriends or talk about it incessantly with every person you hang out with for the next week, or else you'll just relive your breakup all over again.
You ran into a person from your past, and, unfortunately, sometimes, that's all it is.
3. Don't Bring Up The Past
Running into an ex at a party is not the occasion to tell him that you're still resentful about that night he didn't do the dishes or the time he forgot your birthday.
If you see an ex, keep it light, breezy, and fun. It's not the time to air your grievances, especially in the line at Starbucks. If you still feel like you have unfinished business, then schedule an in-person meeting or phone call for that.
If you run into an ex on a whim, keep the conversation in the present. It's not the time to bring out the skeletons in your relationship closet, or most likely, you'll end up fighting or crying in public.
Not a good look!
4. Don't Lie About The Present
"Oh, yeah. I have a boyfriend. He's a model. And a doctor. He's not here right now, though, because he's out of town. Traveling on his private jet. To do charity work."
Bluffing or exaggerating about your current personal, professional, or romantic situation only makes you seem desperate and sad. You don't need to impress anyone, and there is not, despite popular belief, a prize for whomever is doing better after a breakup.
In fact, the person who is doing best post-breakup is the person who has nothing to prove and is just living their life for themselves.
So if you run into an ex, be honest and authentic about what's going on in your life, if he asks. And whatever you do, don't lie and tell your ex that you're pregnant with his child to get him back. This doesn't work!
5. Be The Bigger Person
If your ex comes at you trying to fight, don't sink to his level. Be the bigger person, and remember all the tips I just gave you: Keep it short, sweet, and if he's still angry, tell him you can meet at another time and place.
If there is still animosity between you and your ex, and you hate the idea of running into him in public, then kill him with kindness if you see him. Being rude, condescending, or spiteful won't help either of you to move on or be happy in your individual lives.
In this case, a wave, a head nod, or a short hello might even be best. At the end of the day, you'll never regret being kind or having manners.
But whatever you do, make sure you don't hide behind a tree or crouch behind a sofa to avoid your ex. Most likely, he'll see you, and be able to tell everyone "See, I told you she was crazy!"