Breakups
Heartbroken messages to keep in mind if you run into your ex.

Here's Exactly How To Keep Your Cool When You Run Into Your Ex

When pretending you don’t see them just won’t cut it.

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I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant, elbows deep in a shrimp burrito, when a face I would recognize anywhere suddenly walked through the door. There, on what seemed to be a particularly steamy first date, was someone I had once gone out with. And they were laughing and holding hands with someone else. Even if your mouth isn't full of chimichanga, there's never a good time to randomly run into an old flame. And while you can't plan for everything in life, knowing what to say to someone who broke your heart can make you feel marginally more prepared for an impromptu run-in.

No matter how long you dated someone, getting dumped sucks. When you've fallen for another person, learning that you aren't on the same page is totally disorienting and at least a little bit heartbreaking. And while everyone heals differently, knowing what heartbroken message you would say to an ex can help you move on.

When speaking to Bustle, Lisa Brateman, psychotherapist and relationship specialist, recommended honoring yourself and your feelings during any ex run-ins. "It's a matter of getting through it with integrity — not for the other person, but for yourself," Brateman explained. "What would make me feel good about myself?"

That answer will be different for everyone, but if you’re looking for some inspiration for what to say to someone who broke your heart, these people shared their takes. And although their answers might not give you closure, they’ll definitely give you some comfort.

01

What To Say If You’re Still Heartbroken & Mad

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If the breakup is still fresh, or even if it’s not, you may have some lingering feelings of anger toward your ex. When that’s the case, a mature, amicable moment of closure may not be what you want. Sometimes, you just want them to know that you’re still angry, and that’s OK. It’s also not uncommon. Daydreaming about giving your ex that perfect insult may not be the healthiest post-breakup hobby, but it’s definitely a comforting one. Whether you just want to “call [them] an idiot” like one Redditor or give them a more in-depth heartbroken message, the world is your oyster.

For many people, the main source of anger is feeling like they wasted time on their ex. “You were the most garbage human I have ever known and I cannot believe I wasted two years of my life being with you,” one Redditor wrote. Another had a similar issue with what they saw as time wasted. “You owe my dog an apology. She slept in a laundry room for 10 months when she's the one I should've been sharing the bed with,” another person on Reddit explained.

Of course, not every angry message to your ex needs to be quite so serious. There’s a place for pettiness — and, honestly, I love to see it. Stella, 23, told Elite Daily that she’d love to tell her ex, “Your art is bad! And I don’t want to be with someone with poor personal hygiene!” (LOL.) Stella isn’t the only one with a creative insult up her sleeve, either. Christene, 27, explained to Elite Daily that if she ran into her ex, she’d say, “You're an egocentric jack*ss. And I should have let you pay for more dinners.” As Olivia Rodrigo would say, it’s brutal out here.

But some have a slightly more sympathetic approach to giving their ex one last dig. “You suck. Jk hope all is well. You were a sh*tty boyfriend but you’re still a good person,” one Redditor wrote. Juniper, 32, had a more bittersweet message in mind. “I thought I could love you enough for you to be good to me and better to yourself.”

Whichever route you take, venting about your anger to your ex (even if you’re only daydreaming about the off chance that you run into each other), feels pretty good.

02

What To Say If You Regret Your Behavior In The Relationship

Although it’s easy to pin all of the blame for a breakup on your ex, it’s rarely that black and white. It typically takes some time to see the situation with clarity. It’s never easy, but recognizing the role you played in the end of your relationship can benefit you in the long run (and keep you from making the same mistakes in the future).

For some, they see their breakup as a result of miscommunication — a problem that takes two people. Lucy, 26, told Elite Daily, “I wish we communicated better. I thought we were on the same page. Obviously not.” For others, their breakup was a matter of not listening to their partne, specifically what they could and couldn’t give them. “I should [have] listened to him when he said he was only smitten with me. He told me to my face that he didn't see us going anywhere serious and I didn't want to hear it,” one Redditor wrote.

But a breakup isn’t always a result of a communication breakdown. Sometimes, people just grow apart. One person on Reddit explained, “I miss you and I wish I made the necessary changes back then. I've made a lot of improvement, and I'll keep going, but I just wish I could share it all with you.” There’s no reason you can’t apologize for the role you played, either. Another Redditor wrote, “I'm sorry for who I became. It wasn't the best version of me. I became angry and jealous. Thank you for realizing these aspects in me and inspiring me to become myself again. I am working on that now, and I see the change I want to be.” (If my ex wants to say this to me, feel free.)

Some people even want to thank their ex for teaching them difficult but important lessons. I mean, talk about maturity. “Thank you for showing me what it is I need from a relationship. Thank you for showing me my own faults in the relationship. Thank you for teaching me a hard lesson but one that has been fruitful,” one Redditor put this gratitude into words. Another person on Reddit echoed a similar message, “Thank you for leaving me at the right time, teaching me the right lesson.”

03

What To Say If You Know You Deserved More

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Others recognize that they deserved more in their past relationship and wish they could express that to their ex. Aubrey, 29, told Elite Daily that she wishes she could say, “Why couldn’t you have stuck by my side the way I stuck by yours? I was worth the effort.”A Redditor expressed something similar: “[T]hank you for breaking up with me and doing what I didn't have the guts to do. I deserve far better than you.”

But what does deserving better actually look like? It depends on the relationship, but is usually an indicator that your romance was full of more than its fair share of disappointments. For example, feeling a lack of support throughout a past relationship is a common thread in these resentful breakups. A Redditor explained, “I'd say, 'You know, back when I was struggling to achieve my dream you didn't support me. Remember when you told me that your family has asked you why I wasn't in school and you implied that you agreed with them?' Then I'd tell him he really missed out.”

No surprise, a lack of communication also contributes to these contentious scenarios. Another Redditor explained, “Why would you say yes to being my partner if you knew from the beginning that you couldn't handle being in a relationship? ...I wish you hadn't lead me on for so long just to figure out something about yourself.”

Being led on may feel like a betrayal, especially in hindsight, but sometimes it’s even more explicit. One Redditor wrote, “I'd tell him that I know I was the other girl. I found out not too long after we broke up. Not that I didn’t suspect it prior, but I wouldn’t let myself believe it. Honestly, I'd thank him for ending it with me. It made me realize I was stronger than I thought I was. Hopefully one day his other girlfriend will realize the same about herself.”

Knowing you deserved better may not make the breakup hurt any less, but it’s a good sign that you know your worth and won’t accept anything less.

04

What To Say If You Still Have Feelings For Your Ex

Getting the last word in with your ex might be fueling your fantasies, but you could also be wishing for a more romantic reunion. Even if you don’t necessarily want to be with that person anymore, there can still be some lingering emotions — feelings that you might want to put into words. One Redditor wrote, “I will always love you. We aren't together now and I don't want to get back together but there was something in you that made me want to be with you so long ago and so I won’t allow myself to talk badly about you.”

Another had similarly kind words for their ex though they left more room for potentially getting back together, “I wish I could stop loving you. I wish I could stop thinking about you. Months later, I wake up and want it to be next to you. I miss you and the person you are. I hate that I care so much about you when you clearly didn't care enough about me.” A different Redditor cut through the ambiguity, writing simply, “Just f*cking kiss me and you’ll realize that this was all a mistake.”

Whether you want to get back together or just “miss [your ex] sometimes” like this other person on Reddit, feeling something for your ex is completely normal. In most cases, it just takes some time to move on.

When it comes to breakups, the aim is to feel at peace with each other and with yourself — though it may take awhile to get there. Closure might sound like something elusive and unattainable, but it can happen. And although it might be tempting to get some of this residual frustration off your chest, heartbroken quotes probably won’t expedite this process. Eventually, though, you’ll get there, and then you might have a much more lax approach to any unexpected run-ins with your ex. One Redditor put it into words, “I think her and I aired everything out we needed to last time we spoke. I suppose all I would say is something along the lines of 'Live a good life, and good luck with everything.'” Goals.

Expert:

Lisa Brateman, psychologist and relationship specialist