For some of us, running into an ex can be absolutely horrifying. For me, it's pretty much the emotional equivalent of having a heart attack while trying not to vomit.
Luckily, I've run into exes one too many times, and by now, have developed a clear seven-step survival plan for what to say when you want them to know you're doing better.
1. Fill them in on the things you've gotten to do since the breakup.
The key here is to not actually use the words "since the breakup." Your ex will understand these things happened after they knew you.
Every time I run into an ex, I make sure to talk about the adventures I've had at luxury resorts or the time I went skydiving. That makes him feels terrible about his mind-numbingly boring finance job in the city. They may even admit how boring their life is, in which case, one point for you.
This is not the time to be self-deprecating.
2. Subtly hint at how you're owning it at work.
Career is a big one.
Nine times out of 10, your ex will ask if you're still working at your old company. Nothing wrong if you are. Just say yes, and add how you're up for a promotion and how they really value you.
I mean, if you stay somewhere voluntarily for more than a few years, they must be treating you well, right? So it's not even that much of an exaggeration.
If you have gotten a new job, that's even better. Your ex will get jealous hearing you've moved on to new, exciting things. Go right ahead and tell him how much you love your new job.
If you're totally unemployed and broke (I've been there), pull a Scarlett Johansson in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," and say that you're "currently at liberty."
Everyone wishes to be "currently at liberty." That also opens the door to mentioning your self-improvement projects.
3. Show off the revenge body.
Is your ex going to check out your body as he summons past images of you two having sex? Absolutely.
Unless you're in the "eating ice cream and crying about the breakup" phase, it's very possible the breakup could be helping you get the body of your dreams. Meal prep, cooking and take-out are all single decisions, so you wind up making the best one for you.
And when your ex isn't around with his annoyingly fast metabolism, tempting you with a daily dose of fried food, you can shed those relationship pounds.
So work that body and tell him how you got there. Are you running a 5K any time soon? Let your ex know. Even if you aren't and you just pound the treadmill at the gym, that counts.
4. Use this little psychological trick.
At one point in the past, I was really unhappy about how things ended with an ex and did some research on what to say in order to make him want me back.
To my surprise, I found a ton of advice, and I think my favorite was playing our relationship back in his head. Reminding him of the good times you had together is the move if you want to know how to win your ex back.
Somehow, reminiscing about your relationship tends to bring up mostly positive experiences and your ex begins to feel as if he missed out by letting you go.
Asking about mutual friends plays well into that, too. Your ex will be jealous you're making memories with someone else now.
5. Casually mention your new relationship (or potential one).
Remember, do it gracefully. Kind of like: "You're on your way to [restaurant]? Nice place, John and I went there a few weeks back."
Don't even bother clarifying who this "John" is. Your ex is not stupid and will immediately catch that name drop. Keep the conversation going, and know this is all your ex will be able to think about.
Hating on your ex's new bae makes it harder to move on, so let them feel some sweet, burning jealousy.
6. Mention your contribution to society.
Do you volunteer anywhere? Has your writing recently been published? Did you help an old lady cross the street last year? Anything counts.
Being selfless is sexy.
7. Show him you're totally at peace.
Even if you have a voodoo doll of this guy, make it seem like you are thrilled to see him on a platonic level. Treat him as if you were putting him in the friend-zone.
Your ex will be very jealous, because he'll see that you're untouchable and there's nothing that could ruin your vibe.