I recently heard a rumor that my most heinous ex had moved to my town. We used to live several towns apart and I was grateful for the geographical buffer, but now I live in constant dread of running into them. It would be one thing if I could predict it and have my game face on, but I know it’s probably going to happen when I'm running some quick, last-minute errand and I'm looking peak busted. The only thing worse than running into an ex unexpectedly is when it means you're also seeing your ex with someone new for the first time. That's what we call a double-gut punch, and we've all been there.
If you've recently broken up with someone, you're likely living in anticipation of the moment you run into them and their new bae. I'm not going to sugarcoat it — when it inevitably happens it's going to suck. But the good news is the pain will pass. Plus, there's nothing like seeing your ex move on to help motivate you to do the same. If you've ever been in this situation, you know it follows a fairly predictable path from shock to side-eye, and it goes a little something like this.
1. You First Spot Them And You're Shook
There you are, just minding your business, living the single life when you spot a familiar face. Oh my god, it's the ex. Your heart races, and then drops when you see they are very much not alone. Shock and horror set in.
2. Bone-Chilling Panic Sets In
Once the initial shock wears off, you realize you’re staring and you just pray that they haven't noticed — and, if they have, then please god don’t let them come over here and force to you have a conversation like a freakin’ adult. This is not the time for maturity, this is the time for flight or fight. All of your instincts tell you to duck and run... at least so you can find somewhere you can continue to stare unobserved.
3. You Feel Like Your Heart Is Breaking All Over Again
When the adrenaline fades, you're going to miss it because the next thing you're going to feel is sadness. You thought you were over this. How are you back here, deep in your feelings? Seeing them together reminds you of those early honeymoon days when the two of you were all googly-eyed at each other. There was a time that you thought maybe they were the one, and now they have moved on and it sucks. And that’s when...
4. The Anger And Betrayal Kick In
How dare they?! I mean, seriously? How long has it been since the two of you split?! They already moved on? Rude! Did nothing you two shared actually mean anything? "Typical, just typical," you shout internally. What a pig. You are better off without a sociopath who could move on in [insert time] anyway. You think maybe you should make out with their best friend, that will show them. (Please don’t.) All that righteous anger feels great and motivates you to enter the next phase.
5. You Start The Investigation Phase
Time to learn everything you can about this new person — slyly. You ask your friends what they know, and note which ones give away the fact that they knew that your ex had moved because they don't want to make eye contact. What you can't learn from folks there, you learn from social media as you head to the closest bathroom and do a deep dive on the new boo.
6. You Can’t Resist Comparing Yourself To The New Girlfriend
At first you are fascinated, but that quickly spirals as you start comparing yourself to them. Who has the better life, better job, better friends, better looks? It’s miserable and a betrayal to your feminist ideals. But you indulge a little longer, trying to hate them, and honestly can't find anything particularly bad about them. Well, that backfired.
7. You Mourn The Relationship One Last Time And Then Let It Go
The fact that all your investigation has actually kind of humanized this new girl means it's time to start getting real with how you are feeling — and how you are feeling is complicated. It’s time to mourn the relationship one last time; to feel your sad feelings and then let your ex, who honestly you don't even really want to be with anymore, go. You realize that the relationship is over over, and you are free to move on and find someone new. You're feeling enlightened but, well, you wouldn't hate it if your ex saw you move on and did a little bit of suffering, too. Just sayin’.
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