7 Ways To Handle Running Into Your High School Ex Over Thanksgiving Break (Other Than Internally Screaming)

by Sydnee Lyons

There are some nightmares that everyone has at least once in their lifetime, like showing up to school without pants or watching your teeth fall to the ground while you’re delivering an important speech. While these aren’t things you’re likely to experience in real life, there’s one nightmare we all face at one time or another — running into a high-school ex.

If I ran into my high-school ex right now, things would get super awkward, super quickly. Don’t get me wrong. We still follow each on social media and, every now and then, one of us double-taps on a nice photo of the other person succeeding at life, but we never actually speak to each other. In fact, we never even comment on each other’s posts. That’s how little we have to say each other.

With high-school exes comes a long list of existential questions. Most notably, why was I attracted to this person and am I still attracted to this person? But none of those questions really help when you’re stuck in the chips aisle, five feet away from bumping carts with them because no one will let you turn your cart around.

If you find yourself in this or a similarly unfortunate situation with your ex out in public, here are couple ways you might react.

1. Run

No, seriously. I mean it. Run in the opposite direction. Run right past them. It really doesn’t matter where to. Technique, form — just throw it all out the window until you’ve made it to safety. Nothing says, "Hey, yup, we did it but let’s never, ever do it again," like this subtle move.

2. Duck And Cover

Maybe this is bad advice to give in the event of a nuclear explosion, which is actually when the term gained traction back in the '50s, but it's definitely an option if you run into a high school ex. They can't ruin your day if they never see you.

3. High-Five Them

High-fiving your ex in public sends a clear message. It says, "Hey world, I dated this person and I'm OK with it, not OK enough to hug them but still moderately OK."

4. Fake It

You know, like you did when you said your first time together was amazing? Exchange pointless pleasantries and awkwardly distant hugs that Catholic school teachers everywhere would be proud of. Personally, this tactic is my least favorite, but you'll be able to go about the rest of your day with the vague notion that you're not a terrible person.

5. Pretend They Don't Exist

Here's an idea. Why not stare blankly in their general direction without ever acknowledging them? Pretending not to see your ex, even if they're literally standing right in front of you, might be a bold move but you're a risk-taker.

6. Strike A Pose

And hold it. No matter how hard they try to get your attention, remain completely frozen. If you run into them again later on in life, you can tell them you were taking a method acting class and had to stay in character.

7. Ask Them For Their Autograph

There's no real reason for doing this (unless they suddenly blew up after you dated and are starring in movies now), but can you imagine the look on your ex's face? Iconic.

Of course, if all else fails, you could try acting like a decent human being, asking how their life has been and wishing them nothing but the best before amicably parting ways.

According to Laurie Davis Edwards, relationship expert and founder of eFlirt, that's the difference between reacting and responding. Edwards says, "Your reaction is instant. It's whatever immediately comes to mind, but it's not necessarily what's good for you." When we react instantaneously to an uncomfortable situation, we often succumb to our subconscious and allow overwhelming emotions, like fear, to influence our decisions. So maybe don't run away screaming?

Edwards explains, "If you run into your ex and he's a hottie, maybe your reaction is, 'I'll show him how great my life has become without him.' But perhaps when you take a few moments and consider your response, you decide, 'You know what? I should connect with him and see if there's anything there.'" It's always better to respond than to react.

Catching up with someone you once spent every weekend with isn't the worst thing in the world. And if it is, there's a good chance they want the ordeal to be over faster than you do.

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