If unexpectedly running into an ex is something you dread, Thanksgiving break may present even more of an emotional minefield than usual. While heading back home for the holidays means reuniting with friends, family, and loved ones, it can also result in crossing paths with ghosts of romances past. Reunions like this definitely have plenty of potential to be awkward, but they don't have to be if you're prepared to run into your ex during Thanksgiving break.
Although it might not happen at all (fingers crossed), coming face-to-face with your former flame will go more smoothly if you have a plan in place. How you prepare for this possibility will largely come down to how the relationship ended, as Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast, tells Elite Daily. "If you ended on good terms, it would obviously be less stressful. However, if you ended on bad terms, or are still really struggling with the breakup, just the thought of running into your ex can be extremely stressful," she says. Either way, Leckie suggests having a game plan in mind. "The best thing is just being aware that it could happen," she explains. Here's what experts suggest.
Get In The Right Headspace
The first step to mentally preparing for a run-in is to visualize the situation, as Cherlyn Chong, a dating and breakup recovery coach for professional women, tells Elite Daily. “Set up two plans of action: a main one, and a backup plan after that. Then, close your eyes and visualize yourself going through all different scenarios,” she advises. “If you can control everything in your head and visualize you coming out on top in every scenario, your anxiety about running into your ex will be lowered. You want to appear confident and happy, not devastated and nervous.”
If all of this visualizing brings up old feelings and hurts about the breakup, Leckie suggests reframing your perspective to one that encourages you to move on. “Keep the reasons why you broke up top of mind versus revisiting memory lane, which can be especially hard to avoid doing around the holiday season,” she explains.
What To Do In The Moment
If the time comes and you find yourself face-to-face with your ex, Chong's advice is to keep it light and positive. “I recommend saying a bright ‘Hi!’ with a smile on your face. Then it's up to them if they want to acknowledge you back and make small talk,” she says. However, it's probably better not to linger too long, she adds. “Excuse yourself soon after because you'll also want to appear busy. The ex is the ex, and you have very limited time for them now.”
Don’t worry too much about appearing to be rude, adds Leckie, particularly if the relationship ended on bad terms. “You are under no obligation to speak to them. You have to put you and your healing first,” she says.
Process Your Feelings And Move On
If you’ve been feeling really anxious about running into your former partner, all that anticipation could cause you to overlook how you might feel after the fact. But proper self-care is an important step to processing a holiday run-in with your ex. “Acknowledge how you're feeling. Don’t be upset with yourself if you're feeling sad after, that’s natural,” advises Leckie. She suggests being around friends and family to stay busy. "Distractions are ideal if you are still hurting from the breakup."
You should also take a moment to congratulate yourself for how you handled the situation and go easy yourself even if it didn’t go exactly as you planned. “Empathize on what you did well during the run-in,” says Chong. “There's no point beating yourself up about any mistakes you made. It has already happened, there is nothing you can do, and to ruminate on the past will make your actual Thanksgiving no longer enjoyable. Don't do that to yourself.”
While running into an ex over the holiday break, especially for the first time since you broke up, can be stressful, handling it like a pro — or at least appearing to — is one thing you can be truly thankful for.
Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast
Cherlyn Chong, a dating and breakup recovery coach for professional women