Here’s How To Handle Seeing Your Ex On A Dating App Before You're Ready

Re-downloading Tinder after a breakup can feel like a rite of passage. When you're ready for this step in your healing process, swiping right can serve as a cathartic reminder that there are plenty of fish in the sea. The profiles you come across can deliver an effective distraction, and matching with strangers can feel empowering — until an all too familiar face pops up on your screen. So, what should you do if you see your ex on a dating app? This is a painfully common post-break-up experience for many people in our tech-savvy society. One that can leave us hurt and confused about what to do next. The first step towards feeling better is often getting their profile off your screen. But the question remains: should you swipe right?

According to Dating coach Meredith Golden, perhaps you shouldn't. This can be a difficult situation to navigate, so I asked Golden how best to move forward — her answers were validating.

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Golden stresses multiple points about this experience that are incredibly reassuring. First off, it's helpful to remind yourself that when you come across your ex's profile, that means that you are both using the app. Golden adds, "It doesn’t mean that their heart isn’t hurting, getting on the apps is an adaptive coping technique to try and move forward. It’s become part of the healing process." A common reaction to seeing your ex on Tinder can be the discouraging assumption that they have moved on. Try asking yourself the same questions you have for you ex. Are you over it? Are you still hurting? Are your feelings complicated? In many cases, it's likely that your ex feels the same way you do — so give them the benefit of the doubt.

Finding your ex on a dating app can lead to a rush of conflicting feelings, so take a few deep breaths. If you feel like you're repressing your emotions, don't hesitate to reach out to a friend for help. Talking it out is a great tactic towards feeling better! Additionally, remind yourself that reactivating a dating profile in no way means that either of you have completely moved on. Additionally, ask yourself why you're having such a strong reaction. There may still be some unresolved aspects of your breakup, which is typical and can take time to process.

According to Golden, interacting in a flirtatious manner with your ex on a dating app can be potentially harmful. If seeing them hurts you, it may be a sign that you are not ready to resume communicating with them again — online or IRL. Don't set yourself up for potential disappointment. If you were to swipe right on your ex, and they didn't return the sentiment, it might feel like an unnecessary blow. Golden says that if you feel ready to reach out to your ex, consider using a more direct channel of communication, like arranging a call or, if absolutely necessary, meeting up to talk face to face.

The final step in this process comes down to swiping. Echoing the words of Dory in Finding Nemo, Meredith advises you to just keep swiping. Spend 20 mindful minutes a day focusing on the new matches you receive. Imagine all the new possibilities, instead of daydreaming about your old flame. She also emphasizes that after you've closed the app, if you're still feeling down, consider calling a friend to talk or hangout. The change of pace will help get your mind off of your breakup.

A while back, I was swiping on Tinder, freshly single and still hurting, when I suddenly saw my own face on my screen. I was confused, but soon realized that it was my ex's profile — and that he had included a picture with me in it. I swiped left instinctively to get the photo off my screen. However, because it was still bothering me a few days later, I texted him explaining why I felt hurt. He apologized for hurting my feelings. It was a simple conversation, but by communicating directly and honestly, I felt both seen and heard.

Remember that no matter how lonely you feel in the moment, you are not alone. Jumping back in to dating again, especially on different apps, is a common post break-up occurrence in a technologically savvy society. Modern dating has its nuanced challenges, but when it comes to Tinder practices, the Dory swiping method proves that there are still plenty of fish in the sea. Never be afraid to dive back in and start swimming again!

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