Seeing your ex is never not awkward. Any time they pop up on your friends' Instagram stories, or coincidentally stroll into that Italian restaurant you both love, things are bound to feel weird. But when you see your ex on a dating app, it takes things to a new level of emotionally unsettling. I'd imagine it feels kind of like being sucker-punched while your ex dances around with a flashing sign that says, "I'm over you! Onto the next one!" Right?
Thank goodness I don't live on the same continent as any of my ex-boyfriends.
Unfortunately, unless you pulled an Eat, Pray, Love and went off the grid after your breakup (or moved across the ocean, like me), the odds that you'll spot your ex on a dating app aren't exactly in your favor. And if you two live in the same 20-mile radius, chances are you're going to stumble across their dating profile at some point, so you should probably be prepared.
Here are four things to keep in mind if and when the time comes.
1. Avert your eyes.
Step one: immediately cover your eyes, like you're watching an extra gory scene in a horror movie. I know it's tempting, but don't scroll through their pictures and see if they've cropped you out of any photos. Don't scoff at the fact that they added a few extra inches to their listed height. Don't read their bio and roll your eyes because you're totally the one who introduced them to the sitcom they're quoting (but aww, remember that time you stayed up all night binge-watching it?).
What information do you really need to see there, anyway? Nothing. You don't need to see anything. Stalking your ex's dating profile is only going to stir up confusing, unresolved feelings. So just look away.
2. Swipe left.
Do you enjoy emotional torture? No? Then definitely don't swipe right on your ex and wait to see if you guys are a match. Even the experts advise against it.
Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but you're almost always going to be better off looking for a new beau than giving past relationships a second shot. And, as Edelman explained, "If he or she wants you back, they know how to reach you."
3. Remember why you're there.
For one, there's absolutely a reason why you broke up with your ex. But there's also a reason why you're on a dating app right now.
Are you looking for a fun, spontaneous hookup, or perhaps a cute, new bae to cuddle up with during cuffing season? Maybe you're even ready to dive into another serious relationship? Whatever the reason might be, remind yourself that you didn't create a dating profile with the intention of getting back together with your ex.
As Krissy Dolor, Director of Client Success at eFlirt, recently shared with Elite Daily, "Most times, we crave going back to an ex because it's comfortable, and because we're scared of the unknown. But just because you don't know what (or who) else is out there, doesn't mean it won't be even better than what you do know (your ex)."
Essentially, exes are like emotionally exhausting security blankets, and you're a strong, independent woman who definitely doesn't need that in her life.
4. Ask yourself if you're ready to be friends.
Even if you're completely over the relationship and didn't feel tempted to stalk or swipe right, seeing your ex on a dating app is still going to put that person at the forefront of your mind. At least for a minute. And hey, that's not always a bad thing...
If the dust has settled and enough time has passed, this could be a good time to send them a text (outside of a dating app) to see about beginning a friendship.
Online dating expert Julie Spira agrees. "Being platonic friends with an ex (after a bit of cooling off time) is completely fine," Spira told Elite Daily. "...It shows that you're the type of person who doesn’t burn bridges."
Or, worst case scenario, you can always move to a new country to avoid your exes. 10/10, would recommend.
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