Whether you were dumped or you did the dumping, breakups are not easy. Untangling your life from someone you shared everything with is a grueling process — one that breathes truth into the saying "time heals all." There are a ton of steps you can take to potentially help yourself speed up the clock, like seeking professional help, learning new things, going out with friends, and getting back into the dating pool. Why is it, though, that no matter what you do to mend your ailing heart, running into your ex after a breakup always seems like the worst timing?
If you dread the thought of seeing your former flame, there's some valid science to back it up. According to experts, after a breakup, your body chemistry goes a little haywire, which could lead to things like situational depression, withdrawal, high blood pressure, skin outbreaks, and even broken heart syndrome. (Yup, that's a real thing.) That physical roller coaster ride, paired with feelings of loss, rejection, isolation, and a slew of fears (i.e. are they over me already, how do they look, do they have a new partner?) makes seeing that person in the flesh seem entirely intimidating.
We've seen the breakup story in the media a thousand times: You have the awkward run in, the scorned lover, the embarrassing tears, the drunken outbursts, or the "accidental" hookup. However, the real-life version of the emotions you might experience when running into your ex might surprise you. Here's what no one tells you when it comes to running into your ex.
You Might Feel Forgiving
Maybe you broke it off because your ex betrayed you or refused to compromise, or maybe they broke it off with you out of the blue without offering any clarity as to why. In either case, you're angry. Instead of the common mistake of putting them on a pedestal, you have banished them into the fiery depths of hell, totally villainizing them.
Listen, people do bad things. We all make mistakes. I'm not making excuses for someone who hurt you or saying that you should welcome them back into your life. I'm just saying that humans are not black-and-white beings. It is likely that when you fixated on that defining action that lead to your breakup, it's possible you forgot about all the other things that made your ex more than that one thing. A run-in with them could lead to the realization that you may not forget, but you can actually let go of the hatred and forgive (and finally move on).
You May Feel Stronger
It's easy to romanticize a past relationship. When we lose someone we love, we tend to focus on the fun times that we are missing, not on the full scope of who they were or what the relationship was. All those late-night arguments and jealousy issues are suddenly covered up by the memory of that one time you adorably ate pasta like they do in Lady and the Tramp.
All that pining can make you feel super vulnerable and weak. It might seem like seeing your ex in the flesh would crush you. In actuality, though, if you've idealized your relationship to a wild degree, some face-to-face time with the real them might be just what you need to break the fantasy and build your self-assurance back up.
You May Feel Calm And Collected
Hands sweaty at just the thought of an encounter with your ex? You may be freaking out, thinking about how awkward a rendezvous with your past SO could be. Nervousness over unwanted scenarios is a practical response given your fight or flight senses. However, your anticipation of the situation might not match the reality.
Once the initial shock has passed, you might find that you're really quite zen standing in front of them. And if enough time has passed, you may even find that you're ready to be friends with your ex again. (That is, if you're sure you're mentally ready for it, and your ex is, as well.)
You Could Even Feel Butterflies
There are important questions to ask yourself before you consider getting back with your ex, but your answers might even point to yes. If time has passed and you fully both gave yourself the space to heal, your relationship wasn't toxic, and you still both feel something, it might be worth reconsidering the breakup.
No matter what your reaction to seeing your ex is, if you handle the situation with dignity and respect, you'll walk away feeling better than you had before.
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