Fact: Breaking up with someone is hard. Sometimes excruciatingly so. And then, after the pain and anger and crying and leaning on friends starts to subside, there’s another freaking hurdle to jump. Seeing your ex-boyfriend in public. Whether it was an amicable end or a grizzly breakup, seeing the guy you used to be with – by chance or at an event – can be really unsettling. And you can times that discomfort by 925 if he’s got a new girlfriend hanging off his arm (…and square it if she’s really awesome). Here’s how to deal…
1. The aftermath
Before you’ve had the chance to bump into your ex in public, there are some things you can do post-breakup to prevent your first meeting turning nasty. If you’ve got mutual friends, as tempting as it is to want people to back you, don’t force them. “Never make your friends take sides – it’ll just make you look spiteful and immature. There are usually two sides to the story, and you don't want him saying awful things to your friends about you - so lead by example,” encourages sex and relationship expert Isiah McKimmie.
As hard as it is, try not to completely burn bridges with your ex. We’re not saying you need to be mates, just don’t steal his credit card, max it out, and burn all his most treasured belongings in a fire (as tempting as it might be to do the above).
2. Be ready
If you’ve been invited to a party that you know your ex will be attending and the thought of seeing him makes you feel sick in the tummy; don’t put pressure on yourself to go. “If you're not quite ready to see your ex, it's ok to ask if he's going to be there and if he is, politely decline the invitation by explaining that you're not quite ready for that yet, but you hope everyone has a great time,” suggests Isiah. This way everyone’s across why you’re not coming and you can wait until you’re 100 percent ready to tackle the first meeting.
3. How to act
So when you do see him do you go the “I’m so freakin’ happy and everything in my life is great” road with a fake smile painted onto your face, or do you flat out ignore the guy? Try to get a hold of your emotions and just. Be. Yourself. Remember – he knows you intimately, if you’re being phony, it’ll be obvs. “Act happy to see him and at least pretend that you hope he's doing well. Don't overshare, but let him know how awesomely you're doing too,” explains Isiah. Another good tip? “Make sure you say hello as early as you can so the awkwardness doesn't build up, but then go and enjoy meeting other great people at the party too.” Noted.
4. Rude boy
While you might be totally mature and composed when you see him, you can’t guarantee he’s going to treat you with the same respect. If he’s a major d-bag to you, try to take it in your stride. “Put on your best smile, seek the support of a trusted friend and do your best to have a great time! If he's rude to you - it's his loss,” recommends Isiah. And if you run into him again? Be the bigger person and be polite and courteous.
5. The plus one
While you might find your heart sinks a little when you see him out somewhere, we can guarantee it’ll fall through the floor when you see him with his new girlfriend. Even if you’re totally over him, it can still be a major shock to the system. “Be polite and welcoming towards her - remember that it's probably really awkward for her to, and she's done nothing wrong. Show her (and everyone else there) how amazing you are for being so lovely to her - and still having a great time wherever you are,” explains Isiah. Once you get over the initial meeting, it’ll be way easier, we promise.