5 Ways To Handle A Run-In With Your Ex

September 26, 2018  |  

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Once you say goodbye to an ex, you never expect to see them again. But fate has a funny way of bringing them back into your orbit when you least expect it–even if only for a moment. And when that happens, it can bring a lot of feelings to the surface that you might not have been prepared to deal with.

It’s happened to me. It happened to Issa Dee (even though Issa Rae swore we weren’t going to see Lawrence this season of Insecure). It’s probably happened to you: There you are, moving on with life and killing it. Skin glowing. Edges flourishing. Mind right. Heart happy. Things are good. And then the past taps you on the shoulder in the form of your ex. It might be a random run-in, a text out of the blue, a phone call, liking your profile on a dating website/app, or any other number of ways he or she has managed to peek in on you. No matter it’s done, your old thing has popped up into your present when you least expected it.

The old saying is that men are like boomerangs; they always come back. I’ve definitely found this to be true in my own life. It’s never clear why guys circle back around after a relationship is over. At first, my ego would lead me to believe they finally came to their senses and understood that I am a limited edition. I knew I was a catch, and they just lost their grip. But in hindsight, it was clear they returned solely to waste more of my time while they were figuring out what they want.

My exes have come back around so many times I can almost feel it coming. The air somehow smells like your past and little things that remind you specifically of an ex are all over the place. It’s almost like the universe is giving you a heads up that you’re going to be dealing with an ex (at least for a moment) in the very near future. The next time it does, you can be fully prepared by doing a few things.

Keep It Cute
Depending on how your ex exited your life, a run-in could be really awkward — surprising and pleasant at best or World-Star worthy at worst. In the first few moments of your paths crossing, it’s best to be polite and cordial until you can get a feel of how this interaction will go and why it’s happening.

Make A Decision
When your exes pop back up, you have the opportunity to establish boundaries. How much are you going to tell them? How long will you spend talking to them? How much energy are you going to put into this interaction? Will this reunion open the door for future friendship or a one-time interaction? It’s really all up to you, and you should make that decision fairly soon so that you have a plan for how you will proceed with any further associations.

Assess The Relationship
If your pop-up has extended itself into a tentative friendship–an acquaintanceship, if you will–then get a firm understanding of what your new relationship is with your ex. In my own experience, I have an ex that would text me from time to time (after I blocked him on social media), questioning why we never speak. In his mind, we were still friends; in mine, we most definitely were not. He lacked a clear understanding of our new relationship after our difficult breakup. I had to tell him flat out that he no longer has a place in my life and I have’t had a problem since.

Be Clear (With Yourself) About Your Feelings
If you choose to allow this person to stay in your life, don’t make the mistake of getting caught up in your chemistry. You got together for a reason, but you also split up for a reason. It’s easy to get swept up into fuzzy old memories about how things were when your romance was going well, but don’t allow yourself to believe that you two are picking up where you left off. At least not without any clear evidence that they are feeling the same way and are willing to do the work. Running into an ex can bring up some conflicting feelings, but remember this when you need to get your feelings in check.

If you don’t want to continue talking to them after initial contact, then don’t. And be clear with them that you no longer wish to have any further interactions. You don’t have to be mean and nasty about, but you can definitively close that chapter of your life by communicating that you wish them the best in the future–a future you don’t intend to be part of. Personally, I’ve done this by being firm in my goodbyes and using language that has some finality to it.

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