Everyone is going on dates and having fun, and that includes your ex. (Sorry!) But what happens if you run into them? Well, here’s what you should do.
First, don’t panic when you see your ex on a date
It sucks so much to see your ex with someone new. It really does, especially if they look like they’re having a good time. Like, really? How dare they move on from you and do it publicly? Well, they do dare. And to be honest, they have the right to go out there and be happy. It might hurt, though, especially if you two stopped going out and having fun toward the end of the relationship.
If you see your ex out and about, frolicking and enjoying the company of a new partner, try to remember that it’s OK. Take a few deep breaths and assess the situation. Did they see you? Is it too late to avert your eyes and walk away? If they did see you and it is too late, stay calm.
“I immediately diverted my eyes away from my ex and his date to avoid making eye contact. I tried to tuck myself in behind my own date as we walked by but I’m sure he saw me,” recalled Lucy B., a 26-year-old who saw an ex she once thought was “the love of [her] life” while he was outdoor-dining with a new woman and she herself was on a date with a new boyfriend. “I’m not a nail biter so it was interesting that my first instinct was to bite my thumb nail, which caught the attention of my now-boyfriend. I played it off and lied — but it was definitely a panicked knee-jerk reaction.”
Don’t do that. No one in this situation is in the wrong. You’re allowed to be out and so is your ex. You broke up for a reason. Keep that in mind. Don’t romanticize the relationship or let yourself feel jealous or lonely just because you see them enjoying time with someone new.
If you can, find the humour in it
“If you cared about them, be gracious and kind. If you ended on good terms, then be nice about it. Maybe send over a drink for them and their new date or say hello, depending on the environment,” suggested Brent K., a 33-year-old in Salt Lake City who has run into exes a variety of times, but most notably when he saw his ex-fiancée out with his former best friend.
When Brent was out with a new woman, the duo saw her ex on a date with someone new. He followed his own advice and sent over a round of drinks.
Alexis Marika, a 29-year-old in New York City, agreed that it’s a good idea to find the humour in the situation and said she “laughed about it” when she saw a former fling while she was out at the opera.
“In the city, there’s a good chance you’re gonna run into someone. I always try to be the bigger person and either shrug it off or just embrace it,” she said.
Try your best not to get petty
Resist the urge to cause a scene, even if the relationship ended badly.
“Ultimately, how you handle the situation will leave a lasting impression on them,” Brent said. “Do you want them to miss you and remember you for how good of a person you were or do you want them to be happy it’s over? If you choose kindness and care, you’ll do your part in leaving the world a better place. Remember, just because your relationship ended doesn’t mean you both don’t deserve to find happiness.”
Marika pointed out that some of her ex encounters have happened while she was at work as a server. On one occasion, the same ex she saw at the opera came into her restaurant and she asked a coworker to serve him out of fear he would cause a scene.
“I also served a different ex while he was on a date,” she revealed. “I was just my normal self and he never made eye contact with me. Frankly, I was confused, like he genuinely thought I’d make a scene at the restaurant three years later. But yeah, I guess he just wanted to pretend I didn’t exist.”
Pretending the other person doesn’t exist is good advice if you feel yourself getting sassy or confrontational, as is avoiding contact altogether. Marika had a great approach when she deputized another server to handle her first ex’s table and her second ex had a similarly great approach when he ignored her. Do whatever works for you to make sure the situation stays chill.
Dip out as soon as possible though
Look, using humour, acting friendly, or feigning amnesia will only get you so far. In some cases, depending on how your relationship went and how much you’re still hurting, you might not be able to brush off seeing your ex out on a date.
You’re allowed to leave. You don’t have to prove anything to yourself or your ex by staying in a situation that is upsetting you or making you uncomfortable.
“Do what I did: Get the hell out of there!” said Andy Jenkins, a 25-year-old grad student in Dallas who once saw her ex-boyfriend walk into the bar she was in. He was holding hands with another woman.
She went on, “Absolutely do not put yourself through the awkwardness — and probably pain — of seeing your ex with someone else. This was an ex I broke up with and it was still difficult to see them and there is just not much you can glean from hanging around and watching them on a date, at least not in most cases. My best advice is to do a literal army crawl and barrel roll out of there if you need to. Save yourself the pain!”
“If it didn’t end on good terms, ignore them. If you can’t do that, just leave,” added Brent, a real voice of reason here.
Your ex has already proven there are plenty of other fish in the sea as far as dating is concerned. You can prove there are plenty of other bars or restaurants to go to as far as ex-free locations are concerned. Remember to put yourself and your wellbeing first. And when you get to the next bar, maybe order a stiff drink.