8 Rules to Help Deal with an Encounter with Your Ex

My friend recently lost her guy friend because of his jerky behavior during their on-again off-again romance. Because they have mutual friends, she's done her best to avoid him by skipping certain social engagements. But she just told me her New Year's resolution was: suck it up and realize that she was going to see this guy from time to time.

If the wounds are still fresh, running into your ex is traumatic. Even if you know in advance you'll see them, there's time to build anxiety. If you run into your ex randomly, it's equally traumatic because you had no time to prepare.

These tips will help you manage the situation next time you see your ex:

Make the First Move

The more time you spend avoiding each other, the more awkward it gets. So, cut to the chase and approach your ex and make a little small talk. Don't go in there to yell at them for all the bad things they did. Just ask how they've been doing, and be polite. You'll look like the mature, confident one in the process. Every time an ex has approached me, while I was being immature and avoiding her, I've felt impressed, relieved, and angry at myself that I lacked the courage to approach her first.

Don't Bring Up the Past

Don't try to solve things you couldn't solve while you were together. Don't try to "patch things up." The best remedy to solve these big issues is time apart. Rehashing the past usually awakens bitter feelings.

Accept That It's Going to Be Awkward

Of course these meetings are always awkward. Don't pressure yourself to make it go smoothly, and don't question why things seem weird: it's natural for it to seem weird. Everyone goes through it at some point in their lives.

Don't Get Too Drunk

Sadly, I tend to get drunk in order to deal with the impending arrival of an ex. After I'm drunk, my judgment is impaired and I say stupid things. And, alcohol is a depressant, so in the aftermath, I feel foolish, regretful, and unhappy.

Don't Throw a "New Boyfriend" in Your Ex's Face

The less you reveal about your boyfriend, the more the ex's mind will fill in the blanks. And most guys will assume the worst: your new boyfriend is hot, has a great job, is perfect. Even if you're single, he'll imagine you're meeting lots of guys, and he'll wonder if you're living a glamorous and active single life, full of independence. If you bark about your great new boyfriend, then the ex might assume you're trying to make him jealous. And if you're trying to make him jealous that means you care, and your ex wins.

Bring Friends

You shouldn't have to face difficult emotional times on your own. In this case, "safety in numbers" is true.

Don't Let Anyone Know You're Off Your Game

Try to be "business as usual" at a social gathering. Even if you pull a friend off repeatedly to head to an isolated venting spot, people will pick up on your unusual behavior and sense that you're uncomfortable and not coping.

Enhance Your "Attractive Traits"

Remember, there was a time when they were attracted to many of your traits. Accentuating the great things that make you who you are (your sense of humor, intelligence, etc.) will remind him of what he's missing. If you appear upset or bitter, he won't think it's attractive.

Do you have trouble when you run into your ex? Do you do better when you're prepared or not prepared? What do you suggest for dealing with an encounter with an ex, and what do you think of my list?

Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/richravens

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