wikiHow to Act Around Your Ex

Four Parts:Seeing Your Ex SociallySeeing Your Ex at Work or SchoolMeeting Your Ex’s New PartnerCo-Parenting with Your Ex

Break-ups rarely lead to what the name promises—a clean break. Much as you may wish to avoid it, there will be situations in which you have to be around your ex. It can be difficult to interact with someone you used to be close to, but there are ways to make it less painful.

Part 1
Seeing Your Ex Socially

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    Be patient. You’re used to being emotionally and physically intimate with each other, so don’t expect to establish new relationship patterns right away.
    • Don’t seek your ex out socially, especially at first. Experts recommend taking at least eight weeks without any sort of contact.[1] Seeing your ex right after the breakup can make it more difficult to move on.[2]
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    Treat your ex as you would treat a colleague. Be friendly and respectful without indicating too much closeness.[3]
    • Keep your interactions light. Especially if you have not seen each other in a while, resist the urge to address long-simmering relationship issues.[4]
      • You: Hi, Dave. Did you catch the game last night?
      • Him: I did. They need new management.
      • You: The relief pitcher looked pretty good. Maybe he should have started.
      • Him: Yeah, I didn't understand that decision.
      • You: Well, good seeing you. Hopefully they make it to the post-season.
    • If your ex brings up a contentious issue, try changing the subject to something you agree on.[5]
      • Him: Hi, Melanie. Did you try the pierogies?
      • You: I did. They remind me of the ones your mom always made.
      • Him: How would you know? You never went to visit her.
      • You: I think we both appreciated her cooking.
      • Him: That's true.
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    Avoid alcohol. Emotions will already be riding high. If you’re drinking, you’ll be less inhibited and more likely to say something that you’ll regret.
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    Disengage from your ex online. Unfriend him on Facebook and avoid him on other forms of social media. Yes, keeping tabs on an ex online is tempting—you want to know if he is miserable without you, if he has started dating someone new, etc. Research shows that it is better to avoid this temptation, though.[6]
    • It’s easy for these behaviors to get obsessive, turning into what psychologists call “interpersonal electronic surveillance” and the rest of us call Facebook stalking.
    • It’s also bad for your own emotional health. Like seeing your ex in person, interacting with him online can make the heartbreak last longer.[7]
    • If you do insist on continuing to follow your ex on social media, remember that what you are seeing is a highly selective view of his life. Don’t think that you’re struggling more than he is just because he doesn’t post about it.
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    Tread cautiously when trying to be friends. Many people want to stay friends after a breakup, which makes sense—you enjoyed being around your ex at one point, and he was a large part of your social life. Why shouldn’t you continue to act as you did before, going to baseball games together, calling him to vent about your boss, or asking for his jacket when you get cold? Plenty of reasons, it turns out.
    • Maintain physical and emotional distance to avoid ambiguity. Behaviors like flirting and touching can cause confusion for both of you.[8]
    • Limit your interactions. You shouldn’t be checking in multiple times a day, or even once every day. It’s fine to be friends, but your ex should not be the person you turn to first with good or bad news.[9]
    • You should not pursue a friendship with your ex as a guise for trying to get him back. If you want to rekindle the romance and he does not, you are better off cutting off contact entirely.
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    Don’t let your relationship affect special occasions. With overlapping social circles, you and your ex will likely run into each other at special occasions including birthday parties, graduations, and weddings, probably for years to come. Be prepared for this inevitability. [10]
    • Don’t ignore each other at big events, but don’t sit together, either. If you’re not on the best terms, you run the risk of making a scene. Plus, don’t want to have to answer questions all night long about whether you two are back together.
    • Divide up smaller events. You can both go to your friend’s play, but you might not both want to go to the intimate dinner she’s having afterward. No one likes to miss out on fun events, but it can be preferable to the alternative of a huge confrontation.

Part 2
Seeing Your Ex at Work or School

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    Behave professionally at all times. Try to keep your relationship issues separate from your career or education. Ideally, you have been doing this all along, but if not you will have to have a conversation about it. You don’t want fallout from a breakup to jeopardize your success at work or in school.[11]
    • If seeing your ex makes you emotional, consider changing up your routine to avoid her. Take your breaks at different times, and plot out different courses to the copy machine.
    • Imagine that your boss is watching you whenever you interact with your ex. This will add extra motivation to stay professional.
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    Communicate issues discreetly. If your ex breaks the “be professional at all times” pledge and starts discussing relationship issues with you, ask her to table the issue until later, or simply choose only to respond to professional communications. If this is absolutely impossible, make sure your discussion is taking place behind closed doors or via personal (not professional) phone or email.[12]
    • You: Do you have that report ready to give to the boss?
    • Her: I do. But before we talk about that, I really need to know when you're going to give me my stuff back.
    • You: Can we talk about that later?
    • Her: I really need it soon.
    • You: OK. Please call me or email me after work so we can come up with a plan.
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    Find a buffer. If you’re worried about being caught alone with your ex while you’re microwaving your lunch, consider taking colleagues with you. Any awkwardness between the two of you will be less visible in a bigger group.

Part 3
Meeting Your Ex’s New Partner

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    Let the meeting happen organically. When you hear that your ex is dating someone new, resist the urge to look her up online. At the same time, accept that you will run into them eventually. Whether this is a planned or chance meeting, approach it with confidence.
    • Face the situation head-on. You won’t want to, but it’s actually better for you to deal with them than it is to pretend not to see them and duck into a store when you’re out for a walk. You WILL survive the situation, and once you do you will feel much more confident in your ability to move on.
    • Know that confidence can sometimes work from the outside in. If you know you’re going to be running into your ex and his new partner, wear whatever you feel most comfortable and confident in. This will make you feel more relaxed and at ease on the inside, as well.
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    Be friendly, but not disingenuously so. You can be polite and civil without pretending that you are going to hang out regularly, which could come across as fake.[13]
    • You: Hi, Kate. Nice to meet you.
    • Her: Hi, Rachel. I've heard a lot about you.
    • You: How long have you lived in Chicago?
    • Her: I moved here for college.
    • You: Where did you go?
    • Her: Northwestern.
    • You: Me too. I wonder if we took any classes together.
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    Be compassionate. Know that the meeting is awkward for everyone. Your ex is probably not trying to hurt you by moving on. In the meantime, his new partner probably feels that you are the one she is being compared to in terms of looks, career, personality, etc. Everyone wants to get through the interaction as calmly—and probably quickly—as possible, and in that way you are all on the same side.
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    Learn from your reaction. It can be difficult, but seeing your ex with a new partner can be a useful guide to your own recovery. This is especially true when it comes to evaluating whether or not you are ready to start dating again.[14]

Part 4
Co-Parenting with Your Ex

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    Be open, direct, and communicative with your ex. Know that you will have to interact with each other, probably a lot. Break-ups get even more complicated when children are involved. More people’s emotions are at stake, and you cannot simply avoid your ex as you might wish to. Researchers believe that co-parenting is best for children.[15]
    • Co-parenting involves sharing both time and decision-making, which requires maintaining open and frequent communication with your ex.
    • If it is too difficult to communicate openly and directly, consider passing a notebook back and forth that includes any important information about your children’s time with you.[16]
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    Be respectful. As you make these arrangements, try to maintain amicability toward your ex. Shouting, name-calling, and other forms of conflict can negatively affect your children and undermine their relationship with their other parent.[17]
    • You: John, I know this is difficult, but I need you to tell me what time you will be picking up the kids.
    • Him: Stop nagging. I'll pick them up after work.
    • You: I understand that this sounds like nagging to you, but I have things I need to do tonight.
    • Him: Fine, I'll pick them up at six.
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    Do not try to interact with a violent or otherwise abusive ex. Take whatever action is required to protect yourself and your children.[18]

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Categories: Former Relationships