Fortunately, I don’t have a lot of opportunities to run into my ex. We barely have any friends in common, go to churches across town from each other, and live far enough from each other that even awkward run-ins at the grocery store just never seem to happen. As a result we haven’t even spoken to each other in a couple of years.
That being said there is a very good chance that we will see each other at an upcoming wedding. So, I’m about to put my “5 rules when I know when I’m going to see my ex” into motion:
1) Look like $1 billion dollars. (Not just a million but a billion!) First rule of seeing the ex: Make sure you look A-MAZING! Buy a new dress, rent a suit… whatever it takes to look (and feel) your absolute best.
My rationale here is twofold: First, you look good which often helps you feel good at about yourself. You don’t want to show up looking miserable when you see the ex. Second, that moment when your ex sees you looking incredibly hot will be a moment worth savoring. You’ll remember her eyes suddenly growing to the size of saucers or him doing a double-take for a long time afterward.
2) Bring reinforcements. Ideally, this is a cute date. Your ex doesn’t need to know that you’re not dating the hottie on your arm. You just need to have the appearance of having moved on. A best friend will work, too, as long as he/she promises to be civil and supportive. You just want someone to be your dedicated companion for the evening so you have someone to talk to. It helps you feel less alone if/when the ex walks in with a date of his/her own. And, heck, you never know if that cute date could turn into a keeper.
3) Plan to say “hello.” In my experience it’s best to avoid the “walk by and blatantly ignore him” method and the equally awkward “pretend you’re not watching her the entire night” method. Both are kind of childish, really. What you want to do is wait until the two of you end up in the same area of the room and exchange brief pleasantries. Smile and say “Hi, how are you?” Wait for an answer, then excuse yourself to say “hello” to someone else. Easy peasy. Believe me, you’ll feel such a sense of relief getting this over with rather than avoiding this person all night. Besides, avoiding him/her could make things really awkward for your hosts and you definitely want to be a good guest.
4) Have a response prepared for when people ask you about the ex. In social situations you’re likely to run into two types of people who know both you and the ex: The first type is the people who didn’t know (or forgot) that you two broke up. (It can be 10 years later and you’ll still have to talk to people like this.) The second type is the folks who know you broke up. They will either say something to try to cheer you up (whether you need it or not) or say something snide about the ex’s new spouse or partner to show their solidarity with you. Either way, be prepared to say something non-committal (i.e. “Oh, is the new wife attractive? I hadn’t noticed.”) and then change the subject.
5) Have an exit strategy. Pre-plan this with your reinforcements… um… date. Stay as long (or as little) as you’d like and then say goodbye to your host. If you feel the need to leave early (or you have had to watch the ex and his new wife making out on the dance floor for the last ten minutes) a simple “Thanks for having us!” will generally suffice. Just don’t get too specific or tell some outrageous lie about Aunt Barbara in the hospital. Keep it simple and go.
Of course, the exit strategy should also include an after party for you and your date (and maybe a few close friends). Go out for coffee and dessert, go bowling, go star-gazing… whatever you do, just do something fun! The point is to minimize the emotional impact if necessary and to create some fun memories of the evening at the same time.
Readers, do you have rules for when you’re going to see your ex?