The Emotional Roller Coaster of Unexpectedly Running Into Your Ex

The Emotional Roller Coaster of Unexpectedly Running Into Your Ex ©iStock/BraunS

After a breakup, it’s usually a good idea to cut off contact with your ex. Even if you want to be friends, you both still need time to yourselves to get used to the idea of not being together. Especially in big cities, it may seem pretty unlikely that you’ll accidentally run into each other, but it’s always a possibility. Running into your ex while you’re looking like a complete disaster is some people’s worst nightmare, but what are you going to do, make sure you’re in full makeup and wardrobe every time you leave the house? Not likely. Sometimes you’ve just got to embrace the unexpected… or turn and head in the opposite direction and hope he didn’t see you.

  1. The moment you spot him. Your heart drops into your stomach and you freeze, thinking that if you don’t move, maybe he won’t notice you.
  2. Maybe it isn’t him? You look away, but you can’t help it – you have to look back. And it’s definitely him. No doubt about it.
  3. You take a moment to judge his appearance. It’s either, “Damn, he looks good”, which causes you a moment of regret for letting him go, or “he’s looking a little rough”, which is admittedly, a bit of a relief.
  4. A mental scan of your own appearance. Did you venture outside to pick up some hangover snacks wearing an old raggedy t-shirt (bonus points if it’s one of his), with your hair in a greasy bun? Or are you on your way to some fabulous party in a new pair of heels and the jeans you haventn’t fit into since before you met him? The answer to this question will dictate what happens next.
  5. Can I sneak away without him spotting me? Depending on where you are, a quick exit could be an appealing option. This is when you start frantically searching for a direct path away from his line of vision.
  6. Wait a second, who is he with? The only thing worse than running into an ex unexpectedly is running into an ex while he’s with a new girl. Whether you talk to him or not, you’ll spend the rest of the day wondering who she is, and if they’re together.
  7. He’s seen me; I was too slow. If you make eye contact, the only course of action is to acknowledge each other’s presence, unless it was one of those breakups where you’d rather pretend you never met. But if you look away and then he still comes over…
  8. He’s coming over, is it too late to run? Right now would be a great time for someone to pull the fire alarm.
  9. We’re talking… this isn’t so bad. After the awkward initial greetings done and over with, the conversation might not be as awful as you were expecting, but there’s always the pressure to keep it short and sweet.
  10. Should I ask him if he’s seeing anyone? No, you shouldn’t. Don’t do it.
  11. Why did we break up again? Sometimes after all the fighting and tension is over, all you remember are the good times you used to have together. If he’s looking good, running into him might seem like serendipity, but it’s probably not.
  12. Oh right, I remember why we broke up. He does that snort laugh thing that made you cringe by the end of your relationship, and you remember. You broke up for a good reason, and it should probably stay that way.
  13. Should I ask if he wants to hang out sometime? But maybe if you gave him another chance, it could work out this time. Or you could at least be friends. We shouldn’t let all that history go to waste.
  14. Is he just being polite? But what if he’s just being nice, and he’s actually completely over you? And he really is dating that blond girl you saw him with? Then he’s going to think you’re not over him. Can’t have that.
  15. How do I make sure I’m the one to end the conversation? I don’t want to seem too eager to keep talking to him, so I need an exit strategy. The one who ends the conversation has all the power.
  16. Sigh of relief. It’s over. I survived. I hope that never happens again.
By day, Courtney is a digital marketing copywriter living in Toronto, Canada. By night, she's a freelance lifestyle writer who, in addition to, contributes regularly to, IN Magazine, and SheBlogs Canada. Want to chat about relationships, Stephen King or your favorite true crime podcast/documentary/book? She's on Twitter @courtooo.