Uh-oh, you’re face-to-face with your sweetheart’s former sweetheart. And whether it’s an accidental encounter that takes you by surprise or an expected run-in at planned event, either way, can you say. . . a-w-k-w-a-r-d. But it doesn’t need to be.
Meeting the ex can dredge up feelings of anger, jealously or insecurity in even the best of us, but who wants to be a bunny boiler? Maturity and positivity is key to maintaining good karma in the face of a potentially awkward encounter.
We here at DH did some research and asked around the office to get personal insight into how to handle every ex encounter, and we’ve come up with the following ex-tremely good advice:
Just be nice
You may feel jealous, insecure or threatened when meeting an ex, but before you go showing those emotions it’s important to remind yourself that your sweetie’s ex is an ex for a reason. Bad behavior and drama will only reflect poorly on you, so smile and practice being polite or you could find yourself in the ex files, too.
Keep it short and sweet
Curiosity is natural, so even if it’s awkward to meet the ex it can at least be good for you to finally put a face to the name you’ve heard so much (or so little) about. But -- and this is a big but -- it’s important to move on once your curiosity is satisfied. Say hello, introduce yourself, shake hands and make mental notes. Then back off already and please don’t stalk them on Facebook. Being too interested in your partner’s past is unhealthy. Put the focus back on your own relationship.
Avoid comparing notes
But what if you can’t help being overly interested in your partner’s ex?! You worry your boyfriend’s ex is prettier than you and has a better job. Or your girlfriend’s ex is taller and drives a fancy car. Well, it’s time for some tough love: Before you go throwing a pity party, please know that insecurity is a huge turn-off, and comparing yourself to an ex is an enormous waste of time and energy. We repeat, the ex is an ex for a reason. Focus on the qualities you know your partner appreciates in you, and remember who he/she is with right now. YOU!
Focus on the future
If you have the chance to speak with your boyfriend's or girlfriend’s ex, it can be tempting to want to over-share or ask personal questions in hopes of gaining insight into your partner’s past. Don’t. Every relationship is unique, so any information you gain is moot. Plus, you’ll almost always come away feeling worse. If your partner has moved on, shouldn't you, too? Focus on your future together, not on your sweetheart’s past.
Keep a friendly distance
You’re nice, the ex is nice and it was over a long time ago -- guess we can all hang out, right? Wrong. Let’s be real. Everyone getting along is a great thing, and even better if children are involved. But maintaining boundaries is important to your current relationship. If you need to interact with the ex on a regular basis, go ahead and talk business or exchange emergency phone numbers. But keep things at a friendly distance and safeguard your privacy to maintain a drama-free experience for all.
Embrace your own relationship
If you’re feeling anxiety in regard to your partner’s ex, try to be open with your sweetie about the way you’re feeling. Sometimes simply talking things through can provide the understanding or reassurance you need, and will bring you even closer to your partner. And if your partner doesn’t respond well to your attempts at open, honest communication . . . um, maybe they belong in your ex files.