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Tips for Running into an Ex-Boyfriend or Girlfriend

So the scenario goes: Just when you thought you were over your ex, you run into him or her while grocery shopping, and suddenly you have no idea what to do. It happens to everyone. No matter how hard you try to avoid their usual hangouts, you are inevitably going to run into your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend.

If you were smart, you’d have picked up and left town after the breakup. But that’s usually not an option, so you’re stuck with the misfortune of having to see him or her occasionally. Luckily, we’re here to talk you through the situation.

If you see him or her, and he or she doesn’t see you, don’t pretend it didn’t happen. That is childish and immature. Approach with confidence and maturity. Every relationship is different, but each situation usually falls into one of several categories.

If it wasn’t too serious, and you ended things on good terms – congratulations on being a mature adult. This should be the easiest ex to run into.

If it wasn’t too serious, and you end things on bad terms – maybe it’s just best to keep walking. If you can’t, just say hi and make an excuse like you’re in a hurry. Keep it brief but positive.

If it was serious, and you ended on good terms - A quick catching up may be in order, but you’ll have no problem asking him or her about his or her new life since you genuinely care for their wellbeing. This feels like you’re reuniting with an old friend, since you’ve both moved on.

If it was serious, and you ended on bad terms, here’s where it gets tough. You might have an urge to scream, cry or run away. I implore you not to.  Put on a brave face and make small talk as best you can. Avoid sensitive topics and by all means do not bring up why you broke up – especially if you’re in a public setting. Now is not the time to hash it out right in the middle of the cereal aisle.

If he or she is with someone new – the only way to confront this situation is with a smile on your face. You’re not with him or her for a reason right? So introduce yourself to the new partner (no titles necessary) and make pleasant small talk. It’s bound to be an awkward situation for all of you, but you’re best served being the bigger person and being kind.

If you’re with someone new, then this is again another awkward situation. It’s best to be the one to introduce your new girlfriend or boyfriend to your ex and hope for the best. Be kind – you’ve already proved that you’ve moved on to bigger (and better) things so no need to rub it in. It might help to put your new guy or gal at ease after the encounter though.

All encounters should be short but productive. If your ex approaches you and is angry, don’t make a scene. Be courteous but curt. Don’t ever let it ruin your day. And always end every conversation with, “It was good to see you.”


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If you are in crisis, call 988 to talk with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, text HOME to 741741 to connect to a free crisis counselor, or go to your nearest emergency room.