Relationships. We spend so much time thinking and talking about them. Initially, we question if it will happen and when it does, where will it go? Will it be what I want? Reality sets in once the hormones wear off, and we consider whether to make or break.
When they end, inevitably someone gets hurt. Anger, recriminations, and shattered dreams take up residency in your skull and cloud your judgement. So what on earth do you do when the former centre of your world is unexpectedly and painfully strewn across your path?
Whoever said its not a competition is a fucking idiot – or a naive idealist. When you see your ex, you want to know that you look better, are involved with better, and have progressed your career to a higher level than them. You want to win.
Anyone who says otherwise is full of it – well, either that or they’ve managed the holy grail of breakups and maintained a genuine friendship with their ex. Not something I can do, and if I’m honest not something I want to be able to do. I know myself well enough to say that I just cannot get over someone, get over what we have, if they are still a physical presence in my life. It’s bad enough having their ghost in your head, let alone the idea of sitting down to talk and admitting just how hurt and angry you feel about the split. To those who can stay friends, congrats. It’s a good skill to have.
I like to think of myself as calm, cool, unflappable – at least, on the outside. But I must confess, I’m not – at least not when it comes to handling running into exes. My fight or flight instincts kick in and I automatically flee – or make myself invisible, whichever of the two is less conspicuous. I’m fine with guys I’ve had sex with; those I blank – or speak to, depending on what occurred. But with men I have loved? Not so good.
I surmise that there are several ways to handle such an encounter.
Option 1 is to take the moral high ground: Smile serenely, act calm and nod politely at their comments. This approach will show them just how mature and graceful you are. And will likely make them miss you while you endeavour to keep your anger suppressed.
Option 2 is the less sophisticated, but oh-so-freeing, reading them the riot act. Not dignified, not really socially acceptable, but an excellent release of the pent-up frustration and anger you’ve been feeling. However, the momentary release you feel will come at a price – usually your persona, and the respect of any mutual friends. Of course, they might secretly admire you for it. But generally people don’t want to be dragged into drama, and if your ex isn’t alone, unleashing your inner Rottweiler will earn you a rather harsh psychopath-related nickname. Only you can decide if the benefits outweigh the consequences.
Option 3 is my personal favourite – hide behind your sunglasses and locate yourself outside of their peripheral vision, engrossing yourself in your phone whilst leaning forward so your hair obscures any potential recognition on their part. Then wait for them to get off the tube and congratulate yourself for not vomiting at the sight of them. Whether you still find them attractive or not, such a rush of emotion can induce nausea (in my experience).
But however you play it, remind yourself of your awesomeness and how much more incredible the ‘next’ one will be. Love yourself – it’s bloody hard to find someone to do it for you.
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