How to Act Around Your Ex

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Break-ups rarely lead to what the name promises—a clean break. Much as you may wish to avoid it, there will be situations in which you have to be around your ex. It can be difficult to interact with someone you used to be close to, but there are ways to make it less painful.
1. Be patient.
You’re used to being emotionally and physically intimate with each other, so don’t expect to establish new relationship patterns right away.
  1. Don’t seek your ex out socially, especially at first. Experts recommend taking at least eight weeks without any sort of contact. Seeing your ex right after the breakup can make it more difficult to move on.

Seeing Your Ex Socially

2. Treat your ex as you would treat a colleague.

Be friendly and respectful without indicating too much closeness.

Keep your interactions light. Especially if you have not seen each other in a while, resist the urge to address long-simmering relationship issues

– Him: I did. They need new management.

– You: The relief pitcher looked pretty good. Maybe he should have started.

– Him: Yeah, I didn’t understand that decision.

– You: Well, good seeing you. Hopefully they make it to the post-season.

If your ex brings up a contentious issue, try changing the subject to something you agree on.

– Him: Hi, Melanie. Did you try the pierogies?

– You: I did. They remind me of the ones your mom always made.

– Him: How would you know? You never went to visit her.

– You: I think we both appreciated her cooking.

– Him: That’s true.

3. Avoid alcohol.

Emotions will already be riding high. If you’re drinking, you’ll be less inhibited and more likely to say something that you’ll regret.

4. Disengage from your ex online.

Unfriend him on Facebook and avoid him on other forms of social media. Yes, keeping tabs on an ex online is tempting—you want to know if he is miserable without you, if he has started dating someone new, etc. Research shows that it is better to avoid this temptation, though.

  – It’s easy for these behaviors to get obsessive, turning into what psychologists call “interpersonal electronic surveillance” and the rest of us call Facebook stalking.

– It’s also bad for your own emotional health. Like seeing your ex in person, interacting with him online can make the heartbreak last longer.

 – If you do insist on continuing to follow your ex on social media, remember that what you are seeing is a highly selective view of his life. Don’t think that you’re struggling more than he is just because he doesn’t post about it.

5. Tread cautiously when trying to be friends.

Many people want to stay friends after a breakup, which makes sense—you enjoyed being around your ex at one point, and he was a large part of your social life. Why shouldn’t you continue to act as you did before, going to baseball games together, calling him to vent about your boss, or asking for his jacket when you get cold? Plenty of reasons, it turns out.

– Maintain physical and emotional distance to avoid ambiguity. Behaviors like flirting and touching can cause confusion for both of you.

– Limit your interactions. You shouldn’t be checking in multiple times a day, or even once every day. It’s fine to be friends, but your ex should not be the person you turn to first with good or bad news.

 – You should not pursue a friendship with your ex as a guise for trying to get him back. If you want to rekindle the romance and he does not, you are better off cutting off contact entirely.

6. Don’t let your relationship affect special occasions.

With overlapping social circles, you and your ex will likely run into each other at special occasions including birthday parties, graduations, and weddings, probably for years to come. Be prepared for this inevitability. 

  1. Don’t ignore each other at big events, but don’t sit together, either. If you’re not on the best terms, you run the risk of making a scene. Plus, don’t want to have to answer questions all night long about whether you two are back together.
  2. Divide up smaller events. You can both go to your friend’s play, but you might not both want to go to the intimate dinner she’s having afterward. No one likes to miss out on fun events, but it can be preferable to the alternative of a huge confrontation.

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