How To
Handle It

A few months ago, I ran into an ex at a bar. I was floored, unprepared and practically frozen. For a brief moment, I was able to get some words out. They sounded a little something like, "Hi! How are you? Great? Good. Thanks. Bye." In retrospect, I wish I handled the moment more coolly, calmly and way more fabulous than I was.

Woman throwing drink at man

Why, you ask? Isn't the answer obvious? This man broke my heart. I'll be damned if he has a lesser-than-amazing impression of me. Not that I still want to be with him, of course, but I would love to live the rest of my life knowing that he knows exactly what he's missing. I'm sure you all could relate.

So if you ever encounter the ever-so-intimidating moment of running into an ex, handle it the right way. And by "right," I mean be as awesome as possible and make him feel less than awesome. Ready for the dos and don'ts?

Do Act Surprised

This sounds pointless, I know, but it will play a part later. Wait 'til you read the rest of the tips. The idea here is be super great without being prepared and make it look effortless. The moment should go as follows: "Oh, hi. How are you?! It's been so long – it's so crazy to run into you here." Translation? "Hey. How are you? I don't really care what you've been up to, but let me act like I had no idea you were going to be here nor do I care." And the last part ("crazy to run into you here") is a bit of a backhanded compliment, especially if you're at a fabulous joint like an A-list party, like you're surprised you two run in the same fabulous circle.

Do Be Fabulous

This should be easy—odds are, you already are fabulous. When he asks you, "What's up?" Just answer: I've been amazing, fabulous or fantastic. "Don't forget to add details to your answer," adds Allie, who's all about maintaining one's fabulosity single or not. "I've run into exes before and the little tidbits make a difference." Without specifics, your "I'm fabulous" answer won't resonate with your ex. "He'll just walk away and you would have made no impact," Allie says.

Don't Lie or Overdo It

"I've made the mistake of making up stories when I saw an ex while I was out with friends," says Carol, who claims to not care about exes but is clearly lying to herself. "To be honest, I didn't know what to say so I turned to fibs." The only snag? Carol's ex-boyfriend later found out that she had lied. It somehow got back to Carol and she still regrets the moment to this day. "I don't care about him, I don't," she explains, "but I don't want to be known as the town liar." Now, Carol's ex is probably thankful that he's no longer with a girl who makes up stories for no reason.

Don't Take Anything He Says Personally

Be prepared, ladies—your ex might be following these same dos and don'ts we're suggesting. Two can play this game, after all! Don't take anything that he says too personally during the conversation or after. If you're face to face with your failed love and he starts making you feel less than fabulous with his stories, realize that he might be fibbing, exaggerating or merely trying to get a rise out of you. Don't let him win! Act like you don't care no matter how much what he's saying bothers you, and don't forget to get your "I'm fabulous" approach.

Don't Look Back

Once the brief conversation is over (and yes, please keep it brief to avoid awkwardness), end the encounter. "Just like any failed attempt at a relationship, it's good for you to be the one to walk away," says Shawna, who admits to having been through one too many breakups. "To me, being the one to have the last word is so much better than being the one standing there and being walked away from." After you get your last "fabulous" point, say, "Well, it was nice seeing you. I have to get back to my [fill in the blank that has to do with doing something super-exciting or cool]." Then, smile, walk away and don't look back. He can see your fabulous behind on your way out.

As significant as we think these tips are to follow when it comes to running into your exes, it's also super-important to know why you're following this advice. Don't do it for him (as in, to get a reaction from him or to win him back), do it for you. You truly are amazing—we're sure of it—now don't let him forget it.

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Comments on "5 Dos and don'ts for running into an ex"

Jenny March 01, 2014 | 1:25 PM

This is wonderful advice. Googled for it because I might run into my ex tonight... And now I feel ready to be fabulous and flaunt it :)

yo momma January 16, 2014 | 3:34 PM

Amen to Lindsay Morris! Thanks LM.

Jak December 15, 2013 | 10:33 PM

The internet has so much info it doesn't have all the we feel, react or behave should be natural...who knows you could have both got over whatever bad stuff happened n find forgiveness n realise you may be able to overcome hurdles n be happy! Everyone is different...however, exes are usually exes for a reason so we all have to make our own decisions not base it on internet advice that can make us dysfunctional confused n even have regrets!

Sam December 04, 2013 | 7:13 PM

I just ran into my ex today after 5 years. Yes, I'm guilty of Facebook stalking him and learned that he's married with a newborn now, I myself am happily married with a child on the way. But I so wasn't prepared for this. I must have practiced it in my mind about a bajillion and one times what I would say or do if/when I finally did run into him. But all that went out the window the moment I saw him. We were both at a store, I was behind him and saw him but he hadn't spotted me yet, I then turned my cart around so fast to avoid him that I hit the side of the aisle causing a huge banging noise across the aisle. We were the only two there, so he probably saw me, but I didn't turn back to find out, flustered, I just kept driving my cart away from him. I felt like a total dope but I did not want to talk even though we had been great friends for 9 years and later lovers. I just couldn't do it, and though we once were close, I never, ever want to see him again. But if I do, I will not be crashing my cart into aisles and driving off again, I'll give a polite "hi, how are you?" and then after a minute or two be on my merry way...I hope!

Scott August 27, 2013 | 6:00 AM

I actually bumped into my ex-wife the other night at a bar. She was on a date with some guy. I just avoided her, but I was outside of the front door when they left. The guy she was with was being a total jerk to her. I knew better than to say anything then and there. But, I sent her a text today saying "I know I'm the last person you want to hear this from. But, dont let that guy treat you like that. You deserve better." I probably shouldn't have done that, but I don't want to see anyone treat the woman I walked down the isle like a peice of poop, regardless of how bad our divorce was.

lindsay morris November 29, 2012 | 2:58 PM

What a sad article. Try to find room for grace, sympathy, and respect for what used to be a good thing. All I see here is one-upmanship games. Are you so terrified of what he thinks of you?

Amanda July 24, 2012 | 1:35 PM

Blah running into an ex is the worst! Especially if you are wearing sweats! But, what can you do!? Say hi and move on! Chances are he's just as flustered running into you as you are to him, so don't look too far into it.

tanya longmire September 11, 2009 | 3:51 PM

me an ex boyfriend was together for 3 year an i did everything for this man an he was my first love but i cheat on him wit a friend of mine then he cheat on me too an i still have feelin for this man an he still have feelin for me too!!!!!

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