Breakups can suck big time — we all know that. What sucks even more is when you have mutual friends with your ex, which means that you’re bound to run into said ex at one social event or another. Keep these things in mind if you think a run-in may take place:
1. Decide if you should sit this one out.
How can you know for sure that you’re ready to see them again? I mean, what if your fingers just happened to type in your ex’s name when you were logged on to Facebook, and you just happened to see their new default picture is with a potential new flame? Can you handle seeing your ex being lovey dovey with someone else? And what if, during your Facebook stalking (I mean, “research”), it appears that your ex is still single? Can you handle being in the same place and space with said ex while the both of you are unattached? If the answer is yes, then you’re good to go; if not, find something better to do that night. Yeah, you don’t want to let your ex ruin your social life, but if you’re not over it, it’s not worth it.
2. Remember the goal.
Obviously your main goal for going to any social event should be because you want to show your support to the host(s) and have a good time. But in the case where an ex will also be present, you now have a new goal: getting through the event gracefully. Without fumbling. And without slipping back into “that place” where you end up spilling your guts to your former lover about how much you still love them/need them/can’t live without them.
3. Nail the proper demeanor.
The first time you see your ex at a social event can be weird and awkward — if you let it. If you’re cool and collected, your ex probably will be, too.
4. Secure wingmen or wingwomen.
You’re going to need a support system. I’d say you’ve gotta have at least two. That way you’re not just hanging on to one person for the entire event. And they’ve gotta be prepared to help you stave off potentially awkward situations with your ex. Like suggesting that you “go to the bar to get a drink” if things get weird.
5. Find the perfect outfit.
Basically you want to look hot. Hawt! But not like an eat-your-heart-out-because-you-and-I-didn’t-work-out hawt. You want to look more like a slightly upgraded version of yourself. I use the term “slightly upgraded” because you don’t want to look like you were clearly trying too hard. THAT can be borderline pathetic. So when meticulously choosing your outfit, think “effortlessly awesome” and stick with a I’m-the-one-that-got-away ensemble.
Have a drink or two before the event. If you’re nervous, it’ll help to take the edge off. But whatever you do, do not (I repeat: do NOT) get shit-faced drunk. That won’t be a good look for you. And you won’t have control of your words or actions.
7. At the party, stay in control.
You are in no way obligated to hold a conversation with your ex, especially if during the breakup, said ex was a complete dick douche. (That was a Friends with Benefits reference, in case you missed it.) You don’t want to converse with an asshole anyway, right?
That being said, if things ended on a cordial note, feel free to smile, be polite, and say “hello.” Avoid playing the “who’s going to say ‘hi’ first” game. If you guys are in close proximity, put your grown-up pants on and take the lead. It’ll make you more in control of the situation. And you want to be in control of this situation. Be sure not to linger though. Keep the conversation short and sweet – like three sentences max. Then proceed to circulate the party.
Whatever you do, stay strong. After seeing your ex, don’t (I repeat: don’t) start feeling nostalgic because you think that it was a sign from the Love Gods and that the three sentence cordial conversation means that you two are meant to rekindle your romance. It means nothing!
Unless… your ex follows up that conversation up with a phone call, text, or email. And even then I’d be skeptical because one short, slightly intoxicated conversation between two former flames does not a serious relationship make.
8. You did it. Now enjoy the night.
Mingle, sing, dance, and enjoy yourself. But remember, DNR: do not resuscitate.
Alicia Harper, M.A., Ed.M. is a 20something single mother, blogger, and recent graduate of Columbia University turned Mental Health Therapist. Her life is filled with all things pink, except for the one bit of blue – her rambunctious 4-year-old son. Together they make a great pair, and Alicia chronicles the trials and triumphs of being a young, single mother living in NYC at Mommy Delicious. Find her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter.