Topic of the Day: Running Into Exes

There was some discussion in the forums recently about running into exes, which got me thinking about my own experiences with that.

My first serious boyfriend lived across the street from me, so after we broke up, I had to see him all the time. Of course, in those initial weeks after the breakup, I wanted to see him, so I’d walk past his house with hopes of catching him coming or going. I cringe now thinking about it, but it was nearly nineteen years ago and I was young and heartbroken and lonely. He always ignored me until months later, when I started purposely trying to avoid him and then legit ran into him on the sidewalk and he stopped and said hello and was nice-ish and then, boom!, months of moving on were suddenly erased and it felt like I was back at square one of post-breakup healing.

After my second serious boyfriend and I broke up, we tried to remain friends — it was an amicable breakup after our living together for several years and we were both still a bit co-dependent and scared of being alone — so we’d have dinner together once or twice a week. Because of that, there was never a weird or awkward accidental run-in, but I do remember feeling some bittersweet awkwardness that he had a framed photo of me up in his new apartment. We eventually quit hanging out once I started dating someone new, and eventually we stopped seeing each other altogether. Now I live in a city where I’m pretty sure no one I’ve dated before lives except the person I married, so the chances of running into an ex are pretty slim and not something that ever crosses my mind. Occasionally, when I’m visiting my parents in Missouri — in the same town that my ex from nineteen years ago lives, it occurs to me that I could see him, but whatever. I probably wouldn’t even recognize him at this point.

So, what about you? Have you had any awkward, sad, or funny run-ins with your exes? Have you planned to “accidentally” run into them? Do you stalk places they work, live, or hang out so that you might see them? Do you sort of forget they exist and then freak out when you run into them and all those feelings you had when you last saw them come flooding back?


  1. In college, I did try a couple times to “accidentally” run into guys. Nothing too creepy-crazy (I hope…), but I recall a few times I’d, for example, walk down a particular street to get to or from class knowing a guy lived on that street and hoping he’d see me. I never chose a route that was out of my way or anything like that, but I was acting intentionally. I don’t think I actually wanted to have any face-to-face interactions. I think all I wanted was to be seen. So, yeah. *cringes*

    Nowadays, I’m the polar opposite. I don’t like or want to play games or prolong any healing. I don’t have time for that crap! And even when things end fairly amicably, my preference is still not to see them at all. It’s easier that way.

  2. I once ran into the guy who broke my heart (by dumping me on my 21st birthday by standing me up, no less) in a gas station on Cinco de Mayo. I’d finally been able to stop thinking about him. I’d finally stopped spastically grabbing for my phone every time it made a sound, willing it to be him. I’d finally stopped wondering why I wasn’t good enough.

    And so there he was, in the gas station, after a few Cinco de Mayo margaritas. He looked at me, I looked at him. My heart started pounding, he said my name….

    ……and I puked on him. Like, directly on his shoes.

    1. Haha, I thought this was me for a sec AND your name is also Anna… sweet.

  3. I don’t ever really hope to run into exes. I ran into one at a grocery store, but it’s been almost 3 years since that, and it was fine and not awkward. I used to work with one so I saw him often which sucked, but luckily he’s moved out of state. Two other exes also moved out of state. Run-in potential is low for my exes, but I bet I’ll run into my boyfriend’s ex at some point because she lives right across the river.

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