When your ex shows up at your favorite venue. Get pissed. What the hell? This is your coffee bar/Irish pub/patch of grass in the park/(insert local haunt) — your ex has no right to be there. The laws of break-up ethics dictate that exes be denied entry into these sacred places. Your ex should respect that, but they don’t, because your ex totally knew you’d be there. So get confused/frustrated. Do you stay put and play it off as if it’s not a big deal? Do give your ex the “death stare” as you leave in a huff? Do you call them out on their jerkiness? Do you vow never to go back, because the presence of your ex has tainted any authenticity the area you love(d) used to have? Obviously, don’t let some stupid ex ruin places that are near and dear to your heart. Your ex is here because he/she clearly wants to be as cool as you are. Or maybe, they just miss you. Worst-case scenario is that they are stalking you, so file for a restraining order guaranteeing they never show up at your number one concert venue/vegan bakery/hole-in-the-wall bookstore again.
When you see an ex with a new partner. Get startled — feel that lump in your throat, the temporary stopping of your heart, the tightening of your stomach, your body frozen in place. These feelings only last for a minute but occur within us regardless of who broke up with who. It’s always strange to see an ex for the first time out and about with someone new. Feel sad for a second, and a bit sentimental — there was a time when you laughed with your ex and held hands the same way they do. Comparatively, feel glad, elated, and ecstatic that your ex has found someone else and is finally off your ass, that they’ve moved on and managed to recoup from the relationship as well as you have. Ultimately, don’t let it get to you. You don’t know where this relationship is going, and unless your ex tells you about it, it’s not your business to know.
When you see an ex you haven’t seen in years. First, get excited. This can be a good excited, as in “Oh my god, I haven’t seen my ex in so long, what are they doing here? I’m glad I look fantastic, have a great career, am traveling to South Africa soon and can tell them about all the cool things I’ve been doing in my life.” Or, it can be a bad excited as in, “Oh no, oh crap, what is my ex doing here? ABORT! ABORT! I am not prepared to see this person at all.” Next, get calm, because these mile- a-minute thoughts circulating in your head are probably going through your ex’s brain too. Lastly, get realistic. A lot has happened to you and your ex since you last parted. Maybe your ex has changed. Maybe he/she didn’t. If this is someone you want to catch up with, do so in a dignified manner. If not, just keep the conversation short (it’s also okay to reject their friendship request on Facebook).
When you know you’ll be in a place where your ex will be too. Get nervous. This can potentially be a very awkward situation; perhaps you are still in love with your ex, or perhaps your ex is still in love with you. If it’s the former, be aware that you might become emotional at some point during the event, that you may say things you don’t mean, or do mean, that maybe shouldn’t be spoken in such a public arena. Be aware that your ex’s reaction may not always be what you expect or hope for. If however, your ex is still in love with you and the feeling isn’t mutual, be prepared to feel annoyed and on-edge. Will your ex confront you at this location? Will they embarrass you? Embarrass themselves? Try to make you jealous? Try to hurt your feelings? Hopefully, wherever you are there is enough to distract you from these thoughts, but if not, do your best to maintain your poise and be the better ex.
When your ex shows up on your front lawn with a boom box playing Peter Gabriel. Get the giggles. Laugh because your ex is ridiculously cliché, and there is no way this stunt is going to get you to go out with them again. Or, laugh because you think it’s adorable, you love attention, and have always had a thing for John Cusak.