Thought Catalog

The First Time You See Your Ex After The Breakup

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It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. You imagined seeing your ex on one of the many times you half-stalked them after the break up. You went to parties they had RSVPed to in hopes of having a casual run-in. “OMG, what are you doing here?! I’m so shocked. I had no idea. Hi! Hi…” In more desperate and darker moments, you would even sometimes wander down their street to gaze at their apartment builiding. Don’t judge, okay? You were in the neighborhood! They don’t own the block, they just live on it!

All of the times you had hoped to run into them, you made sure to look your best. Deep down, you knew it was fruitless — people don’t just fall in love with someone again because they have a good hair day — but you can just chalk it up to your post-breakup “magical thinking.” This was during a time in which you actually believed that wearing the right outfit and perfume could get them back. They were on the fence until you spritzed on some scent and then they were swayed. The verdict is in. They love you again! (It sounds crazy because it is. That being said, there is a certain kind of comfort that comes with losing your damn mind.)

It never happens the way you want it to. You spend all of that time desperate to run into your ex, and it never happens. Take off those jeans that make your ass look good. Retire the witty banter. It’s safe to go outside looking like crap again.

Until one day when it actually does happen. One day when you’re wearing your “I’m over it!” shorts and a pizza-stained t-shirt, you will run into them and want to die. That’s no exaggeration either. You will want to 100% physically die, disappear into thin air, get stabbed by a homeless person and bleed to death just so you won’t have to interact with someone who fell out of love with you.

You’ll take some solace in seeing your ex also look like they were hit by a bulldozer. That’s good. You like that. Stunned reactions indicate that they still feel something towards you. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. At least it’s not indifference! Give me that shocked expression again!

The conversation you have will feel like nails on a chalkboard. You’ll say the words “Good. Really Good. Jobs. Work. Weather,” and they won’t mean a thing to you. Is “I’m doing really good!” even English? It’s Greek, right? You don’t know Greek. When you’re having a conversation and both parties know it’s BS, a thickness develops with each and every single word. “How are you?” weighs approximately 5,000 pounds. “See you later!” is weightless.

You’ll want to kick them and screw them. Grab the body that doesn’t belong to you anymore. Go ahead. I dare you.


Wow, oh wow, isn’t it weird when someone is your everything and then becomes a nothing? Shocker. Electrocuted. To be fair, you knew what you were getting yourself into when you signed up for this whole “falling in love” business! Didn’t you read the fine print? “Thou shalt become a stranger eventually.” You should really pay closer attention to those relationship contracts.

Anyway, it’s over before it ever really begins. The ex leaves you just like they did a few months ago and you’re left standing next to a man who’s selling incense sticks.

Go home and die for about seven hours. Maybe masturbate. You’ve earned it. Slowly nurse yourself back to health. You’re going to be okay. Your ex is going to be okay. The Greek will suddenly turn into English and everything will make sense again.

Just pray you never run into them again. TC mark

image – rmricci

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    • Baileypowell

      Ah, this reminded me of wounds of the past. :( Funny, yet heart achingly true.

    • SBG

      I spend all of my time trying to AVOID exes at parties etc. But I’m definitely masochistic in my own ways.

    • Anonymous

      It’s funny; my situation is usually the opposite. Usually when I’m happiest/most-put-together is the second they show up. Works like magic.

      Which is why, especially post-breakup, I always try to look best for the NEXT person who will eventually come into my life. In that way, you get the benefit of not wallowing in your failed past, while still getting that beloved “oh wow…you look good…” when your ex pops up. I know it’s cliche, but living well is the best revenge.

    • Guest

      Going through this at the moment. Loved how this article pointed out how hard “casual” conversation becomes with your ex. To go from pouring your heart out, spending almost every day with them, to feeling embodied in their body…to now have to say “Hey” as if all of that time spent together didn’t mean anything.

    • Daniel L

      Beware of enthusiasm and of love. Each is temporary and quick to sway.

    • jade

      the first time i saw my ex after we broke up, i slept with him. go figure.

    • Anonymous

      I haven’t seen my ex since we broke up 3 years ago. Other than once a month when I look at her engagement photos and cry myself to sleep.


      • erin


    • Michael Koh

      it’s called a bloody heart attack 

    • Anonymous

      Your articles have been so good recently (not that they’re bad normally, they’re just exceptionally good now!) 

    • Sophia

      This article hurts right now. Painfully accurate.
      It’s funny, how two people who once were so intimately close now treat each other like strangers. How do we let that happen? How is that the norm?
      It’s heartbreakingly sad.

    • Leah Cox

      Didn’t you read the fine print? “Thou shalt become a stranger


    • caine

      Waiting on for a genius article on how to go back from strangers to intimacy, ha ha.

      • Vron

        If you notice one, send it to me please? :(

    • Guest

      Ripped the stitches clean off, almost bled to death behind a much practised smile. Will heal stronger this time, I imagine.

    • littlemole

      hmmms. how about spent a week in Italy together?

    • AndreaCarmona

      Seeing an ex IS just like that. Like being hit by a bulldozer. You don’t expect it and it knocks the wind out’a ya! 

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