Relationships

Where Have You Run Into an Ex?

Where Have You Run Into an Ex?

You know that ex, the one who sailed into your life, red flags flying; who grabbed your heart then chiseled it away; who somehow charmed his or her way back in and pressed repeat on the whole cycle again and again. The one that being done with makes you feel like a real grown human. Just me? Well, we all come face to face with that person again…

I was riding my bike over the Williamsburg Bridge, my sweaty hair clinging to my forehead. There I am, struggling up the incline, when he appears around the bend, coasting down without a care — the metaphor for our relationship all too real. Our eyes meet ten feet apart, and my heart jumps into my throat, but he just rides past. You can’t really stop on the bridge, and why would we? I manage to continue pedaling, my mind spinning as quickly as his tires. What was the chance of such an encounter?

I always figured it would go down at a neighborhood bar — where we had spent so many evenings in our 20s — cheap beer making it that much easier, or that much worse. On those early post-breakup nights when he was still knocking around my brain, I would check for his silver bike locked out front wherever I went.

Of course, running into an old fling isn’t always bad — my friend Scott got back together with the love of his life after bumping into him three years post-breakup. But the worst encounters are more fun to talk about, right?

Says Gemma Burgess: “I ran into my ex at a bar,” she told me. “I started shaking as he came over. Then, like Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral, I drank all my vodka in one gulp, and said ‘Good Lord, I seem to have finished my drink.’ Then, I walked away and hid in the bathroom.”

It can be even more jarring to run into someone on public transportation. My friend Christina bumped into her ex-fiancé waiting on the subway platform. After a minute of sweaty-palmed, heart-thumping “catching up,” she jumped on a train — it was going in the wrong direction, but it was worth it.

Another woman I know, Maria, had no such escape route: “My new boyfriend and I jammed into a packed train, and lo and behold sitting right underneath us was my ex,” she says. “I turned beet red and was WAY too nice to him. I basically acted like he was my best friend from childhood; my boyfriend was totally weirded out.”

What about when you’re basically at home? “I ran into an ex-girlfriend outside my apartment while taking the garbage out holding an umbrella in pajamas,” says Stef. Her wife was right inside, but it can be just as uncomfortable after you’ve moved on.

Another example: “I was leaving a restaurant when I spotted him across the street,” says Alex. “We hadn’t seen each other in years — and we were both married, mind you — but rather than simply waving and saying hello, I leapt behind a parked car and crouched there until he left.”

Ghosts from the past aren’t limited to our own neighborhoods. “I was on vacation in Puerto Rico lying by the pool with my eyes closed when I heard the voice of my college boyfriend,” says Beth. “I thought I was hallucinating, but it really was him, one chair away. We had a stilted conversation and then I spent the rest of my trip avoiding the hotel lobby and pool.”

Running into an ex can spark reactions ranging from butterflies to full-blown panic attacks to confident satisfaction when you realize you’re totally over it. But no matter the situation, no matter the history, even if he rides right on by, it will always be… awkward.

Have you ever had a run-in with an ex? How did it go?

P.S. First date rituals, and advice to your younger self.

  1. Lisa says...

    I’ve run into my significant ex once (it helps when you live in completely different cities). I have a baby and my husband and I got so obsessive when trying to decide which pushchair to get, that I developed the habit of always checking out which pushchair parents are using.

    Anyway, when my son was around 4 months old we went away and when my husband was at work (this is a completely different country, nay CONTINENT) I went out for breakfast with the baby, sat outside. A guy walked past pushing a pushchair, and as was my habit – I looked at the pushchair and then looked up and …. lo and behold my ex with his wife, taking their daughter out for a stroll! I didn’t go after them (given I had just been served my coffee and was with baby + paraphernalia), but it was the weirdest thing. I had the satisfying (though really vain and bitchy) realisation that I’m better looking than his wife (even though for the pictures I’ve seen of her, we do look a lot alike. I don’t know if that’s weird or a compliment).

  2. Jess says...

    I ran into my high school boyfriend in a hospital maternity after his wife and I both gave birth…. You do the math on that. His mom even stopped into visit me (we had always liked each other) . Weirdest run-in ever.

  3. Katia says...

    About 7 years ago I met my now-husband and sparks flew; I was still sleeping with my ex at the time, as we’d long been engaged in a “exes who remained friends with benefits” situation. The ex wished me well, as we both knew it was inevitable that one of us would move on — we were just biding our time and guarding our hearts against which of us would jump first.
    And jump I did. My husband and I had electric sparks the moment we met. Our personalities meshed perfectly and it was clear both of us were more ourselves having found the exact puzzle piece we each needed.
    And so, I was invited to a Christmas party at a professor’s beautiful brownstone; I knew my ex would be there, as we’d attended the same party in previous years. My husband came along to enjoy my literary crowd (and scope out the ex, obviously).
    The moment we stepped into the living room my eyes found my ex, who is by nature a cool and collected individual. He decidedly did not meet my eye, but it wasn’t rude, just allowing space for the moment to unfold. When it finally did, the ex, the new man, and I shared friendly but stilted conversation for several long minutes. The men were assessing each other the way a wrestler would, checking for weak spots and receding hairlines (no contest there. Husband has a messy shag while ex has been fighting the tide for many a year). When we all knew the moment was done, I hugged my ex and stepped away, leaving the men to clasp hands and exchange knowing looks. “You’ve got a great girl,” said the ex with a smile. “Don’t I know it,” the husband replied. The shadow that passed over the ex’s eyes was sad and honest; could have been, but never could.
    And I’m so much the happier for it. My husband and I have been inseparable since we met and I’m so glad to have had my ex keep me company until that day.

  4. Kendra says...

    Not quite a ‘bump into’ story but still funny…

    When I was around 20, my new boyfriend came over dinner to meet my parents for the first time. Right in the middle of dinner, the phone rang and my dad answered. He came back in with a quizzical look on his face saying “There’s a gentleman caller for you…”

    Turns out it was my ex-boyfriend from EIGHTH GRADE calling to see what I was up to these days!! We hadn’t spoken in nearly 10 years! After a quick but pleasant conversation (in which I said ‘Guess what, my new boyfriend is meeting my parents for the first time right now lol’) I returned to the dinner table laughing my ass off. I made sure to jokingly point out to my new boyfriend that once you date me, you never forget! Now we’ve been together for nearly 9 years :) Hahaha!

  5. Kaitlyn S says...

    I was in my hometown visiting my family. As background – in high school I had two “serious” boyfriends – my now husband, who I broke up with (he never lets me live it down) and after that a guy who was (at the time) way too old for me (freshman/senior) but I was determined to date anyway. He was into it. Anyway, we eventually stopped seeing each other (it was messy and weird) and I eventually got back together with the man I ended up marrying. So about a year after I got married, my husband and I were living in NYC but were back visiting our hometown during my spring break from law school, which coincided with St. Patrick’s Day. We were at a local irish band’s concert, and I was running to the bathroom with my sister between sets. I saw my ex (who was overweight and bald – hallelujah!) and attempted to do the “I’m just not looking the right way to see you” avoidance tactic, but my sister pulled me right in. “Hi – you remember my sister! She’s married now – to the guy she dumped for you!”

    …Yeah.

    So after that I drank a few too many beers and went home with my not overweight or bald husband and enjoyed the fact that I married the right man in the end (despite my wayward youth, and my sister’s terrible phrasing) :)

  6. Anna says...

    Love how the stories in the post and comment section vary from horrid to comic gold. Such an interesting read. xx

  7. Jennifer says...

    I live in the same (small) city as my college boyfriend and despite that, went fifteen years (!) without running into him. One night late in my second pregnancy I was out with a friend at a concert and I saw him come in with his wife and sit a few rows in front of us. After the show I stood up and he saw me and came over. I introduced him to my (female) friend and he asked if she was my wife!!!! I remembered instantly that when I was trying to break up with him (at age 20, not very savvy in the ways of the world) I told him I thought I might be gay, just so he would leave me alone. My friend burst out laughing and we both told him, no, we weren’t married. Then excused ourselves to the bathroom and kept laughing.

    • HAHA this made my day!

  8. Mouse says...

    I’ve been happily partnered/married for over 10 years; I’m 57. But the guy before my husband, my ex, was the person I THOUGHT might be my last boyfriend. I’ve never had love or anything like it at first sight, but when I first saw the ex, it was like an explosion going off inside, and I thought, this must be it. This must be the right thing. And it was SO not the right thing…….

    I periodically see him around, and it’s fine, actually, but I still have tiny explosions inside, only this time I know it doesn’t mean what I thought it meant. Somehow he pushes a lot of different buttons, but they’re not the ones needing to be pushed for the long and healthy relationship I wanted.

    All part of the long process of understanding what you seem to want and what you need are often different things…….

  9. Kathleen says...

    I dated a guy briefly in my early 20’s who was way out of my league (according to other people…) I was a chubby, extremely self conscious, inexperienced girl and he was an older, very tall, extremely fit, Greek God looking guy. He eventually broke up with me. Because of my self esteem issues and having people tell me that he was out of my league, I was completely terrified of being intimate with him. The first time I ran into him, I was out for dinner with a friend, he walked in the restaurant and we made eye contact at the exact moment that I was shoving an entire fish taco into my mouth. Not cute.
    Now, a few years later, I am still chubby BUT LOVING MY BODY and my self esteem has sky rocketed. I have run into him on one other occasion at a local bar as I was leaving to go home with a guy. Turns out that they knew each other, they shook hands as we left. BYEE

    • i hope the people who kept telling you that he was out of your league are no longer in your life. they sound like they blow.

  10. After my first time dating a girl, I had to make some adjustments as where you can run into an ex… such as the bathroom! While I was running between classes trying to decompress in the bathroom, I walked in to see my ex-girlfriend standing at the sink. I was so thrown off since the bathroom had always felt like a sacred space away from prior exes (who had all been male). I could tell she waited at the sink until I finished in the stall so we could at least be cordial and say hi, but I waited in my stall until I heard her leave. I felt like I was having a complete panic attack until I heard the door shut behind her. I look back on this now and laugh! However, during this class break I now use a bathroom on a different floor to avoid any further interactions *rolling my eyes at my own melodrama*

  11. Hallie says...

    I ran into an ex at the mall with my newborn son while we were just getting out of the house for the day. I felt pretty good after that.

  12. Faith says...

    Oh the old ‘run into the past’ has gotten me a few times. And each time, I hid like I was playing hide and go seek when I was 5. Found the easiest and fastest place…the first was actually inside a clothing rack at the mall, the second was ducking and crouching behind a car in a Target parking lot while he carried his son on his shoulders…the last time, on a street where I quickly hid behind a trash can….yup. Not proud but so worth that awkward conversation. Funny enough now….I found him on Facebook and couldn’t help but to snoop around on his page!

  13. lou says...

    he wasn’t THE ex but he was the ex right before my now fiance. we had a strange dating experience — i was healing from a really traumatic breakup (with the guy who is THE ex), so i was feeling completely jaded and angsty about love. when i met this guy i had low expectations, but we instantly connected and had such a blast together that it completely reversed & accelerated my outlook. i fell too hard too fast, only to realize he’s the kind of charismatic and freewheeling guy who clicks with lots of girls, all of whom he keeps in rotation. i’m still kind of mortified about how irrationally i reacted to what should have been a very minor rejection.

    it figures that i ran into him at the supermarket on a dreary Monday after a rough day at work. no makeup on, not looking good. he pulled into the parking spot next to me and got out, confusing me for another girl at first (of course). then he was like, “omg louuu!!! good to see you!” and we caught up a bit, but i was dying to get out of there.

    everytime my fiance and i walk to our favorite restaurant, i make us take a sidestreet to avoid this dude’s block. fiance laughs at me and doesn’t get it, but after reading these comments i’m so happy to know i’m not the only one who avoids run ins!

  14. Sil says...

    I went on vacation to leave behind an unhealthy relationship and difficult breakup and one day as I was deciding where to have lunch I see him through a restaurant window! I couldn’t sleep that night.

  15. Rue says...

    High school sweetheart, things ended badly. After college, I was living in DC. I heard he was living there too, and was nervous about the possibility of a run-in, but didn’t expect it to be super awful. Oh boy.

    Coming home from work on a Friday, I was standing on an up-escalator exiting my neighborhood metro station, and he and his fiance were at the top of the escalator looking down, clearly waiting for a friend. So we have almost the full length of the escalator to just stare at each other in horror as I am mechanically brought closer and closer to his feet.

    When I got to the top, I figured, I should at least be friendly here, no point not being a pleasant human. I said hello, probably too enthusiastically. He shook his head like he was in some movie and was trying to erase his brain etch-a-sketch-style because clearly I was a hallucination. Then he finally said, “What are you *doing* here??” (Dude, it’s my metro station not yours.) But I was too stunned to change tactics and kept going with my friendly and slightly too enthusiastic vibe. I even stuck out a hand and introduced myself to his fiance, who was standing next to him making all kinds of distressed faces.

    My last straw was when he asked about my job, and I explained my work at a nonprofit, how it wasn’t my dream career but it was all good stuff to be learning. Mind you we were one year out of college and this was the height of the recession. Most of my friends had no job at all. He shrugged in response and said, “well, whatever pays the bills.” That was finally my cue to just leave.

    I saw them a few other times at that metro station. They must have had a friend who lived in my neighborhood. I went through all kinds of hoops to never see or at least never make eye contact with him again. Classic moves like “walk really slowly and then maybe duck into the too-expensive coffee shop and act like you’re waiting for somebody who doesn’t show.” Or my very favorite for close encounters, “Oh wait, did that important thing just disappear into the depths of my bag?? Better stick my entire face into this bag so I can better search for the very important thing.” If he can be so grownup about things, then dammit, so can I.

    • Heather says...

      “So we have almost the full length of the escalator to just stare at each other in horror as I am mechanically brought closer and closer to his feet.” This description is amazing.

    • Andrea says...

      Loved and laughed out loud at this comment too! Perfect description, can completely picture it, and feel the awkwardness and horror!

  16. I ran into my ex of 4 weeks on a first date. He proceeded to send me abusive texts even though he dumped me. I’m still with the first date guy 3 years later.

  17. Cherie says...

    I ran into the boyfriend who broke my heart at a pub…and while avoiding him I ran into the boyfriend whose heart I broke. Not sure which direction I was going in to tell you the truth, but the door seemed sensible. Fifteen years later, happily married (to neither!) and long past the age of bumping into exes at drinks on a Friday night ;)

    • Andrea says...

      What are the odds of running into both at the same time!

  18. Loz says...

    I was working the door at a friend’s music festival. The entry admission was $50. My ex rolls up and asked the entrance price and I bursted out with $100 bucks. In my mind Im saying…”You! You pay double!!”.

    • Meg says...

      Hahaha!!

  19. I work as a travel writer and was researching a piece that involved checking out some finca hotels in Ibiza. I’d travelled there from London with my husband and we were having a lovely time driving round and exploring these lovely places to stay. We arrived at one particularly beautiful one and were peeking around the outside looking for some staff when we stumbled onto a lawn where a wedding was taking place. The bride? My husband’s ex – the one he’d split with just before getting together with me. I think turning up at your ex’s wedding uninvited is what the phrase ‘totallyawks’ was invented for.

  20. Ker says...

    Literally ran into THE ex with his new girlfriend while I was on mile 20 of a training run for my first marathon. Talk about being a hot mess. It was early in the morning; I was out for a long run to repair my broken heart and they were walking back to her apt with a bag of bagels. I actually stopped to say hi and “nice to meet you”, barf. He married her. I married someone better!

    • Carrie says...

      A 20 mile run? No hot mess, just HOT!

  21. emma says...

    I had a long but irregular relationship with a guy named Ben. I met him, dated him for a few months, but I felt uncomfortable with him, although he was really fun. The relationship stopped : I did not really break up, but it stopped on his own. Then had a long and serious relationship with another man ( we stayed together for 9 years). After we broke up, I ran into Ben again. We began dating again. He was really pressuring me for making me move to his place, meeting my family, having a kid. I still felt uncomfortable. I kept the relationship irregular, and he really went mad about it. I didn’t want him fully in my life, I couldn’t explain why.
    I finally broke up for good, because I had met someone else I really loved. And then, I began running into Ben quite often. In front of my building, in the subway, in restaurants where I was supposed to meet friends. It was really creepy. As if he was following me. In fact, he was. The encounters were not random at all : he had offered me a smartphone with a spy program in it. He could real all the text messages I was sending. When I discovered the thing, It was like a rape. He knew things about me he wasn’t supposed to know. he said he ” guessed” i was pregnant. He said he ” guessed” who was the father of my baby. As we had no common friends, this was quite impossible…. I just added 1+1 and got my phone tested… Infected ! I disconnected the phone, kept it in a closet as a possible evidence… And the encounters quite stopped. I saw him one more time, randomly I guess, and hided. The only thing that came to my mind was : if he approaches me, I’ll slap him.

    • Ciara says...

      That is absolutely a nightmare! I’m so sorry you had to go through that!

  22. Nena says...

    Having not seen each other for 12 years (we live in different cities), last week in the park my daughter (a ball-stealing toddler) ran towards a ball in order to acquire it and the boy whose ball it was and his father ran to get it, too. You get the picture, the father is my ex-boyfriend. Oh, and there’s more- he is a priest now and lives in my city!

  23. Maren says...

    My significant ex is a literal trash person–he was much older than me, but that didn’t stop us from the break-up-make-up cycle, including one time when he broke up with me WHILE WE WERE HAVING SEX. I still got back together with him a month later (not my finest moment.) We are both social dancers and I had refrained from dancing for a few months post final break up (that I initiated thankfully) but I decided to go to my home dance one night this spring after hearing that he had moved away. Well, apparently the rumors were wrong and he showed up to the dance a few minutes after I did–I’m happy to report that I actually looked amazing and had the glorious pleasure of watching the color drain from his face as he saw me. He spent the rest of the night avoiding me and/or trying to talk to my friends who all gave him disgusted looks and walked away. It remains, to this day, on of my favorite memories.

    • Laura C. says...

      He broke up while having sex?? Can’t believe it! I’m happy you are the winner now!

  24. Laura C. says...

    On the train station. I was arriving, he was leaving. It was years since the last time we saw each other. I was already dating my actual husband. I was not in my best outfit, of course. He was as beauty as the Sun, as always. In that moment we felt that we could have been there for hours chatting, but his train wss leaving and he had to go.
    I left the station and suddenly i couldn’t breath, my heart was exploding. I went back to the entrance of the station – I would never dare to run until the platform – but I couldn’t spot him. That was in 2006 or 2007. We live in different countries, now he’s married too.
    He was and always be the love of my life.

  25. Alice says...

    I have a habit of dating co-workers, and broke up with one about six months before leaving that job for a new one. In my first week of the new job, after a night of too many drinks and getting friendly with another co-worker, I was walking to the tube, feeling rather sorry for myself, and there he was, just a few steps ahead of me, with his new girlfriend. The traffic lights weren’t in our favour and he was waiting to cross the road- and I literally stopped where I was, about fifteen feet behind him, and just prayed he wouldn’t turn around. Thank GOD he didn’t, because there’s nothing worse than running into an ex hungover and looking it, is there?!

  26. Anne says...

    I went shopping on my birthday and I guy approached me and shaked my hands, wishing me happy birthday. I am really bad at recognizing people so made my small talk while trying to figure out why he seemed familiar again? It was my “significant” ex, who one day told me he wanted children soon and the next, that it was over. The break-up was something like 10 months ago and we had seen each other in between – PhD in the same subject – but somehow I hadn’t reccognized him immediately- well it was the new glasses, grey hair and lines and his strange laugh – did he always have such a strange laugh?
    He, his new girlfriend, his other ex/best friend and me, we all wrote a PhD in the same subject and lived closely together and had lots of friends in common. His new girlfriend decided they should move away and he stopped being friends with anyone who is friends with his exes. When I got to know about this, I thought about talking to her that she has nothing to fear – he’s the last guy on earth I would date again. But then – I had put a lot of effort after the break up to find out what happen so we could sort our feelings and have clean slate, but he was just “done, next girl” (who was in my study group). So whatever their problem is with me, or his other ex girlfriend – it ain’t mine, I am open for talking but actually I don’t have to :) It’s good to read about everyone elses uncomfortable feelings – being comfortable isn’t necessarily part of “closure” (whatever said is) – and maybe it’s his kind of closure to start a new life with new friends – though I find it very ridiculous, but my gain not my loss.
    Other fun stories – not running into exes but friends of exes – I met a guy through friends at a hike and we spent the day going through – “I’m sure I know you from somewhere” and tough we had tons of things in common (climbing, dancing, cycling) we couldn’t find the connection- but facebook did, he was a friend of an ex. And another guy from that hike invited me to his party, and I was like, oh, that address seems familiar – I had had a fling with a former flatmate (and he moved into the room)! After all that drama with my significant ex (and another ex I had met through friends, and that friendship stopped after the break-up) I had sworn no more dating people I know through studying or friends or climbing or dancing and tried online dating – first person I meet there is a troublesome ex of a friend. It’s a four million people city, and it feels like a village.
    Lessons learned: Life’s awkward stories :)
    And be comfortable if you see only who you want to see :)

  27. I was sitting in the airport in Sao Paulo, 5 a.m., just arrived from Germany, where I live. I had to wait an hour for a bus to proceed my travel and decided to drink a coffee. I sat outside de coffee shop, looking in the direction of the bagels and donuts and there was a man blocking my view – I wanted to be noticed by the waitress – and also blocking my view to the donuts LOL When he turned to my site I wished I was swallowed by the ground, it was my ex-fiance, the one I broked with, the one who proposed to me in front of friends and family so I could not say no. I sure did not want to see him anymore in my life. It was so weird, I mean, 10.000 km from home, 5 a.m. in one of 100 coffee shops from a huge airport. I noticed he has put some weight and lost some hair, I was arriving from a 10 hours flight and not in my best looks either. He came to my table and we talked, after the initial shock, it was perfectly ok. Just like setting a final point to a story.

  28. Lo says...

    My only run in with an ex, was completely unexpected and utterly horrid.

    I’d move out of my parent’s home, where I had lived during the two years we’d been dating, and was back visiting for the evening rough SIX YEARS AFTER the break up.

    The doorbell rings, and I get up to answer the door as my parents are busy…and lo and behold, my ex ex ex, my first boyfriend and first heartbreak, is standing on the doorstep clutching a sweaty looking box filled with an array of things.

    He stammers a ‘Hello, I didn’t know where else to bring this’, shoves the box into my arms and literally RUNS down the garden path. I stood there frozen solid, in complete limbo not knowing a) what was in the box, and b) why the hell someone I hadn’t seen for six years was on my parent’s porch.

    It turns out he had proposed to his long time girlfriend, and during their amalgamation of belongings in a new home, he had found the long forgotten box of everything that reminded him of me. He brought it to my parents because he didn’t know what to do with it or where I lived, and was hoping to do a quick doorstop dash and just leave the box on the step.

    Imagine both our faces when nose to nose with the other, after such a long period of time. I was pretty weirded out, and went out of my way to sneakily find out what he’d been doing there. It’s safe to say we haven’t spoken again since the terrifying phone call to him to find out what had happened!

    Lo
    http://www.themixtures.com

  29. Mar says...

    Yup! One week ago… very recent break up. Still getting over it. We live in not such a big city where you might not bump into a person for years, but, be sure that you’ll bump into the one you ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WANT TO SEE.

    Saw him outside the hospital where a common friend had just had a baby and he said “funny we keep bumping into each other!”. I wanted to have a dignified answer (as an I don’t care about you at all) but instead went for a “Yes, unfortunately”. I kept beating myself up for that one for days until I realised it is ok to let your heart and mind speak and not pretend you’re over someone when you’re clearly not.

  30. Jay says...

    Opening night of a movie in a packed theatre.
    He sat in the row behind me with a date.
    Tried to talk to me through out the entire movie.
    His girlfriend kept yelling at him.
    My friends were laughing their ass off whispering “this could only happen to you” and repeating telling him to shut up.

    Straight out of a Woody Allen movie. Over the top awkward.

  31. Abby says...

    There was the time I saw my high school ex at a church picnic in the tiny town where I grew up. I was eating with my dad, he was in line. Suddenly I completely lost my appetite and felt like I might barf. It was crowded enough that I didn’t have to speak.

    Also had a super awkward encounter with my ex on campus at my tiny undergrad. He asked me if I’d been on a date with a mutual acquaintance he’d heard I went to a movie with. Little did we know the guy who I was standing next to, who he totally ignored (not the movie guy), was my future husband and we’d go home and play Mario Kart into the wee hours that night.

  32. Loving all of these comments. It makes me feel less tension about the possibility of running into “that ex,” who for me, I was almost engaged to (we were looking at rings, we’d talked to our families, we’d picked out kids’ names, for heaven’s sake!) and we’d lived together a year and a half of our nearly 3-year-relationship. After we broke up (his doing), I knew in my heart of hearts it was right but was still devastated and SO ANXIOUS and troubled about running into him in public. We live in LA, so it’s not terribly likely, but I remember going to an outdoor movie with some girlfriends last summer and just being on the verge of tears the entire night (during “The Muppet Movie,” of all things) because it was one of his favorite movies and I was so worried I’d run into him and wouldn’t know what to say. So then, I drove myself crazier by making up ideal scenarios in which I’d run into him, and naturally, would look my best and be especially charming and somehow “win” this run-in. And part of me still wanted to tell him off for how badly he hurt me, too, and to get answers as to why it ended the way it did. But then one night while I was showering (usually where I do my best ruminating), I realized that I may never actually run into him, and I may never get an answer…and that has to be okay. Realizing that allowed me to move on, and eventually (and with some therapy and a lot of time, wine, and supportive friends), I stopped trying to drive myself mad creating an imaginary ideal scenario that may never come. The best part was that last month, I had a dream that I was cleaning out the bedroom closet from our former shared apartment, and my now-boyfriend was with me, helping. My ex appears in the doorway, and in my dream, I literally told him to “get out! You don’t live here anymore!” and I woke up and realized that he was no longer a part of my life that I needed to dwell on. If that wasn’t the universe getting into my subconscious, I don’t konw what is!

  33. Megan says...

    I went out to dinner with a friend and her new girlfriend. We ran into her old boyfriend (the one she had left to be with the girlfriend)…. he was there on a date. Of course!

  34. Joanna K says...

    I ran into my ex with my now husband ON THE DAY HE PROPOSED TO ME. Yup. In the lobby of the theater, I hear someone call my name. ?

    • Annie says...

      OMG! I don’t even know what I’d do!

  35. I ran into my ex at the airport, while going through security. I panicked, had an anxiety attack and once I was done with security, I went and took refuge in the ladies bathroom hoping that we weren’t at the same terminal or lounge. In hindsight, it was silly of me to react that way. I mean, how bad can meeting an ex actually be?

  36. In the first 6 months after a break up, I thought I saw my ex’s car EVERYWHERE. He had a subaru white impreza, but I’m terrible at identifying the maker and types of cars, so pretty much any white sedan hatchback that looked new within the past 10 years made my stomach drop. It was exhausting!

  37. lyla says...

    I ran into my ex at a friend’s birthday party many many months after we broke up. We reconnected, briefly became friends, then started dating again. 10 years and 3 kids later, I thank the stars I saw him again after we had both had time to grow up a little, treat each other better, and realize what a good thing we had.

  38. Lovely writing Megan :-)

    My husband’s favorite restaurant is owned by my ex boyfriend. It doesn’t phase my husband at all, but I grimace every time we see my ex there… I sometimes wonder if he thinks I want to see him because we go to his restaurant so often!!! I feel like a stalker!! Awkward is exactly the right word!!

  39. Mags says...

    I see my ex constantly as we still work for the same non-profit. In the beginning it was awkward, annoying and sometimes excruciating. Luckily, it was only a couple times of year as he moved out of town. Now we’re total buds and it’s all good… BUT I just met his wife for the first time last summer while exiting the lactation room at work with bottles of breastmilk in my hands. I told her I was excited to finally meet her and then went RIGHT IN for the hug (while still holding said breastmilk).

  40. karilyn says...

    I luckily don’t have this problem with /that/ ex since he lives in the geographically furthest big city from mine (Me: Toronto, Him: Perth). Very frustrating while we were dating, but thank goodness for the distance now!

  41. So I’d hardly dated up until I turned 23 (bless it), so my exes are pretty few in number. But I live in a smaller city where my ex seems to have some sort of tracking device on my friend group. Luckily since dating my current boyfriend, I’ve avoided a few of these interactions but my sweet friends – who loved me and spoke hard truth to me when this guy treated me like I was less significant than plankton – often have to deal with him. Last week, my friend and his wife saw my ex three times – farmers market, bar on Saturday night, and Sunday brunch! If only we were screenwriters and could effectively write someone out of the show – like Minkus from Boy Meets World.

  42. rach says...

    I thank God I’ve never run into my ex-husband, who walked out on me after nearly five years. But I am happily re-married to a MUCH better looking and loving man.

  43. Lisa says...

    I had a moment in my early 20’s where I was leaving the city (and actually the country) I was living in, and had a couple of months of very frequent, erhm, dating of men. You get my point. I was more or less seeing 4 guys at the same time and didn’t care as I was never about to see them again. So I thought. I did leave as planned, but what I hadn’t planned was a job offer from a multinational company that I just couldn’t turn down. And I was based in the same town as before. And oh, did I mention that 3 of the 4 men worked there too? So yeah. For FIVE YEARS I kept bumping into these men frequently. Thankfully it was a huge office with thousands of people so I didn’t have to work with them, but I did have a few awkward run ins nonetheless.

  44. Camille Edwards says...

    The last time I saw my ex, he was hitchhiking away from the repair shop where he had left his car. I picked him up and made small talk- I knew that he was recently dating someone else and wanted to seem cool with it. We were in a really small town, my hometown. I had been really in to him- more than he was in to me. So when he got out of my car, he said “You are a good one” or something like that. Anyway, years later, my father and his wife’s mom are now together. (small town, again) . So he frequently visits my dad’s house. I live in another state and have family so I only head home once a year– I hope we never have to be in the same room together.

  45. Etta says...

    I now work with someone I dated.

    When I started at my job about a year ago, I was shown to my new desk, and…there he was, with his desk across from mine. Every. Single. Day.

    We hadn’t been serious but the fall-out had been super awkward; I wouldn’t have applied if I knew he worked there. we sometimes have to work together closely, but in the year since I was hired we’ve never, ever brought it up to each other (I’d probably punch him)!

    I thought I’d have a heart attack that first day, though.

  46. I ran into an ex with my current boyfriend at a store decently far away from where all of us live. I made brief eye contact and then acted like I didn’t see him… and then escaped to have dinner.

    Lo and behold, we went into another store after dinner and the ex was shopping there, too. I walked directly past him and still ignored him.

    It would have been significantly less awkward to just say hello and move on, but sometimes my brain does not work normally.

  47. Katie says...

    I am an attorney and my big ex is the Court Officer. I almost fell over the first time I saw him running the security line. No where to run and no where to hide! Haha. I swear, sometimes you just cannot make this stuff up! We are in a good place and make small talk about our spouses, vacations and families now. But it still gives me pause everytime I go to court!

  48. Chelsea says...

    I ran into THE ex recently for the first time since we broke up seven years ago. I accompanied my then fiancé (now husband) to the bagel shop sans makeup in running shorts and the tshirt I had slept in. The ex was in line in front of us. I turned beet red, gave an awkward wave and hello, and then I slid into a table while my fiancé waited in line. The only empty table was the one directly next to me. My ex headed for it, but when he saw me at the table over he went outside to eat.

  49. Amy says...

    The guy who broke my heart- 10 months later, I was waiting for my new boyfriend (now husband) to come out of the men’s room at PORT AUTHORITY and the ex came out instead! What a shock. We had a slightly awkward conversation, in which I did get to say, “I’m waiting for my boyfriend.”

    We’ve bumped into each other a few times since then in Brooklyn. The second time, we ran by each other in prospect park, and I slowed down to say hi and he just kind of nodded and kept running. I was so offended that the other times I’ve bumped into him, I haven’t said anything, although I am pretty sure he’s seen me some of those times as well (we sonehow started going to the same sports bar for football games after we broke up).

    One time, and this is so nuts, I realized after getting out of the subway that I was walking directly behind him. I was really creepy about it and stayed like 10 ft behind him the whole time, for about 5 minutes, bc I didn’t want to engage. I was in a total panic the whole time.

    This is all in Brooklyn, not a small town! So nuts.

  50. Janine says...

    One night, on our way into a bar, my ex-boyfriend actually held the door open for my husband and I, while somehow pretending not to see us. When I said (a rather forceful) hello, he looked embarrassed, muttered hi, and quickly walked away. It still amazes me how he managed to be simultaneously polite and rude.

  51. Reese says...

    Awkward, weird, awkward, but I was glad I had my pregnancy glow on when we spotted each other across a mall.

  52. Stephanie H. says...

    Omg, dying. Gemma- that’s the best!!
    I ran into my ex-girlfriend at a restaurant about a year after our horrible break-up (not my decision and did I mention it was horrible & hurtful?!?). My friend noticed her first & tried to hint that we should eat somewhere else, but I hadn’t yet seen her and was oblivious. When I did, my heart was racing! I swallowed hard, walked over to where she was sitting with another woman and said hello. Not sure how or why but one of my proudest accomplishments.

  53. Elizabeth Spence says...

    I ran into an ex once. When we dated he was a lot like Adam from Girls and “treated my heart like monkey meat” and I let him. I lived for his compliments and died from his rejection. I was also only 18 and living away from home for the first time. Not a good phase in my life. When I finally ended it, I promised myself to never let another guy treat me that badly or string me along. Years later when I was happily married and a little chubbier from early pregnancy, my ex waltzed into my office. He was the new IT manager there to change over all our computers after a big office shake up. I had a totally awkward, mortified, sweaty palmed reaction to seeing him. I was super vague and weird around him and my heart was pounding. It was my job to stay in the office all night getting on top of the chaotic admin before the Execs showed up in the morning. My ex and I were the only people in the office until after midnight. I freaked out and couldn’t handle seeing him or talking to him but trying to maintain a professional aloofness, I locked myself in the conference with my piles of paperwork so I wouldn’t have to be too near him while I worked. When I was done, I snuck out the back door. Very chill ?. My ex didn’t seem to get the hint from my frazzled awkwardness, the fact I was married or our terrible history and he used his position in IT to get my email and contact me later. He wrote ‘you look good, lets have drinks’. I replied ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea’ and blocked him. Whenever he visited again for work I would bolt for the coffee shop so I wouldn’t have to see him. It baffles me to this day why, as a happily married and professional adult that this one ‘ghost’ from my past could induce such a strong physical and emotional reaction. God willing I won’t encounter him or any other exes any time soon.

    • First of all – laughed out loud at the GIRLS reference. But I know exactly what you mean! We’ve been “broken up” (we were never fully together, so wasn’t much to break) for almost a year now and I’ve been with my wonderful boyfriend (who is literally the antithesis of the ex) for seven/eight months. But when I see him, I feel my insides slam to a halt. Maybe it’s less the ghost of them and more the ghost of who we allowed ourselves to be with them, how far we let them lower us. That’s what breaks my heart and scares me to death simultaneously – he represents this version of me I’m ashamed to have once been.

    • june2 says...

      You’re having a textbook healthy response to someone who abused your heart, that’s why. He must have been awful. Good for you for moving on!

  54. Elle says...

    One day, about 15 years ago, I decided to revisit my beloved old cowboy boots, gathering dust in my closet for years. I’d worn them constantly in my late 20s and early 30s, when I was married to my ex. I hadn’t put them on since those days. They still fit, so I decided to wear them to a nearby appointment. On the way, for the first time in the several years since our divorce, I ran into my ex. He’d remarried and moved to another town.

    I didn’t recognize him at first. I thought he was some dull, unattractive guy from the building where we used to live. We said hello, etc., and I soon went on my way.

    Two days later, wearing the boots again, I ran into him again, in the waiting room at the dentist. This time I got stuck having a longer, awkward conversation, with dentist’s staff eavesdropping. They’d realized that we were scheduled together and were hoping for some fireworks.

    He told me our sweet cat had died of old age. (I’d had visitation rights, but his wife-to-be had made my visits unbearable.)

    I told him to find another dentist. He did. And I put the boots in the trash as soon as I got home. (I have not seen him since.)

    Later on, I remembered that he”d already ruined those boots for me. I used to live in them and planned to wear them forever. Whenever they needed new, hand-stitched leather soles, I shipped them to the factory in Texas. But, one day, late in our marriage, I went to put them on, but they were gone. Without asking me, he had taken them to some young shoemaker he’d just met. This was completely out of character. I’ll never understand why he did it (unless he was attracted to the guy . . . another story). I had a fit and sent him racing to the shoemaker, who didn’t have a phone or even a name on his tiny shop, to get my boots back. But it was too late: he’d glued on cheap, crappy soles, and they were never the same.

    I stopped wearing them and stopped trusting or liking my husband. I left him soon afterward. Never stay with a guy who wrecks your boots. (Also: always take the cat.)

    • This is an amazing story!

  55. A says...

    I have yet to run into THE ex, who cheated on me and broke my heart after living together for 2 years. But many years after he left me for the other lady (and after I was married to my rad husband and had just given birth to our beautiful baby girl) an old mutual friend of ours emailed me a link to his NYTimes wedding announcement/article, “Hey look who got married! And not to that skank he cheated with either!” Although i haven’t had the chance to run into him looking my absolute best, standing next to my handsome husband and leading around our adorable cherub of a toddler; at least i got to silently judge the shit out of his wedding photo – which was pretty somber and not flattering at all of his new bride. So there’s that…

  56. Kate says...

    After a terrible explosive breakup and an awful period of trying to rectify things, I finally accepted it was over and went out with friends to celebrate my birthday. At the end of the night, waiting for a friend who was inside the bakery, I stood outside alone with a pie in my hand when he suddenly appeared, walking towards me and laughing with a girl. It’s moments like those that undo the hard fought battle to convince yourself you’re okay. I sobbed all the way home but can laugh about it now!

    • Nicole says...

      Oh man! I was hoping you threw the pie in his face. :)

  57. M says...

    My main ex (and his wife) have lived one block away from me (and my husband) for the last 15 years. Running into him (actually mercifully rare) remains mind-bogglingly awkward after all this time.

  58. Mandy says...

    Lol this just happened to me at a health food store :/ not the glamorous run in I had hoped for!!

  59. Emily says...

    I recently ran into my ex, with whom I had had an excruciatingly awkward breakup, in a coffee shop. He looked great and was holding hands with his new girlfriend. I had no makeup on and I had gotten my wisdom teeth out 24 hours earlier, and my face was swollen to the size of a small watermelon. I was so embarrassed as we stumbled through our hellos and practically shouted “I GOT MY WISDOM TEETH OUT YESTERDAY!!!” so he wouldn’t assume I’d gotten fat! I grabbed my coffee as soon as I could and high tailed it out of there.

    • Anon says...

      Laughing at work from this story. Amazing.

    • Lo says...

      Oh my gosh, I can totally imagine this happening!!

    • Jami-Lin says...

      omg hahahaha

    • Grace says...

      Also just laughed out loud in my office.

    • Meggiepie says...

      Oh no!! This made me laugh and loud and cringe for you!

    • T says...

      Amazing!

  60. Tyler says...

    Have been half wanting/half not wanting to run into the ex. I know he lives in Austin, and my husband and I are there frequently to visit my dad. I miss him a lot in a weird way, and also want him to see how well I’m doing. But maybe some things are better left alone.

  61. Eliot says...

    I went through a completely terrible breakup around the time I graduated college. Six months later I woke up from the heartbreak-haze and hand landed in a great city with a solid job. Over the next two years I got myself back together and was feeling pretty solid (had gone through a very serious depression). Then, one day while I was walking down an aisle in Whole Foods, there he was. Just standing there with the girl he left me for. I became instantaneously nauseous, dropped my basket, and left. I had no idea he had moved to the same place (I really cut him out of my life after we broke up so I could keep my dignity if that makes sense) and was completely horrified. I ran into him two or three more times of the next 4 years before I moved away. Each time I had the same reaction. Luckily, the last time I saw him I was having lunch with a particularly handsome co-worker. Being the great guy that he is, when I told him that we would have to walk past my ex on the way out of the restaurant, he grabbed my hand and held it until we got to the car. We never spoke of it again and it seems trivial now but it was helpful in the moment.

    • Erin says...

      Omg I love that and feel like you need to date the coworker ;)

    • cooper says...

      What a sweet coworker! Love it!

    • Tori says...

      So sweet, sounds like a movie moment!

  62. kay says...

    I’ve run into less significant exes, but not THE ex. Makes sense — we both moved to different countries. I did, however, once run into my husband’s ex. My husband is older and dated a beautiful girl with gorgeous hair (I’m very self-conscious about my fine, limp hair) for 6 years and in my youth that seemed like eternity, like I could never compete with that. Plus: her hair! So when my husband and I ran into her outside a club, after hours of drinking and dancing with friends, I swayed and smiled like a drunk idiot through the introduction and their short greeting… and then I freaked out as soon as we turned the corner because how could he want to be with me instead of her!? Talk about being immature and dealing with some serious backwards jealously. Fast forward a decade, and I now realize I am actually awesome and that my husband and I are solid and no amazing head of hair is going to change that.

    • Anna says...

      Hair envy is NO JOKE! From one fine haired girl to another :)

    • You sound exactly like me, oh my goodness! Except I still need to fast-forward that decade.

  63. Carrie says...

    NO – thank God, and I never will because as far as I know he still lives on the other side of the country. What a horrible, destructive relationship that was. I cringe to think of all the years I wasted.

    • rach says...

      Oh man. I hear you on that :(

  64. M.B. says...

    What about running into an ex’s mother?!

    I haven’t seen my ex since we broke up over ten years ago. But recently I ran into his mother and it provided some surprising closure, something I didn’t even know I needed. She was a cashier at a store, and I was cashing out with my husband. She gave me a hug, asked how I was, and I told her that I had recently moved cities, started a PhD and got married. She told me she had been waiting to see me all these years, and that she felt like she had been broken up with me as well. It was a lovely encounter, but I don’t think I will feel the same when (if) I see him again.

    • Julia says...

      It’s surprising how much I miss my ex’s family. I loved them so much. But yes, sometimes the breakup takes others out of your life as well.

    • Martha says...

      I had a similar encounter! I had always felt terrible about the way things had ended with my ex’s family, they had always been so kind to me but the breakup was messy and painful and in the end things were left on an awkward note. 2+ years post-breakup, and literally hours before I got on a plane to move abroad (for good), I ran into my ex’s mum and aunt at a night club (I never go to night clubs). I’m so glad I mustered the guts to go up and say hi because we ended up having the most healing, cathartic conversation I’ve ever had. I don’t ever need to see that ex again, but I am so grateful for the chance encounter of seeing his mum and the opportunity for closure.

    • SarahN says...

      I often mourn the loss of an ex’s ‘people’ – be it their family or their friends or both (and occassionally – NEITHER!). And the reverse has been true – my brother’s have split with partners that I miss :(

  65. Kara says...

    I ended an engagement over many reasons. After I was single for 3 whole years with no desire to meet anyone. I met my amazing current boyfriend at a Billy Joel cover band concert 2 years ago. My rotten ex had repeatedly reached out in every way possible (work email, personal email, texting, work phone, snail mail, flowers and small gifts) once I started dating my boyfriend to see if I wanted to meet up. At one point he went as far to inform me that he has seen me out several times (named all the places) with my man to only tell me I can do better. I ignored everything he sent to me and only once after many months I responded and politely asked him to please stop. The same week my Mom with my Aunt and several of their friends were out at a local restaurant for a ladies night and they were seated at the table next to him, which he appeared to be on an awkward first date of sorts. My Aunt who is a Saint and I am sure it took many glasses of wine to say…”you can do better than him..trust me” winked and walked away. I never heard from him again.

    • Emily says...

      That is Gold! What a sainted Aunt indeed.

    • Mae says...

      I love your Aunt!

  66. Jessica says...

    Oh yes I have! went to a curated preview of a flea market in Nashville with my friends and was on my third beer (on my empty, lightweight stomach – AKA I was very tipsy), turned the corner and ran right into my ex and his new GF. The one I’m sure he met while we were still dating. We chatted briefly and honestly, I can’t remember *exactly* what I said – I just know I played it SO COOL. My friends still joke about how inspiring I was (it was the beer). I literally cheers’d him and the girl and pretty sure I said, “have a nice life.” They’re married now. Good for him.

  67. Joanna says...

    My family moved cross-country and within a few weeks of moving into our new rental, I noticed my ex across the street (we dated over 10 years ago, very short-term romance). As it turns out- he and his girlfriend live across the street from us. Our relationship was such a long time ago, I tried to strike up a friendship- but sadly it didn’t work.

  68. Amy says...

    Oh man this is all too real. Why can’t you bump into an ex when you’re all done up looking gorgeous on a night out, instead of makeup-less in a drugstore buying mascara??

    • Laura C. says...

      And they are always looking great, isn’t it??

  69. Cyn says...

    Ugh. I ran into my college ex at a music festival four years in a row. First time we ran into each other it had been years since we’d seen each other and we were both friendly–which was amazing because we ended on very bad terms. He commented on my “noble” job at a non-profit law firm. Still a douche. Second time, we said hello. Third time, he pretended not to see me so I pretended not to see him. Fourth time same thing.

    Then I stopped going. Winning.

  70. Meg says...

    I have no bad run-ins to speak of, but these comments are giving me LIFE!!!

  71. The most uncomfortable run-in I had was when my husband and I dashed for an elevator only to find that it’s only occupant was my ex, who I hadn’t seen since our email breakup (he was living out of the country). The best was when a different ex called to let me know he’d be in town and asked if he could drop by–my husband made cookies and the three of us sat around talking for hours! It was bizarre but very fun–my husband and my ex really hit it off!

  72. Celeste says...

    I had a very serious relationship in high school, he was my first real boyfriend and we were inseparable. We dated for close to 3 years and, looking back on it now, most of that time was fraught with drama and sadness. The last 6 months or so of that time was particularly hard – I would often burst into tears in the middle of class, I was emotionally withdrawn from my friends and I didn’t know why. I finally realised that it was because of my boyfriend. He was emotionally abusive, often making fun of me in front of our friends, constantly pressuring me into committing to him in more serious ways (as in repeatedly asking me to marry him) and blaming me for any argument or disagreement. I finally ended it a few months before we graduated from high school. It was an incredibly difficult decision as he was also my best friend and we shared the same group of friends.

    In the beginning, things were fairly amicable between us but then a few months later I found out that he was writing horrible, personal things about me (some true and some complete lies) on a Myspace forum that had many of the people from our graduating class. The only reason I found this out was because one of our mutual (male) friends asked me something he has no way of knowing, without one of us telling him. I was obviously mortified. I didn’t confront him as I has already been experiencing some problems with him emailing me rude comments and commenting inappropriate things about my new boyfriend. So I just let it go.

    Fast forward a few months and I started receiving hang up calls in the middle of the night. Sometimes once week, sometimes multiple times on the same night. I had my suspicions that it was him and they were eventually confirmed. The calls stopped after about 6 months. Keep in mind that these calls stopped almost a YEAR after I broke up with him.

    A few years later I actually saw him for the first time since we had finished school. I was with a close friend, just hanging out in the city and I saw him about 50 meters away. I’m pretty sure he did not see me as he had no reaction and just kept walking. I, however, had a full blown panic attack. My poor friend was so worried and had no idea what happened until I had calmed down enough to be able to tell him. Needless to say, it was not a good experience. I thought I was totally over the whole situation and had no feelings left for him. Joke was on me.

    Fast forward another 8 years or so and I am in a great place. I have an amazing partner who has helped me deal with my past and move forward, I am in the very lucky position of pursuing my dream job and I am just so much happier. Since we still have mutual friends, I know he is not doing so well. Part of me feels bad for him, since he was someone who was very special to me for some time. Another part of me secretly rejoices that I won the break up :) Who knows if I will ever run into him again.

  73. Char says...

    I was grocery shopping with my daughter when she was about 8 months old. When I came out of the market, there was this group of guys hanging out eating sandwiches across from the entrance, basically right beside my car. And right in the middle of them was my ex. I hadn’t seen him in years. He hadn’t been a long term boyfriend, but our breakup was messy and drawn out. Anyhow, as I passed by them, I overhear, “I know that girl… like I really know her, if you know what I mean… like, really, really know her.” Oh, barf!

    • Erin says...

      Omg, gross.

  74. ari says...

    i almost married a man from mississippi – i’m from los angeles, so we should have known earlier than we realized that weren’t ever going to marry. he now lives in nashville, where we were supposed to move together. luckily for me, that is a pretty clean break. but then a cousin moved to nashville shortly after. two years after the ex and i broke up, my cousin at thanksgiving hugs me and says, “oh! hey! i saw (ex) at a coffee shop with his new girlfriend! he looks happy” – i ran into the bathroom, shut the door, and sobbed. i was in a relationship, and even though i didn’t run into him, it still stung incredibly. 3 years later, i’m (actually) engaged now, and i still avoid vacationing or even passing through nashville so that i don’t have to run into this ex.

  75. Aimee says...

    It was at a mutual friend’a wedding, and it wasn’t one ex, but two! Nice guys though. I was 3 months post-partum and leaking breastmilk all over my dress. Later that evening at the wine bar reception I stuck pretty closely to my husband’s side (they knew him too, it was a small college). I walked towards the restroom to use the facilities and empty my super engorged boobs and I first see one of the guys headed my way to say hi and then the other guy from the other side of the room. I was one glass in on an empty stomach and that was enough to make me buzzed. I turned back to my husband for help and he is laughing watching the situation unfold. After getting through the niceties: how are you? How’s life? One of them said: “wow! I heard the baby was like 11 lbs and you had a natural birth? That’s cool.” All I was thinking was please let this be over now as I was nodding talking about my natural childbirth with leaking engorged boobs with my two exes. I finally made a clumsy exit and thought that had to be the most awkward conversation of my life! Neither of them have kids to this day. ?

  76. Virginia says...

    I ran into my ex in the frozen food aisle of a grocery store, stocking up for a snow storm – 3,000 miles away from where he lived. He was visiting a new girlfriend that had just moved to my town. What are the chances you would be in the same grocery store, in the same aisle, at the same minute?? And yes, it was awkward.

  77. Jenny says...

    I have several heart wrenching/traumatic stories of ex run-ins, but the one that immediately popped into my mind was this: in my early 20’s, I dated a guy for 3 red-flag-filled months. The biggest red flag was when he told me that he had stolen cars as a teenager! That absolutely should have been a deal breaker right then and there, but I was trying to be my most empathetic self and be understanding about the various factors (familial, socio-economic, etc.) that had led him to those decisions. Ultimately though, it was not his past indiscretions that I couldn’t get passed, but the way he wore them as a badge of honor.

    Considering the grand-theft-auto-ness of it all, our breakup was actually very mundane (but equally red-flaggy). After he told me that birthdays had always been a source of disappointment for him, I took the day off work to spend his birthday with him and treated him to breakfast and an afternoon at the art museum before parting ways to get dressed for a fancy dinner at a restaurant downtown. When I arrived, I discovered that while I had been home putting on my dress and heels…he had been at a bar down the street getting drunk. He then proceeded to mope through the meal, because regardless of my efforts, his birthday still had him in a funk. It was then that I realized you can’t save someone from themselves. I ended things several days later when my attempt to discuss my concerns with him resulted in him hanging up on me (and then defending this action because I “wouldn’t let him get off the phone”). Several years later, I was at a bar with some friends and I saw him in line to get drinks. I decided to be an adult and I went up and tapped him on the arm and said, “Hi!” He turned around, looked at me for a beat, and then I watched the recognition wash over his face as the words, “oh shit!” came out of his mouth. I tried to make small talk and ask how he’d been, but he couldn’t get out of there fast enough and quickly made a beeline for the door with the girl he was with. On the car ride home, the 1975 song “Robbers” appropriately came on, and I surprised myself when I broke into tears. I wasn’t crying for him or the loss of the relationship, but from the shock of running into him and it resurrecting the moral discomfort and anxiety our time together had caused me. More than anything, I felt a keen sense of relief that I was no longer at that place in my life.

  78. Zywie says...

    At the OB-GYN office *cringe*

    I finished up with the doc and came out, to see him sitting in the reception area. We both froze for a second! I was hugely pregnant.. he sweetly offered congratulations while I was hoping i don’t have to talk to his wife next.. thankfully, she wasn’t there. He had come to pick up a prescription for her, who was expecting their 2nd child.
    It was so weird as we were both in the mid west when we broke up few years back.. and now living in the same city 5 states away. Grr!
    We exchanged numbers (why?!) and said we should catch up sometime but neither did.
    I was the one who broke up with him since I saw no long term potential and he was devastated then. So I was glad to know he was now happily married. He was a great guy, but just not the right one for me.

    Oh and he mentioned that he is now the co-owner of a restaurant that is in my office neighborhood. Good thing he said that, because I’ve made sure I never step in there. Whew!

  79. jenn says...

    oh man. i broke up with my husband of 1.5 years (we’d been together more like 8) in March 2015, and we signed divorce papers and moved out separately that May. we still haven’t seen each other or spoken since, but i somehow always am kept abreast of his life with his new girlfriend (he was with her for almost a year by the time we broke up), and it turns out they’re moving to the Santa Barbara area pretty soon. so i doubt i’ll be running into them around here anytime in the near future..then again, for such a big state, CA is a place where you run into people everywhere. i think i’d be able to play it pretty cool, since i’ve now been with an incredible guy for almost two years, but he was such a jerk to me at the time. i guess we shall see.
    my random hookups from the five months i was single, though..i run into a couple of those guys all the time. haha. it’s kind of my own fault considering i picked them up in breweries i still hang out at all the time :] it’s no problem, my bf is really understanding about it and i’d never dream of contacting any of those guys again anyway.

  80. Ven says...

    Went to an Italian bakery with a friend from my class. The only two other people inside: my girlfriend and her brother. Who walks in two minutes later? My ex-boyfriend. This place is about 30 square feet, at the most.

  81. VW says...

    On my wedding day. Ex was in another wedding party right after mine. There’s about a 45 minute lag between weddings at the chapel in the park. It was quite funny. Good thing we were far apart so I waved and he waved back. No awkward conversation.

  82. Claire says...

    I had a series of wacky run in with the one guy who has ever really crushed me. As college freshmen, we randomly hooked up one night. It was fun but never led to anything. I don’t remember ever running into him again in college until senior year. I was fresh off a break up, ran into him at a party, and happily went home with him that night. We casually but intensely dated for a few months until he said he just didn’t have time to date anyone and left me in a weepy mess. A few months later, I was working at the front desk in the library when someone dropped off a wallet they had found on the floor. Out of all the possibilities, guess whose it was? I awkwardly texted him about it, he came over to get it, and so it goes. We started seeing each other again and then tried to keep it up after graduation. By Halloween he had cheated on me and we were officially over. Fast forward a year and I am heading to the gym after work in Harlem, and literally run in to him at the water fountain. I could have barfed. I got a new job a few months later and thought I would be safe at my new gym downtown. Nope. I look over while stretching and he is literally right next to me. A few weeks later I’m heading into the subway and he is standing at the bottom of the stairs. It’s probably been 6 months since our last run so I know it’s just a matter of time…

    • Jami-Lin says...

      That is CRAZY!!!!! Wow.

  83. At my great aunts funeral. Our grandmothers are (still, at 89 and 93) best friends, and we see each other’s families every time we’re in town. Both of us are married with children, and live in different states, but our families live in the same neighborhood and we’re constantly running into each other’s families when we go home.

  84. Anne says...

    I was home from college, and stopped by the grocery store. As I opened the dairy case door to grab a gallon of milk, I heard the door next to me open, looked through the glass and saw my ex from high school also picking up a gallon of milk. We said “Oh, SHIT” in unison and then had a brief awkward conversation in which he was was very snarky (it hadn’t ended well).

  85. Mariana says...

    I run into “non significant” exes now and then because we have friends in common and still get along. But THE ex, the significant one, the one I was madly in love with but had no future with because he wouldn’t commit…that’s a different story. I ran into him once at a supermarket and couldn’t avoid him. I was with my then fiancé (now husband) and it was the most awkward conversation. Every now and then if I go to a place we used to hang out I search for him in the crowd…hoping to hide and avoid him! And I’m happily married and have the most beautiful family! I guess some people scar you for life…

  86. Capucine says...

    I live in a small city, yet in twenty years I have never run into an ex even once. I guess I was really DONE when I was done. It’s my husband’s ex-wife I dread. She’s lean, French, blonde, tan, an aerobics instructor, former model and competitive windsurfer with incredible clothes. Everything I am not, nor most women for that matter, except maybe St Tropez Barbie. She never had children. The last time I ran into her was at the top of a sand dune; she had been watching the sunset with her latest hot guy, and…my four year old was buck naked from a mishap with a wave and army-crawling up the dune because the sand felt warm on his cold body, and I was standing in defeat waiting at the top with my whining daughter, in the middle of two weeks without my husband. I had come to the beach to cheer us up and in the moment she walked by, I cried Uncle – there would be no cheering up. She didn’t recognize me, or even glance at me to be fair, I was just mom wallpaper. Which I was both grateful for and so bummed over. I stood there and watched her walk slowly off into the dusk, holding hands with her man, a perfectly fit pair. I always see her in circumstances like that, she’s my bete noire – she gives me that French-girl once-over (if she even notices me) and I can HEAR her thoughts wondering what my husband sees in me. He was her favorite decorative caretaker, and she never could understand why he left and dated me. I don’t either, for that matter, but I do know I’ve passed the window for running into her looking stellar – that’s her win. I got him, so I guess that’s my win!

    • G says...

      I am guessing that dating her taught (or maybe reminded) him that the list of what he wanted in a wife should begin with character and include appearance – not the other way around! But, (i am also guessing) if he did not like your appearance he wouldn’t be with you.

    • Cindy says...

      I just LOVED this. You’re awesome ;-).

  87. Christine says...

    When I was in graduate school in Atlanta, I dated a guy for 3 1/2 years, living with him the last 2 . My last summer of grad school, I had a 3 month internship in California and he was teaching a summer class so he couldn’t go out with me. Two days after I arrived in Ca, he called me on the phone, broke up with me, and told me he was moving out of our apartment. The apartment where almost all of my stuff was and where I needed to moved back to at the end of the summer to finish my degree. He moved out right away, leaving me paying two rents the whole summer. That fall, my last semester of grad school, I kept running into him and his new girlfriend (who he had started dating before he broke up with me) everywhere as I struggled to finish my dissertation, apply for jobs, and pick up the pieces of my life.

    However, that spring I got a great job in Ca (due to the internship), moved out, and I haven’t seen him since even though I have been back to Atlanta a few times. It’s been years and I’m very happy in another relationship but I think I would still be furious if I saw him. And ask him if he had the $2000 dollars he owed me from the lease he walked out on.

  88. Lisa says...

    I broke up with my high-school boyfriend of 5 years while I was working abroad for a year. On one hand, it was not my best moment, doing it via video call, on the other, I am absolutely convinced that it was best for him as well, and that it saved him from making misguided decisions, like going to the school I was planing on going to and studying just anything, just to be with me. A few months later, when I was back home, he asked to meet to get some closure. We talked and then went to see some movie he had randomly picked – he hadn’t realized it was a romance about a couple getting back together after a break-up :D But all in all, the meeting went well, and we text from time to time now, years later.

    Running into his parents in a drug store, however, was really, really uncomfortable. I wish that never to happen again from the bottom of my heart. I kind of feel that they will never forgive me.

  89. Cazmina says...

    I ran into my most recent ex about 6 months ago at a huge street party in his city, where I had moved when we were dating but he no longer lived. The breakup had sucked wasn’t unexpected after a crappy period of long-distance dating. However, we’d agreed to remain in contact as friends, and I knew he was in town with his new girlfriend. It was about 3 am, I’d had quite a few drinks and had sweated off all my makeup. I must have looked rough. There were more than 10,000 people there yet, of course, I ran into him. He approached me and we had a brief awkward conversation during which he was actually a bit rude. A few moments later I looked around for one of my friends and, through the crowd, saw him kissing his new girlfriend. Cue tears. Ugh. I was so annoyed that I cried because I knew I didn’t want to be with him and thought I was totally over the whole thing, but I guess there’s something that just stings about seeing an ex in an intimate situation with someone new.

  90. PT says...

    My most significant ex and I ended on good terms, though it was painful for both of us. I thought we had a strong, unshakable bond and would always love each other very much and that when we saw each other again we would hug and grab a drink and catch up. We were together for about 5 years (with some off and on business) and lived together for several years. If it sounds like I was still in love with him after the break up, I was, for like years. The break up mostly had to do with timing and an age difference that I could not get over. Fast forward 7 years and we’re both married to other people. He moved onto my block last year and I’ve seen him a dozen or so times, but he will actually cross the street to avoid me, go the other way, generally pretend that I don’t exist. I suppose that does help to explain why he hadn’t responded to several happy birthday emails over the years! The silver lining is that it gave me closure, which I clearly needed, but didn’t know I needed. So less of an awkward story and more of a story about how running into an ex, especially when they’re like, “I never want to see your face again,” can help you let go.

  91. Oh man, what a loaded topic (but OMG the perfect picture – that scene was everything!) I had a horrible breakup years ago, it really devastated me. My ex was just the worst, I was in a bad place in my life and let him treat me very poorly, and then was shocked when he left me for another women who he repeatedly told me was a model and younger (ugh).

    Fast forward to now and I am married to my real life dreamboat of a man and we have two beautiful children, I feel incredibly lucky. I ran into him and THE WOMEN HE LEFT ME FOR while I was out shopping with my daughter. She was being really cute and dancing around a store and I didn’t notice them until I saw them watching us dance around. At first I was mortified beyond belief, until I really looked and realized they didn’t look very good. He had alcohol problems (so did I then) and he looked worse for the wear then when we were together. I had never actually met her, so I went up and said hi briefly so I didn’t look as though I was trying to avoid an interaction, and then left. Once I left I had this overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I felt devastated when we broke up, but it soon led to me really reevaluating my life, and becoming sober. My life is amazing now, and I really have him to thank for some of that. I am so happy to be where I’m at now, and I hope they’re happy too.

    Xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  92. Lana says...

    So, this isn’t really a “bump into each other” story, but the last time I saw THE EX was when he came to my apartment to tell me he was moving to New York. He had met a girl and was leaving the next day. He stood there in my kitchen, leaned against the counter with his head in his hands and said, “I love her and I probably marry her, but your it for me.” We both stood there wanting to touch and kiss but instead talked about how weird that sometimes things just aren’t meant to work out. Honestly I think chemistry was starting to get the best of us and things might have…ahem…escalated, but his friend needed a ride home and asked me for a lift. My ex promised to stay put but when I got back home ten min later he was gone. I’ve literally never heard from him again and he did go off to NY and marry that girl.
    The thing is, i married the most incredible man and we have two beautiful children. I really lucked out but I still sometimes fantasize about what I would be like to see him. However, part of me wonders how he stacks up as a husband. I would die if I knew my husband was professing his love for someone right before he asked me to marry him!

  93. Rebecca says...

    I love all these comments!

    My run into my ex was so bizarre…I was with my brother on the subway when we pulled into a station and I notice my ex with his wife and baby outside the platform. I think they actually got out of the same subway as mine (luckily not the same car). It was an out-of-body moment because after 5 years of breaking up (we were only together for 2.5 months?) I expected to run into him more often than expected. I think he recognized me but that was that. I was his first girlfriend and he was my first boyfriend. He married the next girl he dated so I am his only ex as he is mine as I’ve been with my current boyfriend since.

  94. Laura G. says...

    i have a reunion coming up, and i’m going to have to file that “four weddings and a funeral” move away in case it’s needed.

  95. Alexis says...

    I ran into my ex-fiance (dated/got engaged in college, broke up over ten years ago) at the shedd aquarium in chicago. I was with my son, my ex was with his new fiance….who is a dude. My ex is a dude. I’m a lady. It was a pretty big shock at the time but looking back it sure explains a lot. We made some heartfelt but awkward smalltalk, he gushed over how adorable my son is, and we went our separate ways. He friended me on Facebook after that but we haven’t spoken again.

  96. VeeDubs says...

    While visiting our hometown for a baptism, my husband suddenly decided that he NEEDED to buy protein powder on our way back to his moms after the ceremony.
    So, in the Whole Foods supplement aisle, my most significant ex and I ran into each other for the first time in nearly 10 years. I could not tell you a single thing about the interaction other than he was inexplicably wearing COLORED CONTACTS!? I had built him and the relationship and subsequent break-up so much in my mind that it was such a relief to see him. An awkward, surreal relief brought along by my husbands need for protein shakes.

  97. Jen says...

    I had such a strange ex-almost-encounter the other day. I was sitting on a bus that was paused in traffic, just watching people out on the footpath go by in a kind of daze but also quite actively thinking about what their lives would be like, as in ‘I wonder what their life is like, I wonder where they’re going right now, I wonder what my life would be like I were like that, or in that person’s job, or dating that person’. Then my brain kind of snagged on one person, and I was looking at them trying to figure out why, when I realised it was my serious relationship ex whom I’d dated for close to six years, lived with, thought I’d stay with etc. He looked exactly the same, and it’s only been five years since we split, but I hadn’t even instantly recognised him, it had taken a solid 10 seconds or so. For a moment he’d been a stranger whose life I had been wondering about. It was surreal to think I was so distant from someone to whom I’d once been so close.

  98. Ali says...

    At a my gym’s pool. I walked into the pool area and he was taking a break at the edge of his lane – I had to go right by him. We had dated a long time ago, and for not too long, but I freaked out inside. Since I already had my swim cap and googles and frumpy training swimsuit on, I figured he might not recognize me and I just slipped in the pool two lanes over. I was so relieved when I noticed him leave not too long later.

  99. Cait says...

    I worked at a natural foods grocery store during and after a particularly cruel break-up, and my ex would periodically shop there. I got shaky and nauseated every time I saw him, and he never failed to come through my check-out line. Talk about having nowhere to hide!

  100. Katherine says...

    At my current boyfriend’s birthday party two weeks ago, who should up and walk into the same bar… but my high school boyfriend, over a decade since I last saw him and in a city thousands of kilometers away! I choked on my beer.

    but he was still cute and nice, so i kind of mentally patted teenage me for getting in on that.

    • HA! I love those moments of appreciating younger you’s taste :D

  101. Leslie says...

    That first paragraph describes my twenties to a T. I’ve now been married five years and have a child, but I still imagine/dread running into my ex all over town. Does the feeling ever go away?

  102. bridget says...

    i recently had a run in with an ex AT MY BIRTHDAY PARTY. he just happened to be at an event at the same bar. the weirdest part was that i was prepared for friendly-if-awkward conversation should it come to that, but by chance one of his friends asked me to take a group picture for them, and my ex hid behind someone else’s head as if i wouldn’t see him! ummm okay, i’ll pass on being adults and saying hello then. what a dork. i definitely felt like i “won” that break up.

  103. Eden says...

    So I might be spacing here, but isn’t it Tom (James Fleet) who gulps down his drink?! Or does Charles echo it later in the film.

    I am also happy to discuss Red Nose Day Actually.

  104. Colleen S. says...

    I’ve not dated a person long enough to call them an ex, but I ran into the same guy twice within a two week period. The first time, my sister found his MySpace account, and told me he was a born-again Christian (which explained how quickly the date ended after he asked me about religion) in the store, and I had to pretend I knew nothing about him. The second, he came into the store I worked in. He walked past me several times, once or twice looking me in the face, but acting as though I didn’t exist (I believe my sister messaged him, which I suppose angered him).

  105. Mollie says...

    I actually ran into an ex on the dance floor of a club once. We had dated briefly when I was in high school (lived in different cities so when we broke up I didn’t know where he went), and then unbeknownst to me ended up in the same city in our 20s and then this random dance floor. We ended up dancing together that night, dated again, and then parted on good terms.

  106. Greta says...

    My best friend ended up marrying the older brother of my biggest baddest ex…this has led to many uncomfortable, awkward encounters over the years.

  107. Haley says...

    I very literally ran into my ex a year after we’d broken up after five years of dating. I was running a really popular 10k in the city where I was going to school. Thousands of people run this race, but he didn’t live in the city, so I thought chances were pretty good I would not see him even though he used to do a lot of road races too. WRONG. I was running super hard the last 200 yards or so, and as I crossed the finish line (while feeling very close to vomiting) I run smack into him. I guess he’d finished a minute or two before me, and the universe just knew the whole interaction would make my day. I hurriedly gave a very sweaty and incoherent hello, mumbled something about vomiting, and stumbled away. Haven’t seen him since.

    • Kirsten says...

      Ha! That’s hilarious :)

  108. G says...

    I have never run into an ex (knock on wood!) but my husband dated his first girlfriend from age 15-22- quite a long time! We live in another country now but I sort of want to run into her- is that weird?? I just think it would be interesting to hear what my spouse was like as a teenager, and as a college student.

  109. raq says...

    My HS boyfriend worked at my hometown diner until recently. My mom LOVES the diner and would always drag me during the holidays. He was ALWAYS working, and the first few years, I felt really awkward and would try to avoid conversation or eye contact. I think I felt guilty about the way I treated him (10 years ago), but the past few times we chatted and caught up and I felt a nice sense of adult closure and nostalgia. Of course, as soon as I felt more comfortable, he moved on to bigger and better jobs (I hope/imagine).

  110. Liz says...

    Oh boy. In college I saw a bad-terms-breakup ex walking into the restaurant I was pulling up to. I was with a new guy and we (well, I) backed out of the spot quickly, paused for a few moments to consider, then pulled back in and went inside. We exchanged hellos, ate and left. I received a pretty scathing email later on from the ex (his signature move, hence the bad breakup) about my obvious avoidance attempt—I guess I didn’t stop to think about how the whole front of the restaurant was windows and he saw the whole thing.

  111. sj says...

    I ran into my ex after about 20 years had passed last spring. I had just dropped off my daughter to a bday party in the town over from mine (which is touristy) and had just finished taking a long yoga class so I was still in my yoga clothes – sweaty, no makeup and hair in a bun and probably smelly too from using a natural deodorant that I am pretty sure failed me on that hot & humid day… I had my 4 year old with me who was not happy about being left out of the birthday party his sister was attending so I stopped by the closest restaurant to try and appease him with fries and lemonade – my ex and his son shortly after also sat down at he same place as us but I didn’t see him (being too busy attempting to cheer up my very unhappy son). Anyway, as I was leaving I noticed my ex but I didn’t realize it was him until he waved to me and smiled…I felt my stomach drop at the sight – I got so nervous but honestly I was thrilled to see him but mortified with how I looked! Almost one year later now we are still talking And have been dating (as we are both divorced) so strangely this encounter was a surprisingly good one that worked out in the a way that I would have never imagined. Strange how things can happen.

    • What a lovely story!

    • Colleen says...

      Aw, this one’s my favorite.

  112. Hannah says...

    When I was in high school, I got my first boyfriend. I ended up breaking up with him the day before our 1-year anniversary (I know, but I was 16!!) and he was devastated–for like a really long time. We ended up going to the same smallish college, and I swear he actively looked for me. If we ever bumped into each other, he’d try and strike up a long conversation, but it was so uncomfortable for me that I’d just quickly end it after a “how are you/I’m good” convo. Made me dread going on campus all 4 years.

  113. katy says...

    I ran into my ex boyfriend after my car got broken into near his house a few months after our relationship. His really great roommate saw me sobbing as he was driving home and helped clean up the glass. My ex came out to “check on me” just as my new BF pulled up in his convertible. I looked like a complete hot mess and the lack of roof made my (uncharacteristic) sobs heard for blocks. At least the car looked nice as we drove away…

  114. Margaret says...

    My ex – my first love – passed away unexpectedly at 30. I hadn’t seen him in years before he passed and had since gotten married and was about to have my first daughter. Four years later, I still have dreams of running into him. It crushes me that those chance encounters will never be, even though those run-ins are so, so uncomfortable.

    • Marie says...

      this hits home… the thought of my first love passing away, wherever he now may be, viscerally hurts to imagine (despite having no desire to run into him, ever)

    • Kate says...

      My soul-crushing ex committed suicide many years after our relationship ended, after I was married to someone else. Despite being happily married and having some off-and-on relatively positive interactions with my ex over the years, it was surprisingly devastating. It also brought me a strange sense of closure, which sometimes I feel guilty about. But I do occasionally wish that I could catch up with him now or even think about running into him, before remembering that he is no longer here.

  115. Lily says...

    I have a story:
    I was at a party and had just been dumped the night before by a guy I was casually seeing. I went to the party on a whim with a friend. In walked my “very serious” college boyfriend who I had not spoken to in three years due to intense heartbreak. Our eyes met…it was like a movie. We talked for three hours outside on the porch. I went home with him. This was the guy that I was engaged to be engaged to. He was my first real love. When we broke up I cried for a whole year. I refused to see or speak to him. But I spent the night. And when I woke up, I didn’t love him anymore. He wasn’t the guy in college I had planned a life with. He was some weird older version of that person that I didn’t know or really even want to know. We had both grown up and moved on. I got closure on our relationship and he made me feel better about getting dumped. It was totally a win win. (SIDE NOTE- I did see him in a coffee place recently and turned around and left. Run-ins can’t all be perfect!)

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Love this story ❤

  116. LP says...

    Years ago, I was hanging out on the Lower East Side with a couple of friends, one of whom was in recovery but was cool to drink a soda and eat the bar snacks while the rest of us had a beer. She and I stepped outside for a minute and ran into a guy I’d dated with his then-girlfriend, now semi-famous wife. He knew my friend from AA and promptly freaked out, asking her, “Are you okay? Are you SURE you’re okay?” implying that she had relapsed and giving me dirty looks all the while. The whole thing had such a “blink twice if you need help” vibe that I’ve never forgotten it.

  117. I ran into an ex at the grocery store, where he was shopping with his wife and two kids…
    The awkward part wasn’t so much about seeing him, but his wife. We all knew each other while he and I were together. He cheated on me with her, leading to our breakup. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me and instead tended to her children the whole time. I felt a little bad for her, as there were no hard feelings, but she may have no known this. If anything, I blamed him, not her for the cheating.
    Afterwards, I just laughed at the awkwardness and how it also felt a bit surreal. Fun times… ;)

  118. Kate says...

    Right after college I dated a friend on and off for a few years. It was bad, filled with taken back I love yous and late-night insinuated proposals that were denied in the light of day. I love him with a fierceness I have rarely tapped into since, but ultimately, he was always trying to convince himself that it was ok to love me and I was always ready to accept him when he succeded. The breakup rocked me to my core and it took me years to fully move on. We lived an hour from each other the entire time we were together until the week after we broke up he decided to move within 1/2 mile from me. I was livid, and devastated. We had a huge fight about it with him saying I would never see him anyways. He was right. Everytime I saw his horrid Astro van outside a mutual friend’s party I simply walked away. Everytime I saw him at my favorite cheese stall at the farmer’s market I biked the neighborhood until I was sure he was gone. On the train platforms I used the entrace that was farthest from my apartment and made sure to avoid all men of his height and jacket-persuasions. I didn’t see him face-to-face (or our friends in group settings for the most part) for nearly two years. After I had moved to another city I came back to visit and he walked by me as I sat at my favorite bar. He saw me, we caught up, and as the conversation turned to the time around our breakup he said, “See it wasn’t so bad, you never saw me and we still have all our friends in common”. When I told him why we never ran into eachother, it was the only time I ever saw him fully understand how much his actions affected me.

  119. Alexa says...

    I have one ex (the first love of my life) who–even though we live in different cities in different states–if we are ever remotely near one another, we WILL find a way to bump into each other. Doesn’t matter what time, how random the location is, anything. The universe has a weird magnetic pull that brings the two of us together–and frequently seems to pull our clothes right off too! ;)

  120. Sarah says...

    I’ve not seen my ex since we split but I have my line ready – you’re smaller than I remember!

    • Lauren says...

      Oh my god, that is brilliant.

    • ines says...

      looooooooooooooove

    • Anon says...

      Using this!!! Genius!!

    • Beth says...

      OMG, I’m SO using this on my horrible ex who was actually about 3 inches shorter than me. And he had the nerve to cheat!

  121. I live in a small town. My ex and I both like this one diner in particular and run into each other occasionally there. Running into exes in general was a super foreign concept to my husband and completely weirded him out when we first wed and he relocated to my town.
    However, the weirdest/most awkward for me was when my long-time ex came up to us the morning after Halloween at that little diner, just a week or two after I eloped with my husband (which had caused a bit of a sensation in my small town).
    The ex was still dressed from the night before…in a vampire costume and eyeliner and introducing himself to my husband for the first time, attempting totally normal everyday conversation.
    It was not a big deal to the ex, he’s the type not to even think about how silly it all was but it was unbelievably awkward. Hilariously so. I tried to act like the entire situation was as normal as breathing and utterly and miserably failed. The hubs and I still laugh about how hilariously awkward I was with the both of them and he reminds me (7 years later) that he never worries about me running off to my ex because my ex can’t go out in daylight and would steal all my eyeliner.

    • Brilliant! :D

  122. Cathleen says...

    The first guy I ever dated, who I thought had potential to “be the one,” broke up with me. And then we got back together. And then I realized it wasn’t going anywhere, so we just kind of stopped talking and I tried to move on. Months later, it was the night before racing an Ironman triathlon, and I was getting all these good luck texts from friends and family. I got one from a number I didn’t recognize who said they’d be on the bike course. I responded with the completely truthful, yet biting, mic drop: “who is this?” I did see him on the bike course the next day. I also kicked ass and won my race.

    • Kirsten says...

      Dang, you go!

  123. SN says...

    My friends and I have a phrase whenever we run into an ex…. “gang’s all here!” and you text all the details.

    Ha! I have had so many run ins considering I only have a handful of exes…. in a dept store shoe shopping, after a spin class on the street, getting off a subway, in the park — I even ran into a middle school ex who lives halfway across the country one day on the High Line! Best of course being when I ran into an ex with my now husband at some bar — the ex was with a friend who said “you look familiar….! Did you two date?” And my now-husband very coolly put his arm around me when I admitted “Yes – but that was forever ago!” We were adults about it, but I secretly LOVED it.

  124. Amanda says...

    Stories like these always remind me of that Uma Thurman quote “I still love the people I’ve loved, even if I cross the street to avoid them.”

    However, that sentiment doesn’t apply to one guy I dated (very briefly) after college. He made me drive home in a snowstorm instead of letting me stay the night at his apartment after we spent the entire evening together there. (I still shudder at the wimpy 22-year old I was that pretended to be cool with this.) Now years later, that jerk LIVES on the same street as me! I see him in passing every so often from a comfortable distance and I really hope it stays that way! Eeks.

  125. Mimi says...

    I was at a dinner party with my new boyfriend. My ex was also invited. We all ended up in a drum circle…and my ex started singing a “healing” song. There’s a picture that captures the moment so perfectly, it makes me laugh out loud every time. I’m sitting between my new boyfriend and my ex. Ex’s expression..eyes closed and singing. New boyfriend’s expression..trying not to laugh. And me, well, “are you effing kidding me??” is written all over my face. As for the new boyfriend..I married him. He has such a great sense of humor. Especially after having to meet more than one of my ex-boyfriends, poor guy.

    • Julie says...

      Oh, I love this!

  126. Claudia says...

    I ran into my ex-boyfriend (who I hadn’t seen for TEN YEARS) and his entire family while I was out celebrating my birthday. It was one of those tiny Italian restaurants where everyone basically shares one long table and I ended up sat right next to him. I sweated so much that I stuck to my chair! When my husband brought the cake out, his family joined in for a chorus of Happy Birthday, hahahaha. Happy birthday indeed.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh NIGHTMARE!!!

    • Elaine says...

      That is so awful!!

    • Claudia says...

      My husband brings it up every year! Do you remember that birthday when your ex-boyfriend’s dad yelled ‘For she’s a jolly good fellow’ over and over again and we had to peel you off your chair?! How can I forget. ?

  127. LG says...

    There’s really only one ex of mine where it ended on bad terms and I was truly heartbroken about it, and of course he wound up dating and later marrying a grad school classmate of mine. And of course they lived in my apartment building for two years. And then of course I wound up getting a job at the company where he worked when I graduated.

    • Mimi says...

      O. M. G. Torture!!! :(

  128. I moved a lot growing up and started dating my husband when I was 19, so I’ve never run into an ex! I barely have exes!

  129. Oh my gosh. I lived in fear of running into my longest term boyfriend, my first real love for years after we broke up. He broke my heart and moved on IMMEDIATELY with some girl he met at a bar and plastered their relationship all over Instagram while I lived in fear of never, ever getting over him.

    We worked 10 blocks away from each other, took the same subway for a year, lived 20 blocks away from each other, and what’s more, our PARENTS live just 3 blocks away from each other. I lived with so much fear of running into him everywhere I went, imagined how it would go every other day–and super oddly, I NEVER did. I ran into his sister 3 times, he ran into my sister twice, my cousin once, but never have we crossed paths. Makes me feel as though the universe has been looking out for me–OR maybe he saw me first and hid every time? :)

  130. Amanda Phillips says...

    1. I ran into an ex at a sandwich shop and he was making my sandwich. I did not recognize him and he made me guess his name before mentioning that we had dated. The sandwich did not taste good.
    2. I ran into my significant ex at our local burger joint, and he was with his current girlfriend, whom he had left me for three years prior. They both looked great and I had been snowshoeing on Mt. Rainier all day, so in addition to being generally disheveled, I was dressed head to toe in down outdoors gear, including a down skirt, vest, and jacket (very puffy, looked like a sad gnome). I had that awful moment of recognizing them as I was walking out of the restaurant and didn’t put it together until I was in the parking lot. I was faced with an unwinnable dilemma: do I go back inside expressly to talk to them, assuming they had recognized me? or leave and look like an asshole who ignored them and was one of those people that are really into wearing adventure gear in the city? I was hungry, so I left. Haven’t seen them since.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my “significant ex” — i like that phrase. some exes are definitely more intense to run into than others! 

    • Laura M says...

      Completely off topic but… a down skirt? I live in Canada and have never heard of them. Admittedly not a fashionista but… who would want a skirt over pants, in the winter? Asking for real.

    • Amanda says...

      I totally didn’t get it either and thought they were ridiculous, until a few months ago! I only use it when I am snowshoeing. Thin running tights are the perfect temperature when I am hiking in the snow in Washington state. However, as soon as I stop moving I get cold, so I can put the skirt on top of the tights and have some insulation on the buns. It is also really handy for stopping at bars or restaurants on our way home (as long as your ex-boyfriend isn’t there), as the running tights are really tight.

    • Cait says...

      “The sandwich did not taste good” hahahaha <3

    • Liza says...

      I love everything about this — laughed out loud when you described yourself as a “sad gnome” ???

    • Le Smurf says...

      A SAD GNOME!!!! Good God – you are the funniest woman ever!!! I laughed out loud at my desk!!! Xo

  131. Courtney says...

    A slightly different angle: I was newly dating a guy who had broken up with his live-in girlfriend 3 months earlier. She was devastated, and understandably NOT over it. He and I were in my car about to drive away from a grocery store parking lot when someone tapped on the passenger window (I was in the driver’s seat) and it was her. She got really upset and angry with him, asking why he hadn’t been in touch since they broke up, reminding him they had been on the verge of getting engaged, etc etc, while he was just sitting in the car. I suggested he get out so they could speak privately, but she didn’t want to. It was incredibly awkward. I made him call her the next day to try and give this poor woman some closure. Honestly, my heart went out to her. (And I ended up with a broken heart from our relationship just a few months later.) RED FLAG!

  132. Alison says...

    My ex-husband moved out of state after our divorce, so I thankfully haven’t had any run-ins while out and about with my new BF. However, my new BF’s ex-wife still lives in town and while I’m sure he doesn’t ever want to run into her again, I kind of want to see what she’s all about! (And secretly thank her for being terrible, because I now have the best guy around. Which I would never actually say out loud of course.)

    • cooper says...

      I have a secret desire to run into my husband’s ex-girlfriends, too! I don’t know what it is – mostly just curiosity, I think :) One apparently walked her dog right in front of the restaurant patio we were eating at, but my husband froze and didn’t point her out to me!

  133. Jenny says...

    I broke up with my ex after 5 drama-filled years. I ran into him a year later at brunch. Both an activity and a restaurant he would never join me in visiting. Oh ya, and it was Valentine’s Day. I was with my mom. He was with a woman (not his mom). Yep.

    • Megan says...

      You dodged a bullet, Jenny. No decent human doesn’t like brunch.

    • Cait says...

      Haha Megan so true :)

    • Rae says...

      Amen to dodging a brunch-hating-bullet.

  134. ha! my high school ex-boyfriend and i ended up at the same 400 person college for 3 years. while there, he befriended my eventual boyfriend, and i lived in a 4-woman suite with his eventual girlfriend. we each married our respective partners shortly after graduation. my husband and i were members of their wedding party, just as they were members of ours. they are now two of our nearest and dearest friends, and likely the godparents of our first child. :) an unusual situation, i’m sure, but it’s a delight to have stayed friends…admittedly after a little time had passed ;)

  135. Lucy says...

    I moved to a different country with my ex and lived with him. He split up with me by telephone when I was back in my home country then refused to see me. We’d been together 4 years and I felt I never properly had closure. I bumped into him 4 years later. I was married and I had my new baby with me and was very happy. It was the middle of the day and he was with a girl, canoodling outside a bar. (I suspect they were having an affair). I felt mightily relieved I was well out of that one.

  136. Laura says...

    Ugh. After a long day floating the river in South Texas I ran into an ex and his mother at Target. We turned into opposite ends of a long aisle at the same time and just looked at each other…until I yelled, “I HAVE TO GO” like a moron and hightailed my sun-burned, nappy-haired self out of the store to wait for my friends in the parking lot.

  137. Lauren E. says...

    You never believe how small New York actually is until you run into ALL of your exes at one point or another. It’s a city of 8 million people! And yet, oh look, there’s my ex also waiting for the exact same subway. Awful.

  138. Claire says...

    I was on my third date with my now-boyfriend and we ran into HIS ex. We were in kayaks, I was terrible at it, and the wind kept pushing me into the rock where she was sunbathing. It was horrible at the time but makes me laugh every time I think of it now!

  139. Mara says...

    A decade ago, I made the painful decision to break up with my college boyfriend of seven years. I loved him dearly but we were just wrong for one another; no long-long-term potential. So, I temporarily moved back in with my parents so that he could pack up and move 1,000 miles back to his hometown. Our apartment and my childhood home were on the same subway line. A day after our tearful break-up, my train slowed to a stop, and there he was standing right outside my window, thumbs hooked into his pockets, the way he’d always stand. He saw me, and in surprise took a step back. Then my train continued on. That was the last time I ever saw him. The break-up was absolutely the right thing to do, but I’ll never forget him on that day.

    • Julie says...

      Beautifully described!

  140. kate says...

    an ex of mine, who i haven’t heard from since 2009, just tried to connect with me on FitBit. we haven’t interacted once since we broke things off eight years ago, but he wants to complete against me in steps taken per day????

    • Alison says...

      haha! Maybe it’s like one of those LinkedIn requests that goes to your whole email list? Either way, so odd!

    • Jamie says...

      LOL. These comments are great.

    • Laura says...

      hahaha!

    • Nicky says...

      This made me laugh so hard. Do it and beat him once and then delete him.

  141. Kate says...

    I haven’t had to interact with my ex-fiancé (who dumped me out of the blue after four years last summer) yet, thank god, but a couple months ago I was out for drinks with a girlfriend, and while I was in the bathroom he came in. My friend marched up to him and said, “Kate’s here.” He said, “Oh, really? Where?,” all chipper. She said, “Yeah, why, do you want to see her?” He said, “Yeah I’d love to!” She said, “Well she doesn’t want to see you. Leave.” Then she ran down the street after him to tell him where we were going next and that he couldn’t go there there either. She had a shot waiting for me when I got back from the bathroom. Girlfriends are the best!

    • Nicole says...

      Your friend sounds awesome, Kate!! Glad she was able to “handle it” for you :)

    • shannon says...

      Wow! Your friend sounds so awesome! I hope to be a friend like that.

    • Ash says...

      This is such a good one. You have some A+ friends!

  142. Cadence says...

    My husband (then fiance) and I showed up for dance lessons for our wedding…and my ex-boyfriend was our instructor. I was completely flabbergasted–he wasn’t a dancer when we dated. We awkwardly stayed for the first lesson and then discreetly cancelled our remaining classes.

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Wow. Just wow.

    • Kiley says...

      this makes me giggle.

    • Sarah says...

      Oh, my god. This is officially my new nightmare.

  143. Sasha says...

    I worked at an art museum and was walking through the lobby when I spotted my ex with his family buying tickets. He did not know I was working there at the time. I immediately did an about-face and sped into the coat room to sit behind the racks until I made the coat-check gal make sure, on my behalf, they had left!

  144. Annie says...

    Mine happened when I was walking down the street holding hands with my new boyfriend, who hadn’t yet seen the old one. It was kind of satisfactory knowing I moved on to someone who was a lot nicer to me, especially when the ex-boyfriend (who pretended not to see us), “randomly” texted to see how I was doing a week later.

  145. Jill H. says...

    I ran into my ex at my sister’s 4th of July BBQ of all places?! It had been a few months since we broke up (after a three-year-long relationship) and I was dating my current husband (then boyfriend) at the time. My ex had been fairly close to my teen-aged nephew, who invited him to the party. Because it was my sister’s place, this was the LAST place I expected to see an ex. But then, I saw him. I was mortified and hid in the backyard until he went inside the house. Then, my husband and I made a quick escape! After seeing my panic that day, my family (thankfully) stopped inviting him to our social functions. EEP!

  146. Jessica says...

    It’s totally dependent on how the relationship ENDED. For my ex-boyfriend with whom it ended respectfully, we ran into each other years later, smiled and hugged gracefully, spoke for a few minutes, and moved on. Thankfully we didn’t even try the “we should hang out sometime” a la Carrie and Aiden. For my ex-boyfriend who dumped me unceremoniously on Christmas … I hid behind a potted plant when I saw him in my apartment building months later. Seriously – crouched down for several minutes behind a ficus, while other people stared at me. Not my best moment.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, i’m laughing out loud, jessica! so funny.

  147. Ramona says...

    I make a beeline in the other direction.

    • Mimi says...

      Me too! I saw him from a distance. He had that nasty face… the bad mood, mad at the world one. I felt so happy to be DONE.

    • Jamie says...

      Oh man Mimi – I am so done with those types of people too.

  148. Monica says...

    I once saw an ex at the Whole Foods on Houston and hid behind a shelf of pita chips. I don’t think he saw me that time. A few months later, on Kenmare, walking in opposite directions, our eyes met, and I immediately walked into the nearest restaurant. At least I got a good BLT out of it?

  149. Emma says...

    I had one boyfriend who broke up with me after begging me to move to his city and into his apartment. I was jobless, homeless, relationshipless, and friendless in a new city. I have never gotten over how nasty the break-up was and I am just waiting to run into him. I imagine I will be in a striking coral colored dress (my color) with my husband on my arm, pins of my children in soccer gear falling out of my purse. He is going to say my name and I am going to look up with a furrowed brow and ask “do I know you from somewhere?”. The loud speaker will call for my flight, and I will say, “sorry I have to run, we are off to Japan for a fun family trip. Bye”! I will shake my head and laugh as I walk off.

    • jeanne says...

      This. Is. Excellent.

    • diana says...

      YES. Amazing. I have the whole scenario mapped out as well. I’m seeing an ex in a few weeks at a wedding that I’m going to with my husband and I was SO hoping to be pregnant and showing by then so I could be all glowy and cute and pregnant. (I swear I desperately want a baby for other reasons than showing off in front of an ex but I also know I’m not the only woman that has had this thought)

    • erin says...

      i hope you get this, too!!

  150. Lauren says...

    I lived my early twenties in Atlanta and date three different men during that time. Oddly, a week before my wedding (and a move to another city) I ran into all three of them in various settings. It was like the universe was giving me closure before my wedding and move. Each encounter that week was equally awkward.

    • raq says...

      this is really the universe telling you something!

    • jules says...

      Saw mine within 1 hour of finding out I was pregnant. Whoops pregnant. At 40. It had been years since we’d seen each other but I regularly had and still have intense sex dreams about him. My current partner did not yet know about the pregnancy. I was walking into a showing of Under the Skin. Those who’ve seen the movie will understand this was the mind #$@& of the century.