20 ways to handle running into an ex who dumped you (Ultimate Guide)

Seems like there’s not much to be done about it, right?

But you don’t have to break into a helpless panic when your ex walks into the office building or you run into them in a café.

All it takes is some quick wit and social savviness to turn those awkward encounters from totally cringe-worthy moments into something far more manageable.

Here are 20 ways to handle running into an ex who dumped you:

1) Don’t hide

Let’s get started.

If you’ve been dumped, you’ll probably have a natural aversion to social contact with your ex.

It’s perfectly understandable considering they dumped you and broke your heart.

But what’s the best way around this?

By simply ignoring them? By hiding from them?

Sorry, but my answer is “no”.

Here’s what you have to do:

You need to fight the urge to hide and flee. You have as much right to be there as they do.

Now, you’re bound to bump into them from time to time (especially if you work at the same place or move in the same social circles), so you might as well get used to it.

The first time will be the hardest, so the sooner you get that over and done with, the better.

Say they walked into the same elevator as you at work and asked you how your day was going.

You might be tempted to say something other than “fine”. You may want to shout, “Like you give a damn!”

But whatever you do, you have to fight back this urge by keeping calm during these times and politely responding with nothing more than “Good” or even better, “How’s your day?”

Not only will this keep you from making a scene in front of your co-workers, but it will also show them that you are over them (even if you’re not).

You don’t want to show them your true feelings and give them the satisfaction of knowing how much power they have over you.

Just smile and act nonchalant.

2) Be prepared to bump into them a.k.a have a plan

Eventually, you’ll bump into your ex somewhere so you have to be prepared for the encounter.

Trust me, you don’t want to look shocked or end up lost for words or worse, in tears. So think about a few things before you run into them.

First, think about the possible places you might see them so that you’re not caught off guard.

For example:

It could be at work, at a friend’s house, at the farmer’s market, or even your favorite coffee shop.

It will be a lot easier running into them if you expect it.

Second, think about what you might say. Remember to stay cool as a cucumber.

Be polite. Keep it short. Don’t get personal, talk about the weather if need be.

Finally, have a plan of action to be able to get away from your ex if you start to get uncomfortable.

For example:

If they’re standing next to you in the line-up at Starbucks and they approach you afterward with, “Oh hey! How’s it going? What are you doing today?”

Start to walk away and simply say, “I have to get back to the office, I have a meeting in 10 minutes” and avoid being cornered by your ex.

3) Don’t panic

You might feel nervous and you’re probably wondering, “Will I be able to handle seeing them? Will I be able to stay strong?”

The truth is that you can handle it. You have the strength to deal with your ex now and you know how to make it through the encounter.

On a practical level, they’ll probably just walk past and do their own thing. Don’t fear what may or may not happen.

Take a deep breath and remain calm. There’s really no need to panic, they don’t bite.

But that raises the question:

Why does love so often start out great, only to become a nightmare? And what’s the solution to remaining in control when bumping into your ex?

The answer is contained in the relationship you have with yourself.

I learned about this from the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê. He taught me to see through the lies we tell ourselves about love, and become truly empowered.

As Rudá explains in this mind-blowing free video, love is not what many of us think it is. In fact, many of us are actually self-sabotaging our love lives without realizing it!

We need to face the facts about why our relationship failed:

Far too often we chase an idealized image of someone and build up expectations that are guaranteed to be let down.

Far too often we fall into codependent roles of savior and victim to try to “fix” our partner, only to end up in a miserable, bitter routine.

Far too often, we are on shaky ground with our own selves and this carries over into toxic relationships that become hell on earth.

Rudá’s teachings showed me a whole new perspective.

While watching, I felt like someone understood my struggles to find love for the first time – and finally offered an actual, practical solution to getting overseeing my ex again.

If you’re done with unsatisfying dating, empty hookups, frustrating relationships, and having your hopes dashed over and over, then this is a message you need to hear.

Click here to watch the free video.

4) Imagine the worst that could happen

I know you’re dreading seeing them again, but ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”

When we dread something we often end up imagining these worst-case scenarios and catastrophizing.

When you dread something so much, a simple trick that can help you is to imagine the worst-case scenario. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

Now, stop and think about it.

  • They could shout at you.Ok, but why would they do that? It would only make them look stupid.
  • They could call you degrading names, like “whore” or “pig”. Again, why would they want to embarrass themselves in public by shouting out profanities? And does this really seem like something your ex would do? And even if they do, so what? What an as*h*ole.
  • They could tell their friends and coworkers that they cheated on you.Ok, they could, but that would only make them look bad.
  • Or they may even try to convince you that they still love you. Let’s face it, this probably won’t happen, they broke up with you for a reason. But if it does, you need to remember to stand strong and not get carried away by their bullsh*t.

The truth is that it probably won’t be so bad when you actually do see them. Chances are they’ll see you and say, “Hello” and move on.

You’ll feel awkward for a few minutes? So what?

And even if they do try to talk to you, will it really be that bad? They may even apologize for breaking up with you.

The bottom line is that whatever happens, you’re ready to face them.

5) Don’t pretend you don’t know them

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When you see your ex, don’t pretend you don’t know them.

I mean, who does that?

Ok, some people may try to act as though they’ve never seen them before. But trust me, this is a really bad idea.

Not only is it petty, it’s childish and will make you look bad.

You can’t just bump into the person that you had an intimate relationship with and pretend not to know them.


Look at them and smile politely, or acknowledge their presence with a nod and avoid the weirdness that comes from pretending you don’t know them.

Have a simple conversation. Ask how they’re doing, ask if they’ve been keeping busy.

Simply put, you’re grown-ups and you can handle seeing each other in public without the whole world collapsing around you.

Come on, you’ve got this!

6) Be polite

Think about what your ex has said or done to you. Now, take a deep breath and remember that you’ve moved on.

You’re strong and independent.

Your time with your ex is well in the past. So don’t let what they say or do affect you because you’re well on your way to a better future.

When you do bump into your ex, be polite. Don’t get into arguments or embarrass yourself by bringing up the past. You’re better than that.

The last thing you need is more drama and chaos in your life right now. So just keep it polite and positive.

7) Act normal and don’t get emotional

You want to appear normal when you run into your ex. Act like you’re in a good mood and try not to make a big deal when you see them.

I know, easier said than done.

But it’s important not to let your emotions overwhelm you.

Here’s the thing:

If you do, your ex wins.

If they can make you cry in public, then that means that they still have control over your emotions and have the power to hurt you even after the breakup.

But I get it, keeping your emotions in check can be hard, especially if you’ve been dumped.

If that’s the case, I highly recommend watching this free breathwork video, created by the shaman, Rudá Iandê.

Rudá isn’t another self-professed life coach. Through shamanism and his own life journey, he’s created a modern-day twist to ancient healing techniques.

The exercises in his invigorating video combine years of breathwork experience and ancient shamanic beliefs, designed to help you relax and check in with your body and soul.

After many years of suppressing my emotions, Rudá’s dynamic breathwork flow quite literally revived that connection.

And that’s what you need:

A spark to reconnect you with your feelings so that you can begin focusing on the most important relationship of all – the one you have with yourself.

So if you’re ready to say goodbye to anxiety and stress, check out his genuine advice below.

Click here to watch the free video.

8) Keep it short

Now, I’ve said be polite and make small talk and I meant just that – small talk.

Don’t end up talking in the corridor, elevator, street, or wherever it is that you meet for half an hour about everything under the sun.

Don’t take this opportunity to catch up. You don’t want to catch up with them. They dumped you. They hurt you.

You want to show them that you’ve moved on and aren’t dwelling on the past, but that doesn’t mean that you want to be friends with them.

In my experience, it’s best to avoid engaging in an unnecessary conversation.

If you bump into them, say, “Hi”, and then move on. You don’t need to make an issue out of a casual encounter.

9) Ask how they are

And in keeping with the above point, ask them how they are. Act like you care and that you want the best for them.

You want to show them that you’ve moved on and how seeing them has no emotional effect. So you need to be polite and make small talk.

Ask them how they are. Be interested in hearing the answer but don’t be too eager or friendly.

It’s best to keep a cool distance, like when meeting an acquaintance.

It’s in your best interest to be strong, confident, independent, and positive in all areas of your life, and that includes when dealing with your ex.

10) Be dignified

You’ve just run into your ex. You’re probably feeling a whole range of things: excitement, anger, disappointment, rejection.

The last thing you want to remember is how they were mean to you or how they ghosted you when they broke up with you.

But how do you keep your dignity in this situation?

  • Smile pleasantly and say “Hi” while maintaining an air of coolness
  • Don’t apologize for anything
  • Be polite and don’t overstay the conversation
  • If they ask if you’re doing okay, say “I’m great!” or “I’m doing really well” then change the subject
  • End the conversation as soon as possible

No matter what happens between you two, you need to remain calm and respectful and keep your dignity. It’s a timeless rule that everyone should follow.

11) Be confident

When you bump into your ex, all the memories come flooding back. It’s like being in a time machine and suddenly you’re reliving what it was like when you were still together.

The thing is, it’s not always going to be easy to move on after a breakup.

Decide today that you’re going to be confident every time you meet your ex.

Think about it:

  • You’re strong and you’re confident.
  • You’ve taken the necessary steps to get over your ex.
  • You’re ready to move on with your life and be the person that you know you can be.

Don’t let your ex make you feel bad about yourself.

The fact that they broke up with you and couldn’t appreciate you for the wonderful person that you are is their loss.

You deserve so much more and the right person will come along.

The bottom line is, never let them shake your confidence.

12) Be the bigger person

It’s really important to remember that you are the bigger person. Whenever you see your ex, make sure that you act like one.

Be polite, smile, and don’t engage in a conversation with them if you don’t have to.

Now, if you’re tempted to take your ex to task or confront them about all they’ve said or done and the hurt they have caused then I have three words for you:

Don’t do it!

Your heart is broken and the only thing you want to do is lash out. It’s natural to feel that way, but it’s not going to bring you any closer to closure.

They’ve moved on with their lives and so should you. I know, easier said than done.

But it’ll be a great moment for you to rise above the situation and just be the nice, pleasant person that you are.

13) Stay calm and composed

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Don’t get angry, don’t shout, and don’t provoke an argument. Remember, you’re in control and you are the one being sensible and looking after your own feelings.

Don’t lose your cool, stay composed and think about what you’re going to say.

Be positive. Don’t let this put a dent in your self-esteem, it shouldn’t.

If your ex tries to provoke you, ignore them. Don’t give them the satisfaction. You’re the bigger person, remember?

Don’t let them make you feel bad in any way.

14) Be formal

Yes, you two were once very close and shared a very intimate relationship. I can understand why you might be tempted to jump into your old ways when you bump into them.

But remember, they dumped you.

That’s the end of your intimacy. This is why you should be formal when you talk to them.

Be polite and courteous and imagine that they’re someone that you don’t know all that well.

15) Kill them with kindness

Your ex might expect you to be angry and to hold a grudge. They probably won’t expect you to smile and act friendly. And that’s exactly what you should do.

Kill them with kindness!

Instead of criticizing them or being harsh, try and pass on a compliment.

If your ex is feeling down on themselves then try to cheer them up by complimenting their appearance or saying something nice about their latest purchase.

Do this without going overboard and without giving away any information that they could use to make you feel bad in any way.

If your ex says something cruel or unkind, smile and look them in the eye. Don’t let it affect you.

Tell them that you know they’re upset and can understand why they might be feeling a bit bitter, but if they want to talk they should feel free to email you or call you at a more appropriate time.

Your behavior will leave them speechless.

16) Avoid physical contact

It’s been a few months since your ex dumped you and you haven’t seen each other since.

You suddenly bump into them in a café. You’re both caught off guard and you’re not sure how to act.

If you sense that your ex might want to make physical contact – like they start to go in for a hug or kiss – try to avoid it. You’re not ready for that.

If you can, try and keep some physical distance between you when you meet.

Trust me, establishing some boundaries will save you from making an uncomfortable situation even more so.

17) You’re not obliged to catch up

Here’s the truth:

You don’t have to do anything that your ex wants and you’re free to choose whether you want to see them or not.

If you bump into them and they invite you to coffee or dinner to catch up and you feel it’s the last thing that you want to do – then don’t go.

Never feel obliged to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Don’t be scared to hurt their feelings, you don’t owe them anything.

It is important to remember that you have been dumped for a reason and that things didn’t work out between the two of you.

18) Ask your friends for help

If you’re out with your friends in a bar and you see your ex, then ask them for help.

Tell them to stick around and keep you company while you say hello. Or ask them to come and whisk you away in a minute.

All in all, make sure your friends have your back and don’t leave you to face your ex by yourself.

19) Don’t change your plans to avoid them

You can’t go around changing your plans to avoid your ex.

Here’s what to do:

If you go to the farmers market on Saturdays – at the same time as your ex – keep on going.

Or if you go to the same gym in the evenings, don’t stop going to the gym or change to a gym that’s out of your way just to avoid bumping into them

It’s okay to run into them. Try not to worry about it.

Yes, it might be uncomfortable at first but you’ve come this far, don’t back off now.

If they don’t like it, they can change their plans. You have every right to be there.

20) Delete their number

Finally, it might be a good idea to delete your ex’s phone number.


Imagine this:

You bump into them on the street. You both smile and exchange a few friendly words.

Suddenly, all these old feelings come rushing back.

You go home and you start texting, “It was really nice seeing you today. I forgot how much I missed you!”

See where I’m going with this?

You’re in a vulnerable state; you might send a text or make a call that you’ll regret later.

By deleting their number, you’ll be protecting yourself from that.

Picture of Jelena Dincic

Jelena Dincic

Jelena has a background in photography and film-making and has spent the last few years as a content editor and copywriter. Jelena is a citizen of the world who is passionate about travel and learning about new cultures. She’s a foodie who loves to cook. And, as an art lover, she is always experimenting with new art mediums. When she’s not at her computer, she’s usually out and about in some forest with her dogs.

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