Seeing Your Ex at an Event
Seeing your ex at graduations, weddings, reunions, with mutual friends, or at community gatherings can present a unique set of challenges. Feelings and memories are bound to abound, possibly threatening your or others’ states of mind.
Fortunately, there are etiquette guidelines to help you navigate these events and enjoy the occasions, feeling proud of yourself afterwards.
Knowing you’ll be seeing your ex at a future event may cause some frayed nerves, but also gives you time to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.
- Take some time and think about your history with the person as if you were writing a chronology. “This is in the past.”
- Imagine the event ahead of time. What feelings come up for you? Think about a different perspective that may help you avoid feeling too emotional.
- If resentments come to mind, ask yourself how you intend to handle them at the event without any hint of confrontation.
- Write a 3-word positive description summary sentence of yourself on an index card or in your phone to look at in case you need a reminder during the event. Some examples are:
“I am calm, competent, and lovely in the face of uncertainty.”
“I am steady, poised, and sincerely friendly to others.”
- Practice these affirmations until they are “yours.” You might notice that they are true in other situations as well.
"I realize there's something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they're experts at letting things go."
~ Jeffrey McDaniel
Rules to Follow When Seeing Your Ex
Setting boundaries gives you a specific space to work in emotionally. Because seeing your ex can be triggering, knowing and owning your physical and emotional space is important. It will not only help you get through the event, but can help make it more pleasant for others in attendance.
Some operating rules to consider:
- Keep in mind the overall purpose of the event you are attending.
- Go light on or avoid alcoholic beverages.
- Greet your ex in an open and friendly way, and mention the occasion and how glad you are to be there.
- Stay away from discussion regarding any past situation and step aside from sarcasm.
- Keep conversation points short and simple, staying away from discussion of times past.
- Be patient and kind with the ex, as they may not have done their “how to be with an ex” homework.
- If the two of you are standing alone, suggest including someone close by in your conversation and walk toward that person(s).
- Introduce or re-introduce the person as lightheartedly as possible. You might include something of interest, such as “John now lives in Memphis and he’s come all the way here to be with our kids to celebrate.”
- Walk casually and immediately away if there is the slightest chance of confrontation.
The bottom line for these situations is to have fun and remember life is about accepting the bitter with the better! Being at an event with an ex is a great opportunity to practice enjoying the present moment and put the past behind you.
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