Maybe long distance didn’t work as well as you hoped. Or maybe you just naturally drifted apart. If there was no cataclysmic event that led you both to break up, you may be more tempted to stay in touch, a la Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs, who say they plan to stay close post-divorce.
But despite the good intentions, experts warn that may not be a great idea. “Even in situations where the breakup decision was mutual, one person is always going to have stronger feelings than the other,” warns Lisa Thomas, a Denver area relationship therapist. “Still seeing each other but not being together can bring up too many emotions and someone may end up hurt.”
That doesn’t mean you should completely ice him out of existence though. Here, how to handle your ex when these three common “friendly” situations occur. [Tweet this advice!]
The Party Run-In
If you and he have overlapping social circles, avoiding him is easier said than done. Having a plan in place—a friend who can intervene or a set list of topics you will and won’t discuss—is key, especially for those first few months, says Thomas. “Knowing what you’ll do in advance makes it less likely emotions will get the best of you, and you’ll fall back into for old times sake rituals.”
The Hangout Invite
While it’s tempting to hit up that Indian restaurant you both love, ask yourself how the evening will benefit you—especially if you're dealing with a recent ex. If you want to get back together, or want to cut things off for good politely, it’s only fair to yourself to let him know, says Thomas. “But when you spend too much time hanging out with your ex, you’re missing out on opportunities to grow, not to mention you’re closing yourself off to other dating opportunities,” reminds Thomas. If he’s from the ancient past, a brief catch up is totally cool—just go in with no expectations.
The Accidental Hookup
Just because your brain understands why the breakup was necessary doesn’t mean your body will automatically follow suit, warns Karen Ruskin, author of Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual. Even though sleeping together doesn’t necessarily change how either of you feel about the breakup, it’s natural to second guesses or doubt things, especially if the night was good, she says. That’s why you should follow any reconciliation like this with a cool-off period to figure out why it happened. Was it because you both just happened to be in the same place? Was it because both of you want a second chance on the relationship? Whatever the decision, make sure to discuss it during daylight, while clothes are on, says Ruskin.