You've found your soulmate! They are everything you expected them to be, and even more! You two couldn't be happier together and your friends and family are supporting you both — Congratulations! Seriously, finding your other half is a big deal, a wonderful event, and there is no reason why you two shouldn't be happy and thrive together. But let's be honest, some of the best romance stories friends like to hear are ones that are filled with juicy drama, and some of those best stories are about how you and your partner met but were both in different romantic relationships with other people at the time. If you live in a large city, let's say Houston, TX or San Diego, CA, the change of running into your partner's ex-boyfriend or girlfriend are extremely slim. However, if you live in Dartmouth, MA or in Las Cruces, NM, the possibility of seeing their ex increased. Whether you run into each other at the local market, between classes on campus, or see each other at the only cafe that has decent coffee in the entire town... Or even better (ha), happen to have mutual friends, here are some possibilities that the universe might throw your way — and some helpful tips:
Awkward Conversation... That could be pleasant.
Your partner's ex-girlfriend or boyfriend may want to have a conversation with you. You can try to be optimistic and hope it will have nothing to do with your partner. But unless you two talked before they were left heartbroken, the topic of conversation is more than likely going to be about your partner. Many exes do this because they are trying to fill in some blanks and want closure.
- Don't mention your partner's name, especially if the breakup occurred six months or less ago. It's just common courtesy and being a decent human being. Unless they ask you about your partner, do what you can to avoid hurting their feelings. If it's been beyond six months, use your best judgment on mentioning your partner.
- Speaking of judgment, if your partner's ex approaches you with certain curiosities, again, to fill in their blanks, use your best discretion when it comes to sharing those details. This is a grey area for most people and of course, it will change depending on what roles everyone has. Say what feels right: "I don't feel comfortable sharing details of my relationship with you," or, "Since I wasn't in the relationship, you should probably talk directly to (INSERT NAME HERE) about this." If you feel fine sharing details with your partner's Ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, just be sure to set some...
- Boundaries. Not only be aware of your own boundaries you're setting down. And try to be mindful of the exes, too. Additionally, keep in mind your partner's boundaries, too. They may not want YOU to talk about personal information you know about their past relationship with THEIR ex. In this case, advise them to seek answers to their questions from your partner.
Fearful Avoidance... It happens more than you think.
Can you blame them? No, you shouldn't, so if you are, gain a bit of empathy and try to understand their situation. For instance, my husband and I were both in relationships when we met each other. My husband was in a relationship with, let's call her Destiny, for ten months before he ended their relationship. She dodged us at every possible point in order not to see him, me, and especially us, together. Here's what you can do if you have an awkward run-in with your partner's ex-girlfriend or boyfriend:
- Watch their body language. If they're jittery, maybe their eyes are darting from left to right searching for another direction to head in, they're probably going to make a run for it. In that case, sidestep and head in another direction yourself.
- Be polite, as much as you can be. A simple hello and a nod will be enough that translates to: "I acknowledge your existence," and move on.
- Follow your partner's lead. If your partner stops and tries to talk to their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, tag along unless asked to stay back. If your partner avoids their ex as well, continue on your merry way.
Hostile Confrontations... Which Are Never Fun
This doesn't happen in reality as often as people fantasize in their minds, but that doesn't mean it might not come to pass. Your partner's ex-girlfriend or boyfriend may confront you by taking out their anger, betrayal, and injured feelings about the breakup on YOU. It is possible that they could see you as the reason for the breakup instead of facing the fact that their ex is the one who ended the relationships, not you. If this happens to you (I am so sorry, you should not be dealing with this), but here are three ways to handle it without losing your cool:
- Pay attention to their words. Listen to what they are saying and do your best not to react to their anger. Although they're unnecessarily taking their fury out on you, try to empathize with your partner's ex. They were left. They are grief-stricken because they were specifically left for another person: you. Try your best to listen but...
- Hold your self-respect. If this ex-boyfriend or girlfriend begins yelling at you, making aggressive accusations, or shows signs of physically hurting you, don't allow this to happen. Simply tell them: "Do not raise your voice at me. If you want to talk, we can talk. If you want to scream at me, we're done here."
- Walk away. Sometimes people see red when they are upset and cannot listen to reason. Walk away, don't give them the satisfaction of treating you badly. And inform your partner right away so they can handle the situation with their ex.