Home Plus One Dating Embarrassment and the Ex: Dealing with the Accidental Encounter

Hello Career Girls!

I’m Lauren. Nice to meet you all. I know we don’t know each other yet, so I though I’d go ahead and let you get to know me the best way I know how- by completely embarrassing myself.

A month or so back, I had a falling out with a guy I was dating. It wasn’t the best ending to our little romance. Our offices are in the same area so I knew that seeing him again was inevitable. It had to happen. The day finally came and I saw him from across the street, at an awkwardly painful distance. We were too far away to get it over with and say hello, yet just close enough to see each other and know that running away was not an option.

After what seemed like the longest minute of my life, we finally crossed paths. I pulled my hand out of my pocket and what did I do? I saluted him. Saluted him?!? What was I thinking?? How was a salute my body’s first reaction? I was so embarrassed. (I would like to take this a step back and say that no one in my family has any affiliation with the armed forces, therefore making this reaction even odder). 

And what acknowledgment did I get from him in return? The head nod. You know the one. The I’m-too-cool-to-take-my-hands-out-of-my-pockets- “sup bro” head nod. Oh how I despise that nod.

This whole situation has made me think. For me, running into an ex outside of a bar or a friend’s party has been rare until now. In those instances you can just keep hold of your drink, blend into the crowd, or look busy talking to others. But now the ex encounter has infiltrated the workday. So what do you do?  How do you appropriately deal with the (sober) ex-run in?

As budding career professionals we’ve been groomed to have the firm handshake. But this is just one of those situations where the handshake is not appropriate.  Should we pull an Obama and go in for the fist bump? Take it back old school and bring it up for the high-five? Or should we just commit to the classic wave?

Obviously, the wave it not my default reaction.

The next time I saw this gentleman, I clenched my fists in my pockets in fear of another salute and gave the most enthusiastic, “Hi!” you’ve ever heard in your life.  It would have made you think I was greeting the delivery man who was carrying a million dollar check for me.  Again, head nod from him. Ugh.

This last time I ran into him, I was mad. Mad that I ran into him again and mad that I was about to embarrass myself once again. But I was so busy wracking my head with the most appropriate way to say hello, I just completely passed him, totally ignoring his presence. But it worked! At least, I didn’t feel embarrassed. Who knows what my face looked like when I passed him though, full of so many thoughts!

So what do you think? Which is best reaction for an accidental ex meet-up? Is it more appropriate to be formal but awkward? Excited yet fake? Or just give the cold ignore?

I wish that my story, due to the level of embarrassment, is not comparable to yours, but I think that a lot of you out there might be able to relate. So let’s start a conversation. Us career girls have got to stick together and help each other out!

Do you have a story? What do you think is best? Let’s talk.


40 replies to this post
  1. Haha! This reminds me of when a high school boyfriend broke up with me. I didn’t really know what to say after “okay.” I wasn’t that into him but he kept hanging around waiting for a reaction to this news, so out of nowhere I gave him a huge double thumbs up and what was probably a deranged grin. Oh Jill, thy name is awkward.

    At least he accepted this as his answer and left?

  2. UGGGHHHH!! I have been there before. Way to be a powerful woman though! Whenever I see my ex’s I always turn into a mumbling weirdo! I love that you own what you do.
    Everyone always says “who cares what those guys think!” but they never have stories like this to back them up. The fact that you do makes me feel like maybe I can embrace my bumbling self too!

  3. HA! You know you have too many crazy Ex stories when your MOM forwards this to you!
    My worst one has to be from my second year working at a summer camp. I had a midsummer fling with a fellow counselor and was able to avoid him for the greater part of July. He was lifeguarding at the lake and my bathing suit ripped (practically off). When he offered to help all I could say way, “Guess that’s ok! Not like its anything you’ve never seen before!” in front of about 20 campers.

    Love it!

  4. This is where the ‘pretend to have an important email on my phone and I am so engrossed I can’t even look up’ approach works LOL I keep on good terms with ex’s, so I actually enjoy running into them, but I think a salute was likely the absolute best response ever. Maybe you could just aim to every time give him a stranger and stranger greeting. Maybe next time it is a curtsy. Then the double thumbs up, as Jillcomm mentioned. Perhaps a spin move and then a wink with the double finger guns?

    • Hahaha… OH Curtsy is definitely in the works! I just ran into him AGAIN yesterday and I just stopped breathing. Not like he took my breath away, for some reason my body just stopped working.

      So here it is so far:
      1. Salute
      2. Overexcited hi
      3. Ignore
      4. Loss of breath
      5. Curtsy
      6. double thumbs up
      7. Finger guns from the hip
      8. TBD??

      This is great. I hope to god I don’t run into him this many times but next time, I’ll so rock his world with my greeting!

  5. Lauren – I am absolutely LOVING your blog. Your writing style and your content is just stellar. I think most of us have had an awkward ex encounter … mine occured shortly after I graduated from college. I was hours away from where I had attended college when I ran into an ex boyfriend FROM college with a new boyfriend (now husband). I can’t recall now what I did then, but it’s possible I may have saluted him too. Hilarious!!!

    • Thanks for the read Tiffany! I appreciate the compliment!!

      I think you’re run in is by far the best situation. It doesn’t matter what you said cause you had your lovely eye candy/manccessory/boyfriend/husband with you! TOP THAT EX!!

  6. I absolutely loved your post and I could really associate with it…you see last year I dated a guy and ended up working with him. We don’t date anymore, but the awkwardness is still there. I have NOT saluted him, but some days it’s hard to decide how I will greet him…cold shoulder and/or ignore are my favorites!

    • Oh man! This is rough!!! I commend you for this one!! At least you have work to put in between you. No reason to bring up the past maybe?

      I would probably act the same way too except one change… cold should/ignore then stiff drink promptly at 5.

  7. Run in with my ex have resulted in everything from weird, nice-to-meet-you handshakes to overly enthusiastic high-fives, and I believe, there was once a pat on the head.

    Such awkward moments. Great post.

  8. Lauren, it sounds like you’ve got the awkward moments down pat! I suggest that you give him the disinterested head nod the next time you see him–a taste of his own medicine can’t hurt! But you can’t make it bro-y. It has to be an I’m-so-cool-I-can-only-move-one-muscle-to-acknowledge-you head nod. Let me know how it works!

  9. All of the greeting suggestions are hilarious AND helpful. I have one to add! I like the ole look at them as if you can’t quite place them and fumble for a name and come up with something not theirs communicating how little they mean in your fabulous here and now. I actually saw the funniest eg. of this from my friend, Teresa. We were at an outdoor concert, coming back from a beer run when she was accosted by a man who greeted her by name to which she replied,”do I know you”? His answer,”you should, I was your first damn husband” had me LMFAO before anybody ever heard of Party Rockin…Thing is- it wasn’t actually a ploy on her part but quite deflating to him, nevertheless

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