Do You Avoid Your Ex? (You Should!) Do It Hampton Roads-style

Steer clear of your ex, and do it in style.

I’ll be entering Ex Territory this weekend when I go shopping with my fellow HRM Sensational Single Wendy Walker for our auction next Thursday. And not a little timidly. Because no matter what they tell you, you cannot be friends with an exYou should avoid your ex as much as possible. If one person still wants to rekindle the fire, contact MUST be avoided.

I learned this the hard way. Post-breakup last fall, after polling the idea on Facebook (and getting a resounding NO), the optimist in me tried the friendship thing anyway. Dinner with the Ex. At a cozy restaurant we’d been to last when his family was in town. A few weeks before Christmas. (I swear I wasn’t trying to get back together. I’m just apparently really good at evil, cruel plots when I’m not trying.)

It was disastrous and awkward in all the ways it could’ve been. I was 10 minutes early; he was 20 minutes late, without explanation or apology. And (ironically) he was way too happy to see me; I had to shrink from an attempted kiss (really, Ex?)! He’d brought a nice, personal gift. I’d brought a nice, impersonal gift. He was expecting to get back together; I was expecting friendly catch-up conversation. The shortest dinner in our history later, he choked a goodbye and left (in tears).

Yeah, I got out of the try-and-be-friends business. But every few months since then, there’s always a call or text. I ignore, but I am really careful whenever I am nearing Ex Territory, as I’m never sure if there could be another scene or totally inappropriate attempt at PDA.

Luckily, Hampton Roads is PERFECT for avoiding your jilted lover or your soulless dumper (that would be me):

1. LOVE THY TUNNELS

Yeah, I know it can be a pain. As someone who’s lived, worked or otherwise heavily frequented Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight/Franklin, and Williamsburg, I know. But really, guess what? The HRBT, Monitor Merrimac, Downtown Tunnel, Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and Midtown Tunnel are your greatest post-breakup allies. Learn to LOVE your nearest tunnel and you are a rare creature— 90% chance your ex isn’t thinking the same thing! If you don’t have a problem putting some distance between your most frequented locales, it can be the best manmade barrier between you and dreadful ex-encounters.

Also, think of it as free therapy! (At least an hour’s worth.) Because dumper or dumpee, you might need some time with your thoughts to let the breakup dust settle.

2. FIND A NEW FAVORITE RESTAURANT

Yeah, probably not a good idea to go into you and your former-beloved’s favorite spot—at least not yet. Painful memories aside, there’s nothing that puts a more bitter taste in your mouth than an unexpected run-in. Stay away! Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants that are worthy candidates for being a new favorite. Check out HRM’s 50-50 deals on awesome local spots. I’d tell you my own local faves, but I’ve gotta be protective…just in case!

3. CHANGE YOUR WARDROBE: GO INCOGNITO

Winters that start late and snowfall in March? “Hurricanes” more timid than your last toilet overflow? Hello, Hampton Roads weather! What we lack in predictability, we make up for in intensity. Whenever fall-like weather actually begins this year, we know it’ll get cold very suddenly. So, take advantage of the region’s well-defined seasons. Hopefully you were proactive and your breakup occurred at the end of a season, so necessary wardrobe changes can be tied in with the need to look totally out of character.

There’s also no overarching fashion rule governing Hampton Roads; we dress metro, hip, grunge, conservative, sporty, sophisticated. Anything goes. I’m not saying you should change your entire look just to avoid your ex. But hey, if you’re gonna cut your hair or buy new clothes for the changes in season anyway, the opportunity is there!

4. HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS

Hampton Roads is very friendly to the social. And, it’s an awesome place to live, so people stick around for awhile. So, if you don’t have a lot of friends (maybe because you somewhat neglected them by being sucked into your relationship? It happens), reconnect or MAKE SOME.

Try not to venture into EX-VILLE without them. Because a scene is much less likely in numbers. And it’s much easier to duck behind a person than to find an appropriate you-sized object. Don’t risk it!

Do you go out of your way to avoid an ex? Does anyone have a non-psycho ex? How do you handle the unexpected encounter?

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9 comments
  1. Pete said:

    pam, an interesting topic (and, though it almost goes without saying at this point, ridiculously well-written). up until my latest relationship, i would have wholeheartedly agreed with you. absence may make the heart grow fonder, but not indefinitely. no better way to ease your own feelings, help your ex get over theirs, or both, than to slip off the radar for an extended amount of time.

    that said, some folks can negotiate ex-ville with some success. my ex made it clear to me from the beginning that she was still friends with her previous boyfriends and was going to hang out with them in certain instances. she assured me that these guys posed no threat to our relationship and that their friendships were based solely on shared friends. she never gave me any reason to legitimately doubt this fact. she hung out with exes only (seemingly [cynicism]) because the exes were still members of the large circle of close friends she was lucky enough to have.

    now, this reminds me of a caveat to the ex discussion. in some cases, even if you’re cool with your ex, it can cause turmoil. for my part, i never really got comfortable with these ex-heavy situations. i worried and stewed over “what-ifs” that never truly presented themselves. often, too much liquor was involved in these situations; hugs flowed more freely, and my mind got less rational (if possible) than normal. in truth, my worry about her innocuous friendships with these guys (and they were really nice, good guys, by the way) was one of the main reasons she ended up getting sick of me. so, my advice to those who think they can successfully negotiate friendships with their exes is to think about how new relationships are going to be impacted by these friendships. now, to be clear, i’m not saying my perspective was justified, and i’m not saying her’s was perfect either. all i’m saying is that this is an important point to make sure everyone’s clear on and comfortable with. it can be destructive.

    on the other hand, the (ever-shrinking) idealist part of my mind has a different opinion. i’ve played around with online dating a bit in recent weeks (have not gone on a date, though) and have noticed something interesting about one of the popular sites. after you complete your profile and are matched with folks, the site provides you with two correlations–a “match” percentage and a “friend” percentage. sometimes these two stats are nearly the same, but other times there are wide differences, presumably as a result of two different formulas. once i was matched with a person at a 35% level but had something like a 95% friend correlation with the same person! i guess my take-away from this experience is that, just because a romance didn’t work out, one ought not rule out the possibility of successful friendship–after a good long break, of course.

    another thing about exes (can you tell this is a hot-button issue for me?) is that maintaining a friendship with them can be really counter-productive. when i broke up with a long-time girlfriend, i kept her in my life, talked with her relatively often about one another’s families, experiences, etc. this was nice, but i was semiconsciously holding on to a thread of hope that, if my new relationship didn’t work out, she’d take me back. not only did this behavior unfairly lead her on; it also kept me from investing completely in my new relationship. after all, i had a fall-back plan. god, when i express this verbally, i sound like such an asshole. maybe i should have posted under a pseudonym… oh well, maybe this experience will help someone else avoid this mistake.

    the same principle applies, even if you’re not in a new relationship. the other night, i was invited out by a good-looking, friendly girl who a reasonable person would have loved to spend some time with; however, i was expecting a call from my most recent ex and so declined the invitation under some false pretense. what an idiot, right? i know. but such are the machinations of a deranged mind. 😉

    pam, thanks for the blog. as always, it gives me a good chance to think about this stuff more clearly than i would on my own.

    • Pam said:

      Pete, some interesting comments. I don’t have a lot of exes, and only one in Hampton Roads, which I’ve made clear from my post that I don’t wanna stay in touch with, so I guess how my relationships with exes affect other relationships is not relevant. Good point though. Pretty sure my HR ex would not have tolerated it, given that even when I went out with girlfriends, he always made a joking comment that he thought I was going out on a date—that kind of mistrust gets old after awhile, even if under the guise of a joke!

      I think it’s pretty rare for a broken-up relationship to repair itself…and if it does, it’s for the wrong reasons. There’s always an exception I guess, but I think if someone hangs around with the hopes of getting back together, they’re wasting their time! Plus, how can you miss something that’s always hanging around?

      PETE! You stayed home because you were expecting a call from your ex?!?! Don’t you have a cell phone?! Oh well. I’m sure you’ll have lots more opportunities NOT to do that. Don’t hold on!!!

  2. Skank Tank said:

    I’m split on this one… there are definately ex’s I avoid like the plague because I know for a fact I can’t resist their albeit sleazy charm, or the others that are just relentlessly bugging for a second chance to make things right, or the dreaded soon-to-be ex-husband that just isn’t quite getting the picture. However, a few months ago I took a trip to DC and had a really awesome dinner with a guy I had dated for a few months in high school. While the romantic relationship ended poorly, we always have seemed to been able to hold together a pretty solid friendship (of course that may be because we had the same friends and had forcable interaction after the break-up).

    I’ve come to the conclusion that friends with ex’s is completely situational. I’ve found with years of separation from eachother and a comfort in both lives and the EXPLICIT mutual agreement that you are currently (and are going to remain) in the “friend zone” then I haven’t found a problem with it. Then again, thats just me.

    • Pam said:

      Skank, love your comment. “Can’t resist their albeit sleazy charm”–haha! Been there.

      I totally agree with you…I should have specified that I really only mean for super serious relationships…those are the ones where I can’t think of many good reasons to stay in touch. And yup – I agree that communication is key; if my ex and I had been better able to communicate AT ALL (emotional INcompatibility to the nth degree!!), our post-breakup interactions might have turned out very differently! He made it clear that he would not respect my request for space, so I had to cut him out of my life…

  3. Asian Chow Down said:

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blogs. Currently in “ex-ville”, I unfortunately had to be in my ex’s life due to children being involved. I did find, however, keeping a distance for a quite a few months immediately after the breakup helped me through the period of ‘hating his guts’ to something which is more palatable now. As for my current ‘relationship’ with a man I keep breaking up with and find myself returning to on a regular basis – I concur with you that if one is trying to finalize the relationship, no response to txts and calls, removable of FB connection, and staying on this side of the tunnel would have helped me keep steady and strong. Now I just feel like a heel and can’t get myself out of this ambiguous relationship, but don’t feel the need to make an abrupt change either. So maybe I do like getting my bread buttered once in a while, but I’m guessing I’ll eventually get to a point where I won’t find the attraction strong enough to derail my course of being single.

    • Asian Chow Down said:

      /removal of

    • Pam said:

      Thanks for the comments, Asian! I did overlook that there are instances where contact with exes is absolutely necessary…you seem like you are handling it well. As for your ambiguous relationship…I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, unless it begins to be more time than it’s worth. That’s why I pulled the plug on my becoming-ambiguous relationship – it was sucking up too much of my time. But if you don’t have the need for an abrupt change yet and it’s not standing in the way of anything, no hurry, right? 🙂

  4. Omar said:

    Very late for this blog, but being out of a relationship, I just needed something to cool my mind. Guys, if you have a favorite restaurant, don’t share it with the girlfriend that will soon be your ex. Pretty much, after many years, and being engaged to the same person, I am out of the relationship. Sadly. However, she is playing the cards of lets be best friends, then we talk, then a guy calls and she hangs up. She says it is a “friend” however, after being with her for years, her friends don’t call her at midnight, I am smarter than that.

    Pretty much, for a short period of time of this “friendship” we have been having, it has caused nothing but heartache and drama. Sadly, again we are members of the same church, and lately it has just been too stressful for me to attend that without thinking of the drama between us or the issues. I have tried to cut ties, but it hurts a little, but with this latest phone call incident, I don’t think I can do that any longer.

    I am the mix between the two people, being optimistic that the friendship could work, and the guy being disheartened and walking away. (Oh no, not in tears.) This break up took a long two months to happen, and maybe if I paid more attention in September, I wouldn’t be feeling this way in November. (As I still got some time to deal with this.)

    So, I agree with Pam and need to get out of the try-and-be-friends business myself.

    • Pam said:

      A two-month breakup? Ouch!

      I know it’s hard, but you really must cut off all ties, unless you have mutual friends, in which case it totally sucks and you have to deal with it somehow. I suppose there are exceptions where exes remain friends, but honestly, that’s only when one person at least harbors hopes of someday rekindling the romance…or enjoying the attention.

      Maybe someday you can be on good terms, but now? I think you need to just stay clear. 😦 Good luck!

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