Dealing with breakup

How To Act Around Your Ex Who Dumped You? 20 Ways To Heal


It’s painful enough when your ex breaks up with you, but having to see them around can make it impossible to put it all behind you. Staying away from your ex after the breakup is the best way to deal with it, but what to do when it’s not an option?

When you’re recovering from the end of a relationship and don’t know how to act around your ex who dumped you, it doesn’t matter whether you want them back or not. Your priority at this moment should be to protect your heart and your self-esteem.

In other words, you have to put yourself first. Whether you want to get your ex back, to stay friends or to put your relationship behind you is of no importance because you must first heal.

Here are some tips on how to handle contact with your ex and get better at the same time.

How To Act Around Your Ex Who Dumped You: Do’s & Don’ts

If you used to date your co-worker or a classmate, it can be difficult to figure out how to act around your ex who dumped you and stay calm. What if you have a child together and have decided to co-parent? Or if you share mutual friends neither of you wants to give up?

What’s the best way to act when your ex is in your space, when even running into them is stressful?

13 do’s that help your self-esteem

1. Let yourself feel your feelings

the woman stands in the dark

Getting dumped hurts, but it’s more than that. You’re left with a mess of feelings in your heart that threaten to overwhelm and defeat you.

It’s not only pain you feel, but also shame, betrayal and anger, and before you can move on, you have to deal with all of these feelings. If you try to bury them, they’ll burn you from the inside, but if you let yourself feel them, they’ll burn out.

2. Make your well-being a priority

The most effective thing you can do when you want to stop being hung up on your ex is to replace thinking about your ex with focusing on your own well-being.

That means you must make a conscious decision to put yourself first. Lots of people have trouble with this because they were taught that doing so means that they are selfish, but it doesn’t.

This means that you should take good care of yourself. Consciously make time for basic self-care but also manage stress, do things that boost your mood and learn to say no.

3. Forgive your ex

Why would you forgive your ex if they dumped you? Because forgiveness has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you.

Forgive doesn’t mean forget. It’s not an excuse to let yourself get hurt again. To forgive means to take control of your negative feelings and let them go. This is the only way you can find closure and move on.

4. Accept the breakup

disappointed woman sitting on the bed

After you get dumped, one of the hardest things you can do is to accept it, especially if you still have feelings for your ex. The temptation to contact them and beg them to take you back can be overwhelming.

When you accept that it’s over, you put your dignity above your desire. Instead of trying to get someone who left you to take you back, realize that your self-respect is far more important.

Even if it’s impossible to forget your ex right now, you can move in that direction if you decide to accept the breakup.

RELATED: The Inevitable Stages Of Breakup (+ 5 Grieving Stages)

5. Live your life

Even though seeing your ex can make you relive the breakup all over again, it doesn’t mean that you should change your life because of them. Don’t adjust your life to accommodate your ex – don’t change plans to avoid them or give up on something to stay away.

When you run into your ex, it’s going to be rough, but that’s why you’re preparing for it. There’s no reason why you should avoid going somewhere just because your ex might be there or doing something because it has something to do with them.

Don’t allow your ex to control your life.

6. Refuse contact you don’t want

On the other hand, if you find it too painful to see your ex, just don’t. Obviously, in some cases completely avoiding them is impossible, but you can spare yourself a lot of stress if you minimize contact as much as possible.

For example, if you work with your ex and you have to interact with them, keep things professional. Do your job but don’t engage your ex otherwise. Say hello and exchange basic pleasantries, but tell them you’re busy if they try to chat.

When you have to work on something together with your ex, be polite and courteous, but excuse yourself from small talk.

This isn’t the time to worry about what other people or your ex will think. If you maintain a friendly demeanor and focus on the work you’re doing, no one can reproach you.

7. Set boundaries

Boundaries define what behaviors you’re comfortable with and what you won’t tolerate. For example, if you don’t want your ex to contact you on social media you should let them know and they should respect that. If they don’t, you can block them.

Unfortunately, you’ll often run into resistance when you try to establish your boundaries. Your ex might tell you that it’s not a big deal, that you should stop using the app if it bothers you so much, that you’re being unreasonable, or some other excuse.

But there’s no reason why you should endure something that bothers you. Healthy boundaries are a sign of healthy self-esteem and you should never compromise on that.

Let your ex know what you’ll tolerate and what you won’t and don’t let them guilt you into letting them act however they please.

8. Be prepared

a woman stands next to a man

When you know that you might bump into your ex, be prepared. Have a plan or at least a vague idea of how you want to react when you run into your ex. Even though these things rarely go as planned, at least you won’t get caught off guard.

For example, have an excuse prepared if you want to politely brush them off. If you know that you don’t want to talk to them, but you also don’t want to ignore them, make sure that you know what to say so that you don’t fumble.

It doesn’t really matter what your ex might think even if you do, but it might give you anxiety later, so it’s best to have an action plan ready.

“Smile and keep walking” is the best strategy, but you can also think of something else that works for you.

9. Have backup

Relying on your friends and family after a breakup can help you get through it. You don’t have to do everything alone. 

Find at least one person you can openly talk to and share your feelings regarding the breakup. It can even be a counselor if you don’t have anyone close to you nearby.

There’s no shame in hiding behind your loved ones when you have to deal with your ex. Your friends can act as a buffer between you until it doesn’t hurt as bad anymore. Just having someone with you when you’re near your ex can make a major difference.

If you share the same friend group, after the breakup you might feel isolated. At this time it’s better to turn to friends you and your ex don’t share.

Until it stops hurting, try to avoid hanging out with your mutual friends if you know your ex will be there. There’s no reason to hide or run away, but don’t force yourself to hurt your broken heart even more.

10. Act as you always do

There’s no need to act as if you’ve suddenly become someone new and improved. The temptation to show your ex how well you’re doing is understandable, but your ex will see through you if you try to fake it.

Instead, it’s much better to keep your composure and act like you always do. You don’t have to prove your ex anything. Don’t act out or make a scene.

It’s best for your self-esteem if you don’t let your ex notice your sadness. It might feel good to show it at that moment, but as soon as it’s over, you’ll feel awful.

If you think that seeing your ex will be painful, try to avoid them until it doesn’t, but if you can’t, find your composure and prove to yourself that your ex has no power over you.

11. Be friendly and polite

Always be as polite with your ex as possible. This doesn’t only help you avoid a public scene, but it also shows that you’re strong.

Imagine how seeing your ex and getting into a fight with them would make you feel. You’d get upset, cry and your whole day would be ruined. Your ex would be glad that they ended things with you. You’d leave an impression of someone needy and desperate.

On the other hand, being polite shows your ex that you’re the bigger person, but also that you want to keep a distance. Be friendly by being courteous, not close.

12. Keep it short

a man and a woman are sitting at the table and talking

Whenever you have to interact with your ex, keep it as short as possible. This is how you’ll avoid getting into things with your ex you might not want to get into.

One way to achieve this is by focusing only on the reason why you have to be around your ex.

If your ex is a co-worker, only talk about the work you’re doing together. Don’t let them distract you with small talk or irrelevant chit-chat.

If you co-parent with your ex, only discuss important information about your kids. When they ask you how you’ve been, say you were fine but don’t elaborate.

In some cases, your ex will repeatedly try to engage you in conversation which you might not be able to handle at this point. You need to be firm and keep getting back to the subject that you have to talk to them about.

13. Stay calm

Needless to say, when you feel broken after getting dumped, it would be easiest to scream and yell at your ex or beg them to take you back but it’s the last thing you want to do.

To stay calm, you need to be determined to put yourself first. This is what will give you the inspiration to stay composed.

Your well-being is more important than showing your ex you’ve moved on. Your peace of mind is more important than getting back at your ex. Getting your life back on track is more important than having your ex take you back.

You’re important, not your ex. Repeat this to yourself to help you stay calm.

See also: My Ex Has A New Girlfriend: 12 Tips To Handle It With Grace

7 don’ts to protect your heart

1. Don’t be negative

a woman walks down the street

There are lots of ways you can end up the villain of a breakup that wasn’t your fault, and most of them can be connected to how you appear after the breakup.

Reigning in all negativity towards your ex will help you stay the mature one who doesn’t need to prove anything. You know what they’re like and what they’ve done and it’s not your job to make it known.

Don’t criticize your ex or badmouth them in front of everyone you know. Don’t try to get revenge, because it will backfire. It will only paint you in a bad light because you stayed with such a horrible person or make people think you’re exaggerating.

If your ex is badmouthing you, you must weigh how damaging their words are to you and your reputation.

If you don’t really care, let the people who told you about it know that they should stop reporting back to you. They can also ask your ex to stop talking about you to them.

If your ex is turning your child against you, talk to your child and let them know that they also have the option of refusing to listen. Comfort them if they get upset by talking openly.

2. Don’t ignore your ex

When you see your ex for the first time after the breakup, no doubt you’ll be tempted to act like you haven’t noticed them. It might work once, but next time it will be obvious that you’re ignoring them.

After a breakup, it would be easiest to just pretend that your ex is not there when you see them but if you really want to show your strength, face them head-on. Make eye contact, acknowledge their presence and be polite.

And that’s it. You don’t have to hang out with your ex. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Instead of giving them attention, move on to something or someone actually interesting.

3. Don’t get emotional

If you feel like you’re going to cry or get angry when you see your ex, excuse yourself and leave as calmly as possible. Don’t show your ex that you’re hurting even if you are. You might feel like a wreck, but your ex doesn’t need to know that.

This isn’t about denying your emotions. You absolutely should address how you feel, but your ex shouldn’t be your audience when you do. Breaking down in tears or rage in front of your ex will accomplish nothing except make you feel even worse.

4. Don’t try to “win the breakup”

a woman is talking to a man

You shouldn’t cry in front of your ex, but don’t pretend to be happy. If you want to show your ex that you’ve moved on and are doing well when you’re not, you’ll only seem desperate. 

Don’t pretend like you’ve changed into someone cool or that you’re living your best life if you’re not.

Your ex will see through all of this, but that’s not why you should stop pretending that you’re doing better than they are. The real reason why there’s no need to win the breakup is that your ex doesn’t matter.

It’s not a competition. It’s not important who’s doing better. Why? Because you don’t have to prove anything to your ex. Post breakup glow up is all about you.

That’s easy to say, but to start really believing it, you truly must put yourself first. It’s only important how you feel and how you can make yourself really feel better. Your ex’s reaction has no influence on your life.

5. Don’t try to make your ex jealous

Trying to get your ex back by making them jealous never works. Sure, they could come back, but it’s never because they’ve dealt with their issues and now want a healthy relationship. Don’t let yourself be fooled.

If your ex wants to get back together only after you’ve started seeing someone else, face the facts and realize that they don’t really want you. They only want what they can’t have. Using rebounds and jealousy to manipulate your ex’s feelings will only hurt you.

6. Don’t obsess about your ex

If you don’t know how to act around your ex who dumped you and you want to learn just one thing, let it be this: don’t think about your ex.

The worst thing you can do to yourself after a breakup is show too much interest in your ex. You’re only making things worse for yourself, especially if it was your ex who ended the relationship in the first place.

Your dignity, self-respect and healing should come first. If you want to get over your ex, remove them from your thoughts as much as possible. When you see them, don’t engage in unnecessary conversation.

When you talk to your ex, don’t discuss the breakup, your feelings, the reasons for the breakup or anything else that will put salt in your wounds. Things you talk about with your ex should be superficial or practical.

Don’t analyze their words, actions and body language trying to prove something to yourself. Avoid giving yourself false hope and imagining things. If you love yourself, be strict about this and don’t break your own heart.

RELATED: All You Need To Know About Learning To Love Yourself

7. Don’t let your ex provoke you

Your ex might be the kind of person who isn’t satisfied with just hurting you, they might also want to twist the knife so that they can feel better about their own life. If your ex is acting up and trying to get a reaction from you, refuse to let them provoke you.

Also, you shouldn’t stoop on your ex’s level and try to bait them. Seeing your ex angry won’t bring you satisfaction. The only thing that will set you free is moving on.

a woman with long brown hair sits on the couch in thought

If your ex dumped you because you’ve done something to hurt them, trying to contact them while they’re trying to stay away won’t get them back. If the breakup wasn’t your fault, you should still never contact an ex who dumped you.

Contacting your ex will only make you seem desperate. No matter how much you miss your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, making the first move after they’ve broken up with you is needy and unattractive. Follow the no-contact rule religiously.

Your mantra during the recovery period should be “compassion, self-respect, confidence.”

• Be kind to yourself and gentle with your feelings.

• Don’t lower yourself by begging someone who dumped you to take you back.

• Believe in your own value even if your ex didn’t.

How Do You Make Your Ex Regret Leaving You?

Thinking about how your ex feels means that they still have power over you. The urge to be petty and make them regret what they’ve done to you is understandable, but does your ex really deserve any effort?

Instead of thinking about how to upgrade your looks, get together with someone better or achieve something amazing just to make your ex regret leaving you, channel that energy into self-love and do it all for yourself.

It’s not your ex’s mind you need to change, it’s your own. You don’t have anything to prove to someone who left you. You owe it to yourself to start feeling better and loving yourself. Refuse to to focus on your ex – instead, make your world revolve around you.

What Should You Do When Your Ex Wants To Get Back Together?

When your ex wants to get back together, first evaluate how you feel about it before you give them a second chance.

• Do you want it or are you only considering it because it’s easier than getting back into the world of dating?

• Do you have feelings for your ex or is it just a habit?

• If you were to get back together, would things be different?

• Does the reason why you broke up still exist?

• Would your relationship last this time around?

I believe that you should never take back an ex who dumped you. It’s okay if you don’t feel the same, but make sure you’re not taking them back because you’re used to being with them and you don’t want to leave your comfort zone.

Don’t get back together if the reason why you broke up hasn’t been dealt with, because the last thing you want is to break up twice over the same issue.

How Do You Get Over Your Ex?

Of course, your first step should be to cut all contact with your ex. Delete all phone numbers and block all social media accounts they might use to contact you or that you could use to call them or send them text messages.

There are no shortcuts when you’re trying to get over an ex. You must let yourself grieve the relationship and work through your feelings step-by-step before you can heal. If you try to rush it, you’ll always carry unhealed scars.

Get help from your family and friends. Vent and complain, but don’t obsess over your ex. Come to terms with the breakup and think about what didn’t work. After your pain becomes bearable, distract yourself from thinking about your ex.

The best thing you can do is find something that helps you stop thinking about them but that also makes you improve in some way. Find something you like to do and do it instead of pining over your ex.

Should You Stay Friends With Your Ex?

You can stay friends with your ex, but only if you’re not harboring any hopes about getting back together. If either of you wants reconciliation, you can’t be friends. 

You won’t figure out down the line that you were meant to be after all, but instead you’ll just end up broken-hearted.

Another condition for staying friends is that neither of you has done something that the other person can’t forgive. You can’t be friends if one or both of you are holding a grudge. Unless there are no hard feelings, friendship is impossible.

The Bottom Line

Getting dumped can be devastating, especially if you were in love with your ex. Everyone knows that the no-contact rule works, but what if your ex is someone you can’t avoid? How to act around your ex who dumped you?

Instead of hurting yourself even more by focusing on your ex after the breakup, protecting your feelings should be a priority. Keep things short, be polite and don’t ignore them, but make sure you stay distant and formal.Calmly assert your boundaries and concentrate on your well-being. If you don’t allow your ex to stay relevant in your life, you’ll heal much faster than if you think about them all the time.


Category: Dealing with breakup

Roberta Carroll

My approach is eclectic and holistic with a focus on mindfulness. I have received certifications in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Processing Therapy (trauma), among others. I spent over 10 years at the Veteran’s Administration in Louisville, KY, working as a psychotherapist with veterans of all ages and genders on a wide variety of issues. Prior to that my focus was on young adults and their families and older adults dealing with loss. Individuals have met with me for help to address depression and anxiety, grief, trauma and relational issues as well as work-related/everyday stressors. The therapeutic process provides a safe place for the client, in collaboration with their therapist, to process distress, discover areas of “stuckness” and move forward into a life of increased meaning and joy. Accepting our imperfections and practicing self-compassion can be a difficult as well as rewarding process. I have lived and worked in different areas of the country, have come to understand how regional differences affect our outlooks and appreciate the contrasts. I have relished the opportunity to assist clients as they carry the burdens of life. It would be my privilege to hear your story.

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