No matter our age or stage in life, we can all relate to relationship woes. Long lost loves. Loves of lives past. Every relationship we have informs who we are today. So I can certainly relate to the age-old dilemma – what to do when you unexpectedly run into of an ex?! Regardless of your current relationship status, I agree with our semi-regular relationship contributor Megan – it is an act of human decency for an ex to acknowledge the kindness and loving that once existed between you. Sadly, it doesn’t always go down that way. Sound familiar? Read below to see if this story applies to you too.
I saw him coming. The final mile of a sweaty, September-time run isn’t the most glamorous place to run into an ex, per se, but whatcha gonna do?
Though we live in the same big city – not big enough, apparently – we’ve managed to belly up to different bars and wander aisles of different Targets for years. Until now.
Here he was, seemingly a million years later, walking on a trail as I was running (jogging? barely moving? wheezing and looking like I was stumbling towards death?) towards him. He looked exactly the same, still wearing those damn baseball caps, except now he has a beautiful wife to his side, a toddler who is in desperate need of a modeling contract in a stroller and another lil’ babe baking in the proverbial oven. All the while I’ve been white-knuckling what’s left of my youth and dopily ambling around in the dating world. Real funny, universe.
Unless I was going to dive into the woods that hugged the trail, there was no escaping him, no chickening out of this. So I took my sunglasses off and propped my chin up. Then, halfway through saying “hi!,” we passed, his eyes glued to the trail. That was it.
He completely ignored my existence. That, or he was very concerned about tripping over itty bitty pebbles and couldn’t dare look up, but doubt it.
Suddenly I remembered him and I entangled on my bed, crying over his father’s death. I remembered my shoes full of sand as we walked along the Mississippi River and discussed Big Life Dreams. I remembered cornfield after cornfield of the road trips we took together. I remembered him throwing up in my bed on his 21st birthday, forgodssake.
It’s wild – wild! – to me that, during one part of our lives, we’d spent so much time together and now whatever-that-was wasn’t even worth a “hello” to him. What was probably an easy (but cowardly) decision for him was sadly insulting to me.
I don’t need much. Hell, I didn’t even need him to give me a stack of laundry quarters for the barfing-in-bed situation. But apparently I did need this ex-boyfriend from college who I haven’t seen or much less thought of in years to acknowledge that we were kind and loving to each other in a rough and rocky part of both of our lives and that – hey! – we had fun together and we can co-exist in the same city, on the same trail, and that’s just fine. Apparently.
So here’s what I’ve learned: just say hi. You’ll always feel better. When in arm’s reach of someone who used to mean something to you, ask yourself what the adult thing to do is. (Hint: it’s usually the opposite of the easy thing.) We all have to pull on our nasty woman pants one leg at a time, but sometimes you’re sweating your face off pretending you enjoy running and see an ex coming and only have a half-second to think, so quick, yank those pants up!
In this bickering, brawling world, what do we owe each other? Kindness. Empathy. And oftentimes, just a hello will do.
For more of Megan’s brilliant takes on love and life in our Love Series archive, CLICK HERE
image by sketcharound