Now that it’s officially summer – aka the season of summer love – I thought it was high time to bring back our semi-regular relationship series. And this go-round our love guru Megan McCarty is tackling a topic we can all relate to – how to divvy things up after a break up. There’s the dividing of belongings, perhaps the question of who gets the apartment, maybe even pet co-ownership, but what about your favorite haunts?

I’ll let Megan explain – I strongly suspect you’ll understand where she’s coming from!

Somewhere along the way, probably between the day my braces came off and, well, yesterday, I learned the difference between for now and forever. Most relationships come with an expiration date, and I get that, so I’m fairly rational when it comes to breaking up. No long-winded, wine-fueled texts. No begging for you back. No bashing you to my friends.


However, come my next “this isn’t working for me,” I’ve considered setting one little ground rule that may seem less-than-rational: a certain restaurant – the one I’ve worked at for years – is now off-limits. I get it, I get it. The brunches are Insta-worthy, that shrimp dish is truly life-changing, it’s a go-to for a late-night sip of something.

But when a man I dated a couple years ago came waltzing into my work on a bustling Friday night, his seemingly lovely girlfriend on his arm, my eyeballs just about popped out of my head. WHY. It felt alarmingly akin to him barging into my home and then expecting me to serve them dinner.

He has every right to go there. But why would he want to? There’s simply zero zilch no way he thought of going to this restaurant out of all of our city’s James Beard-y restaurants and didn’t consider the possibility that I’d be there.


Did he not think it’d be a big deal? (We ended things on a good-ish note, after all.) Was it his girlfriend’s idea and he didn’t want to make their date night awkward by saying no? (“Who’s Megan? You’re over her, aren’t you?”) Did he cross his fingers that I’d have the night off? (Not the worst strategy.) Did he want to show off his new girlfriend, like a prideful peacock? (Yes, she’s very pretty, we all see.)

I put on my big girl pants and said hi, how are you, you like the wine? and other chit chatty baloney. Thing is, I don’t expect us to tip-toe around each other forever. Even the biggest of cities can turn into the tiniest of towns once there’s a collection of ex-boyfriends to avoid. Inevitably we’ll brush shoulders at the same crowded concert, or our mutual friends will get married or I’ll pop into the grocery store after a particularly hot yoga session and we’ll bump into each other in the ice cream aisle, because the universe finds that sort of thing hilarious. It’s bound to happen and that’s fine, because we’re grown adults who can be kind and civil, particularly to the fellow grown adults who have seen your behind-closed-bedroom-door faces.

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But why would he purposefully put himself (and his sweet, innocent girlfriend!) in that awkward situation? I surveyed friends. “That’s how you know they’re still hungry,” said the ultra-wise Nora Purmort. “They are like, ‘Megan, look how good I’m doing’ *dying inside.*” A guy friend, speaking from experience, concurred with Nora. I still think he was just trying to stick it to me somehow.


Nearly every day on my way to work I drive past a coffee shop that another ex and I would crawl to most mornings while we were together. I miss it, sure, mostly for nostalgia’s sake and partially for the chai, but I would never ever ever (ever ever ever) go in. That’s his coffee shop, he won custody of it in the breakup, and I can take my caffeine-deprived self to literally dozens of other ones. And how stalker-esque would I feel if I ran into him there?


So tell me, though ultimately it’s still our city, is it fair to assume some custody: my restaurant, your coffee shop? Or am I less of a breeze than I like to think I am?

To catch up on our entire relationship series, CLICK HERE. For more of fabulous insights on life and love, you can also follow Megan here and here

photography by daniel faro

What do you think?

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  1. Who gets the gym has been the big one for me. I think I usually win custody of most spots post-breakup but one ex waltzes around my gym with his new girlfriend.

    In my most recent breakup, we set ground rules and established which days we’d go. It sucks to have a less flexible gym schedule, but for the first few months post-breakup, it’s probably for the best.

    1. I’ve selfishly never shared my beloved gym with a boyfriend for just this reason!

  2. Agree: he was trying to show off. There’s always a seeking-power angle. He chose to re-encounter you in a setting where you have to SERVE him. How Freudian is that?
    Agree: you going into the old coffee shop would be a little stalker-esque. Which is why the ex coming into your resto is so gross.
    Agree: demand custody of your favorite spot(s). I moved to Europe rather than risk running into my ex. In a way, that worked out quite well.

    1. That was my first thought too. Serving his new girlfriend? That’s messed up.
      We never had set places to go so haven’t had to share them/split them up. But he has moved to a different city so less likely to bump into each other.

  3. There’s a certain beach my ex won custody of (his family was there first) and while I’m allowed to go, I’m absolutely not allowed to bring a significant other. I don’t think we ever even spoke about it, it was just obvious to us both how rude that would be. It’s been about 10 years since we broke up, I’ve never thought twice about having one beach in the whole city I can’t bring my man to, and the ex and I have always gotten along great when we do run into each other there, so I think this arrangement was definitely for the best.

    On the other hand, I once accidentally brought a new boyfriend to a taco shop where a different ex was working. I had no idea he was employed there! It was awkward all around, and we left quickly. I can’t imagine doing this on purpose!!

    1. Thank you for being smart and considerate and cool, Gillyan. Can you teach my ex’s a thing or two?

  4. I can’t help but notice that this entire article banks on one (very silly, naive) premise, which is that this chap still thinks about you AT ALL. I mean, when you counted off all the reasons that your ex might pop into your workplace with his new girlfriend, there’s one super obvious reason: Maybe, just maybe, you are so incredibly meaningless to him that he didn’t even consider you when picking a restaurant. After all, it’s been YEARS since you guys dated. And, perhaps upon seeing you, he thought to himself “Oh, my ex-gf is working tonight. Oh well, it’s not like she’s dumb enough to come talk to us since we’re not friends.” The bigger question here is why the hell did you go talk to him? That’s not mature, that’s stupid. I am so annoyed with the arrogance and self-absorption that’s happening in today’s dating world. It’s people like you who are forgettable because you’re trying so goddam hard to be relevant. I say, get a therapist and get over yourself. Oh, yeah and go watch that movie (or read the book) “He’s Just Not That Into You”….I think you could use a dose of reality.

    Oh and one last thing. If you liked that coffee shop so much, then GO. YOU ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT. NO ONE IS THINKING ABOUT YOU (EXCEPT YOU). EVER. HONESTLY. I say this with love.

    1. Wow Jen, those are some very strong opinions. While I think the notion that an ex does not harbor the same thoughts nor feelings for you is completely valid, and in fact likely, that doesn’t mean anyone should diminish their feelings or discount the significance of a relationship – for them. He’s just not that into you is also just a commercial ploy that sells game playing as way that a undercuts a woman’s agency and power. I would say its the men that should learn a thing or two about what a strong woman looks like and get used it.