By Chris Seiter

Updated on August 23rd, 2021

Today, we’re going to talk about what to do if you run into an ex who dumped you.

This is always a difficult situation to be in, because most of the time it happens when you’re not expecting it. There are some cases where we find some of our clients will manufacture run-ins with their exes, but those clients tend to be prepared and also breaking the rules.

So what we’d like to do is actually talk to you specifically about a situation where you run into your ex and you have no idea what to do.

I put together a list of nine of the top tips that you should keep in mind when you encounter this situation. And the tips are as follows.

  1. Adopt the outgrowth mindset.
  2. Don’t hide, instead, be preemptive.
  3. Keep the interaction friendly and short.
  4. Act interested in what they’re saying.
  5. Do not initiate any physical contact.
  6. Ensure you always look your best.
  7. Do not spill your emotions.
  8. Be prepared for a worst case scenario.
  9. No contact is going to determine if you reach out afterwards.

So, that’s a lot. I think probably the best thing to do is to take this list of tips and go through each one, step by step, or tip by tip and give you specific advice on what we mean by them.

Let’s get started.

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Tip #1: Adopt The Outgrowth Mindset

So an interesting thing happened in early 2020. For the first time ever, we’ve been at this since 2012, my team and I decided to take a look, a very hard long look, at our success stories.

Now we’ve been blessed here on Ex-Boyfriend Recovery, with thousands of different success stories, meaning people who’ve come through our program, and successfully used it to win their exes back.

Ultimately, what we were trying to understand are the patterns. We want to see if there’s something that separates people who are successful in getting exes back versus people who are unsuccessful in getting an ex back.

Now, what’s interesting is, over the course of the last two years, we’ve been interviewing success stories, talking to them, trying to understand what makes their situation unique. And what we learned is there’s no two success stories that are ever the same.

Yet, there is one small subtle link between each and every one.

Now I would be lying if I told you that every single success story that we’ve ever interviewed says that they have this idea of present.

But ultimately, what we learned is the people who seem to be very successful at getting their exes back got to a place emotionally where they no longer cared about getting their exes back. In other words, they outgrew their ex.

And I think this is an essential thing to keep in mind when you run into your ex.

Most of the time, you’re running into your ex and you’re not expecting to see them. So you’re shell shocked, and oftentimes, you make it this bigger thing in your head than it actually is. It’s just some random happenstance or situation that you find yourself in.

And you’re thinking, oh my goodness, what are they thinking?

I hope I’m doing everything correctly. And you just double think yourself. Now, compare that scenario to someone who has gone through the process of outgrowing their ex. Now, when I say outgrowing their ex, a lot of times people think I’m saying you need to forget your ex.

That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is you need to move past your ex, except the reality that you may not get them back, but not care if you don’t get them back. It gives you this external and internal confidence all at once. And it gives you this devil may care attitude, where you just walk through life just feeling like you own it. And this is a good thing to project out there when you do see your ex.

So ultimately, I talk about outgrowing your ex.

When I say that, I’m talking about a situation where you have gotten so strong mentally that you’re okay and you don’t really make it a big deal if you do see your ex in person.

So on the one hand, you have a person who is over obsessing about what their ex is thinking about this meetup or this accidental run in.

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And then on the other hand, you have someone who kind of is like, “Oh cool. My ex is here. Whatever.”

There’s a huge difference. We notice that people who have that attitude tend to be significantly better in interactions because they don’t feel like there’s anything to lose. They’ve already gone through the grieving process, because they’ve already lost their ex, and they’re kind of like, “Cool, if I get them back, cool. If I get them back, all right, I don’t care.” That’s the mentality that we want you to have.

So the first tip always should be to outgrow your ex. And usually, you’re going to do this during a period of no contact. This is oftentimes what we’ve updated our definition of the no contact rule. It used to be just this rule that we’d use to ignore your ex, to make them miss you.

It’s now evolved into this rule that can still do all that, but it’s more about the internal confidence of outgrowing your ex, getting to this place emotionally by the end of no contact where you’re just kind of like, “Yeah, I want them back, but I’ll be okay if I don’t get them back.” That’s what you need to have.

So ideally, if you’re putting in that work to “outgrow your ex” you’re in a good shape already.

Tip #2: Don’t Hide, Instead Be Preemptive

So let’s take a fake scenario here.

Let’s say that you and your ex accidentally run into each other, and you are so fraught with emotions that you avoid the situation and you don’t do anything. Your ex feels exactly the same way. So guess what?

They don’t do anything as well. And it just creates this awkward situation where you’re not sure what to do. Your ex is expecting you to reach out to them first, you’re expecting your ex to reach out to them first.

Here’s my advice to you, do not hide.

This is the worst thing you could do. Even if you’re in a no contact rule and you’re “breaking” no contact, I don’t consider this technically breaking no contact, because it should be an accidental run-in. But even if you are in the middle of no contact, if your ex is there, don’t be a jerk, acknowledge them.

Be preemptive.

So don’t hide in the corner. Don’t get scared of your ex. Walk up to them and say like, “Hi.” That’s it. You don’t need to offer a hand.

You don’t need to hug them. You don’t need to do anything other than to not pretend they don’t exist. Go up to them. Be super nice. Say, “Hi,” and allow a conversation to unfold from there.

Now this leads us seamlessly into our next tip.

Tip #3: Keep The Interaction Friendly And Short

The biggest mistake I’m noticing people have when they run into an ex is that they’re not keeping their conversations either friendly or they’re not keeping their conversations short.

Now let’s talk about those things. Keeping an interaction friendly can be difficult if you have a lot of emotions involved.

So the idea here is we’re using the outgrowth mindset that we talked about in tip one to build as our foundation.

This allows us to be friendly and move past whatever emotions were there in the past.

Usually, though, if you’re in a conversation with your ex, you’ve decided you’re not going to hide.

You’re going to be preemptive.

If you see them, you’re going to wave at them, and you’re going to walk up to them, and talk to them.

Your ex will say that one thing that gets under your nerves, and it turns a conversation from friendly and pleasant into not so friendly and not so pleasant. Remember, always keep the conversation friendly.

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Now we’re going to talk about a situation a little bit later about what to do if the conversation and you were trying to keep it friendly, but no matter what you’re doing, your ex just decides to be a jerk.

We’re going to talk about how to handle that, but for now, just understand you need to keep it friendly.

You also need to keep it short. Now, what is short? Well, I guess it’s all relative, but I would say your conversation should last no longer than seven to eight minutes.

This is the idea of what you’re trying to get across.

You accidentally run into your ex. You have gotten to this place emotionally where you have outgrown them.

You’ve gotten to this place where you’re very confident with yourself. So instead of hiding in the corner when you see them, you decide to walk up to them and say, “Hi,” and start a conversation with you.

You are super friendly to them.

They ask you what you’re up to. You tell them, you ask them what they’re up to. They tell you. Of course, you’re doing way cooler things than they are. And the idea here is that after seven or eight of entering into a very pleasant satisfying conversation, you have to go.

This does a couple of things.

It triggers something called the Zeigarnik Effect, which is a psychological principle that basically states that human beings remember interactions that are interrupted or incomplete better than completed ones.

A great example I always like to use is when I first met my wife, we would be in the middle of a hour and a half long conversation, literally right in the middle of it, the conversation was so satisfying, so pleasant, and then all of a sudden her phone would die. And all I could think is I want to get her back on the phone as soon as possible.

But it would take 15, 20 minutes for her phone to charge up. And in some cases, it would be so late, she would just go to bed rather than waiting for her phone to charge up.

All this did was drive me nuts, because all I could think about was this conversation and her.

The idea is if you’re keeping a conversation friendly and short when you run into your ex, that short part will make them think about you more after the conversation, because that’s really what matters.

What matters is you’re having this really pleasant, really satisfying conversation that almost ends abruptly, and they want more. And the fact that they want more will lead them to chase you a little bit. And that’s what you want.

Tip #4: Act Interested In What They Are Saying

Tip number four, act interested in what they are saying.

Now, one of the ideas of keeping a conversation friendly and satisfying is you need to come in with this prepared set of topics, but we can never be prepared for when we run into our ex, so it almost defeats the purpose.

Ultimately, though, every single time that I’ve ever encountered a situation where I had “a plan” when it comes to human interaction, it’s always gotten thrown out the window, because you can not account, or your brain can not account for all of the things that could potentially go wrong.

So usually what happens is when I tell people these tips, they’ll say, But Chris, how do I keep them interested?”

Well, all you ultimately have to do is act very interested and empathize with your ex. You need to understand what they’re talking about, and usually just build off of what they say. So act interested in what they’re saying.

They’ll notice you’re acting interested in what they’re saying.

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They’ll add more to the conversation, because they like being the center of your world for just one little tiny moment. And then you can take what they say and build off of it.

Another really interesting way of keeping a conversation satisfying is, this is sort of a ninja tip, but it really helps to know what your ex ultimately is passionate about and interested in, and then asking them questions about that thing, because they always like to talk about themselves and then their interests.

So if you keep the focus and spotlight on them, they’re talking because, let’s be honest, all men have egos.

And they are more than happy and feel like this is an incredibly satisfying conversation, because they’re talking about the one thing they love more than anything, themselves.

Tip #5: Don’t Initiate Any Physical Contact

So you’ve decided you’re not going to hide.

You’re going to be preemptive.

You’re going to walk up to your ex, and you’re going to wave at them and say, “Hi”. You don’t even need to wave at them in some cases. But how do you handle physical contact? Well, my go-to in situations where you run into an ex is for you not to initiate any physical contact.

That means when you decide not to hide, but instead be preemptive, don’t go to your ex and outstretch your hand and shake their hand, just wave, smile, be super, super awesome and bubbly, and then allow them to initiate any kind of physical contact.

You’ll know, they’ll be the ones to hug you.

They’ll be the ones to touch your shoulder.

Let them be the ones to initiate that kind of stuff. All right. You don’t need to act not very confident with yourself. That’s not what I’m saying. And if you are a physical touch type person, this is going to be a little bit of a harder tip for you too encounter. But more than anything, you need to ensure that you do not initiate any physical contact.

Why? Well, the simple reason for why is you do not want to give your ex any ideas that you’re more into them than you actually are.

Let’s be honest, we’re all into our exes if you’re in a situation where you’re trying to win an ex back, right? But the key to winning an ex back is almost to convince them that you don’t want them back. It’s this interesting reverse psychology that we’ve noticed occurs.

The important part here is to not initiate any physical contact to give them any false sense of security. They need to recognize you’re you’re doing awesome without them. You’re super friendly. You’re super bubbly. You’re really interested in what they’re saying. You have really interesting things to talk about themselves, but there’s still something not quite right.

She used to hug me all the time. She used to be the one to hold my hand or touch my shoulder. That’s all gone. And if they initiate physical contact with you, then it’s an initiation that they’re missing that. I guess an admission is a better way of saying that.

Tip #6: Ensure You Look Your Best

This is going to be a tough one for everyone to accomplish.

Because like I said, oftentimes when you’re running into your ex, you’re not prepared for the run in. It’s an accidental thing.

So one of the ways that you can get around this is to always look your best anytime you step foot outside of your apartment, your house, wherever you live.

This is maybe not doable for all specific situations.

For example, what happens if you are dressed to go to work, and then on your way home from work, you run into your ex and you’re in your work clothes, and you’ve been in these work clothes for eight hours and you’re exhausted.

And you don’t feel that you look your best.

It’s not going to be a perfect thing.

This is maybe one of the most flawed tips on this list, because it’s impossible look your best all the time.

But ensure you do your best to look your best when you step foot outside of your house in case something like this happens. But more than anything, what you want to do is you’ll notice something interesting happens if you do look your best. Not just your ex, but other people will find you attractive. And this will, in turn, grow your confidence.

This is what we want to have happen. It’s a lot of work, but if you want to cover your bases with the accidental run-in, that’s a good idea.

Tip #7: Do Not Spill Your Emotions

So remember when I said we need to be friendly? Well, One of the best ways of not being friendly is for you to spill your emotions about how sad you’ve been, or how depressed you’ve been, or how angry you are at your ex. So what really tip number seven is all about is obtaining emotional control.

If you have trouble in a conversation with your ex where you’re having trouble not spilling your emotions, what it tells me is that you have not taken tip number one very seriously. Someone who has outgrown their ex has gotten to a place emotionally where they just don’t dwell on the past too much anymore.

They’ve grown past it. I guess the good analogy I could think of is think back if… Now, some of the listeners or some of the readers here may be in situations where they are with their first loves, but let’s assume that all of us are 40 years old and we’ve been through multiple relationships.

Maybe some of us are married. And we think back fondly to the very first person that we were with, the very first person we ever had a relationship with.

We broke up with that person or they broke up with us for whatever reason.

But when you look back, you don’t really think too much about that anymore. You’ve outgrown it. You’ve learned so much more. You’re not upset about some of the stuff they did anymore.

Even if they did cheat on you, I found sometimes you’re just kind of like, “Oh, well we were kids,” and you can move past it.

This is what you should always be striving to do. You’re trying to put this mentality on speed dial. I don’t know.

I’m trying to find a really good analogy, and I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but you get what I’m saying here.

We’re trying to accomplish the outgrowth mindset so that you do not spill your emotions and seem like a blubbering anxious mess in front of your ex.

Tip #8: Be Prepared For A Worst Case Scenario

Tip number eight, be prepared for a worst case scenario.

All right, let’s imagine a situation where you and your ex run into each other accidentally. You do everything right. You’ve outgrown them. You’ve been preemptive. You’ve kept interactions friendly and… I’m not sure, we’ll get to that in a minute.

You’re interested in what they’re saying. You don’t initiate any physical contact. You feel like you look your best. You’re not spilling any emotions, but your ex is being consistently a jerk. They’re consistently bringing up the relationship.

They’re consistently bringing up everything you did wrong, when in reality, they’re the ones who broke up with you because of things that they did wrong. Worst case scenarios are when things go wrong in every possible way you can imagine.

You need to be prepared for what’s going to happen or how to handle that situation if it does happen. So how do you handle it? Well, ultimately, I would approach it like this. If it was me, I would do everything I just said, all the tips. I would outgrow my ex. I would be preemptive. I’d be friendly. I would act interested in what they’re saying.

But what they’re saying is rude, I would allow them and not respond to it one time. I would allow them to get it out and not respond to it one time. But if they continue to dwell on it, and the conversation becomes polluted with it, I would just simply smile and say, “Well, it looks like you need some more time to process, so I’ll give that time to you. I really apologize for how you’re feeling,” and then simply exit the conversation.

I don’t believe in apologies when it comes to things that you didn’t do wrong. So ultimately, notice how I phrased that “apology.” It’s a tricky phrase. You’re apologizing for how they’re feeling. I’m sorry you’re not over this yet is essentially what you’re saying. And then exiting the conversation.

When someone is this angry at you, when someone has erupted, and you have found yourself in the middle of a worst case scenario, nothing you say or do in this moment is going to change their mind. Really ultimately, anger is nothing more than your ex wanting to blame someone else for their problems, because it hurts to look inwards.

It hurts to feel that way. So it’s easier for us to project that hurt onto other people and blame them, especially when it comes to breakups. So don’t give them the satisfaction of being their punching bag. Don’t be rude. Say, “I’m sorry you’re feeling this way,” and exit the conversation.

So I guess in that case, you want to keep the conversation as short as humanly possible.

Tip #9: No Contact Will Determine If You Reach Out Afterwards

So here’s the wrap.

Really how you act when you run into your ex is super dependent on where you are in the no contact rule.

If you’re not familiar with the no contact rules, without a doubt, the most popular and important strategy that creates the foundation of everything that you do, whether you want to get over your ex or get your ex back. And where you are in the middle of no contact or out of no contact dictates what you’re going to be doing going forward.

So for example, if you’re in the middle of no contact and you run into your ex accidentally, and things seemed to go well, can you break no contact early?

No, you still continue on with your no contact. You’re not going to try to reach out afterwards to say, “Hey, that was a really great interaction that we had,” or, “It was really nice seeing you today.” You’re not doing that. You’re going to finish your no contact out and just be thankful that you had this opportunity to stick in your ex’s mind.

The situation is a little bit different if you’re out of no contact.

Now we teach a specific strategy out of no contact where we try to stair-step using what we call the value ladder.

And the value ladder is this concept where we believe in doing a no contact rule first, and then engaging interaction or rebuilding attraction through text messages, then through phone calls, then meet ups, and then romantic dates.

It’s just upping the ante with every new conversation medium. Well, generally speaking, if you’re already out of no contact, maybe you’ve reached out to your ex a few times, and then you accidentally run into them, it is a good idea to use this meetup, maybe later that night, after eight hours have gone by, to reach out to your ex and say, “Hey, it was really nice seeing you today.” That’s all you got to say.

And that can get a conversation started, and you can go from there.

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7 thoughts on “I Ran Into My Ex! What Do I Do Now?”

  1. Michelle

    May 22, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    So i have an ex from 4 years ago… we dated briefly, but it was fairly serious during the time and i was very hurt when it ended.

    Flash forward to friday night. I saw him at a concert and had planned on going over to say hello. However, he came to me and had a big smile on his face and said hello first. It was much warmer than I expected. I gave him a brief hug to say hello and he asked my friend and I to have a drink. All in all, we spoke for a half hour, and it was clear he thought I was attractive because at one point he told me I smell good and at another when I said I was my age, he said you don’t look your age. He asked if I was single and I said yes and I asked him and said yes, but later on he told me about someone he dated where it was painful for him that it ended. Also, while he is doing very well, he mentioned and old friend who is dying, he looked like he was going to cry and I offered him a hug, which he seemed to gladly accept. In general, I was very warm and asked a ton of questions. He seemed genuinely happy to see me. There was definately a physical attraction, and he was much more warm and open then I expected. We left and that was the end of it, I was really hoping he would ask me out, but he did not and I dont know when the other relationship ended.

    However, now I feel like I was too open to him… I hugged him first and he ended the exchange after we had caught up for about an hour. It was midnight.

    I was hoping to hear from him yesterday, but we did not leave it that way (we just said nice to see you), but now I am beating myself up for every detail as if I should have done a million things differently.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Coach Shaunna Nicol

      August 6, 2022 at 7:05 pm

      Hi Michelle, I would suggest that you reach out in a few days and see if there is any interest from him but it could have been your ex being friendly and social as he has seen you and wanted to be polite.

  2. Bell

    April 18, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Chris!

    My (now ex) boyfriend broke things off two days ago. Thankfully, he told me the morning of that he was going to stop by after work to explain things so I had time to read a lot of your advice.
    I think I handled things very well. I did not beg or try to convince him to stay. I did calmly explain that the break up was of course not what I wanted for us at all but that I respected his decision and how he was feeling (or not feeling.) Our break-up went really well, minus the crying when he was getting ready to leave. He actually thanked me for not freaking out or screaming at him (I thanked you in my head).
    I have not contacted him at all since he left my house and even went back to the gym for the first time in months today.
    I read a lot of the NCR. I know your book has things in more detail so I am going to give that a try as well.
    (Sorry I gave a back story to this)
    One of my best friends asked me a month ago if I wanted to go to a local beer fest with her. Obviously I said yes!
    My (now ex) told me last week, before the break up, that he will be going to the beer fest as a part of a bachelor party he is in. Now, that is in one week.
    After reading this post I am concerned because I know I will run into him. Since it is so soon after the break up that I will be seeing him AND we will both be drinking, how should I handle the situation if he or his friends end up saying hello or trying to talk to me?
    I am truly trying to do everything right here because he is a really great guy (love is blind I know). He was always super respectful and kind. He continued to compliment me on how strong, supportive, and beautiful I am as he was breaking up with me. (Side note, the reason was due to the fact that he had a bad relationship 5 years ago and hasn’t been in one since. He said he doesn’t think he is able to be on the same level emotionally as me.) He seemed to have a hard time leaving, even cried a little while explaining to me what the issue was.
    Ok, this became super lengthy. I am hoping you have the opportunity to reply before next weekend. If not, I still could use the advice.
    Thank you!

  3. Emily

    September 11, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    We broke up back in November and ended up doing the on/off thing, and when we were on the road to getting back together all crumbled again. It has now been 2 weeks since breakup and doing no contact. I had seen him 4 days after breakup at a friend’s party where we politely spoke but he wasn’t in a good mood/not really socialising (odd because he broke up with me). Anyway, I ran into my ex unexpectedly today, he waved and smiled at me while he was speaking to someone else but he did make a kind of reference to come over (he doesn’t like the person he was speaking to) – I was running late so I just smiled and waved back and continued walking without looking back. I’m worried it’s completely done this time, because oddly I feel really good about myself and focusing on myself and although I want to speak to him I’m weary of getting hurt again IF it was to progress again. Do you think I should continue with the 45 day no contact rule or contact him sooner as I feel oddly quite level headed? (I say oddly etc because last time we broke up I was a mess). Thanks so much, such a great site!

    1. Chris Seiter

      September 17, 2018 at 10:02 pm

      Hi Emily…I know you want to protect your feelings. You are strong. No matter what happens…remember….you are strong. Try out an initial contact text message and see if he bites. If not, then just return to NC and do the things I talk about in my program to optimize your NC period

  4. Emily

    May 9, 2018 at 3:09 am

    Hi EBR team, I will be “running” into my ex boyfriend at some point later this week because of work. I want to try to be nice and confident but I feel like it’s too hard for me to do. I see myself get frozen when the time comes…Is there anything I could do to change this mentality and get myself better prepared?


    1. Chris Seiter

      May 9, 2018 at 3:48 am

      Hi Emily…first of all, I hope you picked up my epic ebook, “Ex Boyfriend Recovery Pro”, as it will serve as your Companion Guide throughout this whole process (visit my website menu/products link)! I know what you can do to feel more relaxed and calm when you meet up! I want you to be very active physically. Exercise and workout. Make it a regular thing. Try and do it a few hours before you meet him, even if it involves just walking around. Listen to calming music while you are doing this. This will chase out all of the stress butterflies and make your feel so much better. And tell yourself (because its true), that no matter what happens, it won’t be the worst of things or the best of things. It will just a moment and you can shape it the way you want if you wear a big smile on your face!