By Chris Seiter

Updated on February 7th, 2021

Today, we’re going to talk about something that I don’t really cover a lot, but it’s something that I see a lot from my one-on-one coaching clients and a lot in our private Facebook group, and that’s how to handle running into your ex during the no-contact rule.

Now, we’re going to hear a question from a woman who wants to remain anonymous, but she called into the podcast because she is dealing with this very issue and she doesn’t know how to handle it.

So we’re going to give her some clarity, but before we get to her question, the first thing that I want to say is that everyone always is looking to answer one simple question, should I get my ex back or not?

I’ve actually put together a special quiz that I believe helps you answer this question to the best of your ability by trying to help you determine what your overall chances are of success.

It’s a simple two-minute quiz that’s designed to tell you what kind of chance you have of getting your ex back.

But more than anything, what it wants to help you do is determine if you’re going to be wasting your time or not, because a lot of people don’t realize that there’s a big time commitment to being successful in trying to win an ex back.

It will help you understand if you need to be putting your time towards getting your ex back or putting your time towards moving on from your ex. If you want to take that quiz, all you’ve got to do is just click the link below,

What Are Your Chances of Getting Your Ex Boyfriend Back?

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Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s hear from the woman who wants to remain anonymous.

Anonymous Asks What She Should Do If She Runs Into Her Ex?

Hi. I wanted to know if it would be okay for me to go to an event that I knew my ex would be at.

It’s like an open mic weekly type event.

It’s in a few days and I’ll be 19 days into the no-contact by that time.

I wasn’t sure if that would be breaking the no-contact rule.

I haven’t contacted him at all after we broke up and he hasn’t contacted me either. I thought it might be a good opportunity to show off the new and improved me and just be confident, but yeah, I wasn’t sure if it would be breaking that rule.

Yeah, that was it. Thank you.

Handling “Run Ins” During No Contact In Three Ways

All right.

This is as cut and dry as they come.

We have a woman who wants to go to an open mic night stage type of event and she knows for a fact her ex is going to be there.

She doesn’t want to back off on not enjoying life just because her ex is going to be around, but she also doesn’t want to break the no-contact rule.

So what should we do?

Well, I’m going to divide this up into let’s say three sections.

  1. First we’re just going to talk about run-ins in general.
  2. Then we’re going to talk about what to do when you run into your ex, or rather, the rules of engagement.
  3. Then finally, what a successful “run-in” looks like.

It’s also important to preface this by saying that this woman’s in the middle of no-contact, that means she’s not supposed to have any contact with her ex whatsoever.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Your Ex Boyfriend Back?

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So we’re going to help her navigate these tricky waters so that she can get the maximum result.

The Two Types Of Run-Ins

All right, so let’s start by talking about the two types of run-ins. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and when it comes to the no-contact rule, there are a lot of emotions involved that cause you to want to see your ex.

It makes sense, because you’re ignoring your ex so therefore you want to see them, you miss them. This creates what we call a staged run-in. Like I said, there are two types of run-ins.

Staged Run-Ins

The first type is staged run-ins.

What is a staged run-in?

Well, it’s a fabricated situation that you’ve arranged so that you can interact with your ex essentially.

Now, a staged run-in, it looks like this.

You’re in the middle of a no-contact rule, let’s use our Anonymous’s situation here. She’s in day 19 of the no-contact rule and she purposely wants to see her ex, so she shows up into an area that she knows he’s going to be in.

It’s a staged run-in, she’s trying to fabricate a situation that she can talk to her ex.

Genuine Run-Ins

Then you have the second type of running that’s a genuine run-in.

A genuine run-in is when you’re basically minding your own business and you are walking down the road and your ex just happens to be there. This is what we call a naturally-occurring situation, where you are forced to interact with your ex.

The big misconception I think a lot of people have is they take no contact to heart, meaning they should literally have no contact with their ex, but no contact doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be rude or mean to your ex. It just means you need to ignore your ex when possible.

If you have a genuine run-in, you are walking down the road, minding your own business, and hey, there’s your ex, he just happens to be around, you don’t have to ignore them.

You can interact with them in a small, quick way, which I’m going to cover in a little bit.

But first things first, let’s talk about our situation here, Anonymous’s situation. I think the important thing here is the intent.

Is she going just because she wants to see her ex? She mentioned that she wants to show off some of her positive changes to him, which is kind of cool, but would lead me to believe that maybe she’s going just for that reason. I think that’s not a good idea, because it means, whether she realizes it or not, she is staging this run-in.

Now, if she happened to go to that open mic night and he just happened to be there, she didn’t know beforehand, what should she do?

The Rules Of Engagements For Run-Ins

Well, let’s talk about the rules of engagement.

In all, there are five rules of engagement when you have a genuine run-in.

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Rule #1: Don’t Initiate

What do I mean by that?

Well, a lot of people overreact when they see their ex. They see their ex and they immediately think, “Oh, I should say something. I should wave.” No, you shouldn’t. Think of it like this, a genuine run-in is one where you’re walking through the mall and your ex happens to be there.

You don’t want to initiate contact with him until he initiates contact with you first, then you can engage with him.

Rule number one, don’t initiate.

Rule #2: Keep your distance.

If you see him and he’s way across the mall and he hasn’t seen you yet, don’t go closer to him, just keep doing what you were doing.

But let’s say that he sees you, walks over and starts to talk to you, what do you do then?

Rule #3: Match His Greeting

Well, this is where rule number three comes into play.

Match his greeting.

Let’s say he comes up to you and says,

“Oh, hi. I’ve missed you so much. How are you doing?”

First off, don’t say that you’ve missed him, but match his greeting, match his style of greeting.

Just basically say,

“Oh, hi. Yeah, I’ve been doing really, really well. How about you?”

This actually leads us seamlessly into our fourth rule of engagement, keep things simple.

Rule #4: Keep Things Simple

A lot of people have a tendency when they interact with someone that they love deeply to not keep things simple, to immediately get into the emotional things, to immediately say, “I’ve been really struggling without you. I really miss you. I love you.” No, we’re trying to keep things very simple.

We’re going to talk small talk.

Now, I’ve talked a lot about the five different types of conversations that you should be having with your ex. You have small talk, then you have telling stories, sharing opinions, talking virgin ground, and then sharing feelings. This isn’t a time to share feelings or share opinions.

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This is a time for small talk.

Talk about things that are relevant to both of you that are non-confrontational, the weather, maybe something that’s going on in the world right now. Coronavirus seems to be a big thing, talk about the coronavirus.

Weird, but that’s keeping things simple.

Rule #5: Excuse Yourself

Then we have the fifth rule of engagement, and that’s excuse yourself.

Let’s go through the five rules because I think excuse yourself kind of encompasses all of this. Number one, we don’t initiate. Number two, we keep our distance. Number three, if he initiates, you match his style of greeting.

Number four, you get into a quick, simple conversation with him, and then you excuse yourself. How do you excuse yourself? You say, “Well, I’ve got somewhere to be at 5:00 PM so I’ve got to take off here, but it was really nice seeing you,” bam, out of there.

Keep it short and simple.

Those are your five rules of engagements if you have a genuine run-in with your ex, but then of course we need to look at the broader picture.

What Does A Successful Run-In Look Like?

Well, number one, we know it should not be staged. It should be genuine, meaning it should catch you off guard. Number two, we need to strictly follow the rules of engagement. You only want to interact with your ex if you are forced to interact with your ex.

But success, what does that look like? Well, a run-in needs ultimately be kept short, sweet into the point, but ultimately there’s one end goal that you want to leave your ex with and that’s the fact that it should be a positive interaction that leaves your ex wanting more information.

You should be bubbly, you should be happy, you should be smiling a lot.

You should always look good while you’re going out just in case. But more than anything, if you’re in interacting with your ex and you’re keeping it short, sweet, and to the point, and then you’re leaving, he needs to leave that thinking positive things about you.

He also needs to leave that interaction thinking, “What’s going on with her,” so that he becomes more curious. Curiosity is the one thing that will make him go onto Facebook, Facebook stalk you, see what you’re going, see where you’re doing, see what’s up in your life. It gets them thinking about you, and that actually helps during the no-contact rule.

Now, let’s insert the million-dollar question here. Having a genuine run-in, does that mean you have to start no contact over? No. If it’s genuine, that means you don’t need to start it over. If it’s genuine and you followed all of the rules of engagement, you left him with a positive feeling, wanting more information, you just keep doing no contact.

If you’re on day 19, finish up your 30 days or 45 days or 21 days, whatever you chose. But if it’s a staged run-in, you need to start no contact over from the very beginning. It’s tough, because believe it or not, more often than not, we’re dealing with staged run-ins, not genuine run-ins.

I’m left to believe that the person who left the voicemail, Anonymous, her heart is in the right place, but she is manufacturing a staged run-in, and that is something that I cannot recommend that she does.

Now, if it was a genuine one, if she didn’t know he was going to be there, then she could go, but the fact that she knows he’s going to be there, I feel like what’s important is not the fact that it’s a staged run-in, it’s where her mind is.

Notice she called into this podcast asking for help about a staged run-in.

She wants the rules of engagement of how she should act, but one thing that I haven’t told you about people who stage run-ins is that their mind is not capable of following the rules of engagement.

That’s a pretty bold statement by me, but why? Well, it’s because her mind is only going to be thinking about getting her ex back.

It’s only going to be thinking about, “I need this to go well.” She’s going to appear inauthentic.

One thing that I’ve learned in the decade I’ve been doing this is that someone who comes in and organically lets a conversation unfold always ends up appearing more positive to an ex than someone who comes in with prepared material.

So if you’re sitting there and you’re in the middle of the no-contact rule and you are trying to stage your run-in, think twice about it, because it could actually hurt you more than help you.

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19 thoughts on “The Rules For Running Into Your Ex During No Contact”

  1. Caitlin Kos

    December 5, 2023 at 12:52 pm


    I’m in a bit of a pickle. My ex works at the pool hall I play league out of and tomorrow night will be the first time I’ll have a potential run in with him since our break up. He knows, I’ve made this commitment prior to our break up. I plan staying in no contact and I don’t plan on initiating but I do fear he will think I’m there just to see him. Should I be concerned with his feelings or will my distance, knowing he’s there, help amplify no contact work?

    1. Coach Shaunna

      December 8, 2023 at 5:42 pm

      Hi Caitlin, if your ex knows that you were already committed to this then no they wont believe that you are there for them. You just avoid getting into conversation with them best you can keep your distance and certainly don’t spend any time focusing on them (watching them moving around / looking for eye contact etc) Do your own thing and leave when done.

  2. Briana

    October 29, 2023 at 9:53 am

    This podcast helped tremendously.

  3. Amy

    January 12, 2022 at 12:06 pm

    15 days into no contact my dumper ex boyfriend of 2 years bumps into me where he knows I always am on a weds 10am. I could not avoid him. I smiled and tried to end the intervention by saying hi but I need to go but he wouldn’t stop talking. He says he is hurt by the no contact. I told him I’m giving him exactly what he wants. A break up, that he said he didn’t think he loved me any more and didn’t want to be with me. I couldn’t help taking like that. He replied he never said he didn’t love me. Yes he did. Anyway I managed to break away but he followed me into the shop to buy a paper. Hung around the till then came asking me questions about a mutual friend. I said I didn’t know and was curt and didn’t things leave on a positive.
    What do I do now please advise.

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      January 30, 2022 at 8:12 pm

      Hi Amy, it sounds as if your NC was working however due to the conversation that you had with him you need to start again from day one. It is frustrating as he clearly tried to have these conversations with you but the negative ending and the fact that you both discussed the break up is not part of NC. Spend a little more time reading articles about the no contact rule and there are a few about when you see your ex during NC too.

  4. Daphne

    November 5, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    Hi, my boyfriend said he wanted some space and that he wanted to take a break 5 days ago. I have am doing no contact right now as I I have not talked to him since. However, we work in the same building, our paths don’t cross a whole lot at work, but sure enough we passed each other in a hallway yesterday. I only saw him for about 5 seconds, but I wasn’t sure what to do or say being in no contact so I just kinda looked the other way and didn’t say anything. When I think back I should have said hi because I don’t want him thinking that I’m mad or angry at him. Did I just mess everything up for getting him back? Is this repairable if so? Please Help!

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      December 27, 2021 at 12:11 pm

      Hey Daphne, it isn’t as bad as you think it is. Next time this happens be sure to appear happy and say hello but do not stop for conversation.


    June 19, 2021 at 9:41 pm

    I’m starting no contact over again as I had to contact my ex about a car accident as I’m still on his insurance plan till October and since he is primary I had to inform him and I broke keeping it simple so I have restarted no contact on June 13, here is my predicament he mentioned his son. Who is not biologically mine that his son misses me and that his son loves me and that I’m always welcome to be involved in his life and be there at his sons baseball games ,( his son introduces me as his step mom to everyone as his father has failed to inform him that we are over, when he broke it off with me ) so I really just need to know if I need to step back from the child in all aspects unless the child directly reaches out to me ( his son is 11) I know I’m no longer a parent role anymore given his father and I are not together . Some insight on how to go about that situation would be a life saver for the moment until next pay day when I can actually purchase ur program.

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      June 21, 2021 at 4:36 pm

      Hey Brittany, yes avoid spending time with the child while broken up. If ERP asks again, explain to him that you do not want to upset him or confuse him by being around when you and ERP are not together.

  6. Eve

    August 5, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    My ex has run into me 3 times since I started no contact at the local bars. He cheated and was rude and distant during breakup, we spent 11 years together. He tried asking me to hangout multiple times when he saw me (but almost like a booty call way not in a lets figure this out way). Also, should I act like I am hurt and don’t really want to have a conversation with him? I was friendly and happy looking to other people around him during the run-ins. But tried to be very distant with him like i wasn’t giving him attention. Is it a good sign he acts that way with me when he sees me and should I continue with this strategy if I keep seeing him out?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      August 5, 2020 at 11:27 pm

      Hey Eve, you are right to have a polite conversation with him and saying no to hooking up is great too so he knows that he does not get the privilege of being with you in that way without a relationship. If you do see him out again, do not go up to him, let him come to you and do not give him much of your time. Make excuses to get away from him go to the toilet, go get another drink, go dance. Anything let him basically follow you around if he wants to talk to you. Never kiss him and definitely do not have sex with him. Let him see you are better than that.

  7. Steph

    July 11, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    How do I do the no contact rule when I work with my ex so have to speak to him every day

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      July 11, 2020 at 6:51 pm

      Hey Steph when you work with your ex you need to follow a limited no contact – where you only speak to your ex when you MUST in work and only about professional work related topics.

  8. Karl

    June 16, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    I need to ask what to do because I’m doing no contact with my wife while separated but I have a funeral for a mutual friend dad to attend on Saturday and I don’t want to break my no contact by going to the funeral but I can’t not go to show my respect to the family and my friend what should I do

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      June 16, 2020 at 10:32 pm

      Hey Karl, you can go to the funeral where you act civil and avoid having a conversation with her if you can. Just do not make a scene or make an effort to speak with her

  9. Tainya Valle

    June 15, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    How do you handle the “no contact rule” when I have to co-parent with him every week?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      June 15, 2020 at 9:04 pm

      Hey Tainya, look up the articles about limited no contact, and articles about when you have children with your ex. This should help you understand the limits

  10. Rebecca

    April 25, 2020 at 12:33 pm


    My boyfriend broke up with me 6 days ago and I’ve been in NC since. Before this break up we had two breaks (one and two weeks respectively) over the course of 1,5 years. One was initiated by him and one by me but in both cases they ended with him showing up at my doorstep wanting to talk. He told me how much he missed me and that he wanted to move forward with me and so we did until 6 days ago. Now I wonder what should I do if he turns up at my doorstep again and says that he wants to talk? Should I just ignore him and say that I don’t want to talk right now or what is the best approach?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      May 2, 2020 at 11:38 am

      Hi Rebecca, it really depends on what you want. If he comes to talk to get back together then you should discuss why it is you keep breaking up. There must be something about your relationship that does not work and you need to identify this is going to help your relationship work rather than break up later down the line for the same reasons.