Hi there, amigos, and welcome to the 4th Circle of Hell, otherwise known as “I’m Trying to Be Friends with My Ex.”
If you’re here, it means you’ve bravely grappled your way out of the Pit of Despair (or “I’ve Just Been Broken Up With and Will Most Likely Die of Misery/Bury Myself Under Three Truckloads of Buffalo Hot Wing Ice Cream”) and have somehow managed to find your way to higher ground. You’re clearly a courageous soul even to consider bridging the gap between fiery, all-consuming hatred/heartbreak and platonic friendship, and you deserve an enthusiastic pat on the back and a celebratory bacon cheeseburger with a bottomless bucket of fries. And as long as you’re not attempting to be friends with your ex for reasons involving bids to win him/her back, heat-seeking missiles, illegal bonfires, high-pitched confessions of your undying love/hate, deportation to Guam, or re-enactments of “Fatal Attraction,” then you just may be up to the task of enduring casual encounters with the person who not so long ago brutally ripped your heart out of your chest.
The tips below will be especially helpful if you and your ex were friends before dating, and you still hang out with the same group of people and are forced to interact on a near-daily basis. Hopefully this guidance will help you avoid a lot of unpleasant situations. And if it doesn’t, and you hurtle head-first into disaster, don’t fret: you might do something so horrifically embarrassing that someone decides to make a blockbuster movie based on your life. If that ain’t a silver lining, I don’t know what is.
The Situation: You, your ex, and your mutual friends are hanging out watching TV, eating pizza, or throwing water balloons at innocent bystanders.
The Right Move: Relax and enjoy yourself. Don’t put any pressure on your interactions with the ex; instead, just focus on having fun. Joke with your buddies, mercilessly mock Chuck Bass’s hair while watching Gossip Girl, and laugh as much as possible. At the very least, smile civilly at your ex and exchange such conversational gems as “Hey, how’s it going?” or “Have you seen Jimbo’s shorts? Is he on CRACK?” But don’t force yourself into an awkward conversation, and definitely don’t make a show of ignoring your ex. Just sit back, fill those water balloons, and be yourself. A stable, confident, happy version of yourself. And one with deadly water balloon aim.
The Wrong Move: Have a panic attack. You thought you were ready to be friends with your ex until you saw him/her across the room with pizza sauce all over his/her adorable/irresistible/completely disgusting face, and now you’re sweating profusely and making a run to the bathroom, dry-heaving like a gold medalist in the Anxiety Olympics.
The Save: Build a toilet paper fort in said bathroom and hunker down. Via text message, demand that your friends bring you enough Doritos to last a month. Next, find a razor and a bar of soap and whittle a voodoo doll of your ex. Then submerge it in the sink and squeak “I’m drowning, I’m drownninggg” in a really high-pitched voice. Awesome.
The Situation: You and your ex go to a casual meal together.
The Right Move: Order your favorite thing and keep the conversation light and funny. Don’t bring up your relationship or your lingering feelings of loneliness; talk about classes, mutual friends, movies you’ve seen, or your plans to become a professional elephant trainer. Don’t be afraid to stick a French fry or two up your nose to alleviate the tension; laughter can make any situation less awkward. And if the conversation isn’t flowing, at least you’ll have a plate full of food that’s been in your nose.
The Wrong Move: Order a live lobster, claiming that you will use your uncontrollable fury to boil it yourself at the table. Make a potential love connection by writing your phone number on the waiter’s arm, using ketchup instead of a pen. Then, loudly announce to everyone in the restaurant that your ex has the swine flu, and list his/her faults in alphabetical order while carving a skull into the table with your steak knife.
The Save: Halfway through your list, stand up on your chair, point to a corner of the room and shout, “DUDES! YOU’VE JUST BEEN SO, SO PUNKED!!” Then laugh hysterically until everyone becomes so uncomfortable that they join in. Hopefully, one of the other restaurant-goers will be a TV producer who casts you in The Real World: Cleveland.
The Situation: You and your ex are at a football game, a party, or a social gathering rife with potential for flirting and/or utter humiliation.
The Right Move: Show up in an outfit that makes you feel great, and most importantly, show up with confidence and a positive attitude. Greet your ex with a smile, chat briefly, and part ways. Spend the night meeting new people, exuding charm, and not caring what your ex is doing. Don’t waste time spying on him/her from behind the couch or shouting about all the hotties you’ve recently captivated; just take some deep breaths and focus on doing what makes you happy, whether it be socializing with old friends, flirting with new ones, or doing that Sean Connery impression that brings everybody to their knees.
The Wrong Move: Rig an elaborate fireworks explosion to go off as soon as you walk through the front entrance. While your ex is hosing off his/her highly flammable pants, point at him/her and scream “MY EX, MY EX, MY EX IS ON FIRE, BUT WE DON’T NEED NO WATER LET THE MOTHERF***** BURN!!!” Then shotgun 13 cans of grape soda and pass out face-down on the closest patch of grass, quietly singing “I Will Survive” as you sink into a humiliation-induced coma.
The Save: The next day, wake up at 5 AM and send a mass text claiming that, to your horror, your identical twin escaped from juvie last night and apparently caused quite a ruckus. Apologize profusely but make it perfectly clear that you had nothing to do with the fireworks, nor will you be paying for the damages.
And…VOILA. Follow these tips and you’ll be solidly platonic buddies with your ex in no time. Or you’ll be in prison for arson. It’s basically a win-win. Good luck!
Related Post: You're a Wildebeest...and Other Effective Breakup Lines