5 Things To Keep Around In Case Of An Awkward Ex Encounter

People are weird and this is why I stay inside.
Publish date:
December 10, 2013
ex boyfriends, awkward conversations

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I don’t know about you but I have certain cosmic luck wherein if anything ironic and unfortunate can happen to me, it can and will.

One time I had a very short-lived flirtation with a dude who I didn’t know was married and found out because it turned out he used to live in my old apartment a year before I moved in and I was still getting his and his wife’s mail. One time I broke it off with someone I was seeing because I wanted to give it a real go with another dude I was way into, only to have that dude tell me that he was in an open relationship with another girl and she was like his “primary” girlfriend or something so he couldn’t take on another one? I don’t know! People are weird and this is why I stay inside.

Except I have to leave my house for work and also unless I want to pay ridiculous Fresh Direct shipping fees. And when you live in a town like NYC, where people don’t get to hide in their cars all the time, and you’re just walking around like a free agent, all vulnerable to the whims of karma and pooping birds, you’re going to run into people.

Inevitably, you’re going to run into an ex. Maybe this isn’t an issue for you because your breakup was totally amicable and you guys still send each other Xmas cards every year. I know maybe one person like this. If this is you, don’t bother to keep reading, just go enjoy your life of contentment or whatever.

For the rest of us, there’s generally at least one ex where if you ran into them your heart would skip a beat and you'd go pale and your top would get suddenly dampened with stress sweat, which is the weird pungent kind that comes from places you never knew sweat came from on your body.

In an ideal world, you would never leave the house without looking within 5 degrees of Beyonce, and also you’d have some hot piece of arm candy to up your stock. I’m rather lazy when it comes to grooming, and also my boyfriend lives across the country so I can’t very well parade him around every time I leave the house.

When you run into said awkward ex, you want to appear effortless anyhow, not try-hardy or like a roaming panhandler. Sure, you can conceal your body in big coats and scarves, but it’s 2013 and you are not Mary-Kate Olsen (unless you are -- then, hiiii, big fan).

Also, perhaps you live in a warm climate wherein that would look weird and like you were smuggling contraband. But there are a couple simple items you can keep handy in your purse in the event you have the fortune to spot an ex before he/she spots you and you have a moment to compose yourself.

Tinted Lip Balm

So important for keeping that "I just saw my ex" trout mouth hydrated-looking with a hint of color that suggests youth and virility and lollipop residue. If you’re wearing no makeup at all, a swipe of tinted balm adds a coy bit of “Oh, this old thing?” to your resting bitch face.


Not sunny out? Doesn’t matter. If Kanye can wear shades indoors and at night, you can shield your eyes from overcast natural light. Also, it will probably make you look like you have some social life that leads to being hung over or like some fancy lady who just got a chemical peel, or maybe a rich teenager. I don’t know. A nice pair of sunglasses tends to make people look rich, mysterious and cool. Just ask Nicole Richie.

A Small Hand Mirror

Well, duh. Most of you probably keep one of those in your purse anyway. Bonus if there’s no hinges or surfaces to open -- NO TIME FOR THAT! Just keep a reflective surface around to glance at for a quick confirmation that there’s nothing in your teeth or any errant weirdness going on with your head area.

Tiny Perfume Samples

You know, those tiny vials you get from department stores. Ideally, this would be of a perfume that you actually do or would wear. You can even ask a Sephora employee to make a perfume sample for you of your choice, and they put it in a handy little baby spritzer for you. I like the vials that you can dab on with your finger because the scent placement is more controlled and it’s less “DAMN you smell like per-FUME” and more “Oh, I just caught a whiff of something lovely.” Scent is the strongest memory trigger, you know. Extra credit: solid perfume!

In an ideal world:


There’s no faking confidence, really. The concept is pretty infallible in that regard. Don’t let that stop you from trying though. I’ve seen many off-brands and I applaud them in their own way. I’ve ducked around corners to avoid people at certain points in my life, or feigned like I’m in such a rush I can literally see nothing in my path except the destination (which is far away from here).

But you shouldn’t be skirting around avoiding people. Just be proactive and get it over with. Say hi, make eye contact, and maybe mention one relevant thing to his or her life (“How is your Aunt Sadie’s hip replacement working out for her?”) and then make a quick and smooth exit -- emphasis on quick.

Science proves that the longer you stick around in an awkward conversation, the more likely you are to say or do something weird and/or off-putting. Or worse, the more likely you are to be exposed to upsetting information (“Things are great, I’m engaged now to a different person even though you and I just broke up 6 months ago!”).

You can get all text-y with your friends later about you can’t believe so-and-so is here and who is he or she with. For now, let it suffice that you’ve avoided a potentially dishearteningly unpleasant situation by being somewhat prepared.