Running Into A Best Friend’s Ex

Katie Young
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Wednesday - March 21, 2007

Jessica was stuck between the baked goods and the exit - trapped with no escape route in sight.

“Maybe if I hide behind this giant bag of Chex Mix he won’t see me,” she thought to herself. So she held the bag up to the side of her face and slid quietly out of the snack area of the expo she was attending at the Blaisdell Arena.

You’d think that Jessica was trying to avoid her own ex-boyfriend, but she was actually trying to dodge a face-to-face meeting with her best friend’s ex-boyfriend instead. There he was, walking hand-in-hand with his new girlfriend, on a direct course with Jessica.

We’ve all been in situations where we had to handle a runin with our own ex, but the truth about break-ups is that they can also have far-reaching effects on our friends as well. Friends who were once buddy-buddy with our significant others are now left to take sides or avenge our honor if we have been wronged.

Take, for example, the case of a woman who has been wronged by her ex - perhaps he cheated on her, played mind games or just plain treated her badly. A devoted friend may feel the need to protect the wronged woman. This might mean giving the ex the cold shoulder (or worse) should they have an accidental meeting. But this is easier said than done.

On this particular day, Jessica’s dance of hide-and-seek continued for a good 30 minutes. She found herself examining, rather closely, many items just to avoid direct contact with her friend’s ex. She lathered on plumeria-scented lotion, looked at the crafts-manship of koa wood clocks and was even forced, at one point, to purchase some very small live shrimp in a jar that apparently needed no feeding and would live forever.

All this, however, was in vain, because just when Jessica thought she was in the clear - when she had made it outside into the sunlight and was heading to her car - around the corner came her friend’s ex and his lady. Jessica had nowhere to turn, and she was faced with an uncomfortable truth: She would have to acknowledge his presence.

“Oh ... hey,” she stammered. “Hi,” he said, also looking uncomfortable and a bit shocked. “What are you up to?”

“Just shopping,” Jessica said, trying to sound light and cheery. “What about you?”

“Same,” he said. “Uh, by the way, this is my, uh, girlfriend, Liz. Liz, this is Jessica.”

“Hi, nice to meet you!” Jessica said, smiling. She wondered if she sounded fake when she said it. “Well, anyway, I’ve gotta go. It was good to see you! Take care.”

With that Jessica turned to walk away, thinking the whole time how it wasn’t good to see this guy, but what else was she going to say?

It’s a dilemma. Your friends might feel that true friend devotion requires revenge. (It’s a nice gesture, really, to know that a friend cares that much about what you’ve been through.) But this is an extremely difficult position to put a friend in.

For the most part, we are used to being cordial to one another, even if we don’t really like someone. It may not be representative of what we’re feeling inside, but it keeps the peace in short-term interactions.

It’s not like Jessica could have run up and slapped her friend’s ex across the face and said to his new woman, “Good luck, honey. I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into!”

So, instead, you’re left with this awkward, false exchange of pleasantries that mask what you are truly feeling about this person.

But I honestly don’t think there’s any way around it - especially in a place as small as Hawaii, where you’re bound to run into the exes of your friends from time to time.

I am a strong believer in karma and that what goes around comes around in the end.

Maybe that’s enough to satisfy the pangs of a broken heart so your friends don’t end up having to do battle for you.

Just let your pals know it’s OK to be amiable if they run into your ex - that they don’t have to be rude on your account. After all, you’ve moved on anyway, right?

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