This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
I live my life in constant fear of running into people I've had relationships with in the past. Sometimes I think about what I'd do if I ran into my arch-nemesis ex: The most likely scenario is that I would avoid eye contact, hide in the nearest bathroom, have a panic attack, and take a cab home as quickly as possible.
It really sucks that no matter how many social media apps you have an ex blocked on, you usually can't block them IRL (with the exception of a restraining order). So we reached out to some people to hear their stories of what happened when fate decided to fuck up their day by making an ex appear.
Some background: I dated this guy for two years, and during this time, my ex was best friends with this girl. I knew they were more than that, so she was a huge catalyst to why we broke up. Fast-forward one year, and they start dating. One cold September day, I'm walking to work, and who do I see? My ex and this bitch on bikes right in front of me. My ex stops, and she dives for the fucking bush with her bike only to emerge like 25 feet away from us. My ex stops and talks to me, and she stands there like a damn wimp. Mind you, this is a girl whose Instagram profile says that she's a bitch and tells it like it is. And she couldn't even face me! I just awkwardly spoke to my ex and tried to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. I should have called her out. That's my one regret.
We broke up after a yearlong relationship. I thought the breakup was pretty civil. Then she froze me out for months. She wanted her friends to come pick up her rollerblades she left at my house. She couldn't do it herself. Then she started working at the same company in the same building as me. It had been months since I'd seen her at this point. She just showed up at work one day; I had been warned, but still. I'd go in an elevator or around the corner and see her. I ran into her two or three times and then bumped into her at the Christmas party.
I had forgotten my keys the first time I saw her near where I live. On my way back home, I saw her on my very small street. She said, "Oh, my boyfriend lives in that building." I'm like, "I live there." I tried to get her to go to coffee with me since we worked in the same place and her boyfriend lived in my building; I wanted to try to make it less awkward. She said her boyfriend wouldn't like it.
I saw her one more time in the elevator. I was with a girl I was seeing who had stayed over. I was telling her a story, and then the doors open up and my ex and her boyfriend are there. All of the sudden, she chimes in with a weird diarrhea joke out of nowhere as I'm telling a story. There were other people in the elevator. I've seen her multiple times in the elevator now. Her boyfriend doesn't look at me; I don't think he knows who I am. I don't think she has ever told him that her ex lives in the same building.
I was seeing this guy for a couple of months, and things were going so well until we made plans one night. Fifteen minutes before we were supposed to meet up, he texts me to let me know he's going to hang with his buddies instead. I told him to delete my number, and in a spiteful fit of rage, went out and had a one-night stand with some guy who lived directly across from my ex's condo. The next morning, I'm out grabbing coffee with this guy at a café my ex introduced me to. I was paying when my ex walked in, and it was the worst deer-in-headlights moment of my entire life. He literally pirouetted in the doorway and basically ran out of the cafe. It wasn't really all that weird, just painfully awkward. Seeing him left me writhing in my poor decisions.
Living in a small town is rough when it comes to avoiding your ex. Mine also happens to work at the same place as my best friend, which is also where she had her first real gallery opening in August.
I wasn't going to miss that, so after spending all day making food for the opening, I went home, quickly smoked, and went to the show. Nobody in my group of friends who was there likes him, so he kept to himself mostly, but there weren't many people there. I normally don't drink, but I was feeling overwhelmed and drank two and a half bottles of wine. He followed me around for a little asking about painting, and all I kept asking was for him to do his job and get me more wine because who wants to deal with him sober?
Halfway through the opening, I got a couple of my other friends to show up and hangout for a while. That's when I started to embarrass myself. I'm a naturally clumsy person, so I don't really need to be drunk to trip or drop things—and that's what I did. I dropped two glasses of wine, I tripped over my own feet, and almost tripped and fell into him at one point. He was good at acting like he didn't notice, but he was also hovering around me and making me anxious as fuck for more than two hours.
My ex and I were both living in the same city at the time. I was back in the city I used to live in for a weekend trip. It was the first night I took acid—ever. My friends said they wanted to go to a bar, so I was like, OK, let's go. I just thought that it would be fun dancing and looking at lights; I expected to have a chill time with my friends. Then, I see him from the corner of my eye and stop immediately. He's right there, he's with all of our mutual friends, and they're just having a great time. Did I really just run into my ex in a city neither of us live in the first time I did acid?
I think he was uncomfortable, but things went so much better than expected. We were in the same circle of people standing outside the bar and managed to avoid eye contact and managed to not say anything to each other. I just wanted to have a good time tonight, I thought. I just want to ignore this asshole who fucked me over so hard. Then I went inside. I was dancing, and I saw him again. He danced for a bit. Then he and his group of people just left. And I was like, Cool! I stayed for a bit longer. While walking to the place I was staying, I ended up in the area where most of our memories of pleasant times together were. I saw a guy dancing to a portable speaker, and it made an awesome sound projecting through the park. He was playing Mall Grab or something. I started dancing with him, and it made the whole experience way funnier.
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
*Names have been changed to protect anonymity.