And so the story goes: Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy back. Girl falls in love, boy falls in love. Or not. Only in this story, for some reason –irrelevant to what we’ll be talking about– there is no Happily Ever After. Because at some point, before the end of this “fairy tale”, boy and girl split up.

Oh, and is the break-up messy and ugly!

It takes you what seems like a hundred shots, a thousand tears and a million years to get over that special someone who, for a while, rocked your world. But, eventually, as surely and as painfully as a kidney stone, they too passed. Out of your heart, out of your mind, and the hell out of your system.

And that’s when the universe decides to show you its fucked up sense of humor.

You’re walking down the street, not a care in this world –or running from one errand to another, up to your neck in “cares”– and bam! They’re right there in front of you. Now what?

This week Pillowfights, honoring the old inside the new, asked our readers to vote on how they would handle a sudden encounter with an ex. And not just any old ex; one with which the break-up was gory as the new season of American Horror Story.

And because I love minorities, I’ll start with them. 0% –yes, that’s right, no one, not even one– of our readers would run straight to their friends to gossip about their ex. Tisk, tisk, tisk my darlings. Lies? To me? Who never, not once, ever, judged you? Okay, so maybe it’s not the first thing you do, but I wouldn’t believe it if any of you were to tell me that, if not right away, some time in the day, you don’t tell your friends all about the encounter.

– “He’s a mess; he hasn’t shaved in weeks and his clothes… well, he never dressed like that when we were together!”
– “Dude, she’s gained weight. And no make-up! I’ve never seen her with circles like those before!”

Well, on the lines of something like that, at least. That is, of course, if you happen to see them alone and not with their new romance hand in hand. Because if that’s the case, then I think the conversations would go a bit differently.

If you do see them alone, and if you’re unlucky enough to think that you’re over them, when, in actuality you’re not, then you were probably the ones that voted that you’d ask them out on a date. 7% would walk up to them, begin chatting them up and ask them out – again.

How did that go for you the first time? After all the suffering and all the effort to get over them, you’re actually going to throw yourself right back into it all? And, alright, sometimes you need to get slapped across the other cheek before you actually wake up. I get it; some people are slower learners than others. It’s fine, nothing to be ashamed of. Hope you have fun. We’ll talk again in a couple of months when you’re writing a tear soaked letter to our dearest Madam Hortense asking for her advice.

There are those of you that know when to stop though. 33% of our readers voted that they’d let bygones be bygones, walk up to their ex and greet them as they would an old buddy. Okay, I wouldn’t call an ex a buddy, but you’ve got a point. I’ll give you that much.

You lived a certain amount of things with this person, your have common experiences and, at one point, you had feelings for each other. For the sake of not being a complete bitch, I’ll assume that those feelings were mutual. You care if they’re well, how their life is, if they’ve been okay –or just as crappy as you have been– since you split. There’s no harm in a couple of simple, friendly words exchanged between two past lovers. Careful though, you’re dancing on a pretty thin line there.

And here comes the next 13% of our readers – the ones who actually don’t care that they just saw their ex. The ones that would look at them, past them and beyond them, as if they were looking at a stranger, as if they were just another face in the crowd. Well, you either really loved them and literally went through hell to get over them, or you didn’t give a shit to start with. Given that we are talking about messy break-ups, let’s say that it’s the first case.

It’s Human Survival 101, a defense mechanism to deal with the pain and avoid ever feeling like that again. If you don’t see them, old emotions can’t be stirred and sleeping lions continue to lay. Good for you for having a working emotional switch. Watch the short-circuiting; those little shits have the tendency to spark when you least expect it.

Last, and of course, not least, our majority; 47%, almost half of our readers voted that they would pretend that they didn’t see their ex at all. I’d have to say that the logic is quite close to the previous group. There is only one small variation in your switch: it does not simply have an on/off button, you’ve got a snooze button as well. Because it’s not that you’re delusional enough to ask them out, it’s not that you’re not over them, it’s not that you’re still in too much pain to deal with them. It’s that you think that you can actually pull off pretending not to see them.

By the way, who exactly are you pretending for? Them, your friends, your new relationship… yourself? Think about it for a minute, if you didn’t vote that you’d talk to them, or gossip with your friends, or simply ignore them altogether, who is it that you’re putting on the show for? You were in love with them, you loved them, you were in pain for a certain amount of time. What’s with the denial now?

I wish I could be a better person and “scold” you, telling you to be civil when you see someone that you once shared a life with. I won’t though. Sometimes the healthiest thing to do is pretend; pretend you didn’t see them, pretend they didn’t ever exist in your life.

I’m sure a professional would tell you that the only way to deal with your demons is to face them. Well, I’m not actually a professional, so what I say is lock those fuckers up and throw away the key.

If they were worth it, they wouldn’t be an ex, now, would they?

Author: Nikól Peri

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