Introduction: How to Talk to an Ex...
This is going to be complicated... because there's more than one way and there's more than one kind of phonecall or conversation for an ex to want to have...
I could really do with a female collaborator to make this instructable more useful and make sure it is one sided...
*A small addition, some of this advice would probably help with people you don't get along with, thanks to shaunak for that little nugget.
Step 1: They Call You...
So say the ex in question calls you up, probably withheld number (it's an ex thing they know you know them but still...) The hello will tell you alot about how the conversation is likely to go.
Your phone rings, you pick up, you say hello and you hear a sad/unhappy hello and you say hello again as you normally would and get back another sad/unhappy hello which has a breath or sigh in between answers and replies. Your call could go a few ways, they may start talking then burst into a slew of painfully accurate abuse, profess their undying love for you or have quite alot of bad news in general that prompted them to call you. It's usually best to start out with something quite innocuous like 'how are you?' or 'what have you been up to?', at this point and at every point try not to be offhand, I don't know why but it makes an ex incredibly angry. However if they sound agitated or very upset it could be worth asking 'is everything alright?' but this could all come back to something like 'NO YOU SON OF A B****, YOU RUINED MY LIFE/BROKE MY HEART/I THOUGHT YOU CARED' Usually if you want to get a real conversation going for whatever reasons with an ex that is angry like this you should try getting them to talk about what's been going on since you broke up or ask them about something that makes them happy, just don't say something stupid like 'So how are you after I dumped your sorry a**?' (not something I've come our with but worth avoiding).
If you do get them talking to you civilly try to keep the conversation a bit lighter, and if you do get on to the topic of your relationship then don't bring up the bad times or ask heavy questions until appropriate, otherwise you run the risk of killing the conversation.
Even if you just want to be friends again or get to a point where you can be in the same room as eachother without everyone else being awkward, it's a good idea to talk in person so if you are getting along well then maybe ask them for coffee or lunch. Best do that at somewhere more neutral, not either person house, but somewhere you used to go could be a nice touch.
If you get this far you're probably into the realms of speaking to them well enough to re-establish a friendship or a relationship.
Look how angry they are...
Step 2: You Call Them...
Now if you're the one calling them it gives you alot more control over how the conversation goes because you're intitiating it. If you're calling to see how they are or for other reasons asking how they are is generally a good start maybe something like this:
Ex - Hello
You - Hiya
Ex - oh you, hello there
You - how are you? (in happy genuine tone)
Ex - Im good, I've been busy
You - I'm glad to hear, why what have you been up to? (again GENUINE)
Again it's good just to get talking and if you where just calling to see how they were then just let the conversation run on without asking much of them other than chatting about whatever it is/was you two liked to speak about. Mayube though you called because you want to see them for whatever reason, again the reason is best left until you see them unless they say 'Im not going out with you again... 'and you just wanted to see them', in that case say why.
To get them in to a mind set for asking them out for coffee or whatever you could say something along the lines of 'it's been a long time since we saw eachother' or if they say this you could say reply 'well maybe we should go out for coffee?'
The other thing to do could just come out of the blue in the conversation and say, 'hey do you want to have coffee with me?' (I don't mean right off the bat but in the middle of the conversation maybe when you're both laughing or fondly remembering...)
Hopefully by now you know what you're doing, don't put your feet up yet though because remember that your situation is probably still delicate.
Not amused I know...
Step 3: So You Meet Them in Person
This is a continuation of step 1 or 2 for those that want to see them
If it's been a while or even just a week when you meet them do say hi and greet them with maybe a hug or a kiss on the cheek depending on how it feels but if you're not sure it's best to play it 'cool' (for lack of a better term) to avoid being awkward. If they look really well do say 'you look great 'or something along those lines but if they do look like hell be a bit more honest because fake flattery makes ex's mad (again just seems to) don't say anything really harsh but if they look rough saying something like 'you look like I feel' or 'you look like you've had a long day' in a joking way can make someone feel better (note: if they are very vain/proud/superficial fake flattery may be better).
Again getting talking is the big thing because there's likely to be more awkwardness in person, but once you get a conversation going try your best not to attempt to steer it, even if you have intention and want to get them onto a topic pushing the talk a certain way can put you back to square one of silence.
If you find yourself sitting in silence smiling awkwardly making a joke about it can help alot just saying something like 'hmmm this whole not talking thing is fun' or ' I love these awkward little moments when you really don't know what to do or say', another alternative is to make an odd noise or do something funny that made them laugh. Think of what you always wanted to say when everyone gets in a lift together... (at this point I should mention I'm very embarrassing to be around if you're self conscious) I always get into lifts and when there's other people there noone speaks I just love saying something really stupid for badness like 'looking at someone and going 'psst everybody be really quiet we're in a lift'
Basically something to break the silence...
When you're there enjoy yourself you're likely to have a good time once both of you drop your guard a bit.
Step 4: You're Out With Your Girlfriend/boyfriend and Bump in to Them
This situation generally results in both parties attempting to upstage eachother with their respective partners. Try your best not to sink in to this because it just makes things worse for you and your ex and has the potential to damage your current girlfriend/boyfriend's relationship with you.
If your ex starts saying things like 'this is bob heee's (if they're playing that game the ee sound gets elongated in he/she) an instructables moderator (yeah I know odd thing to use but have to work instructables in....) Rise above it and reply something along the lines of ' that's great I'm glad to see you happy' (try not to do this with malice but if you must make it subtle)
If you really can't stand being within a mile of your ex just be quick saying something like 'yes this is so and so, we're just on our way back to mine/hers/his', the ex will most likely get the message or if not they just won't want to hear much more anyway...
Step 5: You're at a Party...
Ok this one always happens at some point and it can be really bad so I might aswell start with worst case scenario...
You're at a party and you've either just pulled a member of the opposite sex (or same I suppose... have to be politically correct and whatnot...) or you were just chatting someone up. You turn round and there's your ex glaring at you from the end of the room. This is definitely not the time to give a wave and a wink, don't make eye contact and pretend not to see them, yes they will still be around later but whens the rage or disdain is fresh you're way more likely to cause a scene/ruin someones party. Later on when you undoubtedly bump into them on your way out of the toilet or something say 'Hi I didn't know you were coming tonight' in a happy tone, this is not anything more than catching them out a bit to help defuse your situation. Be friendly and polite and save the fight for your phone if it's going that way. Don't get all high and mighty or gloat, that's called poking the bear and it always ends up in tears or stripping (not the kind that makes people think yay)
Ok maybe you arrive at a party and see your ex the minute you come in to a room, if you're on good terms then you're fine just remember that they're around and subtlety and consideration are sensible and apparently makes you a good person. (apparently)
Right, same scenario but you're on bad terms, either fresh break up or just general hate of eachother (strong word choice I know), it could be best to leave them alone or just sort of say hello but leave it if you get that 'you're balls are mine / you bottomfeeding bitch' vibe from them. If you can manage to speak nicely then be appropriate (for lack of a better term) and don't make anybody cry / get mad, the goal isn't to 'win' anything here it's to survive with all limbs intact (yes girls for now we'll call that a limb)
Step 6: The Bad Bits...
Right during writing this I've had three calls from an ex that won't leave me alone, we're talking stalking...
So there comes a point when enough is enough and you need to get on with your life in peace, this may involve any number of things (remember a restraining order is cheaper than a hitman)
If an ex will not stop calling even though you believe you have made things clear about leaving you alone check this list about things you said:
- All word used were firm and clear cut (Over, No, etc.)
- You were firm with them (Tone and use of language, no ahhhs ummms and maybe's and with confidence behind them)
- You made no accidental allusions to hope etc for relationship
- Don't ever say you miss them even when you do (not to be mean but it's sending convoluted messages)
- You said this in a calm manner, not gentle but if you say it all when you're angry they'll think you said it in anger and didn't mean it...)
- Don't go back on yourself, repetition is fine but going back on your words is bad...
If they still don't leave you alone sometimes it takes you to make them hate you, this can be cruel I know it's like telling kids there's no santa but in the end it's better for everyone if they end up just thinking 'well he/she's a bitch/prick'. If they tell you things about you like you're amazing at such and such or I always thought that you were really good with monkeys (we need monkeys) then disillusion them with you, because when they say it they're very likely to be wrong (they pick things that you really can't fathom sometimes) Just be frank, honest and a bit of a jerk, not too much but enough of one that they don't just say you're modest.
Changing your number has minimal effect, you'll bump in to them somewhere and you have to go to all the effort of telling everyone you changed your number. Barring their number may be an option and would send a message to them.
Getting on with your life and being well and happy could also help alot, though you may get the obligatory 'how could you just erase me from your life?' (in fact I got that half an hour ago...)
I know it sucks when an ex calls and doesn't leave you alone, usually all starts civil, right?. When it all turns nasty and they start trying to make you mad or say things that just aren't true it's easy to get angry but do your damnedest not to get really mad, mine started telling me i turned in to an asshole followed by but what did I do? well i was good to you... (in reality a malevolent bitch who tried to manipulate me and hated not managing to) and eventually I cracked causing about a grands worth of damage to my house and furniture in all while on the phone telling her exactly what i thought, this is why we don't get mad kids... If you know they are go out to the street so you just look like a lunatic and don't go for the punching bag, you'll end up with a broken ceiling joist and a ripped punching bag...
Step 7: Right Well...
I think I've covered a decent amount but this is a work in progress because I'll have missed things and moderators if anything's offensive please don't unpublish, instead just say and I'll fix it, as I said I could do with a female colloborator or someone with a stable life and ex's...
Remember they're not all lunatics...
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.