Relationships can change with the seasons and closing chapters can be as freeing as they can be painful. As we mature, there are many reasons why we may decide to part ways with a person and the hope is that it can be amicable. But, as with life, we don’t always get a clean break. When our relationships are long-term we can often have integrated friend groups, colleagues and even family dynamics that may cause us to be in closer proximity to our former lovers than we’d prefer. And even if things ended well, nothing is more awkward than having to navigate around someone whose seen you at your most vulnerable. While others may note your ability to let go and move on peacefully, there is no easy way to deal with a walking, breathing reminder of what was. And if there is any lasting residue from the relationship, things can be even more difficult. 

But there are some ways to mitigate any potential damage. 

Have a closure conversation. 

There are tons of memes and threads dedicated to the idea of “closure”. Though some people feel they’re unnecessary, other people understand that having a solid conclusion can help alleviate some of the stress breakups cause. Coming to a common ground on things that happened and ways that you each may have failed can help future run-ins feel less heavy.

Create boundaries for yourself. 

If you share mutual friends, decide how long you’re willing to stay at a function that they may also be attending. Decide whether or not you’ll be drinking during those occasions and/or how much communication you want to have with them, if any at all. Laying out a blueprint that prioritizes your emotional health can keep you from having the “I just ran into my ex” blues.

Have a discussion with your mutual friends. 

Sometimes others don’t know where the relationship stands and need to know the comfort level with occupying space. It doesn’t hurt to give a little clarity on the situation and allow friends the opportunity to give one or both of you a heads up when events are on the table. Though it may not seem like anyone’s responsibility to keep things kosher, it may actually make everything less awkward for everyone involved. 

Check-in with yourself on your healing journey. 

When we’re healing in a bubble, it can feel like we’re letting go until we’re faced with a situation in which our feelings can takeover. It’s important that we take the time to check-in with ourselves regularly especially before we decide to share space with our past lovers again. Sure, you can tell your friends who much you’re over them when you haven’t had to see them in months but things could be different when you’re in the same room. Honesty is the best policy and the only way to ensure you’re not walking into trouble. 

Play keep away. 

Merging lives with someone can often mean learning sharing your personal favorite spots with them and vice versa. When a breakup happens, it’s ok to keep away from the places that you know they frequent as to not run into them. Living in the same city as a person you were intimate with means you won’t be able to avoid them forever but popping up at their favorite after hours spot may mean you see them moving on sooner than you can bear it.

Decline the invite. 

Chances are if you spent a considerable amount of time with a person you know which events they’re likely to show up at. If you know things could get ugly, it’s ok to respectfully decline the invite. There’s nothing wrong with protecting your peace by simply deciding not to engage until you’re absolutely ready.