How to break the ice with an ex

How to break the ice with an ex
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances…” 

What Shakespeare didn’t factor in for was that in the age of ultra connectivity, the men and women only make partial exits. No good-byes, except the last journey is final and no break-up steadfast.

Whether intentional or co-incidental, friends, colleagues and lovers long forgotten now have a way of re-entering our lives, sometimes virtually, other times very much in person, suddenly requiring us to display what can be called ‘ex-etiquette’.

Here’s presenting the most probable backdrops for those awkward encounters and how to put your best act forward. 

Colleague It Quits
The past: They were half the reason why you quit your last job. Self-obsessed, arrogant and indifferent, they ensured you logged in long hours to finish a task and once you were done, they signed it off and took all the credit. What’s worse, they never acknowledged your efforts even to your face, let alone the management. Working with them made you wonder if those stories about people finding mentors in managers are a pure work of fiction. And then, one day, you took off. 

The present:
Now living a happily-ever-after with a new boss, you are merrily raising a toast at a team lunch until your eyes meet his. The ex-colleague has spread his tentacles and is a much-welcome guest at this very lunch table. Your next move? Certainly not dropping your jaw open in disbelief. And no, you don’t have to drool at his supposedly extraordinary tales of wit and adventure. Because, my dear, you don’t give a damn. 

The move:
Irrespective of how badly you have an urge to mock him and burst his bubble of self-glory, it’s time for poise and style. The devil may wear Prada, but the angel wears the halo. Acknowledge, then turn indifferent, ask for champagne refill. 
Friends With No Benefits

The past:
From flying kites to solving math problems, planning the first pizza party of your teens to attending the first funeral you’ve ever been to, you had done it all together. Much like Jay and Veeru, your bonding was the stuff that could ignite many a modern Sholay. And then, just like they say in the movies – Ladki mili toh dost ko bhool gaya (you forgot your friend when you found a girl) – he met the woman of his dreams and since then, the last time you hugged him was at his wedding reception!  

The present:
Subsequent cold vibes and formal greetings from the friend and spouse have convinced you there is a reason why there can be no sequels to Sholay. Time heals all wounds and one caused by an estranged friendship is no exception. Or so you think, until one fine day, your friend accuses you of not being in touch. Ha! 

The move:
They say there are no rules in friendship. And so, you may be tempted to drop the imaginary veil and tell your friend why you haven’t exactly been in touch. But hey, wait! Is this person still a friend? Or an acquaintance who’s having a trip down the memory lane on a dull day? Rather than displaying all your cards at a go, simply acknowledge his claim and match his mood.

“I know, been really busy. What’s happening with you guys? I am sure love makes the world go round. Doesn’t it?” Non-committal, calm and cool. Sound friendly. You don’t have to be friends though.

Anything But Love 
The past:
Wish they hadn't seen him walk away
And heard me beg him stay
Please stay
Why, why did we choose this crowded place
They all know it
Cause I show it in my face
Everybody knows you said goodbye
Everybody knows we're through…
Nothing captures your heartache like this Engelbert Humperdinck number. 

The present:
Months and years after you not only survived the heartbreak but regained spring in your step and a song on your lips, you find that moment’s upon you. Either a chance encounter at a restaurant you had once frequented together, or a much anticipated affair at a common friend’s house-warming. You are face-to-face with your past and guess what. It’s smiling back at you, sweetly yet impersonally, very air-hostess like. 

The move:
You may be tempted to question their audacity to pretend like it’s all fun and games between the two of you, or to marvel at their capacity for small talk. But wasn’t it temptations and marvelling that had got you together in the first place? Irrespective of whether the two of you ever had a closure in person, let bygones be bygones and take the path of no resistance.

Why? Well, because everybody knows you are through. Aren’t you? If s/he smiles, smile back. Small talk? Small talk it back. Save all sarcasm, apologies and regrets for that biography you plan to publish some day.

Heartbreaks can inspire more than poetry, you know. For now, you must KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)!
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