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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Dating Triumphs & Tragedies > Seeing the Ex

Dating Triumphs and Tragedies
by Nicole Roberge

Seeing the Ex

I saw him in Borders.  I wasn’t sure if it was really him at first.  This guy—this guy that I had only gone on a handful of dates with was sweet enough and also confused enough and also…annoying enough.  He was one of those guys who put his job above everything else, so that was allllllllll I heard about.

Yep, it had to be him.  I had gone in to Borders on a cold January afternoon to hit the coffee shop side and do some writing but I had to go to the Little Girls’ Room first—that’s the reason I saw him.  If I didn’t have such a weak bladder, I never would have seen him and never would have looked like such a moron stalking him out.   Yet, moron I was..


I walked past him and saw him sitting in a chair reading something.  I had a quick freak-out moment when I realized that it was him, and since it’s the last section before the bathrooms, I quickly pretended to become interested in some cookbooks.  Yes, the microwave Queen can serve up dishes like noone.  Eh…boring.  And too out in the open.  I slid back a little and went to the business section.  Which was a good excuse because my friend is interested in opening a small business.  I’m not a total weirdo.  I picked up a Marketing Book for your Small Business and peeked around the corner.


It was him.

And…he wasn’t reading…or…he was?

It was a comic book!

Loser.  I remembered quickly why we didn’t last, put the book down, and went to go on with my plans.

But after I came out of the bathroom I had to pass him again, and comic book or not, I could help but smile when I saw him.  He did look kind of cute just sitting there all cozied up.  Hmm…I think I need a card for someone, I thought.

I browsed the card section for a little bit, thinking, maybe he’ll notice me too!  But the moron didn’t even look up once!  That must have been one darn good comic book.

I finally gave up and went to sit down in the coffee shop, but picked the table with the best view of the door…just in case he happened to look over…which he didn’t.

Why did I do that?  I don’t know?  I don’t, and didn’t, even like this dude.  Maybe for the nostalgia?  A second chance?  Nooooooo.  I don’t want that.

I know I’m not the only one who has been somewhere and seen an ex and played spy games to get a glimpse of him, and then really wondered what he was up too—but just for the pure facts—you’d never want to get back together with him.

Why do we care so much?  Is it nosiness?  Do we want to know if they are with someone else?  That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind.  Honestly, I kind of just wanted him to see me, but I didn’t have the guts to go up to him.  I mean, I knew it was him, I was 99 percent sure, but I was afraid I’d be that loser that would go up to him and it wouldn’t be him.  But I did not like this guy, so why did I care?

I think part of it is wishing that things were different.  That the person we first met was the person we still knew.  And that if things didn’t work out and we saw them in public, we wouldn’t have to lurk around Borders just to get a glimpse of him.

I think that it’s also knowing that whatever went wrong, whatever weirdness or issues they had, they can be forgotten.  You’ve moved on, and so have they.  So if you see them in public, it doesn’t have to be awkward.  Ideally, I would have gone up to him, just as I would have any other male friend.  I would have slapped the comic out of his hand, made fun of him lightly, in a sweet way, and then asked him how he was.  And then we would have caught up.  And then, if feeling brave, maybe we would have even gotten a cup of coffee before I dug into my writing.  Well, maybe not.  I really don’t know how much of him I could have tolerated, but you get the idea.

The point is, ex’s shouldn’t be scary.  There’s tons of ex’s everywhere, creeping around the world, and they are good and decent people.  And hey, you’re an ex too.  Embrace ex-dom, and it will embrace you.  So the next time you see your crazy ex, don’t be so quick to jump behind the lettuce display in the produce aisle.  He’ll only think his ex weird.

Dating Triumphs and Tragedies is published every Sunday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Nicole Roberge. She can be reached at

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