This dilemma was put to me last week and it dawned on me how uncomfortable I’d feel. This woman has been in an on/off relationship with her partner for a few years now. They're recently split (which he initiated) but still have to work together. I’m not going to divulge the ins and outs of the relationship but it seems like there’s a lot of unfinished business and feelings are still strong. Before I deviate any further here a few tips to bear in mind if you ever find yourself having to work with your ex, thankfully I haven’t had to deal with this scenario.
Know how you feel about your ex. There’s no point convincing yourself your super strong and can ignore them whilst your crumbling inside, hoping he/she will acknowledge you at some point in the day. Do you still have feelings for them? You have to admit this to yourself not your ex before you can take the next step. Whether that be moving on, getting the closure you need or a possible reconciliation. In the above scenario she still has strong feelings and would like him back in her life. I believe he still likes her too.
Be polite. This can be pretty hard but try and grit your teeth and bare it. It won’t be easy but I suggest you take the mature route and remain civil with a pleasant attitude. This will depend on why/how the relationship ended. You don’t need to prove points; you will have seen each other in attack mode and know which buttons to press. Being courteous doesn’t mean you have to go to lunch together and remain bosom buddies. A simple hi and smile will do. Remember you’re in a professional environment and someone has to act mature in all of this. Believe me even if your ex tries to act ignorant and rude it won’t last long if you keep your composure and act polite.
Respect each other’s boundaries. Now if you and your ex have stated that you don’t want to acknowledge each other then follow suit. Respect their boundaries! Just because you can deal with remaining friendly doesn’t mean they can. We all deal with things differently, respect that! If its work related then clearly you need to talk but if its general chit chat then give them and yourself some time if it makes the break up easier. Trying to force a conversation when your ex has stated that they don’t want to talk doesn’t make any sense. It will only frustrate you and get their back up.
Don’t discuss personal things at work. If you find that something’s nibbling away at you wait until you’ve left the office. Those emotions will follow you throughout the day. I don’t know about you but once I start blubbing I found it hard to stop. You don’t want to be snapping at colleagues off the back of a heated discussion with your ex in the kitchen. Leave those discussions outside of the work place.
Where do you stand? Do you want them back? Are you going to talk to them or not? If you are hoping to rekindle the relationship then it’s best to maintain some form of friendship even if minute. If you need a clean break then you may have to opt for the cold turkey route and avoid all contact unless work related (tricky but not impossible). You have to sit down and think about what it is you really want? If you need to talk then arrange a time and place to do so.
This situation is never stress-free. Bitching behind each other’s backs and game playing won’t help and will only delay the healing process. Try not to let your emotions interfere with your work and remember you’re in a professional environment.