WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUL. 01, 2014
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How to Handle Working With Your Ex

Getting space from your ex is usually the first piece of advice given following a breakup. If you work with your former sweetheart however, space may be the one thing you can’t have- at least not without affecting your livelihood. Throwing yourself into your work to forget about them is also not an option in this case unless you’re really good at keeping your head down or able to work remotely on occasion. If you’re forced to move on from someone around you day in and day out, there are some things you should put into practice while you’re healing.

Take a Mini Vacation

After you've had your cry fest, pick a weekend to go away. Just pack an overnight bag and grab a hotel on the beach, take a two-day cruise or go to an amusement park. Anywhere near by that offers smile filled distractions is perfect. You need the time to relax and recharge. Find a cutie to dance with, pig out on incredible food and realize this is just a small taste of amazing things to come. This should take the edge off when you return to work Monday morning and are faced with the rest of the transitioning process. 

No Venting at Work

You absolutely cannot talk about your ex and the details of the breakup with people in your office. You may trust one or two people and they may keep your secrets but you have to realize they have to work with this person as well. It’s unprofessional to discuss personal information at work and what you say to co-workers outside of the office may still affect your ex’s work relationship with others. Save your frustrations for your best friend or a family member, keep it classy at work.

No Fishing

This is an extension of the “no venting” rule; fishing for information about your ex is just as unprofessional as talking about them. Don’t put your co-workers in the middle of your break-up. Don’t ask them to dig for dirt. It’s not their place to tell you if your ex misses you or if they have started seeing someone else. You don’t want the answers to those questions anyway, you want to remain professional while you get over them and move on with your life right?

Tweak Your Routine

After dating for a while you both should have each other’s habits down pretty well. Use this information to master the glorious skill of avoidance. Just because you work in the same office, doesn’t mean you have to cross paths with them all day. You know when they need to grab their second cup of coffee, get yours first. If you always run into each other in the copy room around 10:30, start making your copies around 10 instead. You already possess most of the information necessary to limit your contact; it’s about actually wanting to apply it.

Make Break-up Boundaries

In addition to practicing common break-up courtesy, the two of you may need to discuss your own personal rules. Maybe you’d like to divide up the “after work happy hours”, or agree not to bring dates to mandatory holiday parties for just a few months when emotions aren’t running so high. Figure out how the two of you feel and what will work for you both. Try to remain as respectful of each other as possible. This isn’t like other break-ups, you have to see each other and eventually becoming friends down the road would be a better situation for everyone. 

Give Yourself A Little Something Extra

Break-ups are a time for renewal. A time to focus on yourself, get back to old hobbies and friends that you lacked spare time for when you were taken. You purge your life of your former partner and all that reminds you of them but when you work together it’s a bit tricky. You need to add something to your day that is just for you. Not just going out, not just hitting the gym, something completely new. Sign up for a cooking class or better yet, boxing. Gift yourself by trying something new on your own, meeting new people, and giving yourself a buffer between your work and home life. You don’t want to come home in a sour mood. Come home invigorated, smiling and too tired to care about that snarky comment at the meeting.

It’s obvious that remaining civil with an ex in the work place is a must, but it’s also good for you on a personal level. You get to be a mature, responsible adult no matter what they did or will do, you get to be the bigger person. Doesn’t that feel good? It isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible either. You come to work to work, so focus on that. Keep your private life private, be considerate of your ex and be sure to treat yourself well. 

Have you ever had to work with an ex? How did you handle it?

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