The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Avoiding exes: a high-stress, perilous, hazardous sport

3 min read
A picture of campus walk near Vocellis.

At a small school, it’s easy to run into exes in places like campus walk. (Cayley McGuire | The Blue & Gray Press)


Staff Writer

College students from all over have to deal with awkward run-ins with exes on campus, and UMW is no exception. It’s inevitable that you will see an ex now and then, especially if you met through your major. In this case, you may get stuck in a classroom with them for an entire semester.

This happened to me. I got into an incredibly one-sided relationship in which a girl basically had complete control over my life for several months. She followed me everywhere, picked who I talked to and what I wore, and generally used me as an emotional punching bag. I was so broken up about it that I couldn’t break up with her directly; I had to get someone else to do it in my stead because I knew I would back out if she pressured me.

The following semester, I found out she was in one of my courses and so I immediately transferred to a different time slot for the course. Every day I hurried from class to class hoping not to run into her in the halls or outside on campus walk. It was not until she ended up leaving the university that I realized an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt safe walking around campus again.

My example may be more extreme than the average student’s, but the point remains: dealing with the paranoia of running into an ex is not healthy and simply trying to avoid them all the time can be just as stressful as actually running into them.

Sometimes you run into people where the relationship ended before it even began. When swimming through the dating pool, it’s very often a process of trial and error and the errors don’t just vanish.

“It’s really stressful,” said sophomore psychology major Mary Stallings. “I have gone on my fair share of awkward first dates and it feels like there is this ever expanding list of people around campus I don’t want to look in the eye anymore; honestly it has discouraged me from trying out new experiences around town with new people as much as I’d really like to.”
These feelings of anxiety are valid, but one should not let them take over their life.

“Sometimes I feel like despite me breaking up with her, I still have to warp my schedule around her,” said freshman Colin Robinson. “I ended up dropping a class I was looking forward to last semester, just because I saw she was in my class period.”

This mentality is very unhealthy and can lead to more pain than simply dealing with having to see your ex.

In an interview for Unigo, Dr. David Coleman said that when it comes to avoiding exes, “people who begin to run, train themselves to run for the rest of their lives.” Coleman, who is more commonly referred to as the “dating doctor” went on to explain that “getting over this person will take time and distance. Keep yourself busy. Get involved on campus. Surround yourself with friends who love you. If you do these things, the possibility of running into [them] will diminish on its own.” In other words: don’t build your life around them, build a life that they aren’t in.

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