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Things happen against our poor, mortal will sometimes (well, a lot of the time), and, at some point, you’ll find that your ex was invited to the same party, same wedding, same work function as you were, as you catch a glimpse of their silhouette flitting through the bustling rabble.

End of the world? Not likely if you follow these next couple of steps to conversing with your ex…if the need ever arises. We do encourage breaking the ice though — it might be more essential than you think to sparing the party from a choking, awkward atmosphere. So, let’s get to it.

1. DO: Ask questions. It’s a classically effective way of getting to know someone, but this will require you to treat your ex like everyone else at the party. Take that imagined ugly-veil-of-perception off between you two and assume a casual formality. Here are some conversation starters to get the ball rolling:
– How’s your family doing?
– How’d you spend your [recent holiday]?
– How’s work?
– What have you been up to since we last spoke?

2. DO: Try to find a common interest between the two of you. You did fancy this person at one point. If you’re at a dead end, consider reconnecting over a past shared interest. Whether it be a show you both particularly enjoy, or a video game, or some other pastime—steer the course along something comfortable and just-about-familiar.

3. DO: Share a personal account. With laughter being a key for moderating social interactions, it may do the conversation good to share a funny story to get the chuckles going. Personal anecdotes have been known to work great at parties.

Just as there are do’s, so are there don’t’s:

4. DON’T: Talk about your past relationship. Way to fuel the awkwardness while you’re trying to avoid it. This could likely conjure up old, soured feelings that are best not re-lived at a vibrant social gathering.

5. DON’T: Mistake being funny with being rude. It may be best (actually, it will be) to refrain from joking about the whole cheating debacle that did the split, or something of an equally damaging effect. Pay vigilant heed to the line that separates humour from downright spite.

6. DON’T: Stay longer than you want to. Don’t carry on the conversation longer than is comfortable to do so. Reopening old wounds is something you’d both likely wish to avoid.

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