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Working With an Ex: How to Work With an Ex Girlfriend, Boyfriend, Husband or Wife

Working with an ex can be stressful. Here's how you can cope up with the awkward situation.

Working with an ex can be stressful. Here's how you can cope up with the awkward situation.

Do you feel awkward working with your ex? Has your ex-boyfriend just joined your company? Is your ex-husband your new boss? Has your romantic relationship with a co-worker taken a turn for the worse? Have you changed jobs only to find out that your ex-girlfriend is in the same office as yours? Learn how to deal with an ex at work as this post looks at ways to cope up with the situation like a true professional.

1) Focus on your job: Put more effort into work

These unassuming words have a deeper perspective than what meets the eye. Emerging as the bigger person while working with an ex is really as simple as working harder, achieving targets, getting the job done and making a real contribution in your team.

Your focus at work is likely to be noticed by your boss, your colleagues will increasingly start depending on you to help them with their work and there will be an aura of success around you. All these elements will work in harmony to let everyone know that you mean business.

2) Keeping it professional: Behave as if you are unaffected by the situation

Feeling uneasy while working with an ex? Your nervousness may become way too apparent if you don't actively try to manage your behavior. You will have the upper hand if you behave as if you are totally cool with the situation.

Act as if you are not bothered at all. Carry a smile on your face and don't let your expressions show your inner emotions. Smother your critics out with professionalism on all fronts.

3) Have a conversation with your boss

Is the thought of working with an ex making you feel nervous and insecure? Do you think that the situation has the potential of escalating into a major issue? Alerting your boss may be the way to go if you want to seek support.

There is no need to divulge all the details of your relationship with your ex. Just let your boss know about the situation. By informing your superiors, you have done your job.

4) Don't use work email to communicate with your ex

Big corporate houses and even mid-sized firms may be monitoring the emails of their employees. Regardless of whether your company has similar policies or not, be sure not to communicate with your ex via work email.

Even the most unassuming of lines could be used against you if office politics makes the rift between you and your ex apparent. No matter how close you were with your ex boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or partner, follow this rule of thumb – never use office email to talk to your ex at work.

5) Keep your decisions independent of emotions: Don't allow your ex's presence to cloud your thoughts

Working with an ex can get complicated in situations where your ex is your boss, you are your ex's boss, you and your ex are on the same team or the both of you need to interact on a daily basis. There is no denying that such situations can be tricky to deal with.

Before you do anything else, remind yourself again and again that under no circumstances will you allow your decision making to be affected by your ex's presence. Your credibility may take a hit if you take wrong decisions.

6) Confide in your closest work colleagues

Confide in your best friends at work about the situation if you think that you are intimidated by your ex's presence in your office. These people are the ones that you trust with virtually anything when it comes to your professional domain.

The support of your colleagues may be crucial if your ex decides to mar professionalism in the office environment with personal grudges.

7) Don't drink with your ex

After work drinks are often seen as a way for employees to form a stronger bond outside the office premises. You may have been used to letting your guard down while going for a round of drinks with colleagues after work, but that may change if your ex is one of them.

Even a few pints can make you do something silly or blurt out a few words to your ex in front of your colleagues which could potentially be damaging to your career prospects. It is not worth the risk.

8) Have a conversation with your ex

You may want to have a conversation with your ex if you think that he or she is mature enough to understand the gravity of the situation. Have a focused conversation and get straight to the point. Let your ex know that you both have no choice but to be professional about the whole situation.

If your ex is mature enough, he or she is likely to work with you to look past your personal differences in the professional space. And if your ex isn't mature enough to comply, step back and allow him or her to make the first mistake.

9) Don't let the thought of resigning get to you

Are you fretting simply because the new recruit in your organization is none other than your ex-girlfriend who dumped you or the ex-boyfriend with whom you had a major fight? Stop worrying about your past and don't let this situation pin you down.

The key to survive working with an ex is to remain strong and holding fort. Remind yourself time and again that you will put your foot on the ground and be committed to your job. Wipe away the thought of quitting your job because of this silly reason.

10) Weathering the storm: Adapting to working with your ex takes time

Knowing that your rude ex-boyfriend is already working in the company that you just got a job in, or finding out that your manipulative ex-girlfriend is one of the new recruits in your department can be a crude shock.

Give the situation time and allow the blocks to fall into place by themselves. Don't make any drastic moves and stay calm. Allow your working relationship with your ex to take its natural course. Being patient, being professional about it and adopting some of these tips should help you weather the storm.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


hisandhers from Toronto, Ontario, Canada on January 29, 2013:

Great advice! I think most of these suggestions could probably be used with anyone forced into a situation with an ex- keep calm, carry on and show them that you are a healthy, happy individual without them!

dialogue on January 15, 2013:

Pretty interesting hub, well written and useful one. Thanks for sharing. I voted it UP and shared :)

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 14, 2013:

Interesting as awkward as it may be you have a well-advised Hub on how to work by one thanks

Riviera Rose from South of France on January 11, 2013:

Good, sensible advice here. Happily this isn't a situation I've ever found myself in, but as many relationships start in the workplace, I'm sure this must apply to a lot of people. A good read, thanks!

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