Why You’re Scared Of Running Into Your Ex

You likely hope not to run into your ex the next time you’re at the grocery store. Psychologists say you feel this fear because it’s a self-protection mechanism. An old study found that when people were shown photos of their exes, there was an increase in activity in the area of the brain that registers physical pain—so this could explain why you’d rather avoid running into your ex. Psychologist Dr. Sherrie Campbell says that seeing your ex can bring up feelings of anger, rejection, regret, shame, longing, and sadness just to name a few, and they’re all complex and distressing emotions. Another expert says the fear of running into your ex is especially common among those who recently went through a breakup, as they’re still trying to emotionally break ties with their ex and move on. Even if you’re on good terms with your ex you might have anxiety around seeing them for fear of how the interaction with them will go. Campbell explains, “Our egos react in self-protection when our vulnerability is exposed. Whenever love has been lost, hurt almost always remains. We get anxious about having that deep wound re-opened.”