How To Be Confident At Work When Your Ex Works There

confidence at work when your ex works there

If you have been involved in a breakup with a coworker, it can be tough to know what to do and how to act around each other. It can result in a loss of confidence and a lackluster relationship with your job. My husband works with some folks that just experienced this. He asked me my take, and I decided to do some research on the best way to handle working with an ex.

So, how do can you have confidence at work when your ex works there? The best way to have confidence around your ex at work is to keep it professional, establish clear boundaries about you will interact and focus on requirements of the job. Do your best to create and support a great work environment.

It’s important to put first things first in this scenario. Your first goal is to maintain a healthy work environment for your co-workers. Confronting as seeing your ex everyday is, you need to know how to reduce toxicity for yourself, so you can be free to move on and feel good about yourself.

But how do you reduce that toxic feeling? Read more about leaving a relationship with a manipulator

We will cover that in a moment as one of the ways to bring healing to your life and create an environment for others not to feel awkward about the “history” you have with someone. First let’s look at practical ways to regain confidence after a breakup with a co-worker.

Maybe you beat yourself up a bit thinking that you knew better than to date a coworker, or as in the case as my neighbor, ran a company with your ex and now have to deal with seeing them every day because the “show must go on.”

While this scenario can take on a ton of different shapes, often there is one person left reeling over the demise of the relationship, feeling beat down and the other who seems to move on to greener pastures.

The reality is that your relationship is over now and you are left feeling beat down. Perhaps during the relationship, your ex chipped away steadily at your self-esteem.

Each time you see him or her, you are reminded of the decision that has been made. Maybe you feel a bit guilty or rejected. Regardless every day is a constant reminder.

So how do you set all of that aside and function at work? Here are some ways to minimize the level of toxicity, shame, and vulnerability.

First, you have to give a voice to say what wasn’t said. You may be harboring old emotions or wounds that haven’t been aired. If so, each time you see your ex, the sting resurfaces. You need to get those words out and the place NOT to is work.

Journal your emotions. I like to set a timer for 3 minutes and then write everything down. I like to pretend that my hand is connected to my soul and let it write whatever it wants. Let the emotions flow out.

Don’t judge them. Don’t assess them. Just get them out. Bleed the wound. You’ve got to get the toxicity out. This is critical in healing. Just start writing what comes to mind.

I hate you. You’ve used me for the last time. You tried to control me. You told me how awful I am. You hurt me. Now, you pretend everything is okay. It’s not for me. What you did was wrong.

Maybe these are the kinds of things that will surface. Maybe you feel overwhelming sadness or guilt. It can be a myriad of feelings and thoughts. In any of these situations, it is better to get the words out.

When you write them down, it forces your mind to slow down.

If you are anything like me. I love to rehash bad memories. I do it somethimes unconsciously. I catch myself reliving a bad experience.

The funny thing is that it’s not happening now. In fact, most people will never think about all of it again. I’m the only one left re-living these traumatic times.

It seems so weird when I say it out loud. It seems so ridiculous.

The goal here is not to bring this stuff into the workplace. Otherwise, your bank account might start shrinking faster than your self-esteem.

Be healthy. Give yourself the space you need to recover. There is a natural mourning process we have to go through when a relationship ends. The relationship dies. Be okay with the process. Expect that you will go through the stages of grief.

Just in case you don’t remember what they are, here is a short list:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

If there is one thing that is important in rebuilding your self-esteem after a breakup, especially one you are reminded of daily, is to love yourself.

You will never speak to anyone as much as you speak to yourself in your head.

Be kind to yourself.


Do nice things for yourself. As you treat yourself better, you may find others treating you better too.

Ditch The Drama At Work

Don’t date right away. Give yourself some time to recover from all of the drama, and whatever you do, don’t bring the drama to work.

Make sure to preserve a good working environment for others. This is not the place to share how upset you are about the relationship being over.

Keep your sharing limited to friends outside of your employment. A good rule of thumb here is if your friend works with you, you simply cannot share with them.

Regarding limitations, it is also important that you limit how things go with your ex. It may be tempting to try to rekindle something. If possible come up with some rules of engagement that work for you.

Put a rule book in place (for example):

  • No after hour hangouts with the ex (just let people that you need personal time).
  • No discussion about anything other than work related matters
  • No personal emails using company email or phones

Stay focused on work at work. It’s easy to drift. If you find yourself drifting, re-task yourself.

You may consider discussing the situation with your boss and request more distance or shift changes between you and your ex.

Don’t let this cause you to fail at work

What Do You Do If Your Ex Wants To Get Back With You And Uses Work To Still Try To Connect?

It’s important to safe guard your own emotions. If your ex is using the workplace as a submission tool to get you to listen or entertain reconnecting, make sure that you give yourself permission to create some distance between the two of you.

I’ve read stories of people who have been caught in a perpetual cycle of “on/off” relationships. Unfortunately, while you may feel comfortable in the relationship, this isn’t good for your growth.

It may be hard to be alone, but you need to choose you. You deserve to be happy. We don’t get a trial run at this lifetime.

Even if you decide to get back together with your ex, make sure that you put the necessary safeguards in place to keep the relationship healthy.

What If Your Boss Is Your Ex?

If you have just ended a relationship with your boss, the best advice here may be to search for another job if you can’t easily compartmentalize your emotions at work.

Regaining confidence may be tough to regain at this job if you can’t establish a clear line of delineation. If you were dating your boss, it will depend largely on how your boss takes the break-up. If your confidence has already taken a hit, a job fail may make it worse.

In this scenario, carefully consider your options.

Related Questions:

How do I win my ex back at work?

As discussed above, the workplace is not the ideal place to try to win your ex back. This really needs to happen offsite. The employer is paying you a wage to focus on the bottom line of the company and may not feel tolerant of your need to win your ex back.

It can be a bit of a risk. Nevertheless, kindness goes a long way. Honoring your ex at work will most likely do more for your relationship than anything else.

As the old saying goes, “If you love something, let it go…”

How do you deal with seeing your ex in public?

Don’t panic. Be yourself. You may feel your heart stop for a moment, but this is normal. When you have time dig into what the feelings are that you experience. Are they anxiety based?

Are you sad? Get connected with what’s going on internally and go to work in that area. Either by confronting your unresolved emotions or exploring your sadness, you may uncover things that need to be dealt with.

As you work through these issues, you may find that you experience your ex with indifference. That’s when you know that things are getting resolved between the two of you.


Kat Clukey

I am so glad you are here, and have chosen to spend your time reading my blog. I'm a Life Coach through the Procter Gallagher Institute . Since 2013, I have been on an intense mission to read books, go to seminars, and generally turn myself inside out to find out why some people seem to feel good in their own skin while I've struggled with self-worth and low self-esteem most of my adult life. I hope you find insights that help you on your journey!

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