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Dear PoPville – We Split Up, Advice on Sharing the Neighborhood?

by Prince Of Petworth May 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm 52 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user rosiedawn

“Dear PoPville,

I’ve always found solace in the goings-on of my fellow PoPvillians, so why should this time of need be any different? Over the weekend, my long-term girlfriend and I broke up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very amicable split and I’m pretty heartbroken. Among the many heartaches to confront is the fact that we’re both Columbia Heights residents, and practically neighbors. And over the course of our relationship, we’d come to frequent many neighborhood bars and restaurants together, even achieving coveted ‘regular’ status at a couple of them. So, aside from seeing her at the grocery store or gym, there’s the chance of running into each other when we’re both out-and-about. I don’t want the constant worry of an uncomfortable encounter to ‘ruin’ any of our favorite joints for either of us. Just wondered your and PoPville’s thoughts about how to handle this situation. Should we consider — for lack of a better term — a ‘joint custody agreement,’ or do I just have to suck it up and face the potential music whenever I want to grab a burger or a beer? Thanks.”

I’m very sorry to hear this. I’m afraid there’s no easy answer for this. I would take a break for a few weeks and maybe hit up some other spots across town until your wounds have begun to heal. Ultimately, I think you’ll just have to “suck it up” but hopefully by that point the possible potential encounter will be slightly less painful. Has anyone been in a similar situation? If so, what have you done?

  • photodork

    My cousin had the same thing happen to him in Pacific Beach (San Diego).

    They held a ‘draft’ where they divied up the bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, his ex was a calculating bitch, and used her early-round picks to select HIS favorite bars and restaurants where HIS friends hang out.

    • anon

      I think I saw that movie! Don’t they get together again in the end?

    • whoa_now

      Did she then trade them for massive bargins? like Picks 5-12?

  • Joe E.

    Ha! I was just thinking the same thing.

    Also, if it wasn’t an amicable split, do you really think you should call her up and say ‘We need to talk about joint custody of Wonderland. I propose I get Mon, Wed and Fri, you get Tues, Thurs and Sat and we alternate Sundays’?

  • Justin

    No need for “joint-custody.” You’ll run into each other and it might suck, but it’ll suck less and less over time. That’s just how these things work. Avoiding places to avoid the ex is just building up these unexpected encounters into something that’ll be worse.

    • niceguy

      Agreed. Well put.

    • Agreed. If you use public transit you’ll probably bump into her, and it would be silly to split the whole of WMATA. Go to your haunts with your friends, make them the focus of your attention.

      • Brad

        If she wants the 54 bus, I suggest you let her have it. Good riddance.

  • Yes, yes!

    Suck it up.

    • Megan

      Seriously, it could be way worse. My ex and I broke up months ago–and we’re still sharing an apartment until the lease ends. I’d love to just have to share an neighborhood!

  • andy

    Sun-dress-off. Whoever “wore it better” gets custody of Wonderland.

  • Denizen of Tenallytown

    That is probably the most practical advice. If you really cannot bear to see her out in social situations, find another space to hang out for a couple weeks. Visit friends at their place and then go out to another ‘hood (14th St?). Good luck – we’ve all been there, and it sucks.

    • Denizen of Tenallytown

      Sorry, meant to reply to Justin’s advice, got the “posting too much” message, reposted but not under Justin. I wasn’t touting my own advice as the most practical, honest.

  • MichelleRD

    Create new memories and associations at your old hangouts or hang someplace else. For example, invite a friend/s to join you at your favorite brunch spot and repeat until it’s just YOUR brunch spot. If you’re a regular there, soon enough, she won’t be. Do the same for Happy Hour. Pick a night that’s YOUR night–let’s say Wednesday–and claim it.

    Also, there are plenty of places in Columbia Heights so start checking out establishments you didn’t frequent together. Maybe Ruby Tuesday isn’t your thing, but you get the idea.

  • dbv

    You loved. You lost. GROW UP, that’s life.

    • Dave


  • Anonymous

    I moved out of state and after about 10 years, we are friends and can talk from time to time on the phone. Staying in the same neighborhood would not have been an option at that time. The question may be – who is her new man, and what would you do when you see them together…and how quickly can you find a new lady.

  • Marcia Marcia Marcia!

    Sadness. Sorry, my friend. Hope you get to feeling human again very soon. I agree with the idea that you should just go where you want to go. Chances are she’s feeling a little keyed up about those same places, too so you’ll probably have them all to yourself…for a while.

  • caballero

    If the break-up was for real, you cannot allow her to hold sway over your activities. Do whatever you feel like doing, whenever you feel like it. Besides time, the best way to get over a girl is to start seeing others (and not as a shoulder to cry on, mind you). Don’t give her the privilege of watching you suffer…..and if the ending was bad, she’s probably hoping for just that.

  • W

    Your situation sounds similar to one I had a few years ago. My ex bought a house in Columbia Heights, which is 3 blocks from my current boyfriend’s house. Granted I don’t live there, so you could argue there’s less potential for overlap (I don’t grocery shop at Giant, for example). But still, shockingly, after 2 years (and more than 50% of my time in CH) I have not once run into him. Maybe he sees me first and runs away….haha.

    But seriously, my initial reaction to reading your question is that you’d be surprised how little you can run into someone in a city. There’s a lot of stuff going on, a lot of places to go–I wouldn’t let the fear of seeing her ruin places that you otherwise enjoy.

    That being said, it does sound like you have very similar tastes and habits–reasonable considering you dated, right? So I can see how you’d be worried about bumping into her once and a while. And you know what? That’s life. Sometimes you have to see people you don’t like, or wouldn’t want to see.

    Maybe instead of dividing up the neighborhood, you should take this break up as a chance to try some new hangouts, experience new things, etc. Kind of a lemons/lemonade outlook on the situation.

    Anyway, good luck with everything. Break ups suck, but you’ll get through it!

  • my two cents

    DC is a small town, full of even smaller neighborhoods so no matter how you discuss it or agree to things, you all are gonna run into each other. Take a few weeks off, just to get over the initial potential for the dreaded drunk fueled post break up fight in public. (been there and I still cringe thinking about it). if you start dating really soon, can you take your dates to another ‘hood, at least for a weeks? hopefully your ex will be thinking of ways to be considerate like that too. I feel for you, especially with summer here you want to be hanging out your usual spots and having fun. Eventually it will be ok to run into each and even share a drink with your new significant others (been there and that was actually a great piece of closure. Being mature feels good).

  • rooty tooty

    this seems obvious – you take all the places with available/easy women. leave her with the sausage fests. now the question is: which places are which?

  • jch

    Turn off four square, google latitude, and check-ins on facebook, if you do that sort of stuff.

    • Los Politico

      Man kids these days have a lot to worry about…

  • Anonymous

    worry about it/whatever when it happens

  • TaylorStreetMan

    I say, go to your regular places with all your good friends and make it yours, not hers. Why should you run and hide just to avoid her? Doing that would only associate bad feelings with all your favorite hangouts.

    If every time she goes to some place she finds you there, then she’ll move on and you’ll have the place to yourself.

  • Line Judge

    Man/woman up. Get a new piece and enjoy life.

    You sound like you want to stalk her entire life on the boardwalk.

  • off topic a bit

    the only solution is to give me call, especially if you are cute.

    • CH dweller

      +1! Stop spending your bar time scanning for the ex, and spend it talking to the cute single girls in the neighborhood!

  • Anonymous

    is op a guy or a gal?

  • victoria

    This is exactly why we need more bars on the “hip strip!”

    • TaylorStreetMan

      Yes, and with capacity at one-quarter of a thousand people, they could both be there at the same time and never know it!

  • SF

    H Street welcomes you with open arms. Sounds like you need a couple of nights at Jimmy V’s.

    • Anonymous

      only 2-3 bus rides away!

    • Anon

      Hey now — we straight women need him badly in Logan Circle. Just a few blocks South! Come on…here puppy, puppy….

      • ruff

        where do said straight women hang out seeking male companionship? :)

        • Tres

          She just told you. Listen! Go where the gay boys and the reasonably-well-but-not-fussily coiffed ladies hang.

          If that doesn’t work right away, I recommend trying to “make it rain” at Commissary. Don’t drop anything smaller than a c note.

  • I wouldn’t sweat it. An ex of mine lives two blocks from me (amicable break-up, fortunately). In two plus years I’ve run into her maybe four times, on each occasion randomly, on the street. Unless you both go to the same few places on a weekly basis (or more), the odds of you both being in the same spot, at the same time, on the same night, aren’t really all that high. And even if you are, unless one of you is with a date, it probably wouldn’t be that big a deal, anyway. I’d say take first or second dates out of the neighborhood for a few months to avoid any really awkward encounters before you are ready, but beyond that, just live your life.

    • victoria

      Just date someone hotter than your ex – you’ll be glad to run into her.

      • x

        this is the best advice yet.

  • What small problems some people have. Life only works in one direction: foward.

  • New to Hood

    I have similar circumstances where I live very close to an ex. This was her hood and I bought a house a year ago after she got me interested in looking in the area. I’m thankful for that, however, we split up. I still think about running into her when ever I’m walking around or at the local places. I have not yet and that was 8 months ago. Don’t deny yourself having a beer at Wonderland with friends or new interests. Live well and take care of yourself.

  • Anonymous

    I have a scary ex (as in, our break-up involved bloodshed and me having to get a restraining order) and I was always afraid I’d run into her because there are only so many places for gay women in DC. I did try to avoid our usual spots– which really sucked because I knew she was at those places spreading vicious rumors about me– but as time went on I found better places to go out anyway. That said, I would never avoid those places entirely because I don’t believe in letting an ex– even a psychopathic violent one– control my life.

  • Pokerface

    Move ot the Hill. Great bars and lot’s of singles. A new neighborhood will do you right and give you a fresh start.

  • MtP

    Move to Baltimore.. lol

  • MtP

    On a serious note.. just move on, things happen. By worrying so much, you will just make things more awkward for both of you. If you see her, look the other way, if she keeps looking at you say hi/whatup/etc.. just keep it simple.

  • Anonymous

    Share it with someone else.

  • bloom

    This happened to me. I ran into my ex. He was on a date. I met her. I encourage you to go through this if possilbe. Honestly, it was a strange relief once it happened. I had always dreaded such an episode, and then whoosh! it happened and I survived and we each happily continued to date.

    Try to always remain on a civil, kind basis with her to keep everything easier. She is your neighbor after all.

  • Recovering

    I have gone through the same thing after a break-up, and I’d say it takes way more than “a few weeks” as some readers wrong. I would suggest hanging out on the other side of town – for example, H street has got a lot of new stuff going on, or you could try shifting to Mt. Pleasant instead of Col heights… for a while, maybe a few months. Soon enough you will likely begin to find that you can have a new beginning in the same city (Col Heights is kinda overrated, anyway). Once you have had a new beginning and can truly feel like you enjoy DC, you will probably be OK returning to your old neighborhood with new friends – or with old friends but knowing that you’re not restricted to just “ex territory”. Hope this helps. It worked for me.

  • Trixie

    Grow up, and be polite when you see her. If you can’t handle it, hang out elsewhere until you can.

  • IHeartShaw

    That’s the problem with DC… It’s too effing small. Go hang out at Passenger.

  • Lisa

    You’re heartbroken as you said which translates to you would love to run into her. Move to another neighborhood and start fresh. Move forward with your life.


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