Is it ever okay to date your friends ex? It’s an age old question that begins in teenage years. Somewhere between your first crush and your first boyfriend, you learn not to go after the object of your friend’s desires. If you saw him first, you laid claim to him. As time goes on the “rules” may relax a little, but do they ever really change? By the time you’re in your thirties they are fundamentally the same. Or are they?
I believe myself to be a principled person. All my friends would tell you that my loyalty knows no bounds and I would do anything for anyone I care about. So it was hard for me when I started to realise I had fallen for my friends ex.
I have recently turned thirty and am starting to see that if a remotely attractive man is single he either comes with some unresolved baggage (i.e. may not be quite ready to date yet after the breakdown of a serious relationship), has a major character flaw or is just a plain old player! And whilst the player can be loads of fun he can also be the source of loads of hurt and irritation. So with so many couples’s relationships breaking down these days, we are finding that men we already know are starting to become available.
During my marriage I was very good friends with the couple that lived next door to me, *Daniel and *Alison. When my relationship ended, they were so shocked Alison commented that she never would have thought my relationship would end and that she thought her relationship would have been over long before mine was. I recall being surprised that she thought her relationship had an expiry date. Daniel was lovely; he wasn’t the greatest looking guy out there but appeared to be such a genuine, good bloke that it made him instantly attractive (for the record my interest in him didn’t begin until we were both single some time later). They had made noises about separating many times over the couple of years I knew them but it never seemed to happen. Eventually one day Daniel contacted me upset because Alison had finally left and he believed she had started dating another man. We had something in common – I had dealt with the same situation in my life 18 months earlier and I felt so bad for the guy, I started to become a bit of a shoulder to cry on. In an empty comment meant to be comforting, I wished him the best and passed a comment about grabbing coffee next time I was around (also only meant as a friend with a sympathetic ear and understanding of the situation).
Before I knew it Daniel and I had formed our own little friendship. We spoke regularly on the phone whilst he was getting over Alison and before long our conversations became more frequent. After six months or so of friendship something changed and a relationship developed. I will admit that there were times I felt horribly guilty, but there were also times that I felt I was doing the right thing. Here I was completely in love with this man that Alison didn’t want, and had, at times, told me she despised. I was able to completely rationalise and justify to myself that this relationship was not only not wrong in any way, but completely right. After all, she didn’t want him, and boy I did.
After six months or so Alison became aware of my relationship with Daniel. Although completely shocked at first, Alison was actually quite supportive and wanted it to work out for Daniel and I. I am also very, very lucky that after Daniel and I stopped dating, that I was able to keep my friendship with Alison and to this day she is still a good friend of mine and I will always be grateful to her for being in my life.
I don’t think there really is an exact answer to whether or not its ok to get involved with your friends ex, and each individual relationship would be able to have its pros and cons weighed up. But here’s my advice. Ultimately if you are dating your friends ex you will eventually lose your friend in some capacity. Your loyalty will end up being to your partner and your friendship will suffer, so be prepared to give up that friendship as you currently know it. I strongly believe that relationships take work and if a couple is going through a break up, don’t get involved in the early stages. If you care about either party at all give them a chance to work things out before you come on the scene. Most importantly, be careful, there is no rational thinking when it comes to affairs of the heart and you don’t want yours to be the one that’s broken, with no friend there to turn to.
So would I do it again? No. I was lucky that I had an experience that turned out the way it did where I got to keep my friend (in fact we laugh about it now). But I value my friendships to highly to jeopardise them now … after all they are the ones there with the box of tissues, a bowl of ice-cream and some chocolate when a boy makes me cry.