16 Big Do’s And Don’ts When Dating Your Friend’s Ex

Love triangles come in all shapes and forms, and you could find yourself in one with your friend and their ex.

You know that this person was your friend’s partner, but they’re not together anymore, and you caught feelings for them.

So, is it okay to date them?

Dating your friend’s ex might lead to problems, so it’s best to play it safe and act with integrity if you don’t want to lose your friend. Whether it’s girl code or guy code, your friend might feel you are breaking it. But then again, this all depends on your situation, so keep reading.

When shouldn’t you?

Many factors come into play when deciding whether or not it’s okay to date your friend’s ex.

First and foremost, what kind of relationship did they have, and how long ago did it end? If it was just a casual fling and your friend doesn’t care about their ex, you might be in the clear!

However, what if this person was the love of your friend’s life? If they had a long and serious relationship, your friend probably won’t be happy about you making a move. At least, not until they are completely over their ex and have maybe moved on to a new relationship too.

And if they only broke up recently – not matter how serious things were – you certainly shouldn’t do anything just yet.

Then again, you have to ask yourself how much your friend means to you, and how much their ex means to you too. If you don’t want to lose your friend and you just have a small crush on their ex, it might be best to wait for a while to see if your feelings go away. On the other hand, maybe you’re ready to lose your friend, and this person is worth it to you.

There are other considerations you’ll need to make before dating your friend’s ex, and we’ve broken them down into the Do’s and Don’ts so that everything is crystal clear.

8 Things You Definitely Should Do

1. Do think about how this will affect your friendship.

Are you ready to lose your friend? This is the first question you must answer before you go anywhere near a friend’s former boyfriend or girlfriend.

If they loved their ex – or even still love them – getting involved with that person might be seen as a betrayal.

Or maybe they hate their ex now. They probably have a good reason why, so you should take that into consideration too.

What if they broke up long ago or never really had anything serious to begin with? While, in this case, it might be okay with your friend, you still shouldn’t do anything before talking to them. If your friend says that they’re not okay with you dating their ex, you should respect them enough not to do it, or accept losing them as a friend.

Then again, even if your friend says that you can get involved with their ex, you should think about how this will affect your friendship. They might just think that they’ll be okay with it, but seeing you with their ex might change the way they see you.

Dating your friend’s ex means risking your friendship regardless of all other factors, and you must be aware of that. You should also think about how other friends are going to react because this might affect your entire social circle.

2. Do think about the relationship your friend had with them.

Your friend’s feelings aren’t the only ones that could get hurt. Have you considered the relationship they had with their ex? Maybe they broke up because their ex cheated on them or was abusive toward them, in which case you are risking the same thing happening to you.

Or was the breakdown in their relationship caused by incompatibilities that couldn’t be overcome such as views on children or marriage or where each of them wanted to settle down? Are you more compatible with this person in these regards and in general?

Was their relationship serious and is your friend still trying to get over them? Is there a possibility that their ex is trying to get back at them by getting involved with you? Did they only date briefly?

These are all things that you need to take into consideration before you decide what to do.

3. Do give it some time.

Are you really into this person? Friendships can mean a lot more than crushes that just come and go, so think about your feelings for this other person. Are they serious enough to risk losing a friendship?

Before acting on your feelings, you should definitely give it some time to see if they are genuine. You might just have a little crush that will pass in a week, or you are into someone you can’t possibly have a future with.

4. Do talk to your friend before getting involved with their ex, or let them know if you already have.

“Can I date your ex?”

“Sure, I’m okay with that.”

The conversation you’ll need to have with your friend won’t be that short. Think about what you will say to them and how you are going to ask them.

You probably have a good idea how your friend will react, so think of ways to avoid their pain points and not get into an argument. Explain why your friendship means a lot to you, but also why you like their ex.

Preferably, you will talk about this with your friend before getting involved with their ex, but what if you already did something you shouldn’t have? If you already hooked up with their ex, talk to them as soon as possible and apologize for not asking them first. If you want to keep your friend, it’s important that your communication stays honest, open, and calm.

Be prepared that your friend might not be calm. They probably didn’t see this coming, so won’t be as prepared for the conversation as you are. Even if they tell you that you don’t need their permission, make sure that they’re really okay with the whole thing and not just saying it.

It might be best to give them some time to think about everything and check back after a few days when they’ll be able to give you a more honest and considered response.

5. Do create distance between the three of you.

If the three of you found yourselves together in the same room, it would probably be awkward and uncomfortable for everyone. Your friend might even change their mind when they actually see you together, even though they thought they’d be fine with it.

In any case, it’s best to keep a healthy distance between these two separate relationships that you have. It might be a good idea to keep your new relationship off social media at first so that your friend won’t have to see it, even though they know about it.

6. Do maintain both relationships.

Maintaining both of these relationships isn’t going to be easy, especially since you’ll have to spend time with them separately, but make sure to dedicate enough time both to your friend and your partner.

Don’t neglect your friend when you get into a relationship, and make time for them because you might lose them otherwise, even if they’re okay with your relationship.

Your new partner will also require a significant amount of your time, and it will be difficult to balance these relationships without talking regularly to your friend and partner. You’ll have to find a way to make it work.

7. Do make time for yourself.

Your friend and your future partner aren’t the only ones that will need your time. You’ll have to find some time to focus on yourself and do what makes you happy too. You should start with this before doing anything else to make sure that your feelings for your friend’s ex are genuine and not just temporary.

So, take some time to focus on yourself before you talk to your friend, and just try to make your needs a priority, other than the need to be with their ex. Thinking about other things for a while might help you deal with this situation better, so give yourself some time to focus on your own happiness.

8. Do follow your heart.

It’s important to follow your heart when it comes to love, but is this love that you’re feeling?

If your friend’s ex is not a cheater or an abuser but an amazing person that you can actually imagine having a future with, you might want to go for it. If your friend still cares about them, you are going to lose them, but this is when you need to think about your priorities.

Could their ex be the mother/father of your children? If your feelings are so serious, losing the love of your life might be worse than losing a friend.

However, keep in mind that you must be certain that this is the right person for you and that you can cope with the consequences, which can involve losing other people in your social circle, not just your friend.

8 Things You Should NOT Do

1. Don’t get involved with them if they’re off-limits.

You talked to your friend, but you didn’t get their approval. What now? While you should certainly follow your heart when it comes to love, love isn’t going to go away if it’s the real deal.

So, the least you could do is try to respect your friend’s wishes. If, after some time, you still feel the same way, talk to your friend again and explain your feelings to them. In the end, no one can stop you from dating whoever you want, but you owe it to your friend to at least try to respect their decision and avoid hurting their feelings.

Not getting your friend’s approval is not the only situation when their ex should be off-limits though. They are also off-limits if they cheated on your friend or abused them.

Basically, if they have been a lousy partner to your friend, you shouldn’t be with them because you’ll probably have the same experience as your friend did, and you’ll lose both a friend and a partner in the end.

2. Don’t get involved with them if you’re not serious about them.

How much do you really like your friend’s ex? What kind of relationship could you have with them? Are you in love, and can you see a future with them? Do you just kind of like them but aren’t sure they’d be good for you?

These are very important questions that you must answer before you do anything. You are going to be in an uncomfortable situation and possibly hurt your friend’s feelings, so is their ex worth it to you? They’d better be, otherwise you might regret getting involved with them in the first place.

You should only consider dating your friend’s former boyfriend or girlfriend if you are serious about them. Think about the relationship that you would have with them. Could it be a happy, healthy relationship that you deserve, and is there a possible future there?

If not, don’t risk your friendship and save yourself from possible heartbreak. On the other hand, if you really like this person and think that they can make you happy, talk to your friend, and get their approval or accept losing them.

3. Don’t let them use you to make your friend jealous.

What kind of person is your friend’s ex? Could it be possible that they are just using you to get back at your friend?

If their relationship recently ended or your friend cheated on their ex, this person might be using you to get back at your friend. They might be using you to make your friend jealous instead. Consider whether this is a possibility before getting involved with them.

If your friend and their ex broke up only recently, it’s very possible. And, as we’ve said already, you should avoid hooking up with their ex so soon after the break up anyway.

You don’t want to be anyone’s rebound relationship, and you certainly don’t want anyone to use you to hurt your friend.

4. Don’t use them to get back at your friend.

On the other hand, your friend’s ex might not be using you; you could be using them. Did your friend do something that would make you want to hurt them? Maybe they betrayed you in some way, or have been with your ex, so you want to even the score.

If you’re not that into their ex but want to be with them to hurt your friend, don’t do it. You might not even be aware that that’s the reason you want to be with their ex, so give it some serious thought.

If it turns out that you want to use them, think about how many people you’ll be hurting, including yourself. You’ll hurt both your friend’s and their ex’s feelings and jeopardize your social life. Don’t use love as a weapon when it’s meant to bring peace. 

5. Don’t talk too much about your relationship with your friend.

Even if your friend gives you their blessing, they’re not going to want you to rub your happiness in their face. In fact, they probably won’t want to hear any details about your new relationship.

Your new partner is their ex, and you can’t forget that fact even if they’re okay with you dating this person. Would you want to know that your ex is happy with someone else? More importantly, how would you feel if that someone else was your friend who talks to you about this happiness?

So, refrain from flaunting your relationship, and try not to post too much about it on social media either, at least at first. Even if your friend gave you their approval, they surely aren’t thrilled about the whole thing, so they definitely won’t want to see photos of the two of you in their feed.

6. Don’t reveal anyone’s secrets.

You know a lot about your friend and about their ex, and you’re going to find out a lot more. Make sure not to reveal anyone’s secrets!

This is why it’s best not to talk to your friend about your new partner or to your new partner about your friend. There’s a lot of history there, both between you and them and the two of them. You know things that you should keep to yourself because you’re going to lose one or both of them if you reveal secrets.

Even if your friend would love to hear new intimate information about their ex, or your new partner would love to get some dirt on your friend, don’t let anything slip out.

While you should have open and honest communication in both your relationship and your friendship, always try to keep them separate from each other. Doing otherwise can lead to messy, awkward, and uncomfortable situations.

Your friend and their ex should still behave as exes do and not know too much about each other’s lives. Let them stay exes so that you and your new partner could have your shot at happiness.

7. Don’t make comparisons.

You might be tempted to compare yourself with your new partner’s ex, who just so happens to be your friend. Don’t do this because it will only lead to unnecessary problems.

To avoid drama in your life, don’t ask your new partner to compare you with your friend either. Remember, there are three separate relationships here, and the one that ended shouldn’t matter anymore. The remaining two relationships should always be separate, so don’t involve your friend in your new relationship by comparing the two of you.

Your friend is going to become your partner’s ex when you get involved with this person, so you might see your friend differently too. Did you ever know any of your former partners’ exes? Imagine being friends with one!

So, your friend is not the only one whose feelings might change, because you could see them differently too.

8. Don’t get jealous.

What if you and your partner hang out with your friend? Since they have a history together, you might get jealous, and you can’t avoid being in the same room forever.

If their relationship recently ended, you shouldn’t get involved with this person anyway, but even if it ended long ago, you might fear that they still have feelings for each other.

Is there any chance that they’ll get back together? Unless their relationship recently ended or they became friends, you probably have nothing to worry about. Still, you’ll have to deal with occasional jealousy, and it might even upset you when your partner mentions your friend.

Ultimately, dating your friend’s ex is never going to be without its problems, and jealousy is just one of them. Your friend might be jealous too. So, make sure that this person you want to date is worth the trouble if you’re going to do it.

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About Author

Ana Vakos enjoys writing about love and all the problems that come with it. Everyone has experiences with love, and everyone needs dating advice, so giving these topics more attention and spreading the word means a lot to her.