Is it a bad idea to date your friend’s ex?

Don’t ruin the friendship. Don’t cross the line.

Love is blind, so one might feel there’s no right or wrong in love. But there are a few rules, mostly unsaid ones, that guide the love and dating universe. And it is best to adhere to these rules for your sanity and the sanctity of the bonds you share with others. One of the most out-there rules, a set of rules rather, is the bro or sis code—a rulebook of definite dos and don’ts of dating among friends. One of these codes is: you don’t date a friend’s ex.

But often, the heart wants what it wants and you are faced with conundrums—do you say no to a potential love of your life or risk losing everything you have with your friend? While we are in no position to tell you what to do and what not to do, there are many things to consider if and when you’re considering dating your friend’s ex. 

Remember what happened during their break-up and how your friend dealt with it 

Break-ups are never easy, and if you’re their close friend, being there for them matters more than trying your luck with their former flame. It’s possible your friend might not have moved on from the person (a clear sign is: they continue to defend them in any conversation), and the last thing they need at the time is knowing that their best friend and ex are together. Talk about getting stabbed in the back! 

But if you have to explore the prospect, you should know how the relationship ended and whether either would ever be open to trying again. And if it’s reached a point where the last thing that the two want to do is stay in touch, know that you dating them is something that won’t go down well with them as they will be a part of the same social circle. 

Check with your friend, first

If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no, and in relationships and dating, the last thing you want to do is assume. So, it’s best to ask your friend before you take the first step. If they say yes, it’s all cool, but if they are not comfortable with the idea, respect their decision and your friendship, above all things. Be honest and open about it. You don’t need their permission at the end of the day, but the fact that you shared what you feel means a lot. 

How recent was their breakup?

If it was long ago and a lot has changed since then, it might be fine for you to date their ex. The nature of their relationship also matters—was it just a fling, a short-term relationship, or something casual? If your friend is happy in a new relationship, they might not care, but if the wound is fresh, it’s best not to add insult to injury. It’s best to let time take its due course. 

If you two go back a long way, you can guess whether dating their former partner is a good idea. If you’re acquaintances, it probably shouldn’t be a problem; but tread carefully. 

Also, and I speak this from experience, knowing that your partner has moved on hurts more than the breakup. So imagine the pain your best friend will feel when they see that they aren’t only single, but their best friend is now with a person who was once the love of their life. 

Know if the ex really likes you

While you know what you want from a person, knowing what and why the person is acting a certain way is extremely important. When it comes to your friend’s ex, there’s a good chance that they’re revenge dating. So you need to get a thorough understanding of what their motives are.

Where did you stand in their relationship?

This is another important point to consider—were you the person your friend came to when there were problems between them and their partner? If yes, then they have all the reason to believe that you made the most of the indifferences in their relationship and are hitting them where it hurts. Thinking of dating their ex, in this case, might not be worth it because they’ll feel you’ve broken their trust. Another aspect to mention here is that you could also be pretty close with your partner and could have passed on this information to them which might have been a reason, or the reason for the breakup (your friend could think you were playing for the other team all along). Lastly, your friend’s partner sharing more information with you more than them could also be a sign that they find you way more interesting than them. There’s a lot to be wary about, so tread carefully.