Dating Your Friend's EX
By Frank Kermit
A question that comes up, more often than not from younger adults, than from older clients is: What are the rules about dating the ex of your friend?
Younger people have more to consider when dating the ex of a friend. It is not just the loss of the friendship that is at risk, but it could cost him or her an entire social circle, and a reputation that could make their world much more challenging.
Older people tend to be more independent, better able to stand up for themselves, and life experience has taught them that even the best of friendships may not last forever, and a successful loving relationship can actually be worth the risk of losing a friendship.
With all that said, here are some tips about dating the ex of a friend.
First, be mindful if your friend has any expectation of being asked permission. Some people really expect to be asked for permission before a friend dates his or her ex.
That expectation also comes with the notion that if your friend says no, you will hold off dating the ex, no matter how you feel about that person.
In my teachings, I let people know that no one, including your friends, need to approve of who you date, including if it is an ex of theirs.
This is unrealistic, as by the time a new couple realizes there is something they want to explore, the time for permissions has likely already passed.
However unrealistic, it can be quite popular with certain individuals.
Second, some friends do not have the expectation that permission will be sought (that is good and realistic), but they may still have the inclination to expect that the new couple will reach out and tell the friend directly about the new relationship.
Once again, this is not realistic as the relationship could have started spontaneously, or even started in secret to keep things less complicated in case things did not work out right at the beginning.
Part of the problem is that friends tend to share way too many details about their love life with one another, that when something is not shared for any reason, it can be interpreted as a sign of disrespect.
This is why the best course of action is to never get into the habit of sharing too many details about your love life with your friends.
There are some things your friends do not need to ever know, and in truth, you are under no obligation to share such information.
With that all said, if you are going to date the ex of a friend, and your friendship with that person is very meaningful to you, and is a friendship that you wish to make efforts to maintain, there is nothing wrong with reaching out to your friend, and letting your friend know that you and the ex have begun dating.
Do you have to do it? No.
Will this type of behavior automatically save or maintain your friendship? There is no guarantee.
Could your new partner (the ex), be miffed at you talking to your friend in this way? Possibly.
However, life is about making choices, and it is up to you to decide how you will choose to deal with this dating dilemma.
If you are stuck, trying to figure out if you should withdraw from dating the ex of your friend, if you should do it in secret, if you should reach out and ask permission or just let your friend know directly what is going on, or if you should just date who you want to date, and accept the consequences no matter what happens, then consider this:
If the situation were reversed, what are your expectations if a friend of yours ended up dating an ex of yours?
At the very least, it is a starting point.
FRANK KERMIT MA
EXPERT RELATIONSHIP COACH
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