Dating your friend's ex: Yay or nay?

Stay clear of your friends' exes but if you must date their former flames, there are guidelines. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

  • In a friend group, the discussion of dating friends’ exes came up
  • At first, everyone was pretty adamant about the bro code and that under no circumstances should you ever pursue anything with a friend's ex. But as the night progressed, and the drinks flowed, the answers got murkier and more honest.

We've all been there. You meet a girl and you spend time with her at odd times because you belong to common friend groups. You get to know her and eventually you unintentionally develop feelings for her. It wasn't the plan but it happens and you find yourself in a fix. Many of us, have gone through this script. The part many may not have been through is the one where the woman that you develop feelings for is your boy's ex and you don't know what to do. Life's funny like that isn't it?

When we had our first crushes, life and relationship were a clean-cut fantasy. It was black and white. You'd like someone and they would like you back and you would be together. Then you grew up and realised that liking someone doesn't mean they feel the same and you had to understand rejection. You learnt how to handle failure the hard way, but life has a way of playing cruel jokes because now you're stuck in an unimaginable situation. This is the kind of situation where you usually write to Dr. Chris Hart or Aunty Truphena and they give you some savage wisdom because you don't want to make the decision yourself.

Thankfully, I haven't faced this situation yet, and I hope I will never have to. To be in a position where you risk jeopardising a friendship or letting go of a relationship you feel has great potential, is right up on the dilemma ladder.

In a friend group, this very discussion came up. At first, everyone was pretty adamant about the bro code and that under no circumstances should you ever pursue anything with a friend's ex. But as the night progressed, and the drinks flowed, the answers got murkier and more honest. I realised that it wasn't as uncommon as we would think. It had happened to many in the group, at least to varying degrees. For some, it was a fleeting crush which they quickly killed but for others, matters were not as black and white.

Feelings aren't rational. They're just monsters which do whatever they feel like and accost us without regard for the complexity of the situation that they put us in.

People's exes aren't always monsters. Most times people break up because of differences in personality or life direction but even when the cause was disagreements, it's normally nothing or the ordinary. And during your friend's relationship, you got to hang out with both, got acquitted to your friend's beau, where a platonic friendship with no pressure ensued. And then as life happens, as it does, wakaachana tu. Even without enmity, there are many reasons why you wouldn't want to hang out with your ex after you've broken up and so your friend would have the same reservations. I know, I'm not going to be running to an event where my ex is! 

Then there's the next part. 

Just how serious they were when they broke it off? If it was a light fling that's a simpler conversation to have but if this was the love of their life who they were planning to marry and had already introduced to his parents, then that's more than a complicated situation. 

There's a heavy opportunity cost in situations like these and friendships often outlast most relationships. I still have campus friends, meaning I've known them for about a decade and we've all seen relationships and flings come and go. They've been with me through jobs, school, grief, heartbreak, and wins and so I can't risk our friendship especially for a relationship that I'm not even sure of. Otherwise, you risk the relationship failing after a couple of months and a decade or more worth or friendship irretrievably broken.

Friend groups die really quickly once people in the clique start dating each other. That's how my university one fell apart. The more you interact as friends' groups, the more likely this is to happen because you all get to know each other beyond the memes. 

The adult thing to do is to have a conversation with your friend over your potential interest and gauge their reaction. It might be better than you expected but then again you may be told that if you cross the line then there's no going back on your friendship and no redemption. 

Given how tricky the situation is, it would seem wise to veer off your friends' exes. That is if you intend to keep your friends. I know they say, never say never in life, but there is something about making awful decisions when you already saw the pitfall. 

I wouldn't want to be the one on the receiving end of this. So I chose to keep off my friends' former flames. How would you handle it, ladies and gentlemen?

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