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Is a friend's ex off-limits forever?

TLDR: Dating a friend’s ex is more about your friendship with them than your potential relationship with the ex. Just like we encourage you to over-communicate in your relationship, we say talk about this with your friend. And if it doesn’t feel appropriate to discuss, you might have your answer.

Tango's Take 🔮

This is a tough one. The bro code and the girl code might say yes, but we know these things can be nuanced. Maybe your friend only dated them for a few months and it wasn’t that serious. Or your friend has moved on and you don’t think they’ll care. Or years have passed, and it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Regardless of the circumstance, this is actually more about friendships than romantic relationships. And while you might have dozens of reasons why you think it’s OK, the question is whether your friend agrees.

Our in-house relationship expert, Dr. Rothman has some thoughts:

“The key here is honest communication with your friend. Maintaining the friendship while pursuing a relationship requires a conversation with that friend. How do they feel about it? Are there boundaries you and the friend want to set about the topic? Keep in mind that your friend does not have any ownership over your or their ex’s behavior, so their opinion is just an opinion.

Look out for any threatening (“if you date them I’ll hate you”) or ultimatum language (“it’s either me or them”) from your friend–that could be a sign that choosing to pursue the relationship will cause a rupture in that friendship, potentially a permanent one! Knowing this ahead of time can help you make your decision.”

At the end of the day, you’ll want to ask yourself: how much does this friendship matter to you? If it’s one that you don’t want to lose, we encourage you to think about whether it’s worth pursuing their ex at all. Relationships are emotional and involve incredibly heightened feelings. Just keep that in mind before you pursue a new relationship that might cost you an existing one.

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