Should you ever date a friend's ex?

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Are there any circumstances when it's ok to date a past ex of your friend? Our relationship expert, Dr Pam Spurr (on Twitter @drpamspurr) breaks it down for us.

Sometimes we are tempted to tread in potentially dangerous territory when it comes to dating. Today I’m talking about your friend, their breakup, and their ex who is now single and you’re attracted to them.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? Not necessarily so. The big question becomes do you go there? This depends on a few key things - how long they were together and did your friend break up with their ex or vice versa? And can you be completely honest about your feelings with your friend about their ex?

When it comes to your friends’ exes, the dating-code usually says that exes are no-go areas except in exceptional circumstances. Like if they only had a few dates - and your friend did the dumping - and you can be upfront about your interest. 

In a couple of cases NEVER go there:

If they were together a long/longish time, and your friend was hurt by their ex, it’s a complete no-no. This is like slapping a big insult onto injury and would probably never be forgiven. 

Also, if they were married and now divorced, what are you even thinking? Never ever go to ex-husband or ex-wife territory unless your friend insists you should get together with their ex because they believe you two are really suited. It’s a very small chance that’ll happen!

Putting your friends first with ex-territory is a crucial part of a lasting friendship. Friends are for life (well, good ones are - but some come and go) and must be respected, no matter how sexy and funny their ex is.

But how about when it seems a pretty reasonable thing? How do you go about getting together with your friend’s ex?

Top tips for making it work:

It’s a must that you ask their permission. It doesn’t matter if they only had two or three dates, and in that time, you took a fancy to their now ex.

Do a little planning, put yourself in your friend’s shoes. What can you say to them about their ex that sounds reasonable and not like you’re overjoyed that they broke up? It’s really important how you put it.

Choose your time wisely. If your friend has had a stressful week at work and then you ask if you can date their ex, it’s not good timing! Instead talk to your friend when they’ve had a chance to chill out.

Begin the conversation by asking how they’re feeling about their ex. Then bring up the fact that you totally respect their feelings first and foremost but you did quite like their ex. And you wondered how they’d feel if you got in touch with their ex.

Here’s the crucial point – if they feel awkward, uncomfortable or bit annoyed - and if they’re a friend you value, back right off. In this case let them know you’ll drop the idea and that’s the end of the matter.

If their attitude is ‘go for it’, and you start seeing their ex, don’t rub their nose in the fact that you’re loving every minute.

Good luck and happy dating, Pam x

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