Your new crush checks off so many of your boxes. They’re smart, funny, and they share your taste in music and movies. They even enjoy all the same types of snacks (true couple goals). The vibe is seriously heating up between you, and it’s happening fast. You’re ready to take the next step and ask them out, but there’s one major problem: your crush is a good friend of your ex. Yikes. So now you’re wondering, is it ever OK to date your ex’s friend? Or are you better off suppressing these feelings and moving on?
If you and your ex share a lot of the same friends in common, it’s not too surprising that one of their pals might catch your eye. Breakup coach Natalia Juarez tells Elite Daily that this can happen simply because of proximity. “People naturally connect with the people they spend time with,” she says. “So if you’re directly or indirectly around your ex’s friend — because you share a social circle, work together, or run into each other — and you’re having positive interactions and there’s chemistry, a connection can naturally form.”
But there’s a big difference between developing feelings for an ex’s friend, and choosing to act on those feelings and pursue a relationship with this person. Juarez explains that sometimes it’s OK to go for it, and sometimes it isn’t. “The complexity of the situation will depend on a number of factors, such as how close the friend is to your ex, how serious and how long the relationship was, how much time has passed since the breakup, and very important, whether or not your ex is truly over the breakup,” she says. Listen to your gut feeling here. If you think your ex would be really hurt if they found this out, and you care about protecting their feelings, you may want to suppress this crush. Juarez says that in the following scenarios, it’s probably not smart to date your ex’s friend: “if the breakup is fresh, your ex is still heartbroken, or if you had a bad breakup and your ex resents you — if, say, you betrayed him or her.”
Another potential reason to avoid this scenario is that it could cause drama within your friend group. Relationship expert Dr. Darcy Sterling tells Elite Daily that often it’s better just to start fresh in your dating life after your breakup. “If you prefer to keep things emotionally clean, hop on a dating app where there are lots of choices that will probably bring you some much-needed diversity in your friend and dating group,” she says. In many cases, the best way to get over a messy breakup is to disconnect completely from your ex for awhile. If you date your ex’s friend, you’re signing yourself up for some regular interactions with your ex, so you need to be confident that you can handle being in the same room with your ex and your new boo. It could get awkward — but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
If you’ve decided that you do want to go through with this and date your ex’s friend, Juarez stresses that honest communication is key to avoiding tension. “It will be your ex’s friend’s responsibility to let your ex know that you two are dating out of respect,” she says. If your ex is still emotionally invested in you, this may need to be a delicate conversation. “Be aware that often friendships end over situations like this, either because of how poorly they are handled or because the dynamics make it hard to sustain a true friendship,” Juarez says.
Sterling echoes that it may be tough for your partner and ex to maintain this friendship unless all parties are totally open with each other. Pay attention to how your new SO approaches this conversation with your ex. Are they respectful and understanding? “The way people show respect in one area of their life is usually how they do it in every area of their life,” Sterling notes. Your new partner owes it to their friend (your ex) to treat them with kindness.
The worst case scenario is that your ex finds out about your new relationship indirectly, through another friend or a social media post. This is almost guaranteed to make them upset. “Get ahead of it by having the friend tell your ex before he or she finds out in an unpleasant way,” Juarez suggests. She also encourages taking things slow with your new partner, to figure out whether this could really be something serious and long-term. Avoid posting about it on IG for several months, and introduce this idea to your friend group slowly, out of respect for everyone involved.
Dating your ex’s friend isn’t off-limits in all situations, but it really comes down to understanding the specifics of your dynamic with your ex. You’ll have to decide whether this potential relationship is worth any potential hurt it could cause to your friend group. If you do go for it, take things slow, and be as honest as you can about the relationship to the people in your circle.