You're swiping through your potential matches on a dating app, and gulp, you come across your ex. Seeing their face again and knowing they're looking for new love can feel awkward, to say the least. But there is at least one silver lining in that scenario: You probably how how you want to handle the situation. That might not be as true if the former flame in question isn't actually yours, but rather, your friend’s ex on the dating app. Knowing how to handle that situation can be a bit trickier, since it means somehow weighing loyalty toward your friend against the potential of unnecessarily hurting their feelings.
Do you disclose this information, or keep it to yourself? Honestly, the answer to that question isn't always totally clear. Eric Resnick, professional dating profile writer and coach, tells Elite Daily it's actually a fairly common scenario. "Nearly half of all relationships start on dating apps now. Seeing a friend's ex or even your own ex [on one] is pretty normal," he explains. Don't panic, though, because you're not in this alone. I reached out to the experts for their advice on how to handle seeing your bestie's ex on a dating app, and their advice can help make this super awkward scenario a little easier.
In Most Cases, Keep It Moving.
If seeing your friend's ex on a dating app has you stressed, the good news is that, in most cases, the experts say it's totally appropriate to just do nothing. “If you see your friend’s ex on a dating app, swipe left. Just keep moving,” Connell Barrett, Dating Transformation founder and dating coach with The League, tells Elite Daily.
As for looping your friend in on what you saw, it's usually best to just keep it yourself, as Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast, tells Elite Daily. “If they are an ex, they are technically free to do as they wish, so it is probably better not to mention it to your friend,” she says.
When To Keep It To Yourself.
Sometimes the urge to share what you've seen can be super strong, which is totally understandable. They're your friend, and this feels like crucial information. On the one hand, you don’t want them to feel as though you're keeping secrets, but on the other hand, the situation has the potential to cause them unnecessary heartache. This is why the experts say the better approach, in most cases, is to err on the side of discretion. “If your friend and their significant other have broken up, there’s no need to rub digital salt into the wound. Both your friend and their recent ex have every right to start dating again,” Julie Spira, online dating expert and author of Love in the Age of Trump: How Politics is Polarizing Relationships, tells Elite Daily. “Emotions always fly high after a recent breakup, so telling your friend you saw their ex on a dating app will only hurt and could delay their healing, so they’re unable to meet someone new.”
When To Speak Up.
While keeping the info to yourself is typically the best course of action, the experts say there are some situations where letting your friend know what you’ve seen might actually be necessary. For instance, if their ex is trying to contact you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, Spira advises speaking up. “You should let both parties know you’re not interested in dating a former friend’s recent ex. There are those off-limit rules about not dating a close friend’s ex without permission, and they’re there for a reason,” she explains.
Another appropriate situation in which to raise the alarm is if your friend and their ex are supposedly getting back together, adds Leckie. “You would simply just say 'I don’t want to upset you, but I saw (insert name) on Tinder or Bumble. I thought you should know, seeing as they are trying to get back together with you',” she suggests.
Finally, it's OK to loop your friend in if you suspect the news would actually make them feel better. “If your friend has already moved on and began dating someone new... they may want to know that their ex is 'getting back out there' and looking for happiness,” says Barrett.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Swipe Right.
Knowing how to handle seeing your friend's ex on a dating app might require some careful thought, but there is one thing the experts agree on: Refrain from swiping right on them. “Never, ever swipe right on your friend’s ex,” says Barrett. “Don’t try to match with them and don’t message them. There are a lot of fish in the dating sea, and even matching with the ex could get back to your friend. They could find it very hurtful and it could threaten your friendship. If the breakup was hard, as most are, and your friend is still in pain, showing interest in your friend’s former flame will almost certainly hurt your friendship. There are millions of singles on dating apps. Swipe right on someone else.”
While the feelings that come with discovering your friend's former partner on a dating app may be complicated, the experts make it clear that knowing how to handle the situation doesn't have to be. When in doubt, swipe left and keep it moving.
Connell Barrett, Dating Transformation founder and dating coach with The League
Julie Spira, online dating expert and author of Love in the Age of Trump: How Politics is Polarizing Relationships
Eric Resnick, professional dating profile writer and coach
Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast