Is Someone Your Roommate Dated Definitely Off Limits? An Expert Explains
Dating a friend's ex can be really tricky. There's a reason people say it's "off limits." It’s just about respect, not to mention it can get really complicated. But here's the thing: Sometimes, the heart doesn't make sense and it just wants what it wants. Like, for instance, what if you fall for your roommate’s ex? Is someone your roommate dated definitely off limits? Or is there some way to make this relationship work without sacrificing your friendship or having to order a U-Haul and a change-of-address form?
Well, there is no easy answer here, because, yes, things are about to get complicated. And yet, the experts say that if that's really what your heart wants, it's not impossible to make it work. "Just like dating any friend’s ex, yes, you can date someone your roommate previously dated if you follow certain parameters," Laurel House, celebrity dating and relationship coach and host of Man Whisperer podcast, tells Elite Daily. House cautions, however, that in order for this situation to not blow up your friendship, you have to really consider the feelings of everyone involved. Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the breakup BOOST podcast agrees. “It would definitely depend on a number of factors such as how long ago they dated, how long they dated, why the relationship ended,” Leckie tells Elite Daily. “Most importantly though, you would need to ensure your roommate was 100 percent OK with it.” That won’t be easy, but if you're ready to do that work and take that risk, here is how the experts say you can help improve the odds of making this tricky situation work.
How will your roommate feel about the situation?
The first thing to consider is how your roommate would feel about the situation. Is this someone they really cared about, or that they likely still have feelings for? If so, NYC relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter tells Elite Daily this is a no-go. “Stay clear of ever dating someone whose feelings are unresolved for their ex,” she says. “And don't date the ex of a good friend. It's messy, and regardless of what your friend may say to you now — there will be emotional fallout on someone’s part.” Leckie adds that your roommate's feelings should take priority if you want preserve that friendship and living situation. “Your loyalty should lie with your roommate.”
However, if the relationship was not serious, or ended a long time ago, it is more likely that your roomie would be cool with it. “It would be more acceptable if it was a very casual dating situation and your roommate being totally OK with it,” confirms Leckie.
How do you really feel about your roommate's ex?
Not only do you have to be sure of how your roommate feels about their ex, but you should also do some serious soul searching and decide if how you feel about your potential love interest is really even strong enough to make them worth pursuing.
“Take your heart out and put your head in and consider if this is an emotional or sexual impulse or desire (heart), or is it that you two could truly be a good enduring fit with aligned values, lifestyles, and priorities (head)? If you date head-first, you are increasing your chance of enduring relationship success," says House. If you know your feelings aren't strong, or that it’s just lust without the potential of going the distance, the risk-reward ratio may convince you to give this relationship a pass before it even gets started. However, if you think it has a real chance of going somewhere serious, then it’s time to take some action — it’s time to talk to your roommate about what you're feeling.
How to talk your roommate about it.
Depending on how close you are with your roommate and what your friendship dynamic is like, this conversation could be awkward — but it’s essential. And who knows? Maybe they'll give you the green light to pursue their ex, drama-free. However, one thing's for sure, says Winter, and that's that you should have the conversation before you pursue the ex — whenever possible. “Discussions should have been had long before the romance materialized,” she says. “However, if passion won the best of you — someone needs to break the information to the roommate.”
Winter advises that you talk to the ex to decide who best to talk to your roommate about what happened. “It will feel like an ambush if you both present the information together,” she warns. “Decide who breaks the news, and have a backup plan to handle the emotional fallout.”
If taking this step sounds really intimidating, that’s understandable, but Leckie agrees you really shouldn't skip it. “It’s a matter of respect and treating others as you want to be treated,” she explains. Plus, depending on how it goes, this conversation might be helpful in setting boundaries moving forward, should you start dating the ex. “You don’t want to make your roommate feel awkward or uncomfortable in their own home. You would likely also want to limit the PDA unless of course your roommate is again, 100 percent unaffected by it,” says Leckie. “Be aware though, even if they say they are OK with you dating their ex, they may not be. Pick up on cues by how they react and be compassionate. Don’t just hear what you want to hear,” she cautions.
If you’re still not totally sure what to do about the situation, House offers this last bit of advice: “You also need to be honest and thoughtful about the possible repercussions and outcomes if things go both well and badly,” she says. Leckie says that if you think it's worth it, you should "Do whatever you need to do. If not, then maybe wait until you are no longer living with your roommate or until they have truly gotten out from under, over, and moved on from their ex.”