Ah, forbidden love. If you've been experiencing a less-than-satisfactory dating life as of late, you might begin to peer with a wandering eye over to someone who's not quite available. So, is it ever OK to go on a date with someone who's off limits?
There are a few things to consider before cozying up with someone who is supposedly off limits. Firstly, what exactly does "off limits" mean? Maybe you have your eye on someone currently in a relationship, maybe you've been thinking sexy thoughts about your coworker, or maybe your bestie's ex asked you out. According to Dr. Paulette Sherman, a New York based psychologist and author of Dating from the Inside Out and the upcoming Marriage from the Inside Out, off limits means pursuing "someone who is not emotionally available, or when dating this person will cause problems long-term, ethically or emotionally for yourself and others." She notes examples of dating no-nos as "your boss, an intern, a worker you manage, an ex, a family member, a married man or woman, your best friend's ex, or their enemy." There really aren't any guidelines or an official rule book for how to live your life — everyone and every scenario is unique. The best thing you can do for yourself is go with your instincts and follow your heart.
So you've got a pretty good idea of the people on the list of who not to date. But what should you do if someone on this lists starts flirting with you, texting you, or asking you out?
You know you probably shouldn't go out with this person, but you really, really want to, and frankly, that sucks. To decide whether it's the right choice to go on a date with someone who's off limits, Dr. Terri Orbuch PhD, professor at Oakland University in Michigan and author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship advises going a little old school with a pros and cons list. She says to jot down all "possible consequence[s] and outcome[s] of going out with someone who's unavailable." Will your actions hurt someone you care about? Dr. Orbuch recommends "really think[ing] about those costs and benefits in their eyes."
Lisa Marie Bobby, PhD, LP, LMFT, BCC, founder and Clinical Director at Growing Self Counseling & Coaching explains that "in general, people are in the 'off-limits' category for a good reason ... involvement would be potentially awkward, embarrassing, or risky." Romantic attraction is in a totally different category than logic and basic compatibility, so it's definitely possible to catch feelings for someone that's actually a terrible match for you. Although it can be oh-so-tempting to go for that forbidden fruit, Bobby's advice is that "unless you crave drama, [you should] stay in your lane."
It's completely your choice to date whoever you want, but it's also crucial to consider the consequences before diving into something with someone who's off limits. Dr. Maryanne Comaroto, PhD says that while you can learn valuable life lessons through questionable dating choices, "some things are just reckless." She recognizes that practicing integrity when it comes to dating is no easy task, especially when lust gets the best of you. Keeping your hands out of the cookie jar is easier said than done, but it might be worth your while to be patient and "save your energy for more worthy pursuits," says Comaroto.
So, is it worth it? When it comes to going out with someone who's off limits, the only person who can decide for you is you. According to Orbuch, "there are never any guarantees with love and relationships." Even if you feel certain that this could be your forever person or that dating them may lead to something long-term, there's no way to know that for sure.
If you go for someone unavailable to you, try to be conscience of the feelings of those involved, while still tending to your own needs and desires. At the end of the day, it's your love life — so go with your gut. Just remember that if you stay patient and keep putting yourself out there, you'll find the right person for you that's totally available. Do you, babe!