Is There a “Code” When it Comes to Your Ex?

man kissing girlfriend forehead in sunny sky
by Vance Larson

On several accounts this week, I have walked into conversations about the importance of bro code/girl code. You know that mythical set of rules that men and women are to follow. I have never been a fan of the code. I am a fan of happiness.

While some of these rules actually make sense to me, others do not. Specially not dating your friends ex girlfriend or boyfriend. What point does this serve? First of all, if they aren’t dating, something obviously didn’t work. Who is to say that it wouldn’t work out for you? If your friend is truly your friend, they should want you to be happy. I can’t think of a valid reason as to why your friend shouldn’t date your ex. Their ex is an ex for a reason.

In this particular scenario, the “code” does not carry weight. I have been out of the dating game for close to two decades. But when I was dating, not once did I ever ask my friends not to date an ex. Not only did I not ask, if they showed the slightest bit of interest in my ex, I would encourage them to ask her out. I circle back to I want my friends to be happy. But this code that we somehow believe to be law, does not make sense. Nor is it fair.

Don’t make it worse by upselling yourself.

So let’s keep it respectful though. If you are going to date your friends ex, be cool about it. Don’t compare yourself to your friend. There is a chance that your friend is already uncomfortable with the situation, don’t make it worse by upselling yourself over them. Also, keep in mind their comfort level. If they are cool with you dating their ex, but would rather not have you both in your face, keep some distance. Something like posting on social media probably cannot be avoided. But, if you both are going to the same event (a party for example), it maybe nice to check in with your friend to see if this would be a problem for them?

I know that some of you will vehemently disagree. But ask yourself if/when faced with this situation, what is your motivation for not wanting your friend to date your ex? Be honest with yourself. If you’re insecure, have a heart to heart with your friend. Would it be different if your ex started dating someone else? If so, why? Or maybe it’s ego. Whatever the reason, your ex is your ex and your friend is your friend. I would try not to put my friend in a position where I forbid them to date my ex. I just wouldn’t want to chance losing two people over my own deficiencies. 

So what is the right thing to do when it comes to dating your friends ex? I believe that would be different for just about everybody. That said, start with letting your friend know prior to asking their ex out, or dating them. If you don’t, you run the risk of them thinking that you were seeing their ex all along. State your case and ask how you can make it easier for them? Be polite, honest and please listen to what they say. And what happens if they say don’t date them? You’ll have to decide on your happiness or a code. And only you can answer that. In my experience though, code is just another word for control. 

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