Can You Date a Friend's Ex?

What do you do when your friend tells you about a recent breakup and you're thrilled…for yourself, not for your friend? We're not talking about being relieved that your friend's single again so you can hang out more. We're talking about that feeling of exhilaration because your crush just became free!

To be clear here, we're not talking about having a crush on your pal, although that can happen too. We're talking about crushing on your friend's ex.

It's hard to know what to do when they break up and all you can think is: "Yes! I have a chance!"

First and foremost, you don't tell your friend that you have a thing for their ex. You also don't ask their permission to date their recently departed dear. To be clear here, we're not talking about dating a dead person; they departed from your friend's relationship, not from the world of the living.

Okay, now that we've got the players and their health status straightened out, the question remains: What do you do about those secret longings you've been having? Should you bring them out into the open?

Well, it all depends. The boundaries of acceptable behavior as a friend depend on several factors.

How Close?
There's room for you to make a move if your friend and the ex were only casually dating. If they were in love, you're in a tight spot.

How Long?
Another question that affects your footing is whether they were married, engaged or in a long-term relationship. If so, you'd better tread lightly.

How Hurt?
It's a big plus if your friend doesn't seem too distraught over the split. If your pal is heartbroken, however, then it's a no-go…at least for now.

How Awkward?
You've also got to consider how often you and your friend hang out. If you're part of a close circle of friends who tend to go out together every weekend, then hooking up with an ex will make everyone really uncomfortable. If you just get together one on one occasionally, then you might be able to preserve the friendship while getting extra-friendly with the ex.

Even after considering all those ex-factors, you'd better think long and hard about the potential repercussions of your next move. If the friendship is one you can't imagine living without, then don't kill it by getting into a broken triangle with the ex—no matter how hot you find this person and how long you've been dreaming of this day.

You also should never tell your friend how long you've been harboring fantasies of hooking up with their onetime sweetheart. They'll never trust you again!

Instead, give it some time and be supportive of your friend without bad-mouthing the ex. The same goes for talking to the ex if you run into each other. Definitely never talk trash about your friend! But that doesn't mean you should encourage them to get back together either. That will only make you look two-faced later if you do end up giving it a go with the ex.

Go with your gut and don't do anything to hurt your friend. But keep in mind that not all of your friends' exes are off-limits.

Remember that your friend and the ex broke up for a reason. And now it's reasonable to see if you two might be a better fit.

Friends who become lovers have been known to work out really well. Just try not to make a frenemy while chasing your hidden desire!

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