I thought there was something vaguely familiar about my friends latest date but couldn’t quite put my finger on it! Then I realised, yes that was it, I’d dated him once.
‘You just don’t buy the same clothes as each other’, my friend said to me last year as we both turned up to the gym in the same top, and frankly looked a bit silly side by side on the cross trainers. ‘It’s an unwritten rule,’ she carried on with, ‘no the unwritten rule is that you don’t date a friend’s ex’ I said to her, ‘if you like the top, you buy the top’.
So when the same friend asked me if she could date one of my exes recently I really had hoped she was joking. ‘But he winked at me,’ she argued. Not in person of course, in the good old world of online dating, where you can wink at hundreds of strangers all night and not even get eye ache. ‘So am I allowed to wink back,’ she’d asked?
He wasn’t technically an ex – I’d had a brief two month ‘fling’ with him but in his trail of destruction he’d left me wondering ‘what if?’ – I ended up stressing and questioning about every last detail of our encounters over the next year – did he still like me? Should I ask him out again? What did that last message mean? You could say I was a little bit hung up on him.
‘I suppose you still like him’, she’d said, giving me a reason to why I stated in very loud and clear language as to why she couldn’t date him. But it wasn’t even that. I was over him, okay maybe not totally – but when you have a history with someone isn’t that enough reason to stop a friend from dating them? Apparently not.
So have the rules about dating a friends ex changed, or been slightly altered and no one told me about it? According to my friends, if you decided you no longer wanted to be with them and tossed them back out into the ‘single wilderness’ then your friends are free to roam around with them too. But what does that extend to - someone you went on a few dates with, a six month relationship, a marriage?
I’m not very good at sharing my wine, let alone men I’ve dated. But maybe this where I’ve been going wrong all along - should I have been waiting in the wings as my friends shed tears about their latest break up? And should I be setting up all my friends with guys that just didn’t quite do it for me? I’m not sure if it’s a slightly weird or sensible ‘dating’ strategy.
In reality dating one of your friend’s exes probably isn’t such a hot idea. No doubt it will come back to haunt both of you. Just like the time the school heart throb asked me out, when I was 14. The problem? He’d just dumped my sister. Of course I couldn’t date him, it would just be cruel, right? ‘It’s fine,’ my sister had said, ‘he obviously likes you more’. So against my better judgement I started to date him. But of course it wasn’t okay for me to date him. What sane individual is okay with you dating someone that has literally just dumped them. I blame the school heart throb. My sister will probably ALWAYS hold it against me.
And what are the rules if your friend actually starts dating an ex? Are you allowed to compare notes? Are they allowed to reveal to you his reasons for breaking up with you? Will there be a point where you’ll have to stick your fingers in your ears and hope she doesn’t reveal too much information?
And what if the roles were reversed? ‘I’d be fine about you dating ones of my exes,’ my friend had said - but would she really? What would her reaction be if I walked into a bar tomorrow with her ex on my arm, the one she has two years history with, the one she used to moan to me about and yes the one she’d got naked with on a regular basis. Would she squirm as I talked about sex with him, would she say ‘I told you so’ when I moaned about his habits and would she ultimately secretly hold a deep desire to smack me round the face and say ‘put down my ex and find your own man’?
My friend never did date ‘that’ ex. She did date another one though, one which I’d thrown out into the dating wilderness after only three dates. I tried to pretend I was okay with it – I mean its selfish to stop two people dating isn’t it? Even if his last date had been you. Yes, like I said, I’m not very good at sharing – I’ll just make sure to drink all HER wine next time she’s not looking!