The Ex-Factor: Is It Ever Okay To Date Your Friend’s Ex?

January 31, 2012  |  

We’ve all heard the statistics involving black women and marriage, the shortage of black men, etc. And yeah, yeah, we get it: there is a major gap in the ratio of eligible black men to eligible black women, making it much more difficult to find a compatible mate. Furthermore, to add to this shortage, we would have to subtract the black men who are in a relationship, incarcerated, or don’t like black women, or women at all. Then there’s the unspoken rule that most of us have included in our subtraction list: men who have dated any of our friends in the past.

While this rule is one of those ‘girlfriend codes’ shared amongst most women, some are beginning to ask the question that can immediately break up a friendship: “Do you care if I date your ex?” Does this question automatically make a woman a bad friend who can’t be trusted as far as she can be seen?

If you would have asked me this question a few years ago, I would have immediately responded with harsh words and a serious side-eye to any woman who would consider dating their close friend’s former flame; but as I’ve grown older, my words have changed from harsh to inquisitive as I question a woman’s reasoning for breaking this unspoken girlfriend code. While certain situations should be self-explanatory in why you shouldn’t even think about dating a friend’s ex, others are filled with blurry lines and gray areas, leaving room to wonder–is it REALLY ever okay?

In the February issue of Essence, a panel of relationship writers and editors discussed various topics regarding relationships. When asked if a friend’s ex was off limits, all panel members unanimously agreed that after a certain period of time, said ex was fair game, meaning that once she’s done, you can get you some. Well, maybe not exactly that way, but the panelists admitted that after a few years (they agreed on three) a friend’s ex shouldn’t be off limits and should subsequently be thrown back into the dating pool for everyone to date–even her friends.

There is a small part of me that says go ahead and date a friend’s ex, including mine, but do so after discussing the situation with your friend. But on the other hand, there is the other more dominating part of me that says while there might be a shortage of black men, there is an even larger shortage of genuine friends and jeopardizing the latter in any way for a man is totally unacceptable.

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