Degrees of Separation: Where To Draw The Line In Dating People Who Know Each Other?

August 20, 2012  |  

Everyone knows someone who knows someone they know. The infamous six degrees of separation has become more like three; and with the increase of social networking, the possibility of at least knowing ‘of’ someone is highly likely. This short line of separation is embraced in business and networking but when it comes to dating, it can be frustrating, depending on where you draw the line on who you will and won’t date.

A couple of years ago I wouldn’t dare entertain two men who were acquaintances. And even though it was never simultaneous, I still wouldn’t date someone who knew an ex; but now as I’ve gotten older and the degrees of separation have lessened, so have my limits. Best friends. Off limits. Family members. Off limits. Close enough acquaintances that they hang out frequently.Off limits. Anyone else is fair game.

I think the rules of whom you can and can’t date initially became taboo in high school.  If your ex was and a guy that was pursuing you shared mutual friends, it was automatically deemed a no-no to date the new guy. But as adults, oh how rules change.

As I’ve traveled, relocated a few times, advanced in my career, and networked I’ve met many people who knew people who I had gone to college with, worked with, and on an occasion or two, someone I had dated.  While I don’t have many exes (I guess this could be both good and bad) it seems as if every guy I meet knows one of my exes in particular. Whether it’s high school acquaintances, college roommates, or close friends of his friends, it seems as if I’m always stuck with a choice of should I date this guy or not, because of my ex.

Initially, I would shun away all of the guys who knew him. Partly because I wasn’t sure if we would get back together and also because I wasn’t sure how it would look to other people. Yes, at the time, I cared.

But then I had to consider this: would I be missing out on something good because I’m holding on to the past? And furthermore, am I missing out on something good simply because someone knows an ex?

This is a big world, and although the degrees of separation are small, I had to consider would I really ever be in awkward situations with my ex and this new guy who just so happens to know him? They didn’t live in the same city, or even state. They didn’t chop it up on the phone. They were simply from the same hometown, went to the same high school and had mutual friends. While the situation was certainly not ideal, did that mean it should be off-limits?

I eventually decided that it shouldn’t be. The guy and I dated for a while and of course my ex found out because of their mutual friendship; and although stunned, he wasn’t angry. He later admitted that he was hurt but had no premise to be angry because they weren’t friends.

While there wasn’t a love connection with the new guy and me after all, I didn’t regret my situation. Of course I would prefer to date someone who knows nothing of any of my exes, but the reality is the dating pool is small. And the older you get it seems even smaller. Everyone has their own limitations of who they will or won’t date due to the degrees of separation; but I’ve decided if I disregard every guy who knows someone I dated, despite their level of friendship, I may be doing myself a disservice. And unless they are family, close friends, or interact on a frequent bases why should it really matter if they know each other?

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