#2164 Can I Date My Friend’s Ex?

Anonymous asks: My friend decided to set me up with a friend of hers. After a lot of emails, I realised he is also one of my very good friend’s exes (I never met him then as they broke up years and years ago before I met my friend, but my friend is not really over it). I was feeling guilty but still decided to go ahead and meet him. And boom, disaster, it looks like it could really work. What should I do? 

Ah yes, that old chestnut. Back when I was 19 years old, I dated an amazing French girl named Camille for about two or three months. It was short but sweet and I ended up breaking up with her to get back together with an on-again-off-again girlfriend. We stayed good friends, and eight months later, she invited me and my best friend Rick to a costume party at her new house (he and I both went as the backwards man from Freddy Got Fingered). I noticed at the party that Rick and Camille were spending a lot of time together, and towards the end of the evening there were a couple of those subtle signs that something was going to happen – prolonged eye contact, whispering, hand on the small of the back and the rest. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, and I was getting tired so I told Rick I wanted to go home. He wanted to stay, so I drove home and left him there. Rick didn’t come home that night.

The next day when he did come home, I asked him where he’d stayed. He told me he’d run into some other friends in town and gone back to their house. I thought this sounded odd, so I asked him what had happened to Camille and her friends. He replied vaguely that they’d lost track of each other once they’d gotten into town. Rick had never lied to me about anything in our five year friendship, but something told me he wasn’t telling the truth. So I asked him directly: ‘Did you stay at Camille’s house last night?’ He looked at me like I was being crazy, and said, ‘No, I told you I crashed at my mate’s.’

Then all of a sudden, Camille started texting me to hang out all the time, and Rick just happened to come along. They never did anything explicit to suggest that they were hooking up, but something told me that they were. No matter how many times I asked them though, they flat out denied it.

In a strange turn of events, Rick and I ended up moving into Camille’s house when our lease ran out about six weeks later. We shared the sleep out, and she was inside with three other girls.

Every night I’d go to bed, and Rick would come in super late at like four in the morning. And every day I’d give him the opportunity to tell me that he was hooking up with her. I’d say: ‘Rick. Seriously. It’s fine. You can tell me. Are you and Camille together?’ And every day, he’d answer the same thing: ‘Na man, how many times do I have to tell you? We’re just mates.’

So you can imagine my immense, immense surprise one day, about a month later, when Camille and Rick asked me to come and talk to them in the living room. I walked in and sat down and they said, ‘Isaac, we have something to tell you.’ No kidding. ‘We don’t know how this happened but we really really like each other and we want to be together.’ I was immediately overtaken by blind rage and I reacted accordingly, shouting and swearing and telling them they were both untrustworthy bastards. At the time it was hard to tell what was making me so angry but in hindsight, I just felt let down that they’d lied to me for so long.

For the next few weeks I refused to speak to either of them. Rick moved out of the sleep out and into Camille’s room. We’d pass each other in the halls and I’d blank them, we’d brush our teeth together in the bathroom and I’d walk out before they could start a conversation, and every time Rick tried to say hi, I’d ignore him.

Then one day it occurred to me that maybe I was overreacting. Rick was going through some family dramas at the time and I walked into the lounge one afternoon and found him upset on the phone to his parents. I suddenly felt bad for how I’d been acting and I apologised, he apologised and we soon went back to normal. He and Camille ended up staying together for years and moved to France and just about lived happily ever after – there were visa complications and he eventually had to come home.

The moral of the story is that if they’d been up front with me from the get-go, I probably would have been annoyed for a couple of hours and then gotten over it and given them my blessing. But because they went about it in completely the wrong way, I reacted in completely the wrong way.

My advice to you is to tell your friend straight away. If it is the real deal and you and the guy do want to be together then she’s not going to stand in your way. She might be upset for a while, but at the end of the day, you didn’t know her when they were together and like you said, it’s been years, so it’s not really your concern. But be kind, and understand that she probably won’t like it. Your friendship will likely be on the rocks for a while. Patience is key. Best of luck.


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