Love Discourse? Dating Your Friend’s Ex

Love Discourse? Dating Your Friend’s Ex

Love can be a mysterious journey, especially when it unfolds within a close-knit circle of friends. It’s not uncommon for relationships to get entangled, with one person dating another’s ex after a breakup. This situation can be confusing and challenging, as one Taiwanese forum user recently discovered.

Fresh out of a breakup, this person was taken aback when a friend began expressing romantic interest in their ex-partner. (Original Story in Mandarin- What to do when your buddy and ex are together?) This situation sparked a fascinating discussion that introduced a clever metaphor involving Ubike, a well-known bike rental service in Taiwan. The metaphor emphasized that a “girlfriend” is an independent individual, much like a Ubike. If you don’t like your choice, it’s okay to choose another path, just as someone else might appreciate the bike you didn’t. (Note: It’s essential to clarify that this analogy doesn’t objectify anyone.) This unique perspective ignited a thought-provoking conversation that left me with a newfound viewpoint.

Beyond the complexities of gender dynamics, let’s dive into the nuances of breakups and the attitudes we display during and after them. The way we navigate these challenges can reveal our character and values, especially when it comes to the potential for dating within the same social circle.

When a breakup occurs amicably, it’s entirely possible to find a new romantic connection within your shared circle of friends. However, when a relationship ends due to disagreements concerning identities, standards, behaviour, or beliefs, it becomes challenging for the person with differing views to remain within the same social circle post-breakup.

To guide you through the delicate process of pursuing a friend’s former partner, here are some key considerations:

Is It Ethical?

Breakups can be messy, often tied to a sense of rejection of one’s identity, and most people would agree that how others handle their impending breakups is their business. And, if you aim to maintain your friendship while pursuing your friend’s ex, it’s wise to avoid actively getting involved in the breakup.

In simpler terms, consider:
(a) Waiting until your friend’s breakup is finalized before pursuing a romantic relationship and
(b) Avoiding any intentional interference in the relationship’s demise.

Getting directly involved in your friend’s relationship before its conclusion may create the perception that you’re hiding behind the “friendship” label to sabotage their relationship, whether that’s your intention or not.

Conversely, if your friend decides to pursue your ex after the breakup, why not support their pursuit of happiness? Everyone deserves to find joy, including someone you once cared for.

Handling Overlapping Social Circles

If you’re considering dating your friend’s ex, be aware that this choice may impact your standing within your friend group.

Why? Because breakups often entail significant disagreements over identities, behaviours, or beliefs—essential elements of a tight-knit social circle. Pursuing a friend’s ex who challenges these elements may cast you as siding with the ex.

Dating a friend’s ex becomes a viable option only if the breakup is amicable, allowing the existing social circle to remain intact with open communication among its members.

Finally, I’ve created a lighthearted SOP (just for fun) to help you determine which post-breakup scenario suits you:

Question 1: Did you and the other person break up peacefully? 
YES => Question 2. NO => Question 3.

Question 2: Is there still contact between you and your ex after breaking up? 
YES => Question 4. NO => Question 3.

Question 3: Do both of you have overlapping social circles? 
YES => Situation A. NO => Situation B.

Question 4: Do you value your friend, who is going after your ex, more than your ex? 
YES => Situation C. NO => Situation D.


Situation A: A Gentle Pretense

A gentle pretense works well for two people sharing a significant social circle but have major disagreements on each other’s identities, standards, conduct or beliefs. In such cases, avoid pushing friends to pick sides. Keep your breakup private or share it with a few who are not friends to both you and your ex.

Situation B: Forever Goodbye for Good

Similar to Situation A, this scenario involves cutting ties with your social circle post-breakup. This emotional detachment is the easiest to manage. Whether you relocate or find new friends, “out of sight, out of mind” eventually will bring calm to your heart.

Situation C: Friends’ Happiness Is Your Happiness

In this case, two people break up but can stay in the overlapping social circle with no direct contact. Here’s my two cents: if your friend wants to pursue your former partner and you genuinely want your friend to be happy, consider your friend’s happiness as your own and support their relationship.

Although you may reminisce about your time together with your ex, it is time to move on from the old memories and start creating new, happy ones.

Situation D: Ex v.s. Friend

This scenario, where both parties maintain direct contact after an amicable breakup, suggests potential lingering emotional ties. You could have no intention of getting back together with that person. Yet, your emotions intensify when you occasionally cross paths or hear about updates from the other person. This makes it hard to swallow when you hear your friend is about to go after your ex.

And this doesn’t mean that you still have feelings towards your ex. It also doesn’t mean you do not value your friend’s happiness. Sometimes, it’s about pride. It’s our mind subconsciously trying to avoid comparing ourselves with our friends on who your ex likes more.

Of course, we might genuinely believe that our friend deserves better. However, since we may never fully understand our friend’s needs in love, it is probably better to avoid imposing our feelings on our friend. If we insist on making a point on why your friend should never date your ex, we might lose a friend, an ex, or even our new partner.


In conclusion, navigating the complexities of dating and breakups within your social circle requires sensitivity, respect, and empathy because our conduct through breakup reflects our character and values.

Nonetheless, each breakup is unique, and the right course of action may vary depending on the circumstances. Whether you find yourself in a situation akin to “Ubike” or another dating dilemma, prioritize open communication, ethical behaviour, and the happiness of all parties involved.

As you contemplate pursuing a friend’s former partner or supporting a friend’s pursuit of your ex, remember the importance of maintaining the integrity of your social circle. Striving for amicable breakups fosters growth, healing, and the potential for everyone to find happiness in their own way.

Ultimately, a successful breakup allows everyone involved to move forward with respect, understanding, and the opportunity for fresh beginnings. May each of you find your path to happiness and fulfillment, both in your relationships and within yourselves, as you navigate the intricate terrain of love and friendship.


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