While some people ascribe to an unspoken social rule that you should not date your friend's ex, the jury is out on the rules regarding dating a friendly acquaintance's ex. Just because one relationship didn't work out, doesn't mean that either person in that relationship is off-limits to prospective suitors. There are several factors to consider when dating your acquaintance's ex, including the impact to the relationship between you and your acquaintance, your wants and desires in your current relationship and how you plan to handle social situations with your acquaintance.
Revealing Your Relationship
You can't always determine when Cupid's arrow will strike. Although there are plenty of fish in the sea, dating in high school, and to some extent in college, often results in having to choose from a limited supply of potential suitors. Clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg suggests in her "Psychology Today" advice column that it is socially responsible to inform a friend about your new relationship first hand and recommends doing so in a kind and sensitive manner. Greenberg elaborates though, that if you are not particularly close with your acquaintance, you don't necessarily have to discuss your dating life with her, but suggests being sensitive and avoiding bringing up her ex when in her company.
Impact to Your Social Life
Even if you aren't best of friends with your acquaintance, dating her ex is likely going to send ripples through your social circle. While you and your acquaintance may not interact regularly, your new found love may become the topic of gossip and discussion between any mutual friends that you and your acquaintance share. You may even encounter some mutual friends who disagree with your decision and side with your acquaintance. Remember, just because your acquaintance dated your new love interest, it does not give her ownership over his dating life.
Timing Means Everything
The amount of time that your acquaintance and her ex were together can also impact the social stigma surrounding your new found love interest. While it is understandable that your acquaintance may be upset by the new developments in your love life, it may come as less of a shock if their relationship was short or casual, as opposed to a long-term, serious relationship. While you're keeping tabs on timing, it may also be wise to avoid starting a new relationship with someone shortly after his previous relationship has ended.
Learning From the Past
Learning what lead to the demise of the previous relationship may unravel clues to determine how you should proceed with your current relationship. In an interview with Psych Central, psychologist Mark Sharp suggests looking for problematic patterns from your past relationships before moving forward into a new one. Your mutual friends may be able to shed some light as to why your acquaintance's relationship failed. If feelings of jealousy have proven to be problematic in your previous relationships, you might want to rethink your decision if you discover that your new boyfriend's last relationship ended because he is a bit of a flirt.
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