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Call it "Friend Code" or whatever else fits your fancy — it seems like there's an unwritten law about staying away from your friend's exes. Of course, sometimes, life just happens, and people fall for each other. Whether you've been in love with someone for a while or got caught up in the heat of a moment, knowing what you should do when you hook up with a friend's ex can help you navigate an innately messy situation a little more mindfully.


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Picture this: Your BFF has a great partner. They're sweet, funny, attractive, and they make your friend happy. Over time, it's normal to develop a platonic friendship with them as long as they continue to be a good partner to your friend. But, what happens when they break up? Are you still allowed to have a relationship with them?

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Sometimes when you develop feelings they happen to be for your friend's ex. But, pursuing these feelings might not always be worth it.

Your friend is still struggling with the breakup.

Some friends might be cool with you dating their ex, but other friends may feel it's crossing the line. Here are some potential red flags to consider if you're trying to decide whether or not dating someone your friend has dated is a good idea.

Whether the relationship went down in flames or if two people who truly loved each other realized that things just weren't going to work out, most breakups can be tough. And some can be worse than others.

Make sure the relationship is over.

If your friend is still reeling over their split, it's best to be there for them — not move on to their ex yourself. Before dating a friend's ex, you should have a conversation with your friend to see if they're OK with it. If they're not, it may be best to respect their wishes — or risk losing a relationship with them. So if your friend gives you permission to date their ex, be cautious and take it with a few grains of salt.

It may be okay, depending on your environment.

If your friend and their ex can't stand being around each other, it may mean they haven't gotten over the relationship or the relationship ended on a bad note. It can be quite difficult to deal with your friends not liking your partner — especially if the partner is someone they used to date. If your friend keeps jumping to their ex's defense or brings them up even when their ex isn't the focus of the conversation, they may not be over the relationship. If your friend still has feelings for their ex and had told you so, that's a red flag that dating this person is a bad idea.

It can be tough to move on from a relationship when those feelings still exist, and it could cause tension if you make a move before your friend has moved on. If you think you have feelings for your friend's ex but aren't sure, you may want to take some time to think it over before you consider making a move.

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Your friend's partner may seem awesome on a Saturday night when that's all you see of them, but a true connection regardless of how you met is always tougher to find," Dr. Tibbals, a sex sociologist told Thrillist. If your friend and their ex were together for a long period of time you might want to reconsider.

Chances are, strong feelings developed, and your friend could have a more difficult time getting over their ex. Only you can judge how close you and your friend are, but if we're talking about your best friend or someone you see often, that alone can deter you from dating their ex. If it's just an acquaintance from work, and he dated a woman you like, they broke up, then there is no reason why you couldn't date her.

Before deciding if this relationship is worth pursuing, it's important to think about what losing your friend would mean to you. If you're not willing to risk it — especially if this friend is someone who's been by your side through it all — it probably isn't worth it to date their ex, even if you feel like your friend is cool with it.

Your friend didn't give you permission.

World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options. Get the Insider App. A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation. Nicole Pomarico. Your friend is still struggling with the breakup.

Your friend didn't give you permission. They can't stand to be around each other.

Your friend seems defensive when their ex comes up in conversation. Your friend still has feelings for them. You're not sure of your own feelings.

They dated for a long time. You and your friend are super close.

You're not willing to risk your friendship.