Rules For Dating Your Friend’s Ex

James Harden’s currently dating Khloe Kardashian, the soon-to-be ex-wife of waived fellow NBA player Lamar Odom. Chandler Parsons is dating the former flame of Leo DiCaprio. Basically, everybody’s dating everybody (and we’re cool with that) but when you make the moves on another guy’s ex, there are a few rules you should live by—and they have nothing to do with antiquated and sexist notions of “bro code.” Here’s how to respect your new girl and keep your friend.

Get over ‘man rules’
If your buddy’s over his ex, there’s no reason not to date her. Thinking “bros before hoes” isn’t just disrespectful to a woman’s right to choose who she dates (not to mention your own), but it also implies that her former beaus can lay claim to her beyond the bounds of a consensual relationship. People are not property.

Get her on board
If you’re considering dating your friend’s ex-girlfriend, chances are the previous relationship didn’t end on entirely irreconcilable terms. If that’s the case, talk with her about approaching the situation so you can enjoy your new romance without losing your friend—you should decide how best to break the news to him, as well as how you’ll move forward. Having both parties treat your wounded buddy with sensitivity can go a long way, and—who knows?—maybe eventually you can all be friends.

Keep your relationship private
Your friend may still be wallowing in the purgatory that is wondering what he did wrong to lose the woman you’re currently hitting it off with. That’s when things get tricky. Rather than ruining a potentially great relationship before it even begins just for his sake, be honest with him about the situation—you like her, and she likes you—hear him out and move forward keeping private things private. The former’s better than sneaking around, and the latter is better than rubbing it in his face.

Don’t compare yourself to her ex-boyfriend
If only because you presumably all know each other. Rarely do we compare ourselves to our girlfriend’s ex in the negative, so think twice before trash talking the guy. Unless he was a terrible person to her. In which case, why are you still friends?

And if it doesn’t work out…

After a few months of dating, you and the lady in question broke it off. It was worth a shot, right? Now, move on like you would at the end of any relationship—with maturity. Having the same ex in common with your buddy doesn’t grant you a license to bond over trashing her reputation.
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