Don't tell Scotty.
October 17, 2006 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Friends' exes are off-limits, right? Aren't you supposed to clear it with your friend before you make a move on his ex?

Under what circumstances is it not required to let your friend know that you're interested in/have already started dating his ex? Is the degree of friendship a more important factor than the circumstances of the breakup? Is the length of the relationship the most important factor, or is the status of the post-breakup friendship between the exes more important?

She broke up with me last month. Well, it was kind of a mutual decision because I understood why it needed to happen and I agreed with her, but she spoke up first. While we were getting to know each other and as we started dating, she met a few of my friends and I met a few of hers. After we broke up, we all continued to hang out together.

This past Saturday night, I found out that she had started seeing one of those friends of mine for the past week (and, as an aside, her friends needed to persuade her to tell me about it.) This friend and I are not best friends. We knew each other in high school, so we go back 15 years or so, but we haven't kept in touch all those years and have only recently started to hang out together again because we now have some more mutual friends. Since my ex and I had sort of developed a shared circle of friends, I talked to a few of mine after the breakup because I wanted to let them know about it and let them know the ex and I still wanted us all to hang out and we hoped it wouldn't be awkward. The friend in question offered me some support and encouragement, which was great. Now it seems like the only thing he paid attention to was the news that my ex was single again. The friend still hasn't talked to me about all of this, which really bothers me. I don't feel like it's my job to go to him, though. Right? He seems to have decided that dating my ex was worth jeopardizing (scuttling, even) our friendship. Do I owe him any kind of courtesy, if we're all going to continue to hang out together?
posted by emelenjr to Human Relations (48 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How long were you and she together, and how serious was it?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:27 PM on October 17, 2006

You are, quite naturally, hurting right now. But I think that if you just wait a while, the pain will diminish and you'll feel better about it.

I don't think your friend has done anything wrong. I don't think he owes it to you to tell you he's started seeing her, and I don't think it's your responsibility to go to him. I don't think it's something that there's an obligation by anyone to talk about.

And I think that after you've stopped hurting, and maybe met someone new yourself, you'll think back to how you feel now and realize that it's just that you're feeling lonely and vulnerable, and not really that they've done anything wrong.

And maybe, if it does work out for them, you can be happy for them because you care for them both.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:37 PM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: I can say from experience that dating a friend's ex can either be good or bad, depending on each situation.

A few years ago, I dated my best friend's ex for a few months. They had broken up a few years before, and it was an amicable split. Both were ok about it, and my friend and I even joked about it all the time. Worked out between all of us and there's no hatred.

Got involved with one of my friend's exes right after they split. Very bad situation. She got rid of me, went back to him, they split, and none of us are friends anymore. It was bad all around.

Just started seeing one of my other friend's ex, but there are no hard feelings. They've been split for a while, he's engaged, the past is the past. Everyone's cool.

Makes me sound like a scavenger, I know, but I can say that it depends largely on the situation. I would just talk to this friend about it. If you're friends, then there should be an open line of communication between the two. Might be a good idea just to clear the air a bit, even if you aren't in agreement whether it's right for them to be involved or not.

Good luck.
posted by thewhitenoise at 10:37 PM on October 17, 2006

It's up to you to decide how courteous to be. The only rule is the one you impose. And I think it's better to take the high ground.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 10:39 PM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: Well, it wasn't all that long, really. Just about a month, including about two weeks where it was ridiculously hot and heavy. Too much for her at the time. Too much for me, too, really, but she set the pace and I got used to it pretty quickly.

Obviously, I know one factor here is that the relationship was a little more significant from my perspective than it was from hers. But the question really has more to do with this friend of mine/ours, and whether he should have spoken up.
posted by emelenjr at 10:41 PM on October 17, 2006

Personally, if the friend and ex's break-up was within the last year, I'd talk about it and clear it. If it's longer than that, just let him/her know. I suppose it depends on how good the friend is though.

FWIW, this has happened to me twice, being the person that broke up with a girl and a friend started dating her. I was not happy about it either time. The third time it was about to happen, I called my friend on it and he saw that it would have really caused too much tension between us.
posted by efalk at 10:51 PM on October 17, 2006

No, and no. If you were best friends, then some finesse would be in order to try and keep from damaging the friendship. Since you're not, approaching you on the subject could be a classy move, but it could also be really awkward or explosive, esp. if you are resentful. Treat him as civil as you normally would, or more so, if you want to come off as a gentleman, and don't raise the subject.
posted by Manjusri at 10:59 PM on October 17, 2006

You dated for a month, broke up a month ago, and now they have been seeing each other for a week.

I think it's very understandable that he did not tell you about this. Of course, it would have been nice for him to mention it (assuming that the two of you talk directly, more than once a week). But I don't think he should have felt an obligation to get your "permission". Your friendship is not super-close, the relationship was not a very long-standing one.

Of course it's still unpleasant for you. But the ball is in your court about how to react. Huge bonus points go to the man who handles this in a classy way. (I.e., no huge blow-ups or bitchy snide remarks in front of the group of friends; this might mean just going to group events and doing your best to be the better man, or might mean avoiding the group for a little while until you have your annoyance etc under control.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:03 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Point taken about us not being that close, but he was the second person I talked to after the breakup happened, and that was only because he knew us both and I wanted to make sure things weren't going to be awkward if we all continued to hang out like the ex and I wanted. So I'm just surprised that I'm not seeing the same kind of "oh shit, I hope this doesn't create an awkward situation" kind of concern from him.
posted by emelenjr at 11:07 PM on October 17, 2006

No dude, I'd say you were barely together long enough for her to count as a real "ex", however great or intense it was. And it looks like the guy and you have such a casual friendship that there are so many ways telling you could come across as weird - rubbing it in your face, bragging, etc. I think that most people would not expect a notification in a situation like this, and remember that the other guy's behaviour isn't just influenced by what he thinks is right, but by what he thinks you'd expect or consider normal.

Also, what if he told you, then they broke up the next day? I think not telling is erring on the side of caution in a couple of ways.
posted by crabintheocean at 11:07 PM on October 17, 2006

The statute of limitation is is 1/5 of the length of the relationship. In your case, it's about a week. He's in the clear.

The only thing worse than an ex who believes he has right to veto all your future lover is an ex that gets in bed with your friend the day after the breakup. "1/5" splits that pear in two.
posted by gmarceau at 11:25 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


A) Your relationship with this woman can't even be counted in months, plural


B) The person she has started to date, by your own admission, isn't even someone you consider a close friend

I fail to see any ethical lapse on the part of your friend or your ex. I mean, seriously, is anyone you ever date, no matter how short or insignificant the relationship, banned from ever dating anyone else you've ever met?

If your relationship with this woman could be counted in years, not month (no "s") and if the person she is seeing now was actually a close confidant of yours as opposed to what you've described (an aquaintance with whom you happen to share mutual friends), then yes, I would agree it's pretty tacky on their parts to rub this in your face. But that's not the case.

I sympathize with you to the degree that we've all been in the situation where we are still hung up on a person who dumped us, even if the relationship wasn't a long one, and it only makes the heartbreak that much worse to see that the object of your affection happily re-entering the dating pool. But, looking at the situation objectively, it's hard to see where these two have done anything wrong.
posted by The Gooch at 11:28 PM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: It doesn't really matter whether he should have or shouldn't have. That's his life, and trying to decide whether that was right or wrong of him is sort of irrelevant.

You're only responsible for sweeping your own side of the street.

Considering you only dated for a month, it was a somewhat mutual breakup, and you're not really that involved with your friend either, you should just let it go. What would be the point of being upset about it?

If you care about still being friends with your friend, then just talk to him. If not, then it's really no big deal. You'd still have broken up with the girl anyway.
posted by eleyna at 11:39 PM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: I don't think I have the right to veto anything. I just know that if the tables were turned, I would have said something to him. And if they were turned another way and I had broken up with someone and then started seeing a friend of hers, that ex would have every right to be upset with me.

If I really wanted to get down to brass tacks here, the relationship was closer to two months since we started going out sort of casually about a month before there was any sign that the relationship was headed in a certain direction.

I'm a little surprised at the number of people putting me in my place, but I guess that's good for me to hear. In high school and college, I didn't have a circle of friends that paired up and swapped partners all the time or whatever. I'm in my 30s and this is the first time anyone I know has started dating one of my exes. I'm new at this.
posted by emelenjr at 12:05 AM on October 18, 2006

emelenir: Just relax. He's going to be your new best friend in a month or two, when she dumps him.
posted by Goofyy at 12:44 AM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: Unlike many of the answerers so far, I'll be honest with you. Come, walk with me.

You got used like a stepping-stone, my friend. Her friends know it, your old friend knows it. They have some shame, but it sounds like this girl doesn't. Maybe she's just a tramp. Maybe she's sick of your crap, and now she's happy to be free of you; the pity's all gone, she just wants you to leave her alone while she plays the field, which in this case is your circle of friends. That you introduced her to.

Three paths lie open to you:

(1) Bitter sniveling at the sidelines. A losing game that will just alienate everyone but fuck them anyway. People don't like to feek ashamed, and if they can convert that to contempt they'll do it in a heartbeat ("yeah I felt bad but this guy went too far blah blah"). You don't want to give them cause.

(2) The best revenge is living well, pardner. Shrug it off and move on. Optional but probably necessary: overcompensate in other areas to prove to yourself you're not doing (1). Your life is cool and rich and full, so fuck them. Mix up the Kool-Aid and drink that shit deep, it'll save your life.

(3) A perfect play of (2), but in your heart you remember this and when the time is right you will perform one single act of revenge, diabolical but dispassionate, that tilts the level back to true. No hard feelings -- no feelings at all, just unavoidable fate. Since you know this time is coming, it'll be easier to fake (2). The best way of course would be to gain their trust and gain their trust and gain their trust, then toss them away entirely and suddenly in a way that alienates them from their close circle of friends. This also can be amortized out as a thousand petty revenges, see our specialist on Thursday on how to keep this from turning into (1).

And who knows you may forget to take the revenge and write off this sick fantasy as a coping mechanism. But just in case, do either of them own pets? Do they park on the street? Pay attention to these things. Cuz it has to be good, something that makes them eat shit and have to smile about it, like what they're doing to you.
posted by fleacircus at 12:46 AM on October 18, 2006 [18 favorites]

I just know that if the tables were turned, I would have said something to him.

Ah, but that would have been a completely different situation. In that situation, you would have been in the position to choose whether or not to talk to your friend. And if you had asked metafilter: "Should I talk to my friend before dating his ex?" the answer might have been different.

Ultimately though, the only choices really worth worrying about in life are the ones in front of you. You could talk to him, or you could ignore him. You could dwell on it, or you could let it go. Your friend already made his choice. Now you get to make yours.
posted by eleyna at 12:56 AM on October 18, 2006

Did you really like her? Don't you want her to be happy?

Do you value/like your friend? Don't you want him to be happy?

If these two people were/are "friends" of yours, and they can find some happiness in this world, don't you think you're holding on to your old feelings for her, in essense, resenting the fact that they may have found some level of happiness together?

You're no longer together. If you were seing a new woman, and it was full of sparks and chemistry, you wouldn't feel "slighted" by your friend. You'd be distracted.

Your time with her was brief, and you clearly understand that it's "over."

Be happy for them, even if it's hard.
posted by filmgeek at 4:06 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Let it go. If they were both so classy as to not mention it to you (i'm not saying ask permission), then they deserve each other and you're lucky to free of her. Enjoy that knowledge and continue to be civil with them.

It's also important to remember that not everyone sees things as you do, so they may think anything is wrong with not mentioning it. You feel differently. Recognize that you're not going to change them, you can only change you (if you want to) and think about this important question " Are any of her friends hot?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:17 AM on October 18, 2006

Be happy for them and keep investing in their friendships. That's how people usually meet people, through their friends. It didn't work out for you and her so back off and let them do what makes themselves happy. Remain the better man and eventually someone will introduce you to a better woman.
posted by peeedro at 5:41 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

I would be more pissed at my "ex" than at the "friend". Telling you doesn't get her off the hook in terms of her actions. She broke up with you and is dating a friend. She got over it pretty quick, huh?

Your friend should bring it up with you when the moment is right. To proactively call and say, "Guess what? I am dating your ex. Is that ok?" Seems a bit like rubbing it in. He should wait to see if it even works out. One week is not much time at all.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:53 AM on October 18, 2006

A month "relationship" isn't much more than a one-night-stand. Come on, you can't be seriously jealous?
posted by JJ86 at 5:59 AM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: Practically the exact same thing happened to me, years ago with my ex and my lifelong friend.

It really hurt me and I begged both of them to consider my anguish, but they could not bring themselves to.

People almost immediately began to tell me to get over it, to not make too big of an issue out of it, and to give it time. I ultimately realized that these urgings were actually rooted in our circle of friends' discomfort with the whole situation. Basically if they could get me to stop talking about it, the negativity would all magically go away and their lives would all be easy again.

However, giving it time made it worse: instead of the pain going away, every day that they continued to be together was a day that they were each choosing this new relationship over my friendship.

After two months I got therapy. After three months I dropped out of that circle of friends. And at five months I went on a two month vacation so that I would not constantly be surrounded by reminders .

A whole year passed before I couldfinally accept it. They wound up being together for three years, and we grew to be friends again, and I have a relationship with both of them even now that they're broken up. The people who I am NOT friends with anymore were most of the good "friends" who tried to get me to get over it, to stop talking about it, and who avoided me because of their discomfort with the situation.

So maybe I'm biased, but the only time it is okay to angle in on an ex is if the other person is consulted and doesn't mind, or a reasonable amount of time has passed (and those two go hand in hand), or you don't mind losing friends over it. Your friend apparently skipped straight to the third option. They knew what they were risking when they decided to go for it; what a good friend.

So you are entitled to be as bitter as you want to be, for as long as it takes to heal. And if those around you aren't supportive of your (totally JUSTIFIED) feelings, well then try surrounding yourself with other people for a while. No one should have to beg to be treated decently by their friends. The further you put yourself from the people involved, the more you will evolve as an individual and put this behind you (whether you are ever able to be friends with them again or not-- and you may).
posted by hermitosis at 6:39 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

No, and no. And I'm sorry to see you marked fleacircus's nasty "honesty" as Best Answer; fleacircus is the guy in the bar who says "yeah, they're all bitches, time for another round," and that can be cathartic for a drunken evening, but you should be self-aware enough to see that that's all it is.

Look, your feelings are perfectly understandable, just as my pal's feelings about his ex-wife are perfectly understandable, but that doesn't mean his ex is really an evil bitch who deserves to die horribly, and your feelings that your friend is doing you dirty aren't right either. Accept the situation with good grace and keep telling yourself you'll get over it. You will, and you'll be glad you didn't do or say anything stupid during this post-breakup period of heightened feelings.
posted by languagehat at 6:57 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

OK, on non-preview, I see you're marking another Best Answer that tells you you're right to be bitter and hate your friend. I guess that's what you want to hear.
posted by languagehat at 6:58 AM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: Here's another way to look at it. Your friend and your ex were always attracted to each other. It happens. When you broke up, they both knew that they wanted to give it a try. That happens too. It doesn't mean they're bad people, and it doesn't mean they don't care about you.

Here's another thing that happens: people in their situation don't always know what the right way to approach the third party about this is. They don't want to hurt you, but they don't want to make things complicated...and anyway, their minds are on each other, not you. So they go ahead, and hope that you won't care. Try this: "Dude, I just want to's cool that you have something going on with my ex, I mean, I have no claim on her anymore, but I wish you would have told me what was going on, because now it feels kind of awkward." Try it, and see if he responds with "Fuck you, you don't own me and you don't own her!" I doubt he will.

Here's something else that happens. People like your friend and your ex are drawn together largely to the 'forbidden fruit' factor. The more you care, the more forbidden the fruit is. This whole thing just started, right? Are they talking about getting married or something? It's quite likely that whatever is between them isn't going to last, and one day you and your friend will be having beers and talking about your ex, and how ironic it is that he couldn't take an example from you and stay away from her, but had to learn the same things on his own.
posted by bingo at 7:09 AM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: I want to hear a lot of different viewpoints, and that's why I came here, languagehat. I'm still trying to decide which way is the best way to proceed.
posted by emelenjr at 7:10 AM on October 18, 2006

A month or so after my boyfriend of about three years broke up with me, I happened to have an innuendo-filled conversation online (n.b. not "cybersex") with his best friend. I think I was still sort of messed up from the breakup, missed having some sort of excitement in my life, and talking to his friend made me feel closer to him again. Apparently the friend had always had a bit of a crush on me. I should also note that I stayed close friends with my ex.
Months pass, and I had pretty much forgotten about the conversation, nevermind what was said. My ex and his friend went on a road trip, during which the friend confessed that we had had this conversation.
My ex flipped out. He wouldn't talk to me for months, and when he did, he was in tears about the "betrayal".

The status now (five years after the breakup) is that I am still friends with my ex, although we're not as close (probably because I'm married and he's engaged more than the issue with his friend.) I am also essentially exiled from our former circle of friends (which included his friend.) I have been told that had we not had that conversation, I would still be "allowed" to hang out with everyone.

I would talk to your friend. You may find that he ascribes to a "bros before hos" philosophy and places more value on your friendship with him than the relationship with your ex, in the end.
posted by nekton at 7:26 AM on October 18, 2006

I think you're asking if you have a right to be hurt about this. Sure, you do; it kinda sucks. Do you have a right to throw a tantrum and cut them out of your lives and be a big baby about it? I suppose. But why not just let it go? Take a breath, try to forget about it, and when it does come up, wish them well. Besides, you only dated for a month; that really doesn't count as much of anything. If some guy I dated for a month freaked out about my dating someone he knew, I would think he was...well, a big loser.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:34 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

And, I add, gossip of jealous exes always tends to get around. If you don't want your whole shared circle of friends to think you're a baby (which might scare off girls in the future), let it go.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:45 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's how I'd look at it. There are a lot of problems in life you can't solve -- you can only rise above them. High school, all that social drama, you want so-and-so to like you, it's your whole world. Then one day you graduated, and by October, looking back on it all from your new college dorm, it's faded in the mists of time. When you're happy, you don't really care about who did you wrong, you just hope their (mean) decisions at least made them happy, right? You've managed to rise above it.

When people are barely handling the pain they have, even little things can push them over the edge. When people are down, they see things in their life as bad. But when people are up, they ignore the negative and see the good things. So, I'd operate under the assumption that you're in a bad headspace right now (for reasons other than him), so his actions seem worse, and like a bigger deal than they are. Yeah, he's not helping, and he may never be your best friend. But if you'd just met the new love of your life or won the Nobel Prize, you wouldn't care what he was doing. You'd think, "yeah, I guess he could've been cooler, but whatever, it's all good!"

So, focus on the root problem -- that you're not that happy now -- and do everything you can to become healthier and happier. Workout, find new activities and new friends, make yourself proud at work... Those address the real problem. Don't take your upsetness out on this guy. Either he's a slimeball you're having to deal with because you're down in the gutter now yourself, in which case, focusing on this will keep you in the gutter. Or he's actually a decent person who just didn't handle this the same way you would have, in which case, focusing on it will wreck something that could be salvaged. In either case, focusing on it gets you nowhere. The only way out is to rise above this whole situation.
posted by salvia at 8:06 AM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: A lot of this advice is starting to sound like, "emelenjr, why can't you just let people do stuff to you?"

I am hurt, but I'm not jealous, if that makes sense. I'm not upset that she has someone new and I don't, and I'm not upset that she's with him instead of me. I'm generally unconcerned with gossip, too. If people would rather talk about me than to me, I can't do anything about that.
posted by emelenjr at 8:07 AM on October 18, 2006

And if those around you aren't supportive of your (totally JUSTIFIED) feelings, well then try surrounding yourself with other people for a while.

that's called being told what you want to hear, and is the surest way to brood unhealthily when you should just be getting over something. i know someone who burned through a few sets of friends this way. sorry, dwelling on this is not "JUSTIFIED."

your relationship lasted for a month. seconding crabintheocean, that isn't nearly long enough to count as an ex in the scheme of relationshippy things, especially since it sounds like you started dating soon after you met.
posted by soma lkzx at 8:13 AM on October 18, 2006

A lot of this advice is starting to sound like, "emelenjr, why can't you just let people do stuff to you?"

That might be objectionable except for the fact that nobody's doing stuff to you!

After you've broken up with someone, nothing they do in their love life has anything to do with you. That's what breaking up means. And a friend is perfectly free to date her for the same reason. You've given her up (and vice versa), and there is now no romantic connection between her and you -- from a standpoint of who she dates, she is a free agent. Your friend does not need permission or even to notify you that he's started dating her. Why in the world would he?

That's not to say you don't feel hurt, or that your emotions are not valid, but your friend and his new girlfriend are not the source of those feelings. Nobody is doing anything to you that you have any right to object to. Other people have a perfect right to assume you're a grown-up and can handle your emotions.

So, a better question might be "how do I deal with these feelings without blaming anyone?" rather than "how can I blame my friend or my ex for what I'm feeling?"

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but if I've learned anything, I've learned that you can never control what other people do -- you can only control how you react to their actions.
posted by kindall at 8:44 AM on October 18, 2006

A lot can happen in a month.

If you have been wronged, what is so bad with expecting those who you count on for comfort or support to acknowledge it? If you came to a good friend feeling heartbroken and felt betrayed, and they said, "Pfft. It was only a month. You'll be fine. Let's talk about something happy instead," how likely would you be to seek their advice in the future?

I didn't encourage emelenjr to scorch the earth or anything. I said "try surrounding yourself with other people for a while". As in take a break, get better however you need to. When your head and heart clear, then you can decide who's worth keeping around.

Getting the right kind of support at the time when you actually need it is one way to shrink your recovery time. Here's hoping AskMe fills the void until then :)
posted by hermitosis at 8:47 AM on October 18, 2006

A lot of this advice is starting to sound like, "emelenjr, why can't you just let people do stuff to you?"
Short of physical harm or confinement, people can't do anything to you. You can do stuff to yourself though, and other people can do things to themselves too. By the sounds of things, you recognise that - good for you :)
posted by lowlife at 8:50 AM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: emelenjr - I dated this guy in college for about a month. We broke up amicably, but I was the instigator in the break-up - he would rather we stay together, but he didn't seem that upset. The very next day, he started screwing around with an acquaintance of mine, who he eventually started dating. I was very hurt - even though I didn't want to be with him any more, the idea that he didn't even take 48 hours to grieve over me was more upsetting than I could imagine.

I don't know what the point is, except that emotions are completely irrational. It's OK for you to be hurt by what you percieve as some sort of injustice. If you want to continue to hang out with them, then do so. If you don't, then by all means follow your heart.
posted by muddgirl at 9:11 AM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: Previously on Metafilter... Why not drag it all out in the mud?
posted by emelenjr at 9:21 AM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: With all due respect, having seen that the majority of answers you've marked as "Best" are the ones that simply agree with your viewpoint that your ex and your friend are in the wrong and also having now seen you defensively criticize anyone who is in the "your ex and your friend really didn't do any thing wrong" camp, I am sort of left wondering what your intention was in asking this question.

Did you want an honest opinion from the hive about whether your ex and your friend breached some sort of accepted etiquette or were you simply looking for people to say that you're in the right to be pissed at them?

As I said earlier, I totally sympathize with you to the degree that going through a break-up is never fun, seeing the person you broke up with back in the dating scene is even less fun, worse than either is having the person she is now dating be someone you know personally.

But the question you've posed here isn't whether or not it's ok to be a little bummed about the breakup and its subsequent aftermath (it is). You specifically asked whether or not you ex and your friend were wrong to start dating without consulting with you first.

Looking at the situation from the perspective of an uninvolved third-party, I think it is totally within the realm of possibility to think that the reason neither of these people discussed their dating each other with you is not because either one is some sort of ethically challenged heathen, but has more to do with the fact that since the relationship you had with this woman was so brief as to not even be a blip on the radar, combined with the fact you aren't even particularly close with the "friend" in question, it didn't even cross their minds that this would be a big deal to you.

I do think there is some sort of general etiquette that you don't just randomly start dating your good friend's ex the second they break up. But I think that is more along the lines of me being upset if my wife (who I've been with for nearly 6 years and been married to for 3 1/2) and I split up and she started dating the guy who was best man at our wedding (a close friend of mine for nearly 15 years). I think that would be an entirely different situation than requiring anyone I've ever dated, no matter how briefly, and anyone I've even been friendly with, no matter how casual the friendship, consult with me before they start dating.
posted by The Gooch at 9:32 AM on October 18, 2006

emelenjr, are you trying to say that previous Anonymous question was posted by you?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:58 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah.

Not that it changes anything, I guess. Just more background.
posted by emelenjr at 11:11 AM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: It's possible that they specifically waited several weeks to start dating, so that it would not seem so sudden or bad. And then didn't want to tell you immediately, out of a misguided effort to protect your feelings. (plus some cowardice or uncertainty how to tell you in a way that wouldn't be gloating or cause a big confrontation)

That is, they might be selfish jerks. Or they might be non-selfish but just dense about the best way to handle the situation.

Either way, as everyone has said, you are well within your rights to be hurt and sad and annoyed -- both that they're dating, and that they didn't tell you immediately. But, as Gooch eloquently said above, you being hurt and sad and annoyed doesn't translate to "their actions are wrong." People here are telling you to avoid lashing out (unreasonably) while you are (quite reasonably) hurt and sad and annoyed. I think bingo's advice about how to handle it is probably the best -- just call him up and get it out in the open without a big group scene. I'm sorry, the situation sucks; good luck.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:12 AM on October 18, 2006

On looking at the previous question: ouch. It sounds like she is not in a great head-space right now. Nothing you can do about that, and I think everyone above is right that you and your buddy will be commiserating before too long.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:16 AM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: emelenjr, I'm really sorry that you've gone through all this. It sounds like you met a really great girl going through a really bad time in her life, so while you fell really hard for her, she just wasn't in a position to do much but try to pick up the pieces, much less pick up a serious realtionship on the side.

So it's understandable that you're feeling jealous and hurt. Others would say you shouldn't invest so much so early into the relationship, especially with a woman who was to an outside observer definitely not ready, but love doesn't work like that, and when you're coming off an eight-year dry spell it's not easy to cool down and take things slow.

But that said, I don't think this move was malicious on her or your sort-of friend's part. Because no matter how intense your feelings, you still had only known her for a month and your friend was just a casual acquaintance. And I doubt she had the ability to process your relationship with her, much less plan to play you like a sap to get into your friend's pants. You're the guy that fell too hard, she's the gal who's not ready for commitment, and your friend is just a guy looking for a gal. He's likely to get his heart broken too.
posted by Anonymous at 5:28 PM on October 18, 2006

Some people here are advocating taking the high-road. The response in which you just let it go, you behave with "class", by swallowing the pain/anger and not making any noise about it. Some folks advocate the high road because really, they do not feel your ex or your friend have done anything wrong. So taking the high-road in this context consists in dealing with your pain with dignity (and not openly sulking or lashing out and blaming people for wrongs they have not committed).

But you can also take the high-road in direct response to being wronged (in addition to dealing with the pain). In this case you determine that the ex and casual friend did in fact do wrong, but that you will not call them on it, not even subliminally if you can help it, nor will you let bitterness fester inside you. Yet, you will maintain that they did wrong (perhaps you will conclude that they behaved selfishly and cowardly, enough for you to lose respect for them but not really enough to warrant overt wrath on your part). And if you have lost enough respect, you may grow weary of keeping their company--you don't have to stay friendly with them in order to be taking the high road, just don't make the severing of ties a ceremony, let it happen uneventfully if possible (and it need not be permaneant, you may regain respect for one or both of them in the future).

I advocate taking the high road, but without accepting that the other parties did no wrong. Take the high-road not just in response to the pain you feel, but also in response to being wronged. I think they were wrong in the way they handled things. Maybe "wrong" is too loaded a word to use, perhaps it would be better to say classless and insensitive (although this is a type of wrong). The fact that you were only together a month and that your friend was merely a casual friend is relevant to determining whether a transgression occured here. But the added information re. how fast the relationship moved, and the fact that you discussed the breakup and the issue of awkwardness with this casual friend indicates to me that they behaved insensitively. Bonding with another person in a very brief interval, or even on a single occasion of honest discussion and support-giving generates levels of obligation that your two friends seem to have failed to meet. Of course they don't need your permission, but flat out not telling you bespeaks insensitivty and weakness on their part. But if you agree, just be careful not to feed or augment that indictment with the still fresh break-up pain. I imagine that even if you are past resentment towards your ex with respect to this matter, you may find it difficult to come to a tempered assessment of your casual friend's failure here (afterall he is dating your ex).
posted by crack at 11:13 PM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: I appreciate everyone's advice here. I can't let this consume me the way it has been lately, so I've decided to take the high road, as more than a few of you suggested. For me, that means reaching out to this friend of mine and at least attempting to resolve this awkward situation that's developed. I don't know if he's going to take me up on it yet, but I've made the offer. If the three (at least) of us are going to remain friends, my friend and I are going to have to sort things out.
posted by emelenjr at 6:51 PM on October 19, 2006

fleacircus is the guy in the bar who says "yeah, they're all bitches, time for another round," and that can be cathartic for a drunken evening, but you should be self-aware enough to see that that's all it is.

Oh I think it's a bit more than that, my answer-belittling friend.

Even though I'm totally in the background behind you raising a pint and mouthing "stepping stone!" while you talk.
posted by fleacircus at 12:26 AM on October 20, 2006

Good for you, emelenjr. You won't regret taking that approach.

*buys fleacircus another pint*
posted by languagehat at 7:05 AM on October 20, 2006

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