Over the years, there has been much disagreement between my friends and I regarding the book of grey-area rules that apply to the availability of dating friends' ex's. What is considered an ex? What are the guidelines? Does a guy you/I dated for two months fall into the category of "untouchable" in the long run? What about an ex significant other that I dated for years but ended on very amicable and non-romantic terms with? Or the guy who winked at me in the bar last Saturday...could you date him instead? Where does it begin and end, this is what I'd like to know, and WHY. There are so many grey areas with this one...I think this may be the main reason why people shy away from the subject altogether, in fear of angering their friends.
Some individuals are painfully sensitive about this and don't want their friends to date ANYONE they've been associated with, even with someone they went on just one or two dates with. I happen to fall in the more liberal end of the spectrum with this one, as I feel most guys I've been associated with in the past are fair game for my friends, unless there was and continue to be significant emotional ties to that relationship. I read a quote today that perfectly illustrates the way I feel about this: "If you cry over a guy, then your friends CAN'T date him. It can't even be considered."
I'm not saying any ex is fair game, and I definitely feel in many instances, it would be disrespectful to go for a friend's ex. However, I do feel like some people go overboard with this and use it as a tool of manipulation to shelter their own ego, not because they have lingering feelings and emotions tied to the person at hand. We've gotten to the point in this day and age where we all date multiple (double-digit) partners. In addition, I believe a lot of the same opinions and feelings about relationships have lingered from years ago in our parents' era where people dated one or two partners in their lives, got married and lived happily ever after. This is no longer the case, by any means. It is quite common for people to date multiple partners in the process of finding a permanent mate, and I feel like it's unreasonable to stake claim on every single person you've dated in your entire life. Shouldn't we all lighten up a bit? There are definitely some untouchable people, say...the guy that broke my friend's heart, for example...that's an obvious one. But what about the cutie that she met at a bar three years back, went on a few dates and never really developed with? Is that fair game?
If there are no longer any heavy emotions involved, I think it's A-Ok to let a friend go ahead with a person you were once associated with. I guess there will always be disagreement with any subject when there's a fine line to walk. People will often see things slightly differently, and this makes all the difference in a situation like this when people's feelings are on the line. I myself wonder why people can be so possessive over their ex's, especially my women friends. It makes me think that it is an issue related to insecurity? An ego issue? I still am not really sure, and I'd like to hear some opinions on this from all you lovely individuals out there. In any case, I think the key is communication. Talk to your friend; try to understand where they are coming from and why. And, if you still feel like they are being unreasonable, this is when you have to consider whether or not this is a battle worth picking. Letting it go will salvage the friendship, however, this could support an unreasonable and continuing selfish attitude with this person. Each situation is different, and the key is going to be communication between you and your dear friend.
I've said this before and I'll say it again, the traditional rules of relationships are often outdated and irrational in these modern times. Lets all open ourselves up a bit to relationship rules. Like my friend Beth says, "Every couple has the right to make their own rules."
Obviously, the groom is untouchable.
[Eel & Ermine pencil dress, Aldo pumps]