Dating My Girl’s Ex

by Demetria L. Lucas

Last summer, my dating memoir/ advice book, A Belle in Brooklyn, debuted in hard cover. Of all the stories or quips/tips, I shared, I noticed that in interviews and discussions about the book, there were three topics that near everyone who read it, or interviewed me about it (not always one in the same) got hung up on (in this order):

  1. The sexual assault that happened in Chapter 2, which everyone who mentioned it talked about by talking around it, and if I was in a room of people, everyone became noticeable uncomfortable. No surprise as in a survey by the Centers for Disease Control, one in five college women reported being raped at some point in her lifetime.
  1. The issue of Black women and weight because, whether being overweight or “unfit,” it’s an issue in dating or a general health issue, and it’s one that concerns a lot of us. Also unsurprising as 69 percent of non-Hispanic Black women are overweight or obese, according to the Office of the Surgeon General.
  1. My “rules” for dating a friend’s ex — seeming harmless in comparison to the other two topics as it’s not an issue that affects really important things like physical and mental health, but one that struck a chord nonetheless. (On Monday, I took a visit to VH1’s Big Morning Buzz to discuss a few rules to dating from a woman’s perspective, a take on MTV’s uber-popular series Guy Code, and the topic came up once again)

By no means do I think anyone should be plotting on a friend’s current significant other in hopes that they break up so you can make him your own. There’s a popular Chris Rock skit that talks about women noticing just how great a friend’s man is and think “I want him!” as opposed to what Rock says guys do and think, “I want a woman like that!” That’s just all manner of shady. But it’s equally shady for women to call “off limits!” to long ago exes, like the guy they were in a relationship with in college when they graduated years upon years ago, or even guys that were casual dating encounters that didn’t work out in the long run. Logically, we can’t lament, as we so often do, about the lack of quality male dating options, then create frivolous rules for each other regarding who’s dateable among the circle — no matter how far in history or on the margins — and expect to all have a fruitful selection.

I’m not fond of friends or associates having penis in common. But as our social media lives continue to expand — with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like making it more likely to meet people from our friends and associate’s pasts — it’s become increasingly difficult to meet anyone who hasn’t known someone we know-know in the Biblical sense, much less sat across from while having dinner and drinks. Naturally, I thought that with the new social setting I should get over my hang up about shared peen and evolve to accommodate our increasingly intermingled lives.

In my “Dating Code of Honor,” I set forth new rules — yes, like HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher:

Article One: Married folk must remove all exes from their personal basket and return items to the shelf for consumption by the general market, including friends and associates. Said married people are not obligated to hook up, arrange blind dates, or introduce single friends to their exes.

Article Two: Currently boo-d up people can still claim exes off-limits if the previous relationship occurred within the last three years. Upon entering a relationship, anyone they were committed to — except those rare great loves –  is fair game.

Article Three: All college boos must be released into the marketplace for general consumption at maximum three years post-graduation.

Article Four: All Great Loves — the type that “Carrie Bradshaw” would have called a “Mr. Big” — are of limits to the circle of friends and associates regardless of marital/dating status.

Article Five: One-night stands are in play to all after 90 days.

Article Six: Jump-offs who have not been active for more than 12 months are fair game.

Article Seven: Your ex’s inner circle of friends remains off-limits unless the ex grants permission.

Article Eight: In the case of a man who has been claimed, i.e., an interest has been expressed by a friend, but a return interest has not been forthcoming, said man is up for grabs by friends and associates after a period of seven days.

In each and every case of dating a friend’s former flame, the friend must be given the head’s up or permission must be asked — no exceptions. (I’m trying to improve dating relations, not ruin friendships.)

Could you and/or your friend’s operate by these rules?

Demetria L. Lucas the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. ABIB is available to download and now in paperback. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk


  • Smilez_920

    Um not really. Listen if I went on a simple date with someone in high school that’s different. But if your my close friend you shouldnt want to dip in my pool no matter how old or new the water is. I don’t care what associates do, but girls I consider close friends or like sisters wouldn’t want my exes.

    The only rule I could possible rock with is article eight. Or any rule where my friend and the guy never where talking seriously and never had sex.

    And even then I’m not losing a friend over a dude who probably won’t be around very long. I know the media has women thinking there is some type of dating shortage but trust there’s enough men out there that you don’t have to Double back to your friends cut buddies and exes. Plus if your constantly trying to date everyone from my past I’m going to start giving you the side eye.

  • Tami

    I couldn’t care less about someone dating my ex. I have learned to move on in my life & not look back. I have girlfriends but to be real, our lives are so busy that we don’t get together that often, that what they would do with a past love of mine, would not affect me. Why hold on to the past? Just because a person didn’t find love with your ex, maybe they can! Life is too short. Why deny yourself love? I just think as a matter of respect, your friend owes it to you to let you know what is going on. Who made up these rules!

  • soulfullyreal

    I’m not necessarily stone cold against dating a friends LONG AGO ex, but i don’t believe the dating pool is THAT small, like homegirl just cannot find a dude you haven’t been with and HAS to resort to your leftovers.

    ” it’s become increasingly difficult to meet anyone who hasn’t known someone we know-know in the Biblical sense”

    If this is true we are all damned. Unless you live in some random town in Minnesota, there will always be a new face. I would never date a friends ex anything, but i do have previous lovers that amounted to nothing that i wouldn’t care if a friend dated. I’d give her the side eye, but I wouldn’t block. Like I said, too many ppl in this world to resort to that.

  • Marks Whitmore

    I’m still undecided myself, but ultimately I think it’s about the conversation with that friend and if they are truly/genuinely okay with you all dating. I just thought it would be interesting to note that I once read in an article claiming that one reason more black women (vs. white) are single is because of limitations we out on dating friends ex’s or former romantic interests. Ultimately blocking ourselves from people who are often in our circles, with similar interest, and other commonalities that could make for the foundation of a potential relationship. Pending who your girlfriend was dating of course.

  • OSHH

    I have one really great best friend and I really don’t associate with alot of women my age but I am cool with tons of folk. So this really isn’t an issue for me.

  • Cee Cee

    I think it totally depends on the “ex” and if a person is interested in dating them they should just come and talk. I am married but there are two of my exs that are off limits and should be forever to any friends. But then I have a small circle of friends and we are like sisters, brothers and none would do anything to be hurtful.

  • Yb

    Lol these articles are hilarious. Do we place these rules in our dating manual, and if we forget this rules are put on dating probation?

    Regardless I wouldn’t be comfortable with a friend of my mine dating my ex. Out of 7 billion people you go for my ex? Hmmm

  • Smilez_920

    I’m sure that limiting could play a part but who would really be comfortable or continue the same relationship with a friend who would date your ex husband/wife or serious bf/gf. I’m sure as close friends they know some details of your relationship. Too me if your friend is willing to cross that line then they’ve probably been plotting before you broke up with the person. Unless this is a friend you met after your broke up with you significant other.

    Other than that I don’t care if you want to date someone who tried to talk to me and it went nowhere. Enjoy him. I also wouldn’t date my exes close friends. Now associates are different I can’t help If we’re familiar with the same ppl.

  • Sasha

    Is dating really that hard?

  • Jet

    They can have all of my exes.

  • keyea

    Personally, I can’t date one of my friend’s ex’s, it just does not seem right. I can’t kiss you knowing your lips were on my homegirls and you definately won’t be sleeping with me…I don’t want to know any of the women from your past and I don’t want you to know any of the men from my past…let’s just start fresh and clean, no comparisons.

  • Rastaman

    I am going to guess that the people who place a lot of rules around who they can and cannot date tend to be the one’s who most frequently lament the paucity of suitable dating prospects. Being the biggest hindrance to one’s personal progress is more common than we readily admit.

    How good a friend are you if you are willing to stand in the way of a friend possible happiness because of some dating rule established by adolescent girls?

  • Sasha

    Bingo! Girls that probably weren’t that good of friends anyways.

  • Honeybelle

    As a woman who just went through this exact situation I find these rules to cut close to home. Frankly I could never date a friends ex as it would be really weird & messy. Plus who really wants to dish about their man to someone who has already been there first.

    Like the other folks said there is a lot to be said for a woman who can’t find anyone else to date but her friend’s ex.

  • cosmicsistren

    I don’t think dating is hard. Only so-called dating experts like the author try to make it seem it is so you can buy their books and convince you their rules/advice works. The rules in the article are ridiculous. The author’s world must be really small if you can’t find a man that your friend/associate hasn’t been with.

  • Dom

    I’ont know B, all my ex’s/JO’s/sorta boyfriends and everything in between is off limits to my inner circle. If I’ve seen the love below, I don’t want my closest friends knowing what I know. Granted, my inner circle is only like 4 women. My acquaintances and friends-of-friends are more than welcome to have at them ol’ chuckleheads though LOL

  • LemonNLime

    Happy someone said it! We are both consenting adults and I am not going to play middle school games.

  • MsZMC

    The only way I’m going to be okay with a friend dating someone from my past is if they are truly deeply connected and plan to fall in love and get married, have babies, have a far better relationship than I ever would have with him, and live happily ever after.

    I don’t know how they are going to get to that point though, hopefully I don’t know about it…… I’m just not comfortable with my friend bringing someone around that I used to sleep with, date, love, etc. It’s just not considerate of your friends feelings. Just because you don’t deal with someone anymore doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for complicated feelings once you start to hear about/see that person around again.

    And I’m so sick of dating “rules”. Who sits on the committee to make these rules? Steve Harvey, Tyler Perry and bloggers?

  • Whatever


    In my circle, ALL exes are off limits. There’s other fish in the sea… get yourself a fishing pole and keep it moving.

  • binks

    Bingo! Personally for me it takes a LOT for me to get into a relationship with someone regardless wheather it is friendship or romance so if I were in a relationship with so and so best believe for me that would be a hard pill to swallow mainly because how I operate in love, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with “oh…she is being immature.” No, some things are off limits, the world isn’t that damn small. Like you said I can see if they were madly in love and there pairing was something they couldn’t help then no I wouldn’t stand in their way but if they are doing it to just do it than yes I have a problem. It isn’t about dating rules (which there are none) but about courtesy and boundaries. This discussion remains me of soap operas of how everybody is a revolving door in their circles/town…lol So things are best left to fiction

  • Youwishyoucouldbeme

    This is not a popular opinion but once you aren’t dating someone anymore they can date whomever they want. People can make all the rules they want to make, but adults can do what they want. But real talk, most of the time your friends won’t want your ex, because he or she probably wasn’t a good fit for a lot of people. But if you move on, then so can they. I wouldn’t hold any ex hostage against my friends, even if it would hurt to see them together. I believe that holding onto an ex prevents me from getting my next blessing.

  • Down south transplant

    LOL oh my!!

  • Down south transplant

    Excuse me the good friend you dished out my playbook etc with my man now he is my ex you are playing footsy with him oh I don’t think so you are dead to me but if we have kids i will sleep well at night knowing i don’t have to go all FBI on you behind *SMH*

  • Down south transplant

    Do the rules apply to me, My ex ended up getting his own GF and being his wife, but me and him are still cool and in the process she ended up being one of my close friends after i got together with my then fiancee now husband obviously we both have gone on the same street so to speak, we talk about everything except their bedroom issues!!! Rules are loose constructs but cannot be fixed in the real world having said that NO i will not be coupling with any of my friends EX’s even the most frequently changers of partners whether they had “known” each other or not!! I think i would know too much to really make it work especially with my BFF’s we know the good and the bad of each other and our respective partners:)

  • LorriK

    I had a sorority sister who said, loyalty ends when you leave the “yard.” Guess so as she’s now married to her linesister’s ex. I couldn’t do it but if it works for you AND you can maintain a healthy friendship with your gal friend, go for it.

  • NewLook

    This is too funny, my friend was telling me a story about her friend that did not want her friend to start dating a guy she dated in HIGH SCHOOL (she is well over 30 by the way and married and divorced and probably just hating). SMH. Let it Go!!!

  • Jasmine

    You can have them, am happily married.

  • Mademoiselle

    This is the closest to how I feel. I’m less concerned about policing who my friends date than I am about having someone back in my life by way of my friend. I usually burn bridges with my ex, so having them resurface because they’re now on my friend’s arm would make my friendship awkward to say the least. Especially considering if she’s a close friend she would’ve already heard my stories about the things I dealt with while with him.

  • Bebe

    Too many great guys on the planet for me to have such a coarse thing in common with a friend. I can’t say I think ‘Off limits!’ so much as I shake my head and think, ‘Ugh, nasty, trifling and totally unnecessary.’ And yeah, I said it.

  • JN

    My friends could date my exes, but there is a reason they are exes. They can take that risk.

  • dee

    exactly ppl are holding on to ppl they’re supposedly over with for far too long

  • dee


  • dee

    I personally think the rules make sense. I know a girl who ended a long friendship because her friend started dating a guy she once liked five years ago. they never dated. he never even knew she liked him. they didn’t even know each other. that was js ridiculous to let go of a good friend because of that. Some ppl do hold crazy claims on ppl. ” oh i once thought about dating him so now you can’t.” And if you live in a small city you’re bound to meet a friend or associate ex bf/JO or a guy she once went on ONE date with.

  • Dvine

    i don’t believe in dating exes.. i don’t like the idea of a guy sleeping w/me and my friend.. a lil too close for comfort for me.. don’t care if i’ve moved on or not.. there are things you just don’t do..

    a real friend wouldn’t do no bs like that anyway..

  • Dvine

    i’m a grown and i do not want to go messing with or sleep w/a friend’s ex.. i find it disgusting.. she laid up w/him and shared her deepest secrets w/him and then i’m going to do the same.. sorry.. too many men out there for me to only find interest in my friends ex.. are we now gonna sit by the fire and reminisce about it.. call it what you want.. loyalty is just that.. loyalty..

  • Dvine

    if her friend knew then she wrong.. don’t care if he didn’t know..

  • Type Fashion

    Thanks.In fact,I learned a lot from your story ang these comments.Love your blog.

  • grateful

    “loyalty is just that.. loyalty..”


  • Pingback: Dating My Girl’s Ex » VIBE Vixen

  • onegirl

    Can you please use punctuation? Your comments are probably valid, but they are really hard to read/understand.

  • Youwishyoucouldbeme

    I disagree with Dvine. I don’t believe we can claim someone who didn’t even know we liked them. That’s ridiculous. I’m glad my friends aren’t so crazy. If I liked a guy and he liked my friend, what kind of friend would that make me to get in their way?

  • Ms. Write


  • Ms. Write

    Awkward and weird…no thanks! Has the sea of fish gotten that small that you have to take your bff’s leftovers? If we are talking about a situation in which the friend only went on one or two dates then maybe, but I would still be hesitant even then! (especially if she slept with him). No, I’d rather go out and find my own, there are plenty of eligible men. Anyone who thinks that there isn’t, either needs to go out more or take a good long look at their list of standards.

  • Ms. Write

    I was in a situation two years ago where I moved to a new city and met a guy through a new friendInstead of telling me she and the guy used to “talk” (they hadn’t slept together at that point) she kept it a secret. After we broke up, she told me that she had feelings for him and she had started seeing him after we ended our relationship. WTF? I didn’t really trip because our friendship was new and she knew the guy longer. But it was kind of shady. Now I prefer to date men that NOBODY in my current circles know on any type of personal level.

  • Ms. Write

    Wow! That’s all types of sheisty. A line sister though?

  • Boop

    How about this-if you want to keep that woman as your friend, just don’t date her ex. That’s a recipe for disaster.

  • Boop


  • Boop

    It’s not about standing in the way of someone’s happiness-it’s about being honest with your feelings. If you hang out with the girlfriend in a lot, then you will have to see the ex. And that is not only awkward but just plain weird.
    So, its best for the friend not to even go there if she wants to keep her good girlfriend. If the possible love match is stronger than the friendship, then go for it. Because it’s the rare woman who would be o.k. with this scenario, and she’d drop the friend over this.

  • Boop

    @ Youwishyoucouldbeme:

    Since when does matters of the heart make sense? That’s why you just don’t go there if your good friend’s feelings would be hurt.

    I know there is one guy from high school I still think about today. I’ve seen him since, and the feelings were still there & high school was a decade ago.

  • Nonconspicuous

    I once had a situation that applies to Article #8. I used to hang with a group that would meet up socially on occasion for dinner, happy hour, etc. I approached one of the single women in the group about a future exclusive date and she supplied her contact info. Upon that initial one-on-one contact she revealed that she couldn’t go out with me. There was a female in the group (let’s call her ”Girl X”) that apparently had gotten upset with the person of interest because Girl X had expressed interest in me to the females of the social clique. But I was not aware of this interest in me from Girl X, she had never made it known to me and I had no interest in her.

    So out of loyalty to her friend, the person of interest rescinded her decision about going out with me. I was momentarily upset with someone who had interest in me but was too afraid to express it to me yet seemingly had called “dibs” on me. While I don’t know what would’ve happened with the person of interest but I regarded what Girl X had done as straight sabotage.

  • KnuckIfYouBuck

    Just found out a family member was scheming and throwing herself at a dude I dated for few years (recent as of late 2010)! Played herself and sent him all sorts of inappropriate things, was chatting with him for months BEHIND my back ; and was indignant when confronted with the evidence. Needless to say, I was less than kind when giving her a public flogging of sorts.

    There are more than enough men out here that women who are close friends don’t need to dip in each other’s pool of ex’s. Loyalty is certainly a thing of the past with some people.

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