Dear Wendy: “Am I Wrong For Hooking Up With My Friend’s Ex?”

I’ve recently developed feelings for one of my friend’s ex-boyfriends. Throughout their whole relationship she lied to him and cheated multiple times. I saw him at his most vulnerable and he would confide in me when things with them were rough. He and I became really good friends throughout the whole thing and everyone expected we both had a thing for each other. Though they broke up and he moved back to a city 10 hours away from me, he and I have stayed friends for two years now. Recently, he came up to visit and we unexpectedly hooked up … three times. Both of us admitted our feelings for each other after all this time. Now I’m conflicted. Did I break a girl code hooking up with him even though he and my friend broke up over a year ago, she is now currently living with her new boyfriend, and she treated him badly? He and I have both admitted we want to see each other again and maybe even try and give a relationship a shot. How/when should I tell her about us and is it a bad idea to pursue anything with the guy I could see myself falling in love with but who my friend still has a dibs on because of a stupid girl code? — Wanting What I Can’t Have

If you’re looking for validation that you’re in the right here, you’re not going to get it from me. You know what you did is shady or else you would have asked your girlfriend how she’d feel about you hooking up with her ex before he traveled 10 hours to see you. Come on, don’t tell me you didn’t anticipate the two of you would get intimate. As for the “girl code,” the only thing “stupid” about it is the dumb name. There isn’t anything stupid about respecting people’s feelings instead of only thinking about your own wants and what will make you the happiest. If you are at all interested in remaining friends with your girlfriend, see how she would feel about you pursing something with her ex — don’t tell her you’ve already hooked up! If she’s OK with it, great. If she’s not, you have to end it, unless having a potential relationship with a guy who lives 10 hours away is worth losing a friend over. In that case, go for it!

I dated my ex, Kirk, off and on throughout high school. We’re 22 now and have known each other for eight years. Earlier this year, we tried dating again but I was too emotionally screwed-up from a recent breakup to get serious. We hung out for a few months and he told me that his “patience was wearing thin” around June, at which point I realized he’d been waiting for me for about six months. I was angry that he had the audacity to word it like that and embarrassed to be put on the spot, as well as remorseful that I’d (in his eyes) been dragging him around for months. I broke it off right then and there. We eventually made up (as friends) after I apologized for being neglectful. Within the past two months, I brought up the idea of dating casually again, but shortly into it, I wasn’t feeling it, and realized he may have felt stronger for me than I did for him. I told him flat-out that I wanted to end it, saying “I was afraid of losing his friendship.”

Well, a couple of weeks ago I met a guy named Steven. We instantly hit it off and I felt a very strong chemistry with him. Unfortunately, this guy happens to be Kirk’s best friend. Steven happened to “ask” Kirk’s permission to date me and he said “go for it.” Steven and I went out the next evening and needless to say, I got my hopes up that it could turn into a relationship. When I contacted Kirk to say, “Hey, thanks for being so cool with this,” he blew up at me, demanding to know why I thought he’d be OK with it. Apparently, he had changed his mind.

I haven’t heard from Steven since (going on two weeks now), except for an e-mail that said he and my ex “had a huge fight about it and I decided that, although you are cool, the history surrounding you and Kirk makes it too difficult to do anything without losing or upsetting my best friend.” I understand why Kirk would be upset but I refuse to believe that I should have asked for his “permission.” One, I think it’s ridiculous that I, as an adult, am required to ask before doing something I want. I can’t help but resent Kirk for ruining this for me. I feel bad he and Steven got into a fight but now it seems as if no one is happy with how things turned out. Is there any hope for me and Steven (I really like him!) or should I just accept that the best situation now is working on regaining Kirk’s friendship? Why can’t everyone be happy? — Doesn’t Need Permission

Please see my advice above about how it’s not ridiculous to respect other people’s feelings instead of only thinking about what will make you the happiest. I mean, are you kidding me here? This isn’t about asking for “permission”; it’s about not being incredibly selfish. You said you can understand why Kirk would have a problem with your dating his best friend after you shared a long, complicated romantic history with him that ended only a few months ago, so why are you so intent on dating that best friend anyway? Why do you think your happiness is more valuable than his feelings? It’s not, and you need to grow up and stop thinking about only you, you, you.

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