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Asking Out Your Friend's Ex

Dear Philippa:

I'm attracted to my best friend's ex-girlfriend, and I think the feeling's mutual. What's the protocol in this kind of situation? Should I ask her out?

�Derek, Detroit


Dear Derek,

On the old Seinfeld show they used to have rules for everything. Like if you'd been out with someone a certain number of times then it was OK to say you were through with them over the phone. Real life isn't that cut and dried. And I don't believe there is a specific protocol for your situation. So much depends on how long it's been since your friend split up, whether she left him or he left her, whether your friend is really over her, if he's seeing anyone else, etc.

Even if your friend seems over this woman he may still feel less than thrilled to know his best friend wants to go out with her. Which brings up the point---don't wait to tell him after you are dating her. Then it looks like you are just trying to clear your conscience at his expense. If this is more than your hormones stirring and this woman really interests you, then be upfront with your friend. Let him know there seems to be some mutual attraction going on and ask him how he would he feel about you dating her.

Be prepared for all possible responses. What will you do if he says he doesn't want you to go out with her? You better have this figured out before you ask.

You sound like a good friend and an ethical person. Make sure that you're not risking a good friendship just for a fling. Before making any moves, find out how this woman really feels about you and how she feels about what this could do to her ex-boyfriend. She may be feeling rebound-itis. There is any number of reasons for her interest in you. I just hope they are in your best interest.



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