We’ve discussed the When Harry Met Sally debate. You know, the one about men and women and “just friends.” For the sake of this post, let’s all agree, just for a moment, that the answer is yes: Men and women can be friends. (If you strongly disagree please elaborate below, or comment on the original post.)
Okay. We’re taking this as fact. So let’s say you have a group of great guy friends. And one of these guys starts dating an awesome girl. BFF material, no question. And then, let’s say, your guy friend breaks up with said girl. (For the record, this didn’t happen to me. It happened to a girl I know. Yes, I know how that sounds—No, these condoms aren’t for me, they’re for my, uh, friend—but I’m no liar.) What do you do?
Friendship etiquette says that when a buddy breaks up with someone, you do too. One of the greatest complications of long-term relationship splits is who gets custody of the amigos. (Cue Ross and Rachel reference.) But this situation is a bit dicier. You haven’t been friends with the girl a long time, but you see her potential. It’s as if you’re Michael Jordan and she could be your Scottie Pippen. Or maybe she could be the Elephaba to your Glinda. (Take whichever comparison speaks to you and run with it…) Together you’d be more than the sum of your parts.
But then she and your friend break up. Can you still pursue the friendship? I’m not sure.
First you need to consider the circumstances of the break. Did she cheat on him? If so, say goodbye. You can’t be wooing some girl who wronged your friend. Did he cheat on her? You still might say goodbye, lest you find yourself in some awkward situation where she’s badmouthing your pal and you don’t know what to say. Not to mention that if he cheated she might want nothing to do with his friends, including you.
What if it was an amicable-enough breakup? They’re not going to try and be friends (because that’s crazytalk), but they don’t hate each other either. Can you keep up the friending?
I want to think a great guy friend—if he knew you were on the BFF prowl—would be ok with it. But the more I run different scenarios in my head, the more I’m convinced it’s an impossible feat. Staying friends with a friend’s ex is almost as hard as staying friends with an ex. There’s always that awkwardness of not wanting to mention one in front of the other. Being unsure of what’s okay to say, and what’s off limits. Though men might have the reputation for being less sensitive when it comes to breakups, I’m not convinced that’s true.
What do you think? There’s no hard and fast rule here—so many circumstantial factors come into play—but if you had to generalize, can you pursue BFF bliss with a guy friend’s ex?