You know that rule about how you’re never supposed to date the guy your best friend hooked up with? The “girl code” and “sisters before misters” and all that? How if you find yourself interested in someone who has been with your friend, you back the heck up and reevaluate. Are you just expected to shut down those feelings just like that? Well, that’s stupid. And you know why I can say that? Because I broke that rule. I broke that rule in the worst way.
It all started in a bar. (Isn’t that how all the good stories start?) I met him, we danced, he swept me off my feet, and on the way home, my best friend announced that she had a crush on him–which, in turn, crushed whatever hope I had of ever making him mine. Less than a week later, they were hooking up.
On one hand, this meant that I got to know basically everything about him, through her. I got to know him without having to talk to him, which was kind of great, because I’m sort of super socially inept. And, I’ll admit, it was good to see her happy. The only problem with your friend hooking up with a guy you think you might like is that he’s around. A lot. You guys hang out, you get to know each other. He helps your colorblind date for semiformal pick out a tie to match your dress. You actually become friends. And we did become friends. We talked, and eventually, we got to know each other. He was the first person I had ever met who thought the same way about things as I do.
Then one day, it hit me like a truck: I really, REALLY liked this guy. So I did what any rational woman in my situation would do and vowed to never speak to him again. This would have been easy if we didn’t go to a small college and he wasn’t so friendly.
He texted me one day, though. We started talking. A lot. We texted all day, every day. I loved it. He was charming, he gave me advice on how to handle my ex-boyfriend, and he made me smile. The more I learned about him, the more I liked him–but I felt guilty. Surely this fell under some kind of violation of the “girl code”: thou shalt not flirt-text with thy best friend’s hook up.
Long story short, the texting turned into hanging out, which led to us sitting outside his chapter house late one night, where he kissed me. Naturally, I did the most awkward thing possible: I apologized. Except looking back now, I wasn’t apologizing to him. I wasn’t sorry that we had kissed, because when it came down to it, kissing him was the first thing that I had done in a long time that felt right. Instead, I think I was apologizing to my friend. I was apologizing because what made me happy would hurt her, and I knew it.
I think the bad thing about the “girl code” is that it doesn’t allow for exceptions. It’s always, “If you date your friend’s ex, you’re a bad friend.” But I wasn’t. I’m still not. And if he dates his ex’s friend, he’s a bad guy, right? He’s a scoundrel, the scum of the Earth? But he’s not. He’s just a guy with a heart AND a penis, like every other guy. When he realized he didn’t want a relationship with my friend, he moved on.
I won’t say that knowing he had slept with one of my friends didn’t put a bit of a strain on me. I felt guilty. At the time, I was trying to comfort her while I tried to figure out how this new relationship was going to work. I was stressed out, and because of the “girl code,” I felt like the worst friend in the entire world. I tried to hide what was happening at first. I didn’t tell anyone that he came home to meet my parents. I never posted pictures. I refused to tweet at him for the longest time. I left no physical evidence that there was anything between us.
Then I came to the realization that I was being crazy. There was no point in hiding things, because eventually, she was going to know either way. I was planning on keeping him around for a long, long time, and I couldn’t do that if I was hiding someone that I was so happy to be with. By pretending our relationship didn’t exist in public, I was stunting its growth. We would never have made it to where we are today if I had tried to keep hiding us.
So I’m proposing a new code: do what makes you happy. If you’re into someone a friend has previously been into, tell her. Talk about it. Yeah, she might get mad, but if she’s a real friend, she’s going to get over it and want you to be happy. Plus, if she’s REALLY over him, it shouldn’t matter. My friends are welcome to any of my ex-boyfriends that they want. Holding some claim over your exes, acting like they’re still yours–that’s crazy. Move on with your life. You deserve it, and no matter what happened between you and your ex, he deserves it, too.
I’m not telling you to a ruin a friendship over just any boy, but if you honestly, truly think that he’s someone really special, don’t let him get away because you’re scared of what a friend will think. If you really think he’s worth it, go for it. But if you’re always going to be freaking out inside because he was with your friend first, then let him go. She’s in his past, and if you’re always looking at the past, you’ll never be able to make a future together. He deserves better, and so do you..