RNDP 10: Recycling and Rules

Moving away from Histocompatibility for now, the next Google hit to explore in the world of new dating paradigms shows up in a comment to a livejournal posting. 30-year-old featherynscale asked her readers:10 - it's okay; 20 - it depends; 2 - never okay

If you are friends with someone, and they break it off with a person they are dating/sleeping with/married to/whatever, is it okay for you to pursue their ex?
She broke her question into sub-questions and created several polls that 32 of her readers responded to. She also invited her readers to leave comments expanding on their answers and to describe circumstances that would make it okay or not okay.

Her first commenter, saffronhare, replied:

This is one of those areas where it always depends on some other shading of relationships. If both people of the deceased relationship (dating or married) still travel in the same social circles, then one would perhaps want to maintain some amicability in any new dating paradigm. You know, and *talking* to the people involved. But I bet you already knew that. :)

4D Analysis: Saffronhare is using the phrase "new dating paradigm" to refer to a new dating situation that a person might be in, in this case, with a person who used to be involved with a friend, not to a whole new model for dating. You might assume that, because Saffronhare and Featherynscale are not endorsing this model as a new paradigm, I also wouldn't endorse it. But let's not sail away from this port before seeing all the sights.

2 out of a non-random sample of 32 people say it's not okay to date a friend's ex even if the friend is dead. I hope these two are in happy relationships that last until they die and if after their death their widows or widowers get involved with a friend, there really is no afterlife so they won't ever know about it.

A majority (20/32) say it can be okay in certain circumstances, but this also means they think it is not okay in other circumstances. I assume that they are all referring to it being morally not okay. Not to it being practically not okay.

Because let's face it, while dating a friend's ex may have pitfalls like possible fistfights, slashed tires, and late night hangup phone calls, it also has benefits like already knowing the person you're dating and knowing what you can do to compare favourably to the last paramour. And you can date a stranger and get the pitfalls anyway.

If you've got a screening list like Kirshenbaum, Coyote and Milan do, you might be tempted to add not a friend's ex to it, or if you're not a hardliner, not the ex of a friend who says it's not okay.

What I ask if you have a screening list is, do you actually want to date? Or are you trying to come up with reasons to justify not dating? Sure we don't want you getting involved with an ax-murderer or somebody you'll come to despise, but at the pre-dating stage, where you are trying to find somebody to go out with, a list of criteria that removes people from consideration may just keep you from getting involved with somebody wonderful.


Woodsy said...

That is why Woodsy rarely turns down an invitation for a date. You really can't judge a person's beauty or character until you have sat down to a meal and a conversation with them. Sometimes, it might even take a second date to really get a feel for the person...

XUP said...

Dating a friend's ex is just all around icky. Because sooner or later the ex and you are going to talk intimate details of the friend and sooner or later you and the friend are going to talk intimate details of the ex and I think if all 3 of you are going to get that intimate you should do it altogether and at the same time.

Woodsy said...

XUP, Is it also icky to become great friends with your ex-husband's ex-fiancée?

Milan said...

What I ask if you have a screening list is, do you actually want to date? Or are you trying to come up with reasons to justify not dating?

My screening list is better understood if you think about it in terms of Bayes' Theorem. It is not that it is impossible to enter into a great romantic relationship with someone who lacks condition A or B or C. It is just that the probability that someone is a good match is much higher if they have these traits than if they do not.

The idea is to determine Probability(dateable) given a small number of easily collected data points.

You might get tested for malaria and get a false negative result. That said, malaria testing is still a pretty good general way to find people with malaria. The principle here is similar.

Milan said...

Wikipedia on Bayes' theorem

4th Dwarf said...

Milan, I can see your criteria coming into play if have to choose among a group of women which one to ask out and you're not feeling particularly drawn to any.


(a) I don't believe the RNDP will include wasting a Friday night because you haven't come across a Miyazaki fan lately, and

(b) Your list might be completely wrong. We humans are notoriously bad at knowing what will make us happy.


XUP, my experience differs from yours. Dating a friend's ex has been nothing like doing it all together at the same time with both of them.

Also, I've learned disappointingly little about my friends from their exes.


Woodsy, do you have sleepovers with pillow fights?

zoom said...

I became good friends with a partner's ex-wife. (And for the record nobody leaked any intimate details to anybody else, because THAT would have been icky.)

But maybe befriending a partner's ex is not the same as dating a friend's ex.

Woodsy said...

Sleepovers and pillow fights? Yes... often!

coyote said...

Hey, Short Guy! I think you're getting all over-doctrinaire, again:

a) Depends very much on your definition(s) of "wasted"...

b) Uh-huh. Humans can be notoriously wrong... unlike, say, dwarves...

4th Dwarf said...


a) the "D" in RNDP stands for "Dating". Although the research is not complete, I am positive that staying at home alone on a Saturday night will not be part of the new paradigm.

b) That's right. Dwarves are not notoriously wrong. When mistaken, we are famously wrong.

XUP said...

Woodsy & Zoom - no those are totally different to me. Dating a man or woman who you have known for a long time as your best friend's partner seems incestuous. Because is incest just about genetics or about familiarity?

coyote said...

a) No! Here, all along, I've been thinkin' RNDP stood for 'Reverse-Neutral-Drive-Park'! Anyway, I'm merely advocating the position that the 'alone on a Saturday night' option is perfectly acceptable when the alternative is a sure-fire lousy date.

b) Cheers! Here's to fame, then!

4th Dwarf said...

Coyote, we'll leave it there then. Perhaps later we'll discuss how likely you are to be right or wrong on what will be sure-fire lousy.

Xup, I'd say incest is mostly about genetics and family relationships, and has grey areas where people disagree on whether it's wrong or not, e.g.:
- cousins, and
- step family members.

If Marsha and Greg Brady who became step-siblings in their teens had hooked up, not creepy in the way it would be if Cindy and Bobby hooked up after growing up together.

Definitely not as creepy as if Mike Brady split with Carol and then married Marsha. (Or substitute the names Woody, Mia and Soon-Yi).

Meanwhile, two people who have been good friends for years realizing they love each other and choosing to be together, it might be amusing to call that incest, but it's like referring to a bunch of people getting fired from their jobs as a massacre. It's only true if you redefine the words.

Back to the main topic, we can have rules like no dating friends' exes or no fishing off the company pier, but we all seem to find excellent reasons for why they don't apply in the particular situations we are in.

zoom said...

That last one is a most excellent point, Dwarf.

Gabriel... said...

My own personal... I guess 'code' is to Never date anyone who has dated a close friend or a family member. And the situation has come up in the past. But if a friend or family member were interested in dating someone I've recently broken up with then permission should be asked... at the very least to find out where I am in my recovery.

4th Dwarf said...

Zoom, thank you.

Gabriel, I'm with you on the checking in on the recovery state. Of course, I always say, "What? Go ahead! I'm fine! I have no hold on her. It's her life. Good wishes to both of you!"

Then I go away and play sad and tragic music for a few days. But at least I know that my friend cared enough to show some respect and in a few months or a year, we are going to have so much more in common to talk about when we go drinking.

You see, the real risk in this dating of friend's exes is for the ex. Because when the ex breaks up with friend #2, Friends #1 and #2 will get together and commiserate over all of the ex's bad qualities.

Do you remember that scene in 4 Weddings and a Funeral when Hugh Grant is suddenly at a table full of ex-girlfriends?