Dear Wayne and Wanda,
What's your opinion on dating people who have already dated your friends?
Two of my friends were arguing about this the other day. One was saying you should never date someone who's been with a friend.
The other said that's unrealistic and it's OK depending on the circumstances. I didn't say anything, but lately I've kind of gotten closer to a guy in our circle who used to spend time with one of my best girlfriends. I'd like to see if there's anything there. Is it OK to go there? I don't know what to do.
-- Friend of a Friend
Some people do think you should never, ever hook up with a friend's ex, period. I don't agree. However, this is a super divisive question with no definitive answer, lots of gray area and many emotionally messy variables and potential outcomes. When you decide to go after a friend's ex, at best you encounter wounded egos and uncomfortable group encounters. At worst, you totally ruin a friendship.
Before you charge ahead, think about your friend and her past with Mr. Man: Was it serious or casual? How recently did it end? Is she over him? Is she possessive about her exes? If it was casual and a long time ago, she actually might not care. Not everyone does, and not every relationship is significant.
Anchorage is a small town, and population-wise, Alaska is a small state. We've all heard the slangy saying, "You don't lose your girlfriend; you just lose your turn." Yes, ick. But, kind of true. We hang out in small circles and it's sometimes inevitable that you spark with someone who maybe already clicked with someone else you know.
Don't rule it out. Do consider your friendship first. Talk to her and ask her how she feels. Consider that she may tell you what you want to hear ("Go for it -- I don't mind") versus what she really feels ("Stay away from my man, you harlot!").
It's my turn Wanda! With this column, of course, not with your ex.
Here's the bro code on such dating matters: You don't date a bro's ex. You. Don't. Do. It. Venture across that line and your credibility is shot, all trust is gone and your once-solid friendships are finished. Even if you aren't shunned from the social circle, you've caused a seismic shift and the friendship dynamics will never be the same.
And for what? To be with someone your close friend used to date and sleep with -- if it works out, that is.
Who knows if your friend's ex will even give you a shot in the first place? Maybe they have morals (unlike you) and they reject you at first advance. Or maybe they'll let you in just to get back at their ex/ your former friend. Or perhaps there are mutual feelings -- while you spend the first six weeks having the time of your life with that person, you'll also spend that time breaking the news to your friends and dealing with all the repercussions. Sounds like a good time.
New dating opportunities come and go, even in a small dating scene like ours. If you feel like your dating pool is limited to your circle of friends and their extended friends, then you're lazy and aren't trying very hard. Good friends are the kind of people you turn to when your ex meets someone new. Good friends aren't the kind of people who swoop in on your ex when things break off.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.