Justice for Maddy Perez - is it ever okay to date your friend's ex?

Photo credit: Euphoria
Photo credit: Euphoria

Whether it’s cowering in a bath or projectile vomiting into a hot tub, Cassie Howard has taken us on a journey this season of Euphoria. And the origin of all this angst? The character’s insatiable need to be loved – even when the source of this affection is her best friend Maddy’s ex-boyfriend Nate.

One ill-advised, New Year’s hookup with Nate – already well-established as one of the show’s most toxic characters – becomes a spiral into obsession as his strategically placed emotional crumbs make Cassie more and more desperate to win his attention. Hooking up in secret every Friday but ignoring each other in the halls, Cassie starts leading a double life. And despite her escalating levels of distress, Cassie seems determined to keep this situationship going – that is, until Rue spills her secret…

Putting to one side the fact that Euphoria is fiction, all drama prompts a very real question: is it ever okay to date your friend’s ex? For some, this is an automatic violation of girl code, aka the unspoken rules of feminine solidarity that prioritise female friendship above romantic attraction to men. But what if the morality of the issue wasn't as cut and dry as we've been told? Maybe there could even be a way to, idk, respectfully date your BFF's former flame? Keep reading as we seek out the answers to these questions and more...

Is it ever okay to date a friend's ex?

Speaking to Natasha Briefel, the Brand Marketing Direct at dating app Badoo UK, it's clear that dating a friend's ex is probably going to ruffle some feathers. "When two people have been in a romantic relationship, even once it’s ended, it’s natural there will still be some feelings left toward one another," explains Briefel. "This doesn’t necessarily mean that they still love each other, are attracted to one another, or even want to get back together, but when you have had such a close bond, it’s normal to still care in some way – you have spent a fraction of your life together after all."

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In short, while most people won't be disrupting an intervention or fantasising about carrying out a murder which "shocks the nation" à la Maddy, it is valid to be upset if your close friend dates one of your exes. "It can feel like a betrayal if you sleep with or date a friend’s ex – especially without having a conversation about it first," sums up Briefel.

But then there are the situations where dating a friend's ex is particularly tricky, like when there are unresolved feelings or conflict to contend with. "Getting involved with your friend’s ex definitely comes with its risks – this includes there still being feelings between them, if the breakup was complicated, or perhaps one of them was treated badly and the relationship ended as a result," elaborates Briefel. "It’s best to avoid a friend’s ex in scenarios like these, not only because it could make things difficult between you and your friend, but also because it’s not a positive way to start dating someone."

The toxic nature of Maddy and Nate's relationship is openly acknowledged and discussed by Maddy's friends – including Cassie. But despite plenty of evidence about Nate's true character and having consoled Maddy through the relationship lows, Cassie is still hellbent on pursuing her own romance with him. As Briefel explains, this type of behaviour may well bring up some difficult questions such as; "What do you value more – your friend or the potential of a new relationship?" Well, for anyone watching at home, Cassie's answer to that question is probably clear...

However, taking Maddy and Cassie out of the equation, are there scenarios where it *is* actually okay to date a friend's ex? As it turns out, the answer isn't so clear-cut. "Everyone is different and every relationship is different, so even when a lot of time has passed – that might not necessarily make it ok," says Briefel. "[But], your friend might have genuinely moved on and think that you would make a great couple despite not a lot of time passing. Whether it’s ok or not will always be dependent on the circumstances, and how your friend feels."

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Is there a way to *respectfully* date a friend's ex?

Ultimately, the heart wants what the heart wants. We don't have control over who we do or don't fall for – as much as we wish we did. So, are there any guidelines for delicately handling things when you and your friend's ex are getting ready to get together?

Well, you're in luck: here's what you need to know, according to Badoo's Natasha Briefel. But before you take these and run with them, remember that while some friendships can weather the storm of fights and tensions over exes, others are more fragile. It's up to you to weigh up what your priorities and take accountability for your actions and the hurt you may – unwittingly or otherwise – cause. Let's just hope that eventually Cassie does the same...

  1. Honesty is the best policy: "The best thing is to be honest with your friend from the outset – honesty is the foundation of most healthy relationships. It’s never going to be comfortable for either of you, but the best thing you can do is just be open."

  2. Practise empathy: "As every relationship is different, try to put yourself in your friend’s shoes when it comes to making decisions. If it feels too soon, give it some time – whether that’s getting with your friend’s ex in the first place, telling your friend about it or bringing them along to parties.

  3. Check your expectations: "Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, your friend, or your friend’s ex – put your feelings to one side to see the bigger picture, to work out what feels best for everyone involved."

  4. The power of hindsight: "It’s also important to consider how your friend might look back on their previous relationship. They might feel that there was always something between you both that they were not aware of, which can be really confusing and hurtful. So just remember to be aware of this and reassure them that this is not the case."

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