Here’s Why You’re Allowed to Say Your Friend Can’t Date Your Ex

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Ryan O’Connell is a New York-based writer. He likes shoegaze, the Olsen Twins, and figuring out why people do the things they do. Oh, and he tweetsCheck back each Thursday for his latest Call Your Boyfriend column. (You KNOW you have a question. Send it to Ryan.)

Hi Ryan,

I’ve recently started seeing this guy, and in the beginning he told me he’s done a lot of drugs. But now, he says, he doesn’t do a lot of drugs, and if he does it’s just coke. The other night while at a friend’s party, he knew no one else doing it, so he felt slightly uncomfortable about doing coke at a party where no one else was doing it. I asked him to just wait until we left, but he was anxious and made it seem like he couldn’t wait. It’s not the fact that he does coke that bothers me. It’s the idea that he cannot wait a few hours for a more convenient time and place. Are my feelings justified, or am I overreacting? Also, since we’re not exclusive, should I even bring it up to him, or should I forget about him since I haven’t been seeing him that long?


I’m dating a cokehead

Dear Cokehead Magnet,

Drugs and relationships do not go together. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that they’re enemies. Relationships are all about experiencing everything in vibrant color. They’re like their own drug in a way. They take you high, they take you low, and throughout it all, you’re required to be honest and present. No one has the luxury to disappear when they’re trying to love someone.

Drugs, on the other hand, mute everything. They dull the colors and smooth the edges. Most importantly, they make you selfish. When someone is a heavy drug user, they can’t really date you because they’re already in a relationship with their drug of choice. They love that more than they love you. When faced with an ultimatum, they will choose substances. People who think otherwise are just fooling themselves.

When someone is a heavy drug user, they can’t really date you because they’re already in a relationship with their drug of choice. They love that more than they love you.

Now, all of this being said, I’m not saying your coke-y beau is an addict. While doing coke at a party by yourself is certainly skeezy and #NotChic, it doesn’t necessarily mean he needs to run to an NA meeting. But the question of whether or not this guy has a drug problem doesn’t actually matter, because the point is that his drug use made YOU uncomfortable. When you’re first getting to know someone, you pay attention to everything, and it sounds like seeing this guy fiend for coke made your vagina close up. I don’t blame you! In college, most of the dudes I dated had a drinking problem. Even though we’d often party together, there was something different about the way they did it that turned me off. I could tell that they wanted to get obliterated, whereas I just wanted to have a good time. I’d try to ignore the fact that they were rarely sober (We’re just in college! We’re having fun!) but I knew it went much deeper than that. When we would eventually break up, it’d be for a variety of reasons, but in the back of mind I was also thinking, “I could never be with an alcoholic. I could never be with someone who got fucked up all the time.”

If you really like this dude, you can just tell him that it makes you uncomfortable when he does coke. That’s a fair thing to say because everyone knows cokeheads are the absolute worst. All smacking gums and quiet rage! They just sit there and ramble on about how much they love their life, their dog, their mom, and you. It’s so #dark. I would NEVER date a cokehead. Talking to them is punishment enough.

When you tell your guy this, he’ll probably be like, “OMG, of course. I won’t do it. Anything for you, babe!” But if he really likes the white lines of fun, he’ll have trouble keeping his nose clean. So if you find him chattering about his astrological sign for three hours and complaining of allergies again, dump him.


My best friend is now dating my ex-boyfriend. Needless to say, it’s weird. So in your opinion, what are the rules about dating exes? Does Gretchen Weiners have a point about the rules of feminism?

Hey hon,

I don’t think those are the rules of feminism so much as the rules of human decency. I am so sorry your best friend is dating your ex. That’s some Dawson-Joey-Pacey kind of betrayal and I can only imagine the level of hurt you’ve been feeling.

I dealt with a similar sort of situation with an ex and a best friend. Basically, I encouraged my gay BFF to hang with an ex of mine because why not? Life is easier when everybody is friends, right? The second I set it up though, I regretted it, because I started thinking about what would happen if they hit it off and crushed on each other. Even though I no longer had feelings for my ex, that didn’t mean I would want him shacking up with my best friend! I’m flexible but I’m not THAT flexible.

Luckily, they didn’t hook up, but I felt like my ex would have if given the opportunity. And that created a whole shitshow of drama and insecurity for me. It didn’t feel good worrying if he would trade in our friendship just for a forbidden make out with my best friend.  For a moment, things got so bad that my ex and I stopped talking for a bit, but we’re fine now, thankfully. We met up recently and it turned out, like with most things, to be a matter of miscommunication. Still, what I found most interesting is when I would go to friends and ask for advice on the issue and some people would say to me, “Your ex has a right to make a move on your best friend. You don’t own him.”

Wait, what? I was shocked! I thought it was understood that exes are off limits to best friends, or hell, even good friends. Who would ever think otherwise?

Here’s the thing: I don’t ever want to date my ex again. I’m not secretly in love with him. But you know what? Feelings are complicated and messy. They exist in a grey area.

Here’s the thing: I don’t ever want to date my ex again. I’m not secretly in love with him. But you know what? Feelings are complicated and messy. They exist in a grey area. While I wouldn’t mind seeing my ex go hook up and be happy with a stranger, there is an undeniable sting when it’s with someone you know. And I don’t think you should ever apologize or justify that sting. We are humans. We are sensitive. That’s explanation enough.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one rule when it comes to friends dating exes and that is: YOU CAN’T DO IT. Maybe if we didn’t have the capacity to feel jealousy and insecurity, we could all just have a big happy orgy. But as it stands, that’s not possible. So what do we do? We remain mindful of other people’s feelings. We respect our friendships. We don’t backstab. We don’t betray the ones we love the most, or at least we try not to!  I understand that no one is perfect and that shit does, in fact, sometimes happen, but your best friend and your ex hooking up is a BIG dump to take. If you’re ever feeling temptation island, I advise you to think about how YOU would feel if your ex and BFF hooked up. If that doesn’t get your dick limp, I don’t know what will.

Check back each Thursday for Ryan’s latest Call Your Boyfriend column. And you KNOW you have questions — send them to Ryan.