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In last week’s episode of what is by far the best season of Girls, we see Hannah’s acknowledgement of her friend dating her ex-boyfriend. Typically unapologetic and blunt, I cringed waiting for her reaction to the situation. But it was simply, and sadly, utter hurt, reflecting the millennial understanding of what it now means to go for a friend’s ex. When did we get to a point in society where this act of betrayal was so devastating?

When our parents were growing up it was completely normal to seriously date a friends ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. If they were over, they were over. There was no eternal dibs, there was no fighting, there was no hurt. Frankly, it makes sense. Your best friends are your best friends for a reason – of course you are attracted to the same personality types, of course it is possible for you to stumble in love with the forbidden fruit.

Now, girl code is 100% prevalent: you don’t date a friend’s ex. The world is small, and when you meet someone through your network of friends you will most likely be able to trace them back to a romance in common. I can count the six degrees of hook-ups in my friendship circle.

At the end of the day, ‘eternal dibs’ is unattainable, and when you do find someone who is everything you are looking for it’s an amazing feeling – but when it comes to a friend’s ex you need to think carefully. When is it OK for you to go for it? That is for you to decide. 

Match.com’s columnist Dave Singleton advises that you need to ask yourself three questions. The first, do you know what really happened between the two of them? “If not, find out as best as you can. The results might help sway your decision one way or another,” says Singleton. The second, How close of a friend is the friend? If you aren’t that tight – the rules loosen up big time regarding dating her ex. The third, and (for me) most final, is was there relationship a serious one? There is a difference between going for a friend’s brief fling, and a long-term romance. If it’s the latter, the key is making sure they don’t still have feelings for the person. If they do, you need to talk to them honestly and openly about how you feel before you make any moves – and be aware that it is going to be a difficult conversation. Think about your friend: How important is she in your life? How would you feel if she did the same thing to you?

Be upfront, and be SURE of your decision. If someone mistreated your friend emotionally or physically, the answer is and always should be no. The person that is a dick to your friend should not get to see you naked. Ever. And your life will be better for it!

At the end of the day, if you really want to be with someone, you will be. The important thing is to take time to value how much this person means to you before you hurt a friend. Do you see a future? Are you falling in love? If so, as shitty as it sounds, you need to decide who is worth more in your life, and go from there. Before the walls come crumbling down, you need to be prepared to lose one of them. Have faith in what will make you the happiest in the long run.

Meanwhile, I am semi-frightened for next week’s Girls episode. Run Jessa, run.