A Queer Guide To The Do’s & Don’ts Of Dating A Friend’s Ex

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Dating your mate’s ex is a norm, nay a necessity, in the queer community. And, as just one member of the LGBTIQ+ crew, allow me to speak on behalf of millions… Or at least, The Lesbians.

Dating your mate’s ex is an age-old tradition of my people, one with a long history dating back to the gospel of the L Word. Some like to call it the Queer Web of Death — where everyone you have slept with has slept with someone else who you’ve also slept with. And you’re bound to end up at a dinner party or a wholesome weekend away with a new partner and at least one other person you’ve fucked (who your partner has probably also fucked).

Welcome to Quite The Dynamic. 

But there are many ways it can be done right, and so many, many ways it can be done wrong. Please learn from our mistakes. 


Unfortunately, the pool is very small in the queer community (there is anecdotal research going into this. Most of us are certain everyone is actually gay, which doesn’t really make sense. But we digress…) 

Some may say ‘don’t sleep with your friends’ exes,’ but when there are so few bodies going ’round, and a lot of them have already dated one another, it gets kind of hard to avoid crossover. This is one reason why everyone stays friends with their exes. You have to keep your options open. 

And sometimes, when there’s booze involved, there isn’t a lot of time between drinks/a new relationship. The hookup and its repercussions all depend on the extent of time between the last fuck. Is your new love interest still sleeping with their ex (your close friend)? Or has it neutralised? And, importantly, how many feelings are involved? (Both on your end, and your mate’s end, and also the new flame’s end. #consent)

If you’ve matched with a mate’s ex there can be a pre-approval process, where you raise it before a potential date. This is the gold star in Feelings Management. And thanks to the wonders of mainstream therapy and the normalisation of Talking About Feelings, this should all lead to clarity pretty quickly on what The Right Thing To Do is.

But it’s also worth considering: is the risk to your friendship worth this fuck? If it is worth it, discussing it with said friend is all very adult and I highly recommend this method. If they don’t give you their blessing, again, consider the detriment to your friendship. Discussing fEeLiNGs is something my people excel at. 

But unlike the above scenario often time is of the essence. And before you realise, you’re at your best friend’s girlfriend’s party hooking up with the girlfriend’s ex, and then your best friend and her girlfriend breakup in a very dramatic fashion. At this point, Damage Control is required. 


Golden rule: How many feelings are involved? Is pursuing the hook-up worth the risk to the friendship? Either way, you should definitely get in contact with all parties involved, discuss feelings, apologise for any hurt caused and hope everything will be okay.  

You’ve gotta be honest, babe. Crossover really does hurt. But luckily for the gays, hurt heals with time. And ultimately everyone is a fabulous person who you really do want to continue grabbing the odd pickleback or dog walk with. Apologise, be mature, listen to what they have to say, give them space if they need, take time to think about how it feels from everyone else’s perspective, and maybe buy them a beer. 

Grin And Bear It

And then, eventually, you will most definitely end up at a dinner party, tarot card reading or kick-on together. It will be awkward. But the nice part is, the more you hang out, the less weird it gets, and then you have all the more appreciation for your friends and your lovers and your exes, and all their emotional capacity. And isn’t that nice? A nice, warm, queer web of death.