The rule against dating a friend's ex seems to be a universal one based on a tacit agreement made the second a close friendship is established. 

Regardless of whether you are currently single or not, there is a clause in the social contract of friendship that reads a little something like this;

"Should your friend ever break up with their partner, you may neither pursue nor accept a romantic offer from their ex-lover. Failing to do so, constitutes a betrayal of trust and thus your actions will result in immediate termination of the friendship."

The premise of this clause is based on one key pillar of friendship - loyalty.

Where do your loyalties lie? Are you a "friends over everything" type of person or a hopeless romantic and firm believer of the soulmate theory? 

For most people, getting romantically involved with a friend's ex is dependent on the circumstances. For some people it's dependent on how close and long the friendship is, for others it's a matter of how long ago their friend's relationship ended.

And some people, just want to experience love and happiness too, regardless of the murky conditions. The heart wants what it wants.

We asked a few women if they have ever been the friend who snatched an ex.

I know of a tight group of friends where the woman is getting married to her closest friend's ex and I wondered what people think is okay or offsides.

Two respondents - one who dated a friend's ex and one who dated an ex's friend - both confirmed there was absolutely no bad blood between the parties involved, as their actions were well-considered.

No love lost

We were friendly coworkers and I respected her. When I started dating her ex of more than five years, I spoke to her to ask her how she felt. She was very cool about it, still is and we hang out more now than we ever did back then.
Mahlatse*
I once dated this guy, but things weren’t working so I kinda fell for his friend (we used to chill as a squad) before I started dating his friend we both spoke to him and he said that it was okay. It wasn’t awkward at all, but I guess it's because I only dated him for like two months and we clearly weren’t for each other.
Tsidi*

But sometimes it's not always so good in the hood and you may end up breaking up with a friend despite you having gained a new lover.

Is it worth it?

READ MORE: Why a breakup with a friend hurts more than a relationship split

Well that totally depends on what you value most in your life. I'm of the opinion that people should live their truths provided that other people are not collateral damage along the journey to their truth. 

As the readers above stated, they had mature, open conversations with the friends involved first before "breaking" any rules.

According to certified relationship coaches that spoke to ESSENCE, the two main things to consider are how long you have been friends and how long your friend was with their partner. This gauges investment of feelings from both ends.

"If you were 'just acquaintances and didn’t talk regularly' and you know it really wouldn’t bother you if the friendship was severed then we would recommend that you have a conversation with her just for 'good faith' and then proceed. But if you’ve always been close, is this partner even worth it?", the relationship coaches advise.

READ MORE: "Help, I don't know how to unfriend the person who keeps trying to oneup me"

Secondly, ESSENCE advises you ask yourself, "Was this a casual 3-month stint or was this something where years and years were invested? As a rule of thumb anything under six months is most likely open for discussion but 6 months plus requires more thought and consideration of whether it’s even worth opening this can of worms."

We asked you

It seems the majority of our readers follow a time-based rule of thumb too, as the results currently stand; 45% of our Twitter poll respondents said they would go for it if their friend's relationship had ended over five years ago, while 33% just want to reclaim their time in the politics of romance. 

The other 22% put friendship first.

Perhaps a scarcity of resources has finally led us to this point. Maybe.

But ultimately, you need to ask yourself if the ends (happiness, romance and the prospect of marriage) justify the shaky means (severed ties with a friend). 

Some people think friendships are just as temporary as relationships, while others believe lovers come and go and friendships are forever. 

Whichever team you're on, just be sure to play the game with a modicum of sensitivity and respect.

*Names have been changed.

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