My Ex is Dating my Friend! How to Handle it and How to NOT Go Insane

my ex is dating my friend

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

There are a few different instances that happened during the time I was newly separated that caused me to classify myself as temporarily psychotic, one of those being when I figured out “my ex is dating my friend!”

I seriously felt like I was going to go insane. Here was a woman who I thought was my good girlfriend. We had gotten together a few times and I had told her things–personal things about my ex and our relationship, why I was getting divorced, etc. etc.

I shared things with her and trusted her. Weeks later, I saw my ex leaving her house at 6am!. It was like a stab in the heart. Not really because of him, but because of her. I felt utter shock and disbelief. I felt like I’d been burned. I felt stupid. I felt like a naïve chump who was the subject of their laughter.

After those feelings came anger. Immense fury. I wanted to punch both of them! How could they do this to me?! I hated them and everyone else who I thought could possibly know about their relationship. I felt like a victim of deceit. I thought about them giggling and laughing and kissing and being blissfully happy.

The relationship lasted for about 6 months (I think) and years later, I’ve come to realize how silly I was for having the reaction I did.

I think, “My ex is dating my friend” is very common. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some tips on how to handle it and how NOT to go insane:

 

1. Your ex and “your friend” are the ones who should feel stupid, NOT YOU.

What they are doing is really unfair and unacceptable. YOU have done nothing to warrant their behavior. All the negative feelings you are feeling about yourself should be put on them.

2. Their relationship is most likely working because of the “scandalous and forbidden” element.

That’s half the fun for them. When that wears off, and everyone in the community moves on to the next piece of gossip, and your ex and your friend really get to know each other, the appeal will fade.

 

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3. He or she could be doing this to you to act out his or her anger towards you in a passive aggressive way.

It’s sad but very true. He/she might not even realize that they are with the person to get back at you. Don’t put yourself into that venom. Remove yourself from it and rise above.

4. Grit your teeth, accept it, act classy and show grace to the outside world. It will pass.

I remember people in my neighborhood would tell me they saw them out and I would seriously cringe, and then go home and cry. The people weren’t trying to be cruel, by the way. Make sure not to react in front of others because it could get back to your ex and your friend. Plus, when the relationship ends, the only thing people will remember is how you reacted, and you want that memory to be good, they they remember you acted with class and grace.

 

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5. DO NOT make a scene and get into a girl fight with the girl.

It’s unproductive and immature.You don’t’ have to be overly friendly to your ex and your friend. In fact, if you are a little icy that’s okay. Just don’t go crazy and make a scene if you see them out. No good can come from it and it will just bring them closer together.

6. Call your REAL girlfriends. 

The fact that this girl did this to you is probably making you feel insecure about girl friendships. So, call your girls up! Call the ones you know are your true friends. They will support you more than you could have possibly imagined. They will assure you that they are your best friends and that you are loved.

 

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7. Recognize that the relationship probably won’t last.

What are the chances they are going to end up happily ever after? Especially if he is newly separated. If it does, you can handle it because of tip #8.

8. Focus on your own life.

It doesn’t matter what HE is doing or what SHE is doing. SHE obviously is a bad friend and you and he are getting a divorce, regardless of her, right? So, let them have their fun and concentrate on making your own life better. Focus on your kids, your career, and your love life, if you choose. Dating after 50 can be wonderful! A good friend used to say to me, “You’re on your own road. Travel it!”

 

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Lastly, if you are on the other end of this, meaning if you are the one who starts dating your friend’s ex, PLEASE handle it this way. Confront your friend and apologize. Say something like, “This isn’t personal. We really like each other. I hope you understand that we don’t want to hurt you. I’m so so sorry.”

She will still be upset, but at least you’re thinking of your friend’s feelings. It’s an unselfish act. If she goes off on you, at least you can say you handled it the best way you could have.

Like this article? Check out, “What You Need (and don’t need) To Be Happy After Divorce”

 

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

21 Responses to “My Ex is Dating my Friend! How to Handle it and How to NOT Go Insane”

  1. Sheila

    My 10 year old son has requested to go live with his Dad. Our divorce is not final yet, but 10 months ago when he moved out I had to move 3 hours away in order to keep my job.
    I feel as though I am giving my son away and it is killing me. His grades have dropped and he just got suspended from school for the first time for fighting. My head tells me maybe he needs his father right now, but my heart screams no. Please help me understand.

    Reply
    • Kayla

      My ex-boyfriend and I just broke up yesterday, because of the girl that is now currently dating him. This girl has liked him for a while, and I know this because she told me. My ex and I were arguing over him hitting on another girl. Then my friend(male) told me he was breaking up with me. I texted my ex and asked him why he wanted to break up, he said because the girl that is currently dating him told him I had feelings for somebody else.

      date: February 27, 2019

      Reply
  2. Kelly

    This is funny, ironic funny. My divorce was caused by my then husband cheating with a good girlfriend and then using another good girlfriend as his sounding board. Talk about betrayal. I still don’t know who to trust as he has come out smelling like a rose. I have lost several friends over this as they have chosen him in this divorce. Where no sides should have every been taken.

    Reply
  3. Samantha

    My husband of 10 years and my best friend left me for each other. She was like a member of our family and was the children’s director of our church. It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt, and it’s been really confusing and upsetting for my children. I really wish he’d chosen anyone but her to betray us with.

    Reply
  4. Nicole Geiger

    I feel very blessed to have found this article. I’m newly divorced and my ex started dating a good friend prior to our divorce. I’ve acted irrationally at the thought that my son would form a motherly relationship with her. I felt at fault and betrayed. The article made me feel not so alone. I’ve got this! My son will figure it out without me!

    Reply
    • Jackie Pilossoph

      That’s up to you. I have to know more before I can offer advice. If there are kids involved than you probably have to communicate with your ex. As for the friend, I can’t say for sure, but I would probably be cordial (for the kids sake) and not go beyond that.

      Reply
    • Deanna

      I went through this last fall 2017. I suggested after again trying to be compassionate with both my friend and my x husband to be a fixer of their problems. I suggested because he had broken up with his gf and she her husband that they be roomies. He has a toddler who’s day care is in her neighborhood and he needed a cheaper place to rent and she a trustworthy roommate. I jokingly said well if it works out, I know I can trust you around my son and you won’t hurt him. She said, “NOOOOO never, that’s your x I would never do that”. Anyway, she called me while I was at work a a few weeks later and a few days after I had just seen her. I answered the phone and I said what’s wrong what’s going on and she said oh nothing. Then she proceeded to tell me that she and my ex had gone out to meet for a drink and that there was attraction. Hey said to my friend there is not a bone in my body that wants him back but he is the last person on the planet I would choose for you. I said your youngest is almost graduated from high school the oldest is graduating from college and now the world is your oyster. He doesn’t want to travel with you he has no desire to do anything but what he’s doing he’ll hold you back just like he has every other woman he’s been with including his girlfriend he had his daughter with just after we split up. Anyway she decided to go forward with the relationship and at first I would say for probably a few months I didn’t go a day without grieving the relationship that she and I had and just being disgusted with him that he couldn’t respect our friendship enough to stay away from her. I disagree with the writer of this article because there’s nothing wrong with feeling the way you feel because had this happened to someone else prior to this Happening to me, I don’t know that I would’ve understood. But it’s just very painful. I’ve never felt such betrayal, not only of our friendship but the things that I had shared with her because she was very close to me during our divorce and then the relationship going forward. What I mean by relationship , Is the relationship my son’s father and I had which was often at odds. She saw me lose my house because of him, she saw me fight for child support, and she saw me devastated and depressed from the divorce. So I didn’t understand how someone so close to me and my husband, who we had asked to visit with us and travel with us to Mexico for several years do something like this. When I say husband I mean my current husband not my ex-husband. My current husband and I felt like she had in a way chosen sides and I knew that because of the divorce with the ex-husband that it would drive a wedge between the two of us because there was so much stuff that had happened during the divorce and after the divorce and even still continues. So I disagree with saying or that it’s dismissive to tell people, that anyone who feels any sort of way about their ex-husband or ex-boyfriend dating somebody very close them is silly. Their feelings are real and are valid and shouldn’t be dismissed. Instead, heard.

      I started going to a counselor and she told me that the tears would stop but that I would find a way to work through all of this and it’s been about a year and three months now and it doesn’t come out much anymore now but he is still an asshole he is still not involved very much with my son, financially or otherwise but that’s a whole other subject. I keep thinking he’ll do better but as my counselor explained to me he won’t, he hasn’t and he won’t, so stop expecting a different result. So I just try not to get upset and expect a different person to appear because the same person comes to the family in the same way he has been since 2001 when I met him. He’s always going to be a martyr and my friend is always going to be there to pick up the pieces of some man that treats her poorly. What I learned is everyone has different boundaries and our boundaries are not the same.

      When my x husband and I first split up I told my counselor at the time, that I was here because I was breaking up the family and I told her that my ex-husband had left to move to our home state and live in his parents basement. For months I drove back-and-forth every two weeks with our three year old to see him. He came home once between January and May in April. And after a while ,when he called me and he needed emotional support and I was taking care of the household the baby the mortgage the car payment, I just got tired of it and I had enough. It was literally like a light switch went off. So I decided that it was time to part ways and my friend who watched me go through all of this, decided several years later that he was the man for her.

      The thing that struck me when I went to my counselor at that time was when she asked me if was coddled and I said yes. She said the thing about personalities like this is they don’t change for 30 to 40 years and when she said that I thought I can’t live like this for the rest of my life I’ll kill myself. She said after that it’s not like he went to work on the Alaska pipeline, it’s not like he went to go work abroad, it’s not like he left to go work in the military, he went to work in another state when he had a job here in this state to live in his parents basement and left everything to you.

      As you can understand it was incredibly hurtful for a very close friend of mine who I traveled with extensively, not only alone but with our current husbands and kids, I told secrets to and essentially we’re best friends with. I felt loss for our relationship and I think that’s probably been the hardest thing out of anything but it gets easier every day. You’re going to be all right I do suggest you go talk to somebody because it does help you sort out your emotions and feelings about these highly emotional things. Keep your head up. ❤️

      Reply
  5. Ann

    Your kids will figure it out. It may take years but they will get it. How pathetic are these people to leave their spouse for a neighbor/ friend . The ex’s that are together should feel like idiots!!

    Reply
  6. Justin

    My not yet ex wife is dating my best friend of 20 years after two weeks he has already said he loves her. She told me two days after I had a traumatic wreck and they have been talking ever since and I’m a fucking mess

    Reply
    • Jackie Pilossoph

      I am so sorry!!! Please breathe. This will pass. Try to remember that the two of you are on separate roads now and you should focus only on yourself and your kids. As for your friend, I am absolutely disgusted by him. As for your wife, she might think she is in love, but part of her is only trying to get back at you–subconsciously even. It won’t last. But I get it. It’s brutal.

      Reply
    • Anne

      Your life will only get better as you realize that you deserve so much more. Choose your next girlfriend as a person who will treat you as well as you are willing to treat her. You have a bright future. Just get through this one day at a time and remember that you are deserving of better people in your life. Take care of yourself, exercise, do your best to sleep, stay away from addictions and allow yourself to grieve. Each day will improve and you will see the sunshine again. Hang in there! It really sucks now, but this is the worst of it. It will get better as you take care of yourself. You can make it.

      Reply
  7. Carol

    My ex-husband that I have been supporting both emotionally and financially while he was going through a rough few years (I supported him because we have a child) just informed me that he and my friend have decided to start dating. The worst part is that I am independent contractor and get abut 80% of my business from her. How do I handle this?

    Reply
    • Jackie Pilossoph

      What a nightmare. I am so so sorry. Please don’t lose her business. In other words, keep business separate if you can. You kind of have to hold in your feelings if you want to keep the business. That’s awful. The biggest advice I can give is, go out and find other jobs so you don’t need her business. Shame on them. I’m so sorry.

      Reply
  8. LD

    There are many reasons people have a romantic relationship, and it’s short-sighted to angrily assume your ex, or friend, is being intentionally hurtful. Furthermore, labeling a union as “scandalous and forbidden” between an ex and a friend seems a convenient excuse the hurt party uses to remain a victim. (This is presuming there was nothing untoward before the divorce.)
    I divorced after 9 years, and the last 3 were awful. I’d already fallen out of love, grieved, and was ready to be myself again. My best male friend was there for me, impartially, during the most stressful moments, as he was for my ex.
    It was during those moments of deep conversation, reflection and quiet understanding that we connected on a different level. After everything was final we had a ‘Harry Met Sally’ moment. This is a real selfless love we have for one another, not a childish retaliation or a rebound. I know this is painful for my ex, and I don’t enjoy that. I also know that if he has loved me, he will see that we are all in a better place mentally to move forward and grow.
    It’s a good idea to try and see past our own hurt, take a deep breath, and explore the possibilities of a situation. With understanding and patience, for ourselves and others, life’s trials can be positive and enriching. Keep a level head.

    Reply
  9. J

    Spoken like someone who screwed her friend and her friends husband (or ex). Here’s a newsflash – the person that got screwed (your friend- or former friend that you backstabbed), IS THE VICTIM. It’s not short sighted for your ‘friend- the one you have hurt) to think you ARE being intentionally hurtful. BECAUSE YOU ARE- YOU JUST DON’T WANT TO FACE IT. If you weren’t – YOU WOULD NOT HAVE DONE IT-you had to have known this would hurt her- especially if she was devastated that her ex left. Married, separated or divorced it is NEVER ok to date your friend’s ex- it’s entitled, selfish, and a massive betrayal of THE WORST KIND. To try to make made up excuses that make YOU feel better or trying to justify abhorrent behavior is just despicable and any excuses you make are just for your own benefit.

    YOU had a CHOICE. you CHOSE to massively betray your friend and hook up with her ex. Trying to make yourself happy while ruining someone else or devastating them and betraying them will never work. Even if you marry that person and claim to be ‘happy’ – your relationship is built on lies, cheating, and betrayal. It’s like the house made out of straw- eventually it will come down on you. You also hurt a supposed ‘friend’ in the process and didn’t care- otherwise YOU WOULD NOT HAVE DONE IT. So ‘we had a harry met sally ‘ BS moment will NEVER suffice- except ONLY in your own mind. There are 7 billion other people in the world, you don’t need to screw a friend over by screwing her husband – no matter what may have happened in their marriage- it was still a union that at some point most likely had love in it- it’s not for you to interfere. it’s shitty and a very bad example- especially if either one of you has kids. The ‘love’ you have for one another is built on lies and manipulation and trying to ruin someone else. You can never be truly happy at the expense of another person’s grief and devastation unless you’re a complete sociopath without any empathy toward anyone else. People say this happens all of the time but it shouldn’t. The fact that so many people do it and think it’s ok is only their justification for basically being terribly selfish. So if you want to live in fantasy land, go ahead. Look in the mirror honestly and stop trying to make excuses for your behavior. It is NOT ok and never will be. You and he will NEVER be the victims- Karma will get you in some form or another and that’s on YOU. ACTIONS speak louder than you trying to justify betrayal.

    Reply
  10. LP

    J the previous commenter.

    I don’t know who you are but your response is dead on. 100% CORRECT. I could not have said it any better. IT IS NEVER OK OR JUSTIFIABLE TO DATE AND OR MARRY A FRIENDS EX. PERIOD. Anyone who makes the justification in their head to make themselves feel its OK to do this is selfish and delusional. It’s completely wrong.

    My ex husband confided in someone I considered a friend. This woman congratulated us during our marriage and rubbed my belly when I was pregnant. Unbeknownst to me he would confide in her when we had our issues. They engaged in a relationship while we were married and flaunted it on social media. 2 weeks following our divorce he told me she was his significant other. 6 months following our divorce he engaged her. This killed me inside. I was numb and hurt beyond measure. To make matters worse I had to deal with this hurt and raise our 2 year old child who was recently diagnosed with ASD. I would ask him for help with our child and I was (and continue to be) hurled with insults and comparisons to the woman he is engaged to from him!

    Throughout all of this. I have never mentioned anything to him about her. I would never give him/her that satisfaction. During this time I felt so alone, I didn’t trust a soul. I’ve kept quiet (even through I wanted to tell the world what happened to me). Instead I sought the help of a therapist all while following Jackie’s advice (before reading this article). Gritted my teeth kept my head held high even though I wanted to crawl into a hole. I focused on my child’s well-being, my career, my love life… and began recovering from my depression.

    Recently she reached out to me and wanted to in her words talk to me woman to woman. I did not respond to her text message. She then told me that I am spreading lies about her relationship with my ex husband and I am a bitter person and threatened that I should stop talking about her.

    I wanted to meet her to tell her off and tell her about my child and their condition my ex husbands unwillingness to help and the fact that I didn’t have to say anything about them to anyone because we know mutual people and my ex and I were together for 7 years and THEIR DESCPICABLE ACTION spoke louder than my words ever could, but instead I told her was not interested in meeting and blocked her number. I prayed about it and realized that her wanting to talk to me was about them trying to appease their guilt and furthermore I was not married to her, but their failure to recognize their wrong and wanting to engage in the relationship tells me talking to them about it would not help me. It would only hurt my progress.

    Dealing with divorce coupled with betrayal and the mix of what life throws your way is so very difficult. I CANNOT understand how people can do this and think its OK.

    Jackie, your advice to the friend dating the friends ex… I don’t agree with it shouldn’t be I’m so so sorry. That is adding insult to injury. I firmly disagree with you on that. The advice to that person, should be STOP.

    J if I could do it over again, I would have sent your response block and continue to live Happily Ever After.. Bravo! Thank you for speaking the truth!

    Reply
  11. Lol

    I know my ex husband. I wouldn’t care if he dated my friend. I’ll wait patiently in the corner.

    Reply
  12. Becky G

    I am in process of divorcing my husband after he repeatly betrayed me, the final straw was when I went in his phone to find, him texting multiple women, registered on dating sites. We have a daughter together which makes it hard that we will always have to have contact.
    Since we split he has constantly tried to hurt me I don’t think he believes I have found the strength to end things.

    The most recent is he is now seeing someone I classed as a friend, someone who offered support and words of comfort after his betrayal, I want to be angry with her but I feel sorry for her knowing what life she has to come with him, he will always be an attention seeker, never be trusted.
    But my main problem is I don’t want my daughter playing happy families with them, in the 7 months we have split up he has already introduced her to two women this will be the 3rd, I also don’t want this person who has betrayed my friendship to be playing happy family’s with my daughter.
    I am trying to keep calm sit back and let it end it’s self, as I know my husband and Their relationship is most likely working because of the “scandalous and forbidden” element.
    That’s half the fun for them. When that wears off, and everyone in the community moves on to the next piece of gossip, when they really get to know each other, the appeal will fade.

    Hues wanting advice on how to cope with my husband taking my daughter into this relationship as I know that’s the only way he can hurt me.

    Reply

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