When it comes to friendship, there seems to be certain unofficial—but heavily accepted—rules, but one of the biggest and most important rules is you can NEVER date your friend’s ex. 

Or can you?

This golden rule makes a lot of sense because why would you ever betray someone you love and date one of the people that hurt them? Friendships are meaningful, and permanently tossing away years of your bestie’s loyalty and companionship for some fling or short–lived romance is by no means worth it. I personally have always stuck by the idea, blocking out a lot of my friends’ exes from my life after breaking the heart of friends I love deeply. But lately, I’ve started to think that maybe the rule is a little too harsh and should have some exceptions to it. 

Last week, I was speaking with my friend when she told me that she had met a guy. She said that they had met during school and started talking more during summer break. From her consistent giddiness, and how she was talking at what seemed like a million words a minute, I could tell that he meant something to her. I was so happy that she had found someone, but that was until I heard her mention that there was “one little problem.” He was one of her friends’ exes.

My initial shock was noticeable as the grin on my face dropped immediately. My friend could tell that I was not exactly supportive. And I wasn’t—well, not at first. After noticing my reaction, she started explaining how her friend had only dated him for a few months, and the chemistry never seemed to be there. My friend also assured me that when this guy reached out to her, she immediately texted her friend, and it turned out she gave my friend her approval to go through with it, telling her “You deserve to be happy just as much as I do.” She wanted my friend to try and pursue this guy.

After a three hour chat, that sentence—"You deserve to be happy just as much as I do"—ran on repeat in my head. My friend’s friend was right. Support and compassion are just as important as loyalty is in friendship, even when it comes to dating a friend’s ex. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should start hooking up with your best friend’s horrible ex–boyfriend because he is gorgeous—but when it comes to your friend’s ex, they shouldn’t be totally off limits. 

True friends support one another, so when it comes to a friend’s ex, take a moment to think about both sides before immediately dismissing the idea. Was the relationship serious and what is the status between your friend and their ex now? Was it an amicable breakup, or was it so messy that your bestie can’t even think about their ex without getting upset? And if a friend comes to you asking about your ex, think about the relationship you had with them, and the current friendship you have. Is there possibly a future of happiness there, and if so, why stop your friend from finding it?

The important thing is to communicate and respect each other’s feelings. If you know that your friend would be uncomfortable, or they have told you directly that they would feel uncomfortable with you dating their ex, maybe it’s not worth sacrificing the friendship for. But if you get your friend’s blessing and communicate like my friend did, then what should stop you from finding your own happiness and romance?