Here's Exactly How To Handle Your Friend Hooking Up With Your Ex

People break up for lots of reasons: incompatibility, infidelity, or sometimes the love has simply died. While some people can go through a breakup and come out the other side intact, especially if it was mutual, others can't. So, when your friend, the person you've been confiding in about not just your partner but also the breakup, starts hooking up with your ex, things can get disastrous very quickly. But it doesn't necessarily have to get complicated and messy. You did, after all, break up for a reason (via Psychology Today).

If you can adhere to the concept of "one person's trash is another person's treasure," then that's great. If you can't buy into that, then you may want to talk about it with both your ex and your friend. You might as well address it and know why you need to address it instead of letting it be the elephant in the room.

"Are you looking to tell them your feelings and to end a friendship?" doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker Danielle Forshee tells EliteDaily. "Are you looking to gather information? Are you looking to put them down and make them feel bad? Are you looking to convince them that they did the wrong thing? You need to first consider what you are looking to get out of the conversation and if it will benefit you and help you accept and/or move on from the emotional hurt that you have."

If you want to save your friendship and keep your ex in your life, then you need to be honest, but also proceed with caution.

Figure out what your ex means to you

As much as it might be off-putting or even hurtful that your ex is hooking up with your friend, you still need to ask yourself what your ex means to you. Do you want them in your life as just a friend or are you still pining away for them and hoping you'll get back together?

If the latter is the case, then no one would fault you if you wished bad sex on both of them for the duration of their lives; just don't get physical, whatever you do (via Complex). It's hard not to have a strong emotional response to such a situation, but it's better to stick to ill-wishing if that's how you need to process everything.

But if you know you and your ex are better friends than lovers, that can diffuse the situation quite a bit. And some people really are better at just being friends. "So here we have two people who once loved each other, played a significant part in the other's life," Isadora Alman, M.F.T., writes for Psychology Today. "You ate at each other's family's home, you planned vacations together, you shared a circle of friends and maybe ownership of a beloved pet. Can you really say goodbye and never look back on what you had together?"

Sometimes saying goodbye to an ex is a final goodbye that you can't take back again. 

Figure out what your friend means to you

Although it would be nice to think that a friend wouldn't make a play for your ex or succumb to them if they made the first move, sometimes sexual chemistry can throw all reason out the window. Once that dopamine and norepinephrine start pumping through someone's body, the ability to resist the euphoric way it makes people feel is truly difficult (via Verywell Mind).

Of course, when it's your ex and a friend, seeing their response to these feelings as very human isn't likely to be the first thing that comes to mind. Because understanding this might not be something you can do now or in the near future, asking yourself what your friend means to you is probably an easier thing to navigate. Do you want to lose them and live the rest of your life without them? Losing a friend can be even more painful than losing a partner. It can be such a devastating loss that, without them, your life is pretty much thrown into a tailspin (via Healthline). You need to ask yourself if that's what you want.

Don't be afraid to ask questions

Whether or not you're cool with your ex and your friend hooking up, you probably have some questions and you have every right to ask them. Especially if the hooking up started behind your back because they weren't sure how to tell you they were doing it.

"[Your ex and friend hooking up] can raise some difficult questions within the friendship," therapist Charisse Cooke tells Glizour U.K. "Have they always fancied each other? Was there emotional infidelity when you were in a relationship with them? For many people, it's a double betrayal, a confusing joining of two of our most intimate relationships. Even though the partner is an ex, it was still an incredibly close, significant relationship. So too with our best friends, as our connection with them can be deeply familial."

Considering the roles these two people play in your life, you're allowed to know the truth. In fact, you deserve to know the truth (via Body + Soul). If you feel like your ex and friend aren't giving you that, do your best not to jump to conclusions. Once you do that, your thoughts will just spiral. Just hope, in time, they'll be able to come clean about it. Guilt has a funny way of doing that. 

Will you be able to handle them being together in the long run

Even if you can handle the news and the reality of the situation when it first comes to your attention, you may not always feel this way. If your ex and your friend go from dating to being in a relationship, your thoughts and opinions on the situation could shift drastically. You could go from being okay with them hooking up, maybe even supportive of it, to being jealous and obsessive.

"Now, waves of rage, pain, self-doubt, and resentment are crashing over you," psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and certified life coach Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby writes for Growing Self. "Coping has been overwhelmed by a storm of emotion. It feels like your blood has been replaced with Arctic seawater: frozen and stinging at the same time. What's worse? It is all you can think about."

These feelings can be even more intense if you're still single while your ex and your friend are out there living their best life. You can feel like you've been replaced (via HuffPost). And not just by anyone — by your friend.

Examine the possible upsides

Although even the thought of a friend hooking up with our ex can really throw your whole world into something straight out of "The Twilight Zone," there may be some upsides to it.

For starters, if you want to keep your ex in your life and they're hooking up with your friend, that can keep them in the social circle (via Esquire). Sometimes a breakup can lead an ex to someone who's not part of the group, meaning it could be harder to maintain a friendship — if that's what you've decided you want to do. Keeping them close, even if they're hooking up with your friend, can be a benefit for you.

"There is always a small chance that your friend and your ex were meant to live happily ever after together," relationship specialist Gregory Kushnick tells Elite Daily. "This situation can only be verified in hindsight. If this turns out to be the case, then maybe you can strive to forgive and actually root for them to succeed."

While this may seem like a hard pill to swallow at first, you may finally come around to see they're a far better match than you and your ex ever were. If that's the realization you come to, then you may find yourself happy for both of them instead of letting anger overtake you.

Recommended