How I Survived My Ex-Boyfriend Dating My BFF

Perhaps one of the most important rules of friend code is you don't date your friends' exes.

Girl spying on her best friend and ex-boyfriend talking.

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Without this unwritten law, things can get messy. Boys get in the way of friendships, friendships get in the way of relationships, and before you know it, your best friend forever has turned into your best friend for never.

But, like all rules, it can be broken.

Friendship

My first boyfriend, Michael*, was more of what I like to refer to as a "quick burning match." We had an immediate fiery connection which burned out before you could say one month anniversary. 

But he was a sweet class clown who could make anyone laugh–teachers included–so we stayed friends, even though our spark was gone.

He had also grown close with my best friend Bonnie*, so the three of us started to hang out all the time. I began to think of Michael less and less as my ex-boyfriend and more as a best friend.

Hope

One Friday night I invited Michael and Bonnie to the harbor with my family and me. Every year we attend an event called the Parade of Lights, where the vessels are decorated with string lights and props that fit the year's theme. Bonnie couldn't come because she had her own family plans, but Michael joined anyway. We got there early so Michael and I decided to wander the harbor while we waited for the parade to start.

The harbor was nearly pitch black, outside of the colorful twinkling lights that guided us through the docks, and I felt like I was in a scene from a romantic movie. He was telling me some story that I couldn't pay attention to because his beautiful blue eyes were catching the light in a magical Disney prince sort of way. I giggled when he paused for effect, but I think that must have been the wrong response because he looked back at me with a confused face, one eyebrow raised higher than the other.

Colorful lights behind a pier at night.

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We found a private spot at the end of a dock and decided to anchor ourselves there for a while. We sat on the wooden boards that swayed slightly with the ocean's current. "Chelsea," he said while playing nervously with his hands, "I have something to tell you."

This was it! He was going to ask me out again, profess his unfaltering love for me, say the things I've been thinking but haven't wanted to admit. I nodded for him to continue. He stared at me straight in the eyes and said, "I really like Bonnie. Do you know if she likes me too?"

Mixed Feelings

The next week at school my other good friend Jasmine* and I hid behind a wall of lockers while we watched from afar as Michael asked Bonnie to be his girlfriend. Jasmine was jumping up and down and laughing in an excited-friend kind of way. I wanted to be excited with her, but instead I grabbed her shirt and pulled the both of us to the ground whispering, "They'll hear you!"

I wanted to be happy for Bonnie, I really and truly did. But my happiness was shaded by thick clouds of jealousy, disappointment and injustice over the broken rule of friend code: No dating exes.

Jasmine kept watching, too far to hear what they were saying, but close enough to read body language. She gave me the play-by-play while I rested my head against the lockers.

"Don't you want to know what's going on?" Jasmine asked. "I'm giving them their privacy," I said with a sigh.

I didn't want her to get suspicious so I added, "I guess I'm just not as nosey as you."

Side view of green school lockers.

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Jasmine didn't have a chance to fake annoyance at my snub because Bonnie was running back to us. I guess we weren't being as inconspicuous as we thought. Jasmine jumped out of her hiding spot behind the lockers and yelled, "Did you say yes, did you say yes, did you say yes?"

As Bonnie's face rose into a smile, my heart sank. I gave her a hug and she whispered into my ear, "Is this okay with you?"

"Duh," I whispered back.

Third Wheel

I felt myself becoming distant. My two best friends were dating, which was every single person's nightmare. One day they were my best friend and my boyfriend, and the next they were a couple with some sad, pathetic little puppy following them around: me.

I couldn't help but roll my eyes when they held hands or cancel on plans with Bonnie when she added that Michael would be coming, too.

I felt like I was losing both of my best friends because I couldn't handle their cute couple-ness and they were not picking up on any of my hints.

Relief

The only time Bonnie and I spent alone anymore was when I would go to her house after school to study for bio. Sometimes we had sleepovers on school nights because we said we needed to study for a really hard test together. It was true, the tests were always really hard, but usually we spent the nights choreographing dances and making music videos.

Michael wasn't allowed to come to these hangouts because it was our girls-only time. Sometimes they would fight on the phone for what seemed like hours and secretly I harbored the belief that he did it on purpose. He was, in my opinion, becoming increasingly needy and wanted Bonnie all to himself. Ugh, boys.

All of my feelings came spilling out one afternoon when we were laying on her floor with books and papers sprawled around us. I hadn't even planned it, but when she said that I seemed distant, I couldn't think of a fake excuse fast enough. She knew by my hesitation that there was something I wasn't telling her. So, reluctantly, I let it all out–romantic night on the dock and all.

Sad friend being consoled by best friend.

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Guidelines

I felt better instantly. After talking to Bonnie about it, their hand holding and playful banter didn't bother me again (well, maybe there was the occasional eye roll).

Clearing the air was the first big step in surviving the relationship between my best friend and my ex-boyfriend, but it wasn't over after that. Talking allowed me to get all of the weird mixed feelings off my chest but I still had to figure out what to do with those emotions once they were out in the open for anyone to see.

Bonnie was a huge help. She made sure the two of us had our best friend time and totally leveled down on the whole PDA situation. But Michael played his own role in my path to survival–whether he knew it or not. My starry eyes started to fade after watching him bicker with my best friend. Over the course of their year-long relationship, his jokes started to feel immature and his smile seemed always to be at the expense of Bonnie.

Finally, after an entire year of navigating choppy waters, Bonnie and Michael were no longer a couple, which is something we girls could both be happy about. We spent that night watching movies, eating every snack known to womankind, and laughing about all the crazy things that had happened over the year.

I like to think that we rewrote the unwritten friend code. Instead of forbidding each other from following our hearts, we talked about the emotions on our sleeves. Next time I agreed to be honest with her about my feelings and she agreed to be more aware of the ways she was affecting them.

I had officially survived my best friend dating my ex–and the best part is, we survived it together.

*Names have been changed.

 

Luckily, this friendship only strengthened over time, but that's not always the case. Click HERE to read about a BFF triangle that ended with besties parting ways.