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Real Talk: Is Your Friend's Ex Off-Limits?

What is your dating code of honor? I asked this question in my book, A Belle in Brooklyn (Atria) because for most of my dating life, I’ve operated by what I call “The Golden Rule of Relationships.”

For most of my dating life, I’ve operated by what I call “The Golden Rule of Relationships.” That is, under no circumstances do you date an associate’s former flame.

That broad definition included a man who was once important but is no longer, i.e., anyone who paid for dates for a woman in my wide-reaching circle of friends, all of their exes jump-offs, one-night stands, and any person I was aware that a current associate was crushing on, whether he’d expressed mutual interest or not. Oh, and no man remotely close to an ex-boyfriend.

I was steadfast about this, and it made sense because, well, why would I want to violate this rule? Associates don’t need penis in common any more than friends do. It’s just bad business. But as the dating game continued, my social life kept expanding, and Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites continued to unite the world in one common group associate-ship, it became increasingly difficult to meet anyone who hadn’t already known someone I was just meeting in the biblical sense, much less paid for a few dinners or drinks.

I also realized people held claims on people that were, frankly, ridiculous. Like, I’m sorry you dated a guy in college… ten years ago. No go. Or even that he was a jump-off for three months three years back, and you want to call him off-limits?

Eventually, I realized that was silly, so I thought the rules should adjust to accommodate the new social setting. I wrote up… new rules. 
In my current dating code of honor, I set forth the following:

Rule 1: Married folk must release all exes. Said married people are not obligated to hook up, arrange blind dates, or introduce their single friends to said exes.

Rule 2: Currently booed-up people can still claim exes off-limits… if the ex is within the last three years. Upon entering a monogamous relationship, they must release all exes into the open market for general consumption.

Rule 3: All college boos must be released back into the open market for general consumption at three years post-graduation.

Rule 4: All great loves remain off-limits to the circle of associates, regardless of marital/dating status.

Rule 5: One-night stands are in play after ninety days.

Rule 6: Jump-offs who have not been active for more than twelve months are fair game.

Rule 7: Your ex’s inner circle of friends remains off-limits unless the ex grants permission. His associates are fair game without asking permission.

Rule 8: In the case of a man who has been “claimed,” i.e., an interest has been expressed, but a return interest has not been expressed, said man is in play of friends and associates after a period of seven days.

Are these rules crazy or sensible?