With the exception of myself, almost every gay man has dated or slept with one of his closest friends. It’s just a fact of life and the result of our social interactions in such a small community. You like them as a person, even if you two weren’t exactly relationship material or sexually compatible – and often, it can be a good thing. You have an understanding. You’re friends. And sometimes, you’re friends with your friends’ partners…even after they’re no longer partners and may or may not be on exactly such good terms. That’s where things get a little complicated.
I met one of my closest friends at my 22nd birthday. When everyone was trying to figure out who this Chinese boy was, I knew by his name that he was Filipino. I thought he was cute and I liked his hair. I knew he had come with (and had been dating) one of my closest friends with whom I went to high school. And there it started. We’d hang out in groups, and sometimes just the three of us. One day, the two of them had an argument when the three of us had plans to hang that night, and my new Filipino friend showed up alone. It could have been awkward since our common factor – my friend who he was dating – was missing, but we just clicked somehow. From then on, we would hang out without my friend (his boyfriend); by the time they decided to stop seeing one another, he and I were talking and hanging out almost every day. Nothing wrong with that, right?
Eventually, it became clear that my new Filipino friend was more my friend than just my friend’s ex. And honestly, I never stopped to ask my friend how he felt about his ex and me being such good friends. I never knew how he really felt about seeing him every time he came to a group event or birthday party. He didn’t seem to have a problem with it, and he never said anything if he did. As time went on, things grew increasingly weird between them. Though I didn’t take sides, things also got weird between my old high school friend and myself and we grew distant. I’ll admit that eventually, I was a lot closer to his ex than to him.
There’s really no way to avoid certain situations. You can try, but if there’s a genuine connection between two people, friendships (and relationships) just happen. Our world as social males is a very small one. Sure, there’s loyalty to your friends to consider, but we’re adults. You’d go crazy trying to avoid connecting with someone who has dated someone you know or are friends with. In writing this article, I realized that I have more than one friend who is an ex of a friend or acquaintance. I developed genuine friendships with people my good friends dated, and those friendships don’t always die just because their relationships with my friends do. Obviously I wouldn’t continue the friendship if the ex treated my best friend like shit, but if someone’s nice enough to be with my friend, then they may be nice enough to actually be my friend. In fact, after completing this article, I was reminded that my old high school friend whose ex is among my best friends counts my ex among his closest personal friends – and has ever since we broke up! I don’t know if it was revenge or karma, but I unhappily dealt with it. I guess it happens. I just promise not to sleep with any of my friends exes because THAT would be crossing the line. And I’m loyal.