I dated my sister’s ex-boyfriend.
I can feel the collective sigh and disgust emanating from would-be readers as I write. I should add that he was one of my sister’s many ex-boyfriends left in her impressive wake when she was 17… and I was dating him 9 years on, after a rigorous egging on from my by then married and pregnant big sister – and much to her amusement.
The relationship did not last but over the years, in that situation and greyer ones, I heard and uttered “all’s fair in love and war”, “they’re not married”, “what if it’s meant to be?” Regurgitated platitudes to justify a multitude of transgressions, my own included. The idea being that if love – romantic love – is involved, there is no amount of effort or distress (yours or that of others) too great to achieve what you desire: love.
Somewhere in the process of growing from baby sister into beau dacious babe, my sister got divorced from her one, big love. It was without doubt the most painful experience of her life and by extension one of the most painful of mine. I saw my vivacious, beau dacious sister shrink into sadness for a long time.
One evening, after one of my regular outings with my niece and my (by then former) brother-in-law, my sister asked me, without jest or irony: “You wouldn’t date him would you?” Her voice was sombre, almost pleading.
I felt sick. Of course, I told her – the biggest love of my life – that I would never ever do that to her. But I had dated her less-significant ex years before. It may have been “absolutely fine”, but it did leave a question mark as to whether or not I would consider it again. This time with someone who mattered.
Who do you love?
It’s the stuff of Hollywood: [insert movie title of your choice here]. Some people end up with the so-called wrong people and then end up running off with the boyfriend or girlfriend of the sibling or best friend before the final credits – and we feel certain that the outcome is the right one. It happens in real life too: we meet couples we could not imagine apart, who left their spouses or sacrificed friendships to be together. Perhaps we’ll say “it was meant to be”, “all’s well that ends well” or “all’s fair in love and war”.
I have learnt many things en route to beaudaciousness and the most important one is that, for me, romantic love is nothing without the love of friends and family, and romantic love is not the be all and end all. Now the question is not “should I date her ex that asked me out (particularly one that still matters)?”, the question is “who do I love… him or her?”
The fact that the idea of dating my former bother-in-law seemed preposterous to me aside, he mattered to my sister – deeply and vividly. She was still in love with him and I knew that I would never do that to her.
I know there’s a rule, but aren’t there exceptions?
What about the couples that are meant to be? Okay, few things are black and white and you may choose to pursue romantic love at the expense of friendships and other people. You may believe that this is the best or even the only option for you (and you may be very, very happy and get married and have children adding further evidence that it was “meant to be”).
However, nothing will alter the fact that your choice inflicted pain on someone else and that your happiness came at a price: perhaps as much to you as to others. Contrary to that old chestnut, when it comes to love or war, it is not at all fair.
Naturally, this is just the opinion – and choice – of one Beau Dacious member and it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other Beau Dacious babes. This is how I want to make all future decisions after my sobering experience. What do you think? Have you had to choose? How did you come to your decision? Is everything fair in love and war?