Say No to Dating College Friends' Siblings or Exes

You meet somebody you'd like to date. Then you discover that he or she is your roommate's former love, the "ex." Or, you develop an interest in a great guy who just happens to be your friend's older brother. Any chance these relationships can be healthy, happy, and long lasting?

Perhaps no single thing leads to disaster among friends and roommates faster than dating a sibling or ex boyfriend or girlfriend. What would seem to be no big deal between two people who are attracted to each other can balloon into major issues with the other people who have played a role in your new partner's life.

Before you take a chance and start to date the brother, sister, former boyfriend, or ex girlfriend of your college friend or roommate, consider this . . .

Will you be comfortable in a relationship with a person who may know more about your roommate than you do? How will you feel about your best friend if you begin dating her brother, and he shares some family secrets with you?

What will holidays be like if you're sharing them with your boyfriend and his sister, your constant companion and confidante before you met the latest love of your life? Feeling torn between hanging out with your friend and your boyfriend or girlfriend? Dealing with all the awkwardness of the romance on the one hand, and the friendship on the other?

And if you can somehow navigate all the issues and touchy situations that might surface, think about some less-than-pleasant possibilities: What if he or she cheats on you? What if you cheat on him or her? What if the relationship ends badly? What if it ends really badly? You should count on losing both your boyfriend or girlfriend and your friend or roommate in that case.

And, although it may seem to go without saying, hitting on a friend's love interest is the quickest ticket to heartache and social hell. Being attracted to another person and then deciding whether to follow through on your impulses requires mature decision-making, often gained through painful past experiences — and sometimes best exercised by just saying No to inevitable trouble.