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June 07, 2006

Sambora / Richards...Locklear? 50

When a friend's new flame is your old one
Heather soaks away cares with seaside outing
When a friend's new flame is your old one

Even for a celebrity, Denise Richards seemed to have crossed a line. "Why would anyone ever do that?" one reader wrote to usmagazine.com about the actress.

"Sick and twisted," wrote another. "The ultimate betrayal," said yet another.

No, Richards did not illegally wiretap Charlie Sheen's phone to bolster her current divorce case against him, or even run off with a co-star.

Rather, she did something far worse in the eyes of many: She went out with her friend's ex.

In romancing her close friend Heather Locklear's estranged husband, the Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, Richards broke a cardinal rule of friendship, putting her in the company of cads and back-stabbers, some relationship experts contend. (It didn't help that the two, seen cavorting on the Amalfi coast in Italy after Richards joined Sambora on tour with Bon Jovi in Europe, seemed to be flaunting their newfound happiness.)

Psychotherapists, love coaches and other relationship experts say hooking up with a friend's former partner is common, even almost unavoidable in some social circles, no matter how unseemly and objectionable it might look from the outside.

A harmonious friendship, after all, doesn't keep the bed warm.

"If you feel this could be a soul mate and that's why you're pursuing it, then all is fair in love and war," said Nancy Slotnick, a relationship coach in New York. "I tend to be biased toward having a happy love life."

But if love trumps friendship, why the stigma?

Dating a friend's ex-lover or former spouse is technically not really so bad - not in the same category as say, adultery, or making a pass at a current partner.

But those who have been there say it provokes strong reactions on all sides, even self-loathing, because friendship is held as a sacred bond. Breaking that bond not only is disloyal, some maintain, but ignores emotional realities like the certain sense of ownership that people feel toward their exes.

"Heather Locklear is going through this terrible divorce, and out of all the men in the world, Denise Richards chooses to date her husband," said Hilary Black, editor in chief of Tango, a women's magazine focused on love and relationships. "It violates the code of female friendship." (Locklear, it should be noted, is not exactly sitting home crying into the Kleenex, and has been spotted hanging out with the actor David Spade.)

Matthew Hiltzik, a publicist for Richards, declined to talk about the specifics of her relationship with Sambora, but said that although she and Locklear had been good friends for several years, they had "a falling out" last January over an unrelated matter. He said Richards and Sambora started dating last March, after Locklear had already filed for divorce.

"Had they still been friends, this likely wouldn't have happened," Hiltzik said.

"It's not as if she pursued it," he said of the relationship.

"It just happened."

Jan Yager, a sociologist and the author of "When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal With Friends Who Betray, Abandon or Wound You," said this kind of triangle is one of the harder perceived betrayals to deal with among both men and women because "outside the nuclear family, friends and romantic partners are the strongest relationships anyone has."

The feeling that a friend is switching alliances is often at the heart of why such friendships break apart, say divorce lawyers and relationship experts, but there is also a more primal explanation.

"It's icky," said Sharyn Sooho, a divorce lawyer and a founder of a Web site for people going through divorce, divorcenet.com. "It's another question about your own judgment. 'The person I thought to be my best friend and I thought was there for me was there for him.'"

A 66-year-old Massachusetts lawyer said he felt "angry and disappointed" when his wife started seeing one of his best friends as the couple were going through their divorce in the late 1980s.
"It's a multiple infidelity," said the lawyer, who was given anonymity so he would share details about his private life.
The lawyer, whose two daughters stayed with him, said he wondered if his wife had taken up with his friend to spite him. Or whether the two had started their relationship before the breakup. Or whether their relationship, which continues today, hastened the demise of his 18-year marriage.

He also wondered what was said behind his back by two people he had trusted. "Are they whispering what a jerk I am?" he said, adding that the friendship did not survive.

Heather soaks away cares with seaside outing

In the wake of her marriage split actress Heather Locklear has been consoling herself with a new friendship. On a day out by the beach with American comedian David Spade and her eight-year-old daughter Ava, the Spin City star was clearly in the mood to let her hair down.

The attractive blonde - who separated from the little girl's father, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora in February - has been enjoying cosy dinners with the comic, but insists they're not dating.

Friends say David has merely been a source of light-hearted fun at this difficult time. "They're both funny," commented one pal. "He's whip-smart; no one can deny that. And so is she."

The former Saturday Night Live regular has clearly been a key ingredient in helping the 44-year-old move on. Her face shielded from the California sun by a cowboy hat and white supersize shades, and a plastic spade in hand, Heather looked not to have a care in the world as she advised Ava on the tricky art of sandcastle building.

Her relationship woes have had Hollywood talking, not least because Richie's new love is Denise Richards, a former neighbour and close friend. On New Year's Eve the ladies were even photographed arm-in-arm on the way to a party together, but pictures of Denise on a romantic break in Italy with Heather's ex will have left question marks over their friendship.

Posted by riesambo at June 7, 2006 05:59 AM