Learning to read the bro and girl codes

By Sean Kershaw

Bros before what? For the longest time now, we’ve all heard about the infamous “bro code.” There are guidelines for every scenario starting from how to be a wing-man all the way to when it is acceptable for two heterosexual men to share a dessert. The “bromance” has blossomed so much that every part of male friendships is mapped out for them if they are ever unsure what to do in a given situation.

However, the rules are a bit unclear when it comes to the girl code, unless you want to rely on the wise words of Gretchen Wieners from Mean Girls. It’s hard to tell whether the girl code is as solid as the bro code.

Geoffrey Greif, author of “Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships” and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, interviewed 386 men and 122 women about same-sex friendships. He says that women are more inclined to be there for a friend by listening and being supportive while men are more inclined to give concrete advice.

“Men compete with their friends more openly and have set rules for competing. Women tend to compete more in less clear realms―who is more nurturing, more beautiful, a better cook, etc. So yes, rules are more defined for men than women who have to navigate trickier terrain than men,” said Greif.

Psychology student Margarita M. and economics student Chris Papadopoulos gave their perspectives on situations that involve friends and relationships. In general, the female side wasn’t so different from the male side after all, but the details differ slightly.

Situation One: Your friend and her significant other broke up. Can you make a move on your friend’s ex?

Female perspective: “It depends on how close you were to that friend. An acquaintance? Sure, go for it. If they’re a good friend that you are close to and you trust each other, then it’s definitely a no-no. It’s so hurtful.”

Male perspective: “There are all kinds of rules saying when it’s okay to hook up with a friend’s ex, whether it’s six months or depending on if he got dumped or he broke it up. Personally, I think the best is to stay morally correct no mater what and not go for a friend’s ex, especially if it’s just for hooking up or sex, as it is only physical. If emotions are involved, then it becomes more complicated.”

Situation Two: You like a certain someone. Turns out, your friend likes the same person. How do you deal with that?

Female perspective: “Honestly, that’s really a tough one. I guess it’s something you’d figure out when you’re in the situation. But hey, chicks before dicks so I’d definitely try to work it out in a way where our friendship would not be ended.”

Male perspective: “That’s a hard one. It will cause problems no matter what but I think the best is to sit down and talk and just come to a decision whether either one of us pursues her or both of us just stay clear. The girl shouldn’t be playing both guys either.”

Situation Three: You really don’t like your friend’s significant other. Do you go ahead and inform your friend of your feelings?

Female perspective: “I would support my friend no matter what, but keep an eye out in case he did anything really wrong. If my problem with him is that I don’t like his haircut, I’d keep that kind of thing to myself. If I thought he was mistreating her, I’d probably be more vocal about that.”

Male perspective: “Yes absolutely. As a friend, it’s almost my duty to give him my opinion when it comes to that. I would tell him maturely and express my opinion with strong points and reasons behind it.”

Situation Four: You’re going out to a bar with a friend and they ask you to be their wing-man or wing-woman. What does that entail?

Female perspective: “It refers to looking after your friend, making sure they are making good decisions, scoping out for the hot guys, making her look good in front of them by emphasizing how great she is, but making sure she doesn’t do anything she’ll regret.”

Male perspective: “I think being a wing-man is all about making your friend look good. Most of the time the common interpretation is to help him get a girl in bed but I think it extends to creating a positive image of him in public, not just to girls but to friends, whether male or female, to family and to society in general.”

Situation Five: You’re at a club and your friend decides to go home with someone they just met, but you don’t approve of them. Would you interfere?

Female perspective: “It depends on her state. If she’s drunk, I’ll tell her she can call the guy in the morning and see him another time. If she’s perfectly sober, I’ll tell her my opinion. I’ll make sure she knows what I think and then, in the end, it’s her choice.”

Male perspective: “If I think it’s honestly someone they will regret, then I’ll try my best to convince them not to go home with them. If it’s just someone I don’t like in general, then it’s really not my place to interfere. At the end of the day, it’s my friend’s decision to do what he wants, sober or not.”

Bottom line? While male friendships and female friendships have their differences, caring about a friend and not hurting them will always prevail any “code.” These rules aren’t written in stone. Every friendship is different, and every situation merits its own solution. But it is nice to have some guidelines to help you make the right decision in a difficult situation. In the end, a good friend will do everything they can to be there, regardless of what the rules say.


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