We sent a bunch of women a series of questions pertaining to the etiquette of female friendships, as it pertains to dating: Can you date a friend’s ex? What if you hate your BFF’s current significant other? What’s the best way to react to a girlfriend’s breakup?
The answers we got back were surprisingly universal, and nearly unanimous. “Girl Code,” whether or not you want to refer to it by that somewhat cloying moniker, definitely exists as a standardized code of conduct among women.
Sure, all relationships and friendships are different, but when it comes to navigating dating and female friendships, some rules apply in all situations.
When you’re out together and single…
A)…and one of you likes someone.
Then the other
has to really should help initiate conversation with that person, and once the ice is broken, immediately extricate herself from the situation. If this means keeping the Ugly Friend engaged in conversation, then so be it.
B)…and you both like the same person.
Then neither of you should actively go after him or her! Sisters before misters, hos before bros, whatever. If the object of your mutual desire approaches one of you, but not the other, the lucky one should really think twice before flirting back. Unless this person is really really really really hot, in which case, hopefully the rejected friend will be a real pal and let you have your moment.
C)…and you want to go home and your friend doesn’t.
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, leave without your friend unless you’ve gotten her consent! And even then, use your judgement, and not hers.
When one of you has a date…
A) …you’ll help each other prep.
Part of a girl friend’s main job is to boost confidence and morale when it comes to her BFF’s dating life. Maybe this means giving a pep talk on the phone, maybe this means approving outfit choices on Skype, maybe it means meeting up at a bar for a confidence-inducing tequila shot. But basically, her dates should be met with as much enthusiasm (and in some cases, patience) as with your own dates.
B) …you’ll be on call.
You don’t have to clear your schedule and sit by the phone every time your friend has a date. But you should be vaguely aware of her dating schedule, and if it’s a big date, you should be within text-messaging contact, even if it means texting under your coat at the movies.
C) …you’ll eagerly listen to every single detail.
Sometimes, the only redeeming quality of a date is the chance to talk about it at length with your girl friends afterwards. The best possible scenario is meeting up in person, so you both get the benefit of seeing each other’s expressions of joy/terror (depending on how the date went). Next best thing is to be available for a lengthy phone conversation on the walk/drive home, or for coffee or breakfast the next morning.
D) …here are some rules on reacting.
If the date went well, really well, your effusiveness should know no bounds. You are thrilled for her, you can’t believe how romantic it sounds, you hope she’ll consider an autumn wedding because you look really good in cranberry. When she shows you pictures of her date on Facebook, you will gasp at how beautiful he/she is, and then high five her.
If the date went fine, you will maintain a positive attitude, tell her sometimes chemistry takes a little while to develop, but be perfectly understanding if she doesn’t want a second date. When she shows you pictures of her date on Facebook, you will tell her encouragingly, “Oh, I think he/she’s cute, no?”
If the date went horribly, you will buy her a drink and repeatedly tell her you’ve never heard of anything so terrible in your life, that you can’t believe that happened to her (even if secretly you think she’s sort of overreacting). You’ll be shocked and appalled — you won’t try to one-up her with a story of your worst first date, not now. When she shows you pictures of her date on Facebook, you will remark that you’re surprised the image didn’t break the computer screen.
Is it okay to date….
A) Your friend’s ex?
No. Never. Not ever, in any circumstance.
Unless you fall madly, passionately, permanently in love, in which case, you’re in a pretty tight spot. You’ll probably have to choose between the two, and if you choose the ex, assume this means the end of your friendship. (Maybe she’ll be surprisingly cool about it? Maybe somewhere down the line you two will be able to move past this? But, until that proves to be the case, operate under the assumption that dating her ex means it’s over between the two of you.)
B) Someone she dated only casually, a long time ago?
Not without asking her first. And then, if she says it’s fine, ask her again, because you know all too well that sometimes when we say something is fine, we don’t really mean it.
“If you met him through her, there is always going to be a little weirdness in the situation, and if this is your girl, what guy is ever worth that?” Asks one woman we spoke to. “Also do you really want to be linked that closely in degrees of sexual separation to a good friend? I don’t.”
C) Someone she went on one or two dates with, and it didn’t work out.
If your friend went on a few lackluster dates with someone, that’s hardly reason to make someone off-limits forever. Still, it’s imperative that you have a conversation with your friend before going ahead with the date.
“If there wasn’t enough interest or a spark, your friends should have a fair crack at him, too.” Wrote one respondent.
But if he (or she) is the one who didn’t call her back, then think twice before dating. It’s not cool to go out with someone who rejected your friend.
When Your Best Friend is in a Relationship…
A)…and you love her new girl/guy, but miss hanging out with just her.
Even the most loyal of girl friends can sometimes get neglectful while in the stages of newfound love. It sucks that your friend seems to spend all her time with her Significant Other, but you’ve been in love before, right? Give her time to be a shitty friend, and hope that some day, when if you ever get so wrapped up in someone, she’ll return the favor.
But if enough time has gone by and you feel like your friendship is seriously on the rocks, definitely have an (in-person, non-threatening) conversation. Make sure to focus on your friendship (“I feel like I haven’t gotten quality time with you in forever, are you free next week?”) and leave the S.O. out of it.
And if you ever find yourself navigating the tricky waters of a new relationship and old friendships, make sure you’re putting in time with just your girlfriends, while also making an effort to integrate your significant other into the group. (Just don’t invite the old ball and chain all the time.)
B)…and you really cannot STAND her significant other.
Hating your friend’s boyfriend or girlfriend is the worst. Suddenly your social circle gets a tool-ish new member, and you have very little say about it. You cannot believe your darling BFF can’t see what an absolute monster she’s dating.
But you cannot say anything about it to her.
It doesn’t matter if he has horrible breath, makes vaguely inappropriate remarks whenever she leaves the room, woefully takes advantage of her, has terrible taste in music, or sucks the life out of every party with his mere presence.
If she’s dating him, you’ve got to deal.
If this guy really does suck, she’ll see it eventually, or it will become obvious that no one in your group of friends loves the guy. But if you tell her she may feel like you aren’t supporting her or she’s being attacked. If she really loves the guy (barring extreme circumstances), you’ve just got to be a supportive friend.
How to Be Supportive During a Break-Up
A) Stage One
The second you get the call from a friend, announcing her break-up, drop everything and go see her. Spend the night at her place, or invite her over to yours. If she feels like talking, listen sympathetically and hand her tissues. If she doesn’t feel like talking, sit next to her on the couch. Send her texts throughout the day checking in on her, letting her know how much you love her. Don’t let her feel alone.
B) Stage Two
Clear a few nights out of your weekend for some chill “girls nights” at home. Help her block him from all the social networking sites. Go out with her if she feels ready, be understanding and supportive if she doesn’t. Let her know she can come over to your place at any time, if she just needs to be around other people.
C) Stage Three
Drag her out of the apartment. No, she won’t want to, but it’s time. Slowly encourage her to participate in quotidien life again. Help her get rid of her ex’s things, once and for all. Reassure her that yes, obviously she’s hotter than anyone her ex will ever date again. And be there for her, without judgement, if she relapses into the hysteria of Stage One again.
D) By The Way, Should You Defriend Her Ex?
If you are friends with the ex independently of her, then, no.
Otherwise, follow her lead: she may want you to unfriend him, in which case you should, unquestioningly. If the split was amicable, then it’s probably fine for you to remain friends. Just put a temporary moratorium on “liking” his or her Facebook statuses for the next six months or so.