In a time when women’s empowerment and solidarity protrudes into our everyday considerations, we are left asking ourselves what we want from our female friendships.
Do we want our friends to always be honest with us or let us make the mistakes we might need to make? Should you tell your friend you can’t stand the person she’s seeing? And finally, is it ever okay to date her ex?
Everyone knows it— hoes before bros or sisters before misters, but what if you saw him first or she only went on a couple of dates with him years ago? These questions all beg the deeper question if this version of the girl code still exists, even in the gray area where nearly all relationship matters live.
I was recently in a predicament where I broke the unbreakable unwritten girl code of conduct.
*GASP* – I know.
At the moment, I wasn’t thinking about the consequences and I wasn’t thinking of my friend. But the reality is, there are consequences to hurting a friend, especially a good one. This latest matter of disciplinary action got me to thinking about these unwritten rules and when it might be okay to think of yourself before your girlfriends.
Before the most recent indiscretion, I acted out of order and broke girl code. In the eighth grade my friend—we’ll call her R— liked a guy—we’ll call him D— and I did too, but I never told her. On a school trip I was hanging out with said object of our mutual affections and he seemed to really like me back. We started texting and I never told my best friend about it. A couple of weeks later D asked me to be his girlfriend in true eighth-grade fashion—during 4th-period lunch. When R discovered my secrecy and disloyalty, things were never after. I thought I had learned my lesson but I guess the trauma was not strong enough to stick.
Recently, a similar dilemma presented itself once again. Like every great story of betrayal and love, it began with a girl liking a guy.
He was best friends with her cousin and she’s known him since they were kids. She established that she liked him with all of our friends. It was clear that we steer clear when he was visiting with her cousin one night. If I’m anything, it’s a good friend, so what preceded that night came as a shock. From the very beginning of the night, it was clear that homeboy had more than friend zoned her, she was in the much more impenetrable “family zone.” What also became clear is how deeply his interests were in my direction.
Now you may lose total respect for me after this point, but you should first know a little bit about the position I was in. I am the queen of self-loathing and with it comes insecurity and frequent states of vulnerability. All too often, I am easily swayed by a cute guy’s attention. Lately, I’ve been trying to rewrite my book and learn the ways of self-compassion, but it has yet to really anchor itself completely.
To make a long story short– He was cute, I was inebriated, he was giving me too much attention for my own good and you can do the math on that one. At one point during the night I was left alone with the off-limits—not so—gentleman and had a moment of weakness that didn’t go too far but it went far enough to do some real damage.
Upon hearing the news, my friend wanted absolutely nothing to do with me ever again. The worst part of it all was that I tried to lie about it the next morning. I follow a twisted philosophy that it is okay to lie if the truth will hurt someone you care about.
The real truth is, dishonesty always makes everything worse.
It was naive of me to think that he wouldn’t tell her what happened. My duplicity and its exposure took what was already a mess and put it in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Then dropped in boiling water. It was a piping hot mess.
In the days that followed, I was sick with embarrassment and self-deprecation. And it got me to thinking about the lines we can and can’t cross amongst friends. I started to wonder who my role models for healthy female friendships were. What would the soulmates of Sex and the City do? Would Carrie ever kiss Charlotte’s crush? Probably not. I don’t think this ever happened to the Golden Girls.
Then, I started to look at the modern examples I grew up with. And while Tumblr often glorified Gossip Girl’s iconic duo, Blair and Serena, they were constantly stabbing each other in the back, hooking up with each other’s exes, pushing one another into fountains, you name it. I always thought Brooke and Peyton on One Tree Hill were friendship goals but if anyone remembers how Peyton stole Lucas from Brooke you’d beg to differ. It’s hard not to blame the CW a little bit for setting a poor example for diplomatic relations of the female kind. And while Lena Dunham’s Girls made moves in the feminist agenda it didn’t exactly set the stage for supportive friendships between twenty-something women. The images of camaraderie between the X-chromosomes growing up did not exactly act as the pillars of true friendship and now I find myself handicapped in one of the most important areas of my life.
If you ever come close to, think about, or have already broken the sacred bond of girl code, you have to be honest and sincere. You have to rebuild the trust or keep it established if you’ve yet to taint it.
At this moment my friend and I have worked it out. I told her the truth, my side of the story and she respected my honesty. Luckily I meant enough to her and she knew me well enough to believe I would never intentionally hurt her. She said she respectively needs time to trust me again.
With every mistake, I learn more and more about how to live this life and how to keep those that matter in it.
So no, it’s not okay to break girl code, however, it is okay to be human and make mistakes. The point of girl code—or as Gretchen Weiners would say, “the rule of feminism”—is trust. To be the cause of your best friend’s pain is not a role you want to play. Every girl needs her gal pals and maintaining friendships is a difficult but vitally important task.