When I was younger, girl code was sacred. If your friend even remotely expressed interest in a guy, it was assumed all others would stay away. If your friend dated a guy, he was off limits for the rest of his life. If you violated girl code, you were shunned. No exceptions.
I was in a monogamous relationship from 15-32, so I missed the transition from girl code to woman code. But, I had hoped to find a more nuanced, less severe, and less scarcity-based code. In fact, there does not seem to be any formalized ‘code,’ but rather a series of messy assumptions that have varying degrees of the historical girl code blended throughout.
In full disclosure, I am not looking for a life-partner which makes my stake in any given relationship relatively casual. I’m also a good sharer, not prone to jealousy, and self-confident. Even with those qualities, I still have a partner or two who I would deem ‘off limits’ or, at least, need significant adjustment time if a friend wanted to pursue a sexual connection. So, how do we navigate this messy, emotionally charged space? I recently had the opportunity to practice. . . and, it did not go well.
While visiting a special guy in a different state, I met his friend and the friend’s lady. She happened to live in my hometown and we immediately formed a friendship. Within a few months she was fully immersed in my friend group and even began a relationship with one of my ex-partners. I flagged it as a bit odd that she never introduced me to any of her friends and odder that she never had a conversation with me before becoming my “Eskimo sister,” but in the grand scheme of the world I really didn’t mind.
A group of us were at brunch and she invited a man she’d met online. He was good-looking, gregarious, and interesting. Their romantic relationship turned platonic, but he remained in the friend group and was an active component of a hilarious group text chain. Things changed when I saw him on Tinder, swiped left, and sent a screen shot of his profile with an ‘lol, look who I saw’ message. He told me I should have swiped right and I responded that I’m an ethical swiper and wouldn’t right-swipe without a prior conversation with our mutual female friend. The next day I got a text that he had talked to her and she was cool with it.
My heart sunk and I immediately called her only to be sent to voicemail. I texted her that I’d love to talk about this new development especially since it came out of left field. She responded with, “you guys are allll good.” The extra ls gave it all away. . . she’s not cool with it. After a week or so of radio-silence, I reached out again asking if she wanted to talk about this new dynamic. No response.
I’m not sure what edition of Woman Code she is reading from, but I’m not sure she has the latest version. Her version seems to be: I get what’s mine AND I get what’s yours. My version is: have good intent, be honest, communicate clearly. We don’t have ownership over anyone else, we don’t need to ask for anyone’s permission to pursue a relationship, but there is etiquette and kindness to consider in all our actions. My conscience is clear, but I find myself mulling over this Girl vs. Woman Code in the hopes I can learn how to minimize hurt while being my authentic self.