When I was at school, I remember the ‘Girl Code’ being drilled into me like I was part of a cult. Don’t talk to a boy your friend likes, don’t wear the same outfit to a party, don’t kiss your friends ex, don’t fancy someone your friend did, if you are doing something in a smaller group then you need to check with the rest of the group that it’s okay. Those rules defined my teenage years. As someone who didn’t have her first kiss until she was almost seventeen, most of them I could just nod along with and get on with my life, but I remember seeing first hand people falling out over their friend liking someone who their friend had fancied in year 7 and hearing people gossiping about the friend who had bought an outfit similar to another friend’s. The ‘Girl Code’ was serious business.
These strict guidelines carried on from leaving school, with the one prominent rule being ‘hoes over bros’ or however you choose to say ‘don’t ditch your friends for a guy’.
When I was a teenager, it seemed simple. If your friend asks you to do something on the same night a boy does, always pick your friend, even if the guy has asked first and you have plans set in place. Your friends have to come first. But the older I’ve got, the more I’ve realised that this mindset isn’t healthy. Before I get accused of abandoning women or ditching my friends, hear me out.
There are 24 hours in a day. In that time, you are expected to juggle work, hobbies, friends, family, fitness, health, mental wellbeing and then if you decide to embark on a relationship that’s another thing to add to the mix and juggle… but you still only have the same 24 hours to do it in. That means to have it all in your life you have to divide that same amount of time up once more into sections. These sections of time are going to have to be smaller, but they will still be there. To some people, just the act of doing splitting your time between more things is ditching your friends. You’ve committed a sin and broken the ‘Girl Code’. You’re a ‘bad friend’.
But surely the bad friend is the one shaming you for balancing your ever growing life the best you can simply because it doesn’t suit their own personal wants and needs? Aren’t they missing the point? Isn’t the main thing that the time for everyone is still made? Restructuring your time is not ditching anyone – it’s juggling.
I can’t count the amount of conversations I have heard where people roll their eyes and dismiss their friend as a bad friend purely for getting into a relationship. When a friend can’t make it on a girls holiday because they only earn enough money to go on one holiday a year and they are going with their partner, their friends scoff at them, not thinking of how the person would love to do both if they could. I’ve heard friends get accused of ditching their friends when they no longer go on nights out with their friends every Friday but attend 2 Fridays a month and spend the other 2 with their partner. That’s not ditching your friends – that’s compromise. That’s balancing your priorities.
This post isn’t to slam the ‘Girl Code’ because really a lot of the ‘Girl Code’ is just ethics and treating people you care about decently, but the idea of ‘hoes over bros’ needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The idea that you should ditch everything in your life when someone clicks their fingers isn’t healthy, even if that someone is a friend. It takes away all ownership you have of your choices and puts your life in someone else’s hands, and sometimes that person might not have your best interests at heart. There have been times where my partner, past or present, has been there for me more than a friend has. That’s not to say I have bad friends, but to say that a lot of a healthy partnership is being there and supporting each other. I haven’t ever been guilted by a partner for how much time I spend with friends or family or at work, but I have been guilted by some friends.
If you’re someone who shouts ‘hoes before bros’ in your friends face and guilts them for spending their free weekend with the person they have chosen to make a life with, just take a moment to stop and think about how that might feel. You’re making the choice to guilt your friend and manipulating them into doing what you want without thinking of what is best for them. The time they then spend with you isn’t through choice but through a twisted sense of misguided obligation. You aren’t building your friendship, you’re destroying it.
Find yourself friends who hold your hands through the bad times and aren’t afraid to make fools of themselves with you in the good. Find friends that don’t expect you to drop everything for them but are happy when you do. Find friends that you work to keep in your life because you know they value you as much as you value them. Find friends that celebrate your achievements like they are their own and cheer you on when you doubt yourself. Find friends who get that you have other important things in your life too and are just happy to be a part of it.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Some of us have more people to share that time with than others. Some of us choose to spend longer on our hobbies or our careers, some choose to spend it alone, some choose to be with the friends with have known forever and others choose to pursue romance. Who are we to dictate how anyone spends their time?
Do yourself a favour – make your 24 hours count, doing whatever with whoever you wish.