For as long as we’ve been walking this earth, there’s been this inherent belief that a code—a set of magical rules, if you will—exists that somehow dictates ethical behaviors between the members of a specific gender.
You might know this as girl code or guy code.
There’s no such thing as girl code and there’s no such thing as guy code.
First Things First—It’s a Mentality
It’s important to realize that this is simply a mentality, not a real, hard-and-fast set of rules. This mentality would have us believe that the way we treat people depends on their gender. In other words, that all girls treat each other one way and all guys treat each other a different way.
Secondly, this mentality teaches us that specific rules apply to one gender and not the other.
To put it a different way, this mentality makes us think that the girl rules differ dramatically from the guy rules, and vice versa. This is the quintessential “us versus them” mentality.
Not only is this wrong, but it’s also adversarial and combative rather than cooperative and collaborative.
This mentality denies that people of the same gender might not get along or mesh with each other, and it over-exaggerates the differences between genders, rather than celebrating the similarities. Have you ever heard the expression “make mountains out of molehills?” That specifically applies to this mentality.
This “guy code” or “girl code” mentality looks for—and finds—discord rather than seeing the clear compatibilities.
This also feeds into the idea of double standards—this mentality is a breeding ground for the opportunity to treat genders differently concerning the same situations. Even if you’re not creating the problem, you are feeding into by continuing these ideas of false differences.
So, think about this the next time you’re upset about double standards—know that if you feed into the idea of girl or guy code, then you’re helping to foster those double standards. This mentality causes issues in relationships—it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for conflict, issue, and bias.
"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
- Hanlon’s Razor
Which makes sense, right? If you hate the people that you date, don’t expect to get anything other than hate out of the relationship.
If you abide by girl or guy code, you’re basing your opinions on how you deal with and relate to those people specifically based on their gender—you’re not taking into account their attitude, intelligence, emotional stability, or values. You’re acting as if one’s physical attributes dictate everything about them—as if every person within the same gender traveled the exact same path and have the exact same life experience.
This is, of course, not true.
But Wait—It Gets Worse
Both genders are guilty of feeding into this mentality, and often, they use it to attack one another.
The “code” is often violated when one person wrongs another. And here’s where it gets magical—it really only applies when one person feels like they don’t benefit from the situation. When the shoe is on the other foot, there’s always room for justifications, excuses, or rationalizations that would nullify the code.
The Real Rules
The rules—the real rules, anyway—are much simpler than you realize.
If you hold onto codes or any type of “us versus them” mentalities, don’t expect to hold onto relationships. The only way to have a good, healthy relationship is to abandon the differences between the two of you and celebrate the similarities.
Another rule? The way you treat people shouldn’t be based on their gender, how they look, etc. It should be based on ethics. On mutual benefit. On kindness.
Balance your own needs and wants with the needs and wants of others. Translation? It’s not just about you. Treat people with respect.
These rules are something I like to call “friend rules”—they don’t apply to girl or guy code, just mutual, respectful considerations for people you care about.
Which Relationship Means More To You?
Ask yourself this question.
Which relationship means more to you—is it the one you have with yourself?
Which would you prefer—always looking over your shoulder wondering when the next person will stab you in the back (like you’ve done to them) or sleeping the night away knowing that you haven’t been actively creating enemies?
What do you think girl or guy code ideologies say about you? About your ethics? Your own values?
If you’d judge others based on their gender—not on their personalities, deeds, actions, or values—what does this say about you?
Even worse, what about when this type of mentality is used against you?
Real Rules Challenge
This week’s challenge for you is to review and evaluate some of your own relationships—past and present.
Was girl or guy code every used against you? Did you ever use it against someone?
Was the person who invoked the code just being selfish? Protecting their own best interest? What about you?
Don’t forget to let me know what you find – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Good Together: your guide to healthy, happy relationships
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