When my friend Stephanie was out to dinner the other night, she saw a young, twentysomething couple having dinner together at a table near hers. When the woman got up to go to the restroom, the woman’s boyfriend/husband, grabbed her phone and began searching through it, in an obviously suspicious way. Stephanie said she felt super guilty for not having said anything to the woman when she returned; that not letting her know that her man was spying on her and checking her call logs was a violation of girl code. I disagree. While I think women should look out for each other — hell, I think people should look out for each other — sometimes I think girl code treads too much into “none of your business” territory. For starters, think of the bad relationship behavior you’ve been guilty of, that you wouldn’t appreciate being busted doing, especially by a stranger. I used to, occasionally, in fits of ridiculous paranoia, check my ex’s phone just to see who he was texting. If he had found out, he would have been (rightfully) pissed, but my motivations weren’t exactly evil or conniving. Likewise, this one time I got very drunk at an office Christmas party and gave one of my coworkers a, uh, lap dance. [Note: In fairness, our Christmas party AFTER-party was at a strip club. When in Rome...] Had someone spilled the beans to my boyfriend, I would have been in deep, deep trouble for something that I already felt enormously guilty about AND would never do again. It was something he just didn’t need to know.
That’s why, in general, people should stay out of each others’ business, girl code be damned, unless they really think they’ll be saving the person serious grief and heartache. We got an email from a reader named Victoria with the following girl code conundrum.
“The guy I’m interested in, Doug, has a girlfriend of nearly five years, but he’s told me that the sexual side of their relationship is stale. For over a year, he and I have had a flirtatious relationship. It started off innocently enough, but has progressed into IM and phone sex. That said, we’ve never actually touched or kissed. We’ve talked about being together — we both think we’re perfect for each other — when he breaks up with his girlfriend, Kellie, but he hasn’t actually done it yet because he thinks she’d be crushed if he dumped her. Last week I decided to end things with him, because he clearly wasn’t going to end things with her, but now I’m left wondering if I should tell his girlfriend what was going on. As much as I think she deserves to know, I don’t think I can tell her. All three of us are within the same circle of friends. If I were to tell her what was going on between her boyfriend and I, our whole group of friends would know and they would think I was a bad person, or had done a really bad thing. I feel guilty about it — Kellie doesn’t deserve this — but at the same time, I think the situation is too messy to get any more involved in.”
So what do you think Victoria should do? Should Girl Code be followed to the letter in this scenario and should she tell Kellie that Doug has been flirting with her behind her back? Or should she count her blessings, be glad she got out alive, and stay the hell away? Would Kellie even benefit from knowing her boyfriend was engaging in serious, heavy duty flirtation with another girl, but did not actually physically cheat? After all, Kellie wouldn’t necessarily dump Doug as a result, but she would probably mistrust him, and potentially men in general, because of this indiscretion. And it’s almost guaranteed that Victoria, in the end, would face repercussions as well, outside of her sadness that things with Doug didn’t work out. So help the girl out y’all! How far does Girl Code actually extend?