A Primer for Those Not in the Know
There are certain things little girls grow up learning that differs tremendously from little boys, and no; I'm not including the "sex" talk or 4th grade health class. What I'm talking about is the Girl Code. We learn: that sharing is okay so long as the other girl knows the object is now not hers, that gossip is an easy way to pass the time, that short skirts will get us attention, that profanity is funny out of our mouths, and that pinky swear is the ultimate in girl swear.
As we get older, many of these codes evolve and dissolve into new codes (which we will now call "beliefs" or "rules"). We share more with our girlfriends than just our Barbie's. We share clothes, secrets, dieting tips, trips to the bathroom, gossip, toothbrushes, relationship advice, guy talk, sex talk, books, movies, and periods. The major difference now is we're not worried about when we'll get a loaned item back and the stream of expletives that flow out of our mouths is no longer funny.
One thing we don't share (and maybe one of the only things) is boys. Stealing a friends boyfriend is tantamount to treason and the definition of stealing is loosely defined at best. In general, once your girlfriend has gone out with him he's off limits. I'm not saying they went on one or two dates and called it quits (though some girls will define it that way), but more if they were in any stage of a relationship past awkward hugs good bye. If they've slept together, he's off limits.
Can you get around this code? Is it possible not to banish any and all new males from the group simply for taking your friend out? Maybe. Depends.
Say one of your friends ex's starts chatting you up and asks you out. Previous to this exchange, you may have never entertained such an idea but now that it's in front of you who are you to turn it down? It's been a while since your last date and that was a disaster. As a girl and friend to his ex, you should immediately decline. The next step is to feel out what she thinks of the whole situation, which I call Asking Permission. Did they just break up? Is she still in love/like/lust with him? Do you value her as a friend in any way? If the answer was "yes" to any of these, Girl Code dictates that he is off limits. Has she found someone new or started dating again? Is she over him (but not hate him)? Then you can ask permission, and that's exactly what you're doing.
"Hey, I saw Joe McCool yesterday. It was really weird, he asked me out. I felt kind of uncomfortable about it though because I know you guys dated/used to be kind of serious/lived together."
Then you wait for her response. In most cases, your friend will remember Code #1 about sharing and since she no longer harbors any attachment to him will give her blessing. Listen carefully to clues that he is/was bad news. However, if she says something like "I hope you told him no/go to hell!"; he is off limits. Heck, for all intents and purposes he is dead to you.
What if it's been a while (I mean years here, not months), and your girlfriend has moved on to someone new and it's pretty serious. What if she doesn't live in the state? What if you've moved and haven't seen her in a while? What if?
Girl Code still dictates you tell her, but now you're not so much asking permission (i.e. being passive aggressive) as you are giving her a heads up. I don't know why I find this to be the most difficult scenario. Maybe because I don't think you should have to seek permission from someone who is living with/engaged/married to someone else. That, if nothing else, should put him back "in limits". Maybe it's also because things don't always (usually) last very long with me and I'd prefer not to jinx it or have to answer for it later. I believe strongly in the jinx and am convinced it has something to do with things turning sour shortly after I start talking about a new beau.
How do you view the Girl Code? What do you do?