Adiba Nelson knows you might hate her for saying this, but if her man is unfaithful, she’d rather not know. And if yours is, she won’t tell you.
So, it’s no secret that there is such a thing as “girl code” and “bro code.” We’ve all heard the adages (though I personally hate the verbiage) “bros before hoes” and “chicks before dicks.” What those basically mean is that above all things—above all things—your loyalty ultimately lies with your girl friends or your guy friends. If you see something, know something, or hear something, you are contractually obligated (by virtue of your ovaries or your testicles) to tell your friend whatever it is. Even if it’s something really unpleasant. Even if it’s something life-shattering. That’s heavy! That’s a ton of obligation to be saddled with. But do girl code and bro code extend to people who aren’t your friend? If you are out and about, minding your own business, and you see blatant infidelity taking place, do you honor “the code?” A guy named Lye did. At a baseball game. He “noticed” a woman who appeared to be pregnant sending romantic texts and hiding her phone from her partner. Instead of minding his own business, he outed her to her boyfriend by handing him a note before they left the game.
Lye felt the need to play bro code super hero and out a woman he didn’t know, to her boyfriend, whom he also didn’t know, and then give himself a virtual high five on Facebook. I don’t agree with his actions one bit. “Watch the game and mind your own business” is how I feel about it. It made me think, however, about these codes we live by. I put myself in the place of the woman. If it were I, and I was the unsuspecting partner, would I want to know that my significant other was cheating on me?
Grab your pens and get ready to cross my name off your Christmas gift list, or condemn me, or hate me, or all of the above—because my answer is a resounding no. That’s my plain and simple and blatantly honest truth. If my man was cheating on me, and one of my girlfriends saw it, I would not want her to tell me. And if I’m really going to be honest with you, I wouldn’t want my guy to have an attack of conscience and bare his infidelities to me either. And … If I’m really really, really going to be honest with you, I don’t know that I would tell my girlfriend if I spotted her guy or girl being unfaithful to her. I know. I’ve broken the code and committed the ultimate sin in the world of ovary-bonding relationships. I’ll give you a few seconds to curse my name a few times, but then I ask that you hear me out.
It’s true—I wouldn’t want to know, and I probably wouldn’t share anything I saw either. And here’s why: gut wrenching, heart breaking, possibly life ending devastation. As it stands, my guy is the most amazing human being in the male form I have ever met. His heart is bigger than the state of Texas. His mind is an inquisitive and annoyingly curious landscape that also allows room for things I won’t even entertain. His complete unwillingness to judge people who are different from himself compel me to judge him! Who is this guy??? I’ll tell you who he is. He is the man who loves me in ways I didn’t even know was possible to love another human being you didn’t give birth to. He is the man who has accepted my daughter, special needs and all, and claims her as his own. He relishes every sunday afternoon curled up on the couch, cradling a five-year old with afro-puffs, calling football plays and heckling the refs. He is the sun and the moon, the stars and galaxies, the lub to the dub of my heart—he is my world. And I never ever want to look at him as anything other than this. I never want to know (again) the pain of infidelity, the self doubt and self loathing that it brings, or the crushing weight of the depression that just won’t leave. I never want to curse his name, or feel my skin crawl at the mere mention of his name. I don’t want to ever entertain the idea that for one moment in time he didn’t love me enough to walk away from another woman. I don’t want to ever look at my daughter, and see the sadness in her face as we leave her “daddy” in the distance, and begrudgingly limp forward. Because that’s what would happen. All of that. And you can call me selfish if you want to, or even lacking in self-respect, but I simply don’t want it. I don’t ever want to view him as anything less than how I view him today, and because I wouldn’t want to experience this, I would break code and never tell a girlfriend (or guy friend for that matter). There is “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” and then there is the unbearable heaviness of being not enough.
And though you won’t say it, I bet there is a teeny tiny itsy bitsy teenie weenie part of you that understands, and maybe even feels the same way. It’s OK. You don’t have to break girl code. I did it for you. And I’ll always do it for you. I’ll always say the things that as women we’re not supposed to say. I’ll feel the things we’re not supposed to feel. I’ll keep your secrets. I’ll tell you mine. I’ll invite you to hate me. And I’ll leave the window open for you to love me—because I am you, you are me, and we know that the real girl code is that we are honest with ourselves, we don’t judge other women for being honest with themselves, we love unconditionally, and we love hard.
Want to see the conversation among The Good Men Project writers that led to Adiba Nelson’s article? Click here.