Dibs and the Code Breaker

In Jr. High it was common practice for people to stay away from girls or boys their friends were interested in. The rules were simple: if Sally was digging Johnny and Suzie held Johnny’s hand at lunch, Suzie would immediately be ostracized by the rest of the girls. As adults the lines become smudged and rules that were once unflinchingly rigid now seem childish and unreasonable.

However, the rules still apply to some degree and they seem to be more common among men than women (which actually is a bit counter intuitive if you think about it). There are two basic sets of these hands-off rules.

Dibs comes into play in when a person spots another person he or she may be interested in. I’ve never experienced this with my female friends (this isn’t to say it doesn’t happen), but I’ve witnessed male friends stake claim on a girl. By doing so, Guy A eliminates the opportunity for other guys in the group to make a pass. In some cases the rules still apply if the girl clearly shows interest in Guy B.

Now I understand the whole “bros before hoes” philosophy but does this really seem logical? The girl and Guy B may have serious chemistry but neither one of them can enjoy this chemistry because Guy A has invoked some absurd, arcane rule. This rule doesn’t seem to translate to the other gender, at least not in my circles. If a friend of mine is into a guy and it turns out he likes another one of her friends, she will graciously step aside.

The rules get even foggier when a history has been established. It seems universally understood that former significant others are off limits to friends. Anyone who ignores this rule is labeled a “code breaker.” But how long does the ex remain verboten? Six months? A year? Forever? Logically it would depend on the depth and length of the original relationship. However, logic doesn’t always come into play. I’ve known guys to bestow the “code breaker” title upon friends who have made a pass at girls they’ve had no romantic connection with since high school.

I guess I don’t know what the rules should permit but it seems that if two people have serious chemistry, a true friend would step aside. After all is there any sense in preventing a someone from finding happiness with a friend just because they didn’t find it with you?