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What Is Bro Code? 40 Unwritten Rules of Male Friendships

Do you respect the Bro Code? Are you sure? Maybe it’s time to brush up on the rules, just in case. We’ll tell you the most important ones.

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Male friendships are truly a special type of relationship. They often come with a certain level of understanding, comfort, and even competition that is unique to the male experience. And members of a man’s crew come from all over—they can join by virtue of having attended high school together or playing on the same intramural soccer team. So what keeps it all together? Enter the Bro Code concept, an unwritten set of rules that serve as the foundation for any longstanding and successful male friendship. Of course, codes are often specific to each group, but generally, they’re comprised of universal standards meant to ensure trust between buddies and mutual respect.

The importance of male friendships really can’t be overstated. But how do you create and uphold the Bro Code? And why is it so essential for men to foster relationships with their buddies?

Celebrating Bromances With Adventure

It’s part of the Bro Code to be there through thick and thin. When you’re craving quality time with the bros, bust out your adventure book to have an epic night out! Adventures From Scratch: Friends Edition is bursting with more than 50 unique scratch-off challenges to keep you and the bros bonding. Whether you want to create, cook, or explore something, we’ve got you covered. And you can save your memories in the book to look back on! Round up your crew, pick an adventure, and get ready to have an awesome time.

Nailing Down the Bro Code

While there has always been an unwritten set of rules between bromances, “Bro Code” became a viral hit because of the hit New York-based TV show How I Met Your Mother. Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris, was a key character on the show and believed in a set of rules he compiled into what is known as the Bro Code.

In its most basic form, it’s a code of conduct between two men. Like Girl Code, Bro Code covers a range of behaviors, ranging from how you interact with strangers to how you chill with your best bros. It’s a guide on how to have and maintain relationships with male friends.

In the modern world, men’s friendships are incredibly important but can be challenging to maintain. With work and family obligations, making time for male bonding activities or just regular check-ins can be hard. The Bro Code is meant to help ensure that all parties involved don’t take each other for granted while also providing them with expectations and guidelines they should follow. Keep the code in mind, and you should be able to keep your pals for life.

40 Unwritten Rules of the Bro Code

Since the Bro Code is a way of life that defines men’s friendships and relationships with their peers, you need to at least know the most important ones. Here are some of the unwritten rules of the Bro Code you can’t forget:

1. Bros before hoes.

This is the most important rule of the Bro Code playbook. Call it the first amendment of being a guy, if you will. Your bros come before any girl. Your friends will always be there for you, but a girl might not.

2. Never date your bro’s ex.

If your bro has ever dated a girl, she is off-limits to you. There are plenty of other women there, and you don’t want to risk ruining your friendship over your pal’s ex-girlfriend. She’s an ex for a reason!

3. Remember your wingman duties.

As a wingman, it’s your job to help your bro get with a girl. This means you should be willing to talk him up, make him look good, and step in if things start to go wrong.

4. No gossiping.

When it comes to talking about your best friend, you should always keep it positive. Don’t be the guy spreading rumors or talking behind your friend’s back.

5. Split the bill equally.

When you go out to eat with your bros, split the bill equally. Tools like Venmo and Zelle have made going out to eat with friends easier than ever.

6. Help a bro out.

If your bro needs help, whether it’s moving or fixing his car, you should be willing to lend a hand. This is what friendship is all about.

7. Don’t date your bro’s sister.

It should go without saying that dating your friend’s family is completely off-limits. Not only will it likely ruin your friendship, but it could also create an awkward family dynamic.

8. Give him a call.

In an all-too-digital world, we often forget to pick up the phone and give our best pals a call. We get it; you’re a bro on the go. However, talking on the phone is a meaningful way to stay connected and show your friend that you care.

9. Look out for his girlfriend when he’s not around.

Whether at the bar or a party, you should always be aware of your bro’s girlfriend. Keep a brotherly eye out for her to make sure she’s safe!

10. Never leave a bro without a ride.

Even if you want to go home with someone you met at the club, ensure your bro has a way to get home. Leaving him hanging to chase after a date isn’t cool and could damage your friendship.

11. Don’t let him get a girl’s name tattooed on his chest.

Sometimes, tattoos sound really great when we’ve been drinking, but they’re permanent and can be a bad idea. If your bro is thinking of getting a girl’s name tattooed after a long night of partying, talk him out of it!

12. Don’t let him do something (too) stupid.

We all have that one friend who has a tendency to make questionable decisions when under the influence. It’s up to you as his friend to make sure he doesn’t do anything he’d regret.

13. Be there for the good and bad times.

No matter what life throws at your friend, be the ultimate bro, and always be there to support him. That means riding with him on the highs of a new relationship or building him back up when he’s ready to date after a divorce. Having someone you can count on is priceless.

14. Never hit him below the belt.

Take this literally or metaphorically, but never take a cheap shot at your bro. This means no physical violence down under and also no emotional attacks.

15. Pick him up when he’s down.

If your friend is feeling low, do whatever you can to lift his spirits. Sometimes, giving him a bit of space to process his emotions is the best thing you can do, but if he’s been down a long time, don’t be shy about offering your support.

16. If you think his partner is cheating on him, tell him.

This is never an easy conversation to have, but if you think your bro’s partner is cheating on him, it’s best to tell him what you know. That way, he can make an informed decision.

17. Respect each other’s boundaries.

It’s important to respect each other’s boundaries and privacy. Don’t overstep the mark by intruding into his personal life without permission.

18. If his girlfriend calls you and asks where he is, you don’t know.

At the end of the day, your loyalty is to your friend. Unless he’s in a dangerous situation, never give away his whereabouts to a third party.

19. Don’t be afraid of healthy competition.

Sometimes, competing against your best friend can bring out the best in you both. Just make sure to keep it friendly, and remember that winning isn’t everything.

20. If cash is tight, pitch in for his beer.

Whether he’s forgotten his wallet or can’t afford another round, it’s nice when you can help a friend out. Buying him a beer here and there goes a long way in showing your support.

21. Your bros become honorary uncles to your kid.

Our bros become our family, and they will be honorary uncles when you have kids. It’s important to set good examples for your children from their earliest years by surrounding them with positive male role models.

22. Never leave a fist bump hanging.

Ah, the iconic fist bump. The casual greeting has quite the significance in the bro world. Never reject a fist bump!

23. Make time for game night.

Pop some popcorn, order delivery, and settle in for a night of video games. Nothing says friendship like a night of virtual battles and trash-talking.

24. Don’t let him drunk call his ex-girlfriend.

Know when it’s time to take his phone away from him. He might not be happy in the moment, but he’ll surely thank you in the morning when all he has is a hangover instead of a whole new set of problems.

25. Talk him out of all bad decisions.

Whether he’s going through a lot of stress or has just had too many, step up when you need to. Help your bro make the right decision by being his voice of reason. Remind him that there are consequences for every action and that getting into trouble isn’t worth it in the end.

26. Always lend a condom.

This one’s for the safety of both your friend and his partner. It’s better to be prepared than sorry when it comes to matters of protection. You don’t want to be an uncle before your time!

27. Don’t judge him if he cries.

It takes a truly strong man to shed tears in front of another person, so never judge your friend if he breaks down in front of you. Instead, be there for him, and let him know it’s okay to be vulnerable.

28. Hold each other accountable.

We all make mistakes and need someone to call us out on our bad behavior. Your bro should be the person who holds you accountable and encourages you to do better when it matters most.

29. Get your story straight.

When you go out together, set up a code word or phrase that signals trouble. That way, if one of you gets into an awkward situation, the other can come to the rescue without having to explain everything right away.

30. Never forget birthdays.

It doesn’t matter if it’s his or his girlfriend’s—it’s important to show up and show your support. Send a card, pick up a gift, or just text and wish them the best on their special day. Doing so will go a long way in showing your appreciation for them as part of your friend group.

31. Don’t be jealous if his relationship progresses faster than yours.

You may be envious of his success, but don’t let it get in the way of your friendship. Instead, be happy for him, and offer advice on how to handle the changes that are happening in his life. After all, relationships are never easy!

32. Give honest feedback when asked.

Whether it’s about a new project or a potential date, give your honest opinion when asked. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to be brutally honest. Just be sure to provide insight and feedback that could help him make the best decisions for himself.

33. End arguments quickly and peacefully.

Nobody likes a heated argument, especially between two bros! If things start getting too heated, take a step back, and try to find some common ground. This will help both of you move on quickly and peacefully.

34. Back each other up.

No matter what, always have each other’s backs. Whether it’s defending a silly opinion or backing up a wild story, being there for one another is essential in any friendship. You can work out the details of that big fish story later.

35. Check on him from time to time.

Sometimes, all your bro needs is a reminder that you’re still thinking about him. Send a random text to see how he’s doing. Even the smallest gesture can make all the difference in his day.

36. Respect his car.

It’s no secret that men’s cars are their babies. If you borrow it, make sure to return it in the same condition. And for goodness’ sake, don’t forget to fill up the gas tank!

37. Tell him when his outfit looks horrible.

Honesty is the best policy, especially when it comes to fashion. If he’s sporting a questionable look, don’t be afraid to tell him—just do so in a constructive way. You don’t want him walking around looking like an idiot! 

38. Be there for him during the ugly breakups.

Breakups can be hard, so make sure you’re there for your friend when he needs you most. Offer to listen if he wants to talk. Then turn up the playlist, and offer to take him out for a night on the town once in a while. This will help lift his spirits during the tough times.

39. Be nice to his girl.

You don’t have to like her, but you do have to be respectful when she’s around. After all, your friend chose her, so show her the same respect you would any other person in his life.

40. Always leave a buffer stall.

Last but far from least is to never, ever use the urinal right next to someone. It’s not just rude; it’s uncomfortable and a cardinal sin of the Bro Code. Leave at least one buffer stall between you and your friend. Heaven forbid you make eye contact in this scenario.

When to Break Bro Code

It’s important to remember that the Bro Code is a set of unwritten rules, and while popular culture tells us these rules should generally be followed, there may be times when it’s okay to bend or break the rules. However, if you choose to ignore this code of conduct entirely, ensure you’re prepared for any consequences that may arise from your actions.

Breaking Bro Code may be acceptable in situations like these:

  1. When a friend is in danger: If your friend’s safety or well-being is at risk, it may be acceptable to break the code of conduct and intervene.
  2. When relationships are on the line: Some situations call for difficult decisions that could jeopardize friendships. In these cases, breaking the code to protect relationships may be necessary.
  3. When it’s the right thing to do: Sometimes, you have to stand up for what’s right, even if it means going against your friend’s wishes.
  4. When it will help bring about a positive outcome: If you believe that breaking the code will result in a more favorable outcome for your friend, it may be acceptable to do so.
  5. When it’s necessary to protect your own interests and safety: In certain scenarios, breaking the code may be needed if it means protecting yourself and your reputation. For instance, you may need to break the code of silence if you become aware of illegal or unethical activities being committed by your friend.

On the other hand, breaking the Bro Code rules in situations like these is unacceptable:

  1. When it will cause harm to someone else: If your actions will result in harm or suffering to someone else, it’s not okay to break the code.
  2. When it leads to gossiping: Gossip has no place in the bro world and should never be tolerated.
  3. When it means betraying a friend: Betraying your bro’s trust by breaking the code is unacceptable in almost every circumstance.
  4. When it could hurt someone’s feelings: If you know that someone’s feelings will be hurt, it’s best to respect the code and avoid doing anything that could cause harm.
  5. If it will sabotage their romantic relationship: Tempting as it may be, never break the code to interfere with your friend’s romantic relationship. No matter what the situation is, always strive to have respect for yourself and your bros.

In certain situations, breaking Bro Code can be excused, but it’s important to remember that respect and loyalty are the cornerstones of any strong friendship. So, if in doubt, err on the side of caution, and adhere to the code. Doing so will help safeguard your friendship for years to come.

Closing Thoughts

Following the Bro Code is all about respecting one another and building strong relationships. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a hard and fast rulebook but rather a set of guidelines meant to help foster solid friendships. So if you find yourself in a tricky situation, take some time to think before you act. By doing so, you can be sure that the bonds between you and your bros will last.

Make time for guys’ night! Or how about a weekend? Nothing says guys’ weekend like a road trip. So, plan the perfect road trip with your friends! Or, spend a night out on the town bar hopping in your attempts to find new dates. However you spend your time, remember to keep nurturing those male friendships. There’s nothing like them!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the #1 Bro Code rule?

​​The number one rule of the Bro Code is to never let a woman come between your friendship. The adventures with your bro are far more important than any romantic entanglement.

What is the full Bro Code?

The full Bro Code changes depending on the crew. Generally, they include being a wingman for your bros, remaining loyal to them, and never letting a woman come between you.

What are the Guy Code rules?

The Bro Code rules include making time for game night (our adventure book has some ideas!), keeping him from drunk texting his ex, and always showing up when he needs help with something.

What are the Bro Code violations?

The main violations of the Bro Code include leaving your pal at the bar without a ride, letting a woman come between you, not showing up for him, and taking advantage of a fellow bro. 

When is it okay to break Bro Code?

Only break the Bro Code in situations like when a friend is in danger, relationships are on the line, or the outcome will be positive. Treat bros well to keep the adventures coming!

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