Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

Did I Break Bro Code?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have a question about “cock blocking” and the sketchy at best concept of the “bro code”.

Okay. So I’m on my way to chill at my friend’s house, and he tells me he has a girl over so I ask him if he wants alone time or whatever. He tells me it’s fine and that he’s not trying to hook up. So we’re hanging out and it turns out this girl is really extroverted and friendly, so we end up talking quite a bit. Just friendly talk, about music and TV and stuff.

(I should also note, that she engaged me in conversation, in no way was I trying to “swoop in” or whatever.)

Later, my friend decides he does want to hook up with this girl, and signals me to leave. So I go to his living room to watch some TV and chill on the couch. A few minutes later, the girl comes down as well, with my friend. We start talking again as I’m perusing Netflix, while my friend is hanging out in the background sulking. He then asks her to come back upstairs with him, which she does, and they hang out up there for a while. Later I find out she did not stay over and my friend says I totally “cock blocked” him because I talked to her “too much” and “would not stop talking to her”.

Now he tells me that I messed it up for him and that he won’t be able to hang out with her in the future (because reasons), and he goes on about how I talk too much in “those situations”. I decide now I’ve had enough of this, and I start getting really mad and indignant (I have anger issues) trying to explain to him how messed up his point of view really is, and he basically tells me that I was being a crappy friend and that I did not see his side of the issue.

Thing is, I think “his side” is complete bulls

t and I refuse to acknowledge that he was “wronged” somehow. I should also mention that not once did he consider that maybe the girl just didn’t want to stay over, and it had nothing to do with me. I know that I’m right in this situation, that I did absolutely nothing wrong by engaging in conversation, but my friend is all up in my head and making me feel guilty like I wronged him somehow. So my question is, did I really mess up? Or is my friend just immature and self-centered?


Annoyed And Confused

DEAR ANNOYED AND CONFUSED: Ah, bro code, that mostly unwritten (and thus incredibly variable) list of things that bros supposedly do or don’t do to their bros. Drawing penises on your drunk buddy’s face: totally cool. Talking to a woman he’s called “dibs” on: not cool.

But hey, what good is “bro code” if you’re not going to use it to hammer your bro in the junk?

So let’s break down what happened here: your buddy invites you over. Knowing he has a woman with him, you give him the easy out: you’ll give him space to do his thing. He declines because “he’s not trying to hook up”. This very clearly sets the stage – not just for your involvement but for hers. Right now, she is at his house under the presumption that this is just a platonic, friendly hang-out.

(The cynic in me suspects that the only way he could get her to come over was to frame it as a platonic, friendly hang-out thing, but it’s entirely possible I’m being unfair.)

At this point, everyone is acting under the idea that yes, you’re all there just to hang out and bro down. Making small talk with people – especially people making a point of engaging with you – is kind of the whole point of hanging out together. If you were just going to completely ignore her or, I dunno, only answer in monosyllabic grunts, that would be incredibly weird. As it is: no harm no foul, everyone’s being cool here.

It’s when your buddy decides that it’s go time and suddenly shifts the rules of the game that things get hinky. See, at this point, unless there was a pre-existing relationship with her, changing the terms under which she was at his house – from platonic brodeo to sexytimes – is going to feel like it’s coming out of the blue. Unless she was starting to give some very clear signals (and you don’t mention that she had been), this sort of “oh bee tee dubs, I want to suck face”  face-heel-turn is going to feel like she was there under false pretenses.

Now under other circumstances, hanging around in the living room while your buddy is upstairs getting his freak on might feel a little weird to folks involved. She might have felt uncomfortable knowing you were just hanging around downstairs while she and your buddy were banging out. But under these SPECIFIC circumstances… I’m guessing that she was less than thrilled to find out that your buddy had ulterior motives. Her coming back down, I suspect, was part of her trying to let him know that no she was not into it, thank you very much. After much sulking on his part – trés sexy, that – he convinces her to come back upstairs where presumably nothing happened. And now he’s blaming his lack of action on you because… you were talking to her. Thus she didn’t like him as much and now it’s somehow your fault.


There’re two distinct problems with this scenario.

First: it completely erases the woman’s agency. She’s perfectly capable of deciding on her own whether or not she’s interested in having sex with someone without having to blame it on somebody else’s nefarious doings. Like I said: I’m guessing she was never that into him in the first place, and if she was, his playing “Schrödinger’s Date” with her did not endear her to him.

Second: if your buddy’s chances of getting laid are so predicated on her not talking to any other man at all, then guess what? They were already at zero and falling fast. I’ve seen plenty of Nice Guys play the “keep away” game, where they try to ward off every other possible man in the room. The idea is that by depriving her of any other options, she’ll naturally settle for the Nice Guy. Y’know. Instead of just hopping on the Nope Train to F

k This Sh


There’s literally nothing about your buddy’s behavior that makes it sound like there was a snowball’s chance in hell that he was going to pull this off somehow. From his sullen sulking in the background to playing plausible deniability games, I am absolutely not surprised that she’s not going to see him again.

No, having a conversation with someone isn’t “cockblocking”. This isn’t your problem. This is your buddy acting like a spoiled jackass.

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