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My fiancé has this one cousin that I love. He makes time to visit regularly without wearing out his welcome, always offers to treat to dinner when we all decide to have a marathon of “The Wire” and then the best part: He’ll wash everyone’s dishes before he leaves. Out of my man’s crew I definitely have my favorites including a friend that shares the same birthday as me down to the same year. But all the bonding over pizza, liquor and Netflix weekends as well as our mutual love for my man doesn’t make my boyfriend’s friends my friends. And that’s a lesson that many women are all too quick to forget.

Kevin Hart tweeted it best, “Your Boyfriend’s Friends Are Not Your ‘Brothers’They The Same Niggas That Will Put Him On Another Chick. Their Loyalty Is To HIM. . Not YOU.” No matter how many times they’ve helped you put away groceries or how many of your children call him “Uncle” he doesn’t owe you anything except to hold his boy down. When your man is missing and you’re blowing up his homeboy’s phone demanding an explanation, don’t catch feelings when you’re met with crickets. Yes, they’re probably covering for him, but they’re doing what good friends are supposed to and that’s being loyal to him. Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimately members of my man’s crew that I can’t stand. I know when I hear their voices on the other end of the phone only foolishness and ignorance will follow, but I dislike them because they’re idiots not because they don’t entertain any entitlement I may feel I have to know every detail of my man’s business.

Think about how you’d feel if your best friend was texting your boyfriend all crazy because they’re just that “cool” with one another. It would only be a matter of time before you’d be checking ole’ girl and find yourself with one less friend. Even if all of you were friends before anything romantic occurred, it’s important for friends to know when to back off when someone is in a relationship. If she was fixing his plate at the family BBQ, she should know that it’s time for her to fall back once you two are an item. Clear boundaries make everyone more comfortable.

It’s the one thing that’s apart of both girl and guy code. Even when you’re dead wrong your friend should publicly have your back while dogging your dude, even if she pulls you to the side a little later to tell you, “Actually, that’s was kind of messed up of you.”  It’s all about where your loyalties lie, and if a friend is quick to sell out a friend to his/her partner, it says a lot about the lack of respect they have for that friend.

On the flip side, you have to make sure you’re playing your part as well. I was talking to a group of young women the other day about how they present themselves around their partner’s friends. You remember in The Player’s Club when Diamond’s cousin Ebony, was bouncing around the house in her bikini briefs while her man was over? You don’t do things like that. If I know my man has company I’m probably not going to skip up and down the steps in the boy shorts and tank top I usually would when we’re alone. It’s not to say that his friends are looking at me that type of way…who am I kidding: They’re looking. It doesn’t mean they will try to pursue you but men are very basic creatures and it doesn’t take much to catch their attention. But there are lines of respect that all parties obey when they really care about someone. Some women are so quick to call a man their brother and try to carry themselves any type of way around him, and it’s all fun and games until that brother is trying to push up on you and you’re explaining to your man, “I don’t know what happened.”  I’m not excusing men from exercising self-control, but woman have to be mindful of how they present themselves and act like the committed girlfriends they claim to be.

Maintaining relationships between lovers and friends is about trust and respect. No man wants to have the crazy girlfriend that’s filing a missing persons report with his boys every time he’s twenty minutes late coming home from work or the girlfriend who totally abandons her girls so she can be down with his clique. A relationship should be between two people, not a team. If you choose to try and draft his boys for your personal surveillance, you can only be but so offended when his they run defense for their friend.

Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a  passion for helping  young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health.  She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about  everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.

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