This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Eric McClure. Eric McClure is an editing fellow at wikiHow where he has been editing, researching, and creating content since 2019. A former educator and poet, his work has appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, Shot Glass Journal, Prairie Margins, and The Rusty Nail. His digital chapbook, The Internet, was also published in TL;DR Magazine. He was the winner of the Paul Carroll award for outstanding achievement in creative writing in 2014, and he was a featured reader at the Poetry Foundation’s Open Door Reading Series in 2015. Eric holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an MEd in secondary education from DePaul University.
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Like the Code of Hammurabi and the Bushido laws of the Samurai, the Bro Code is an ancient set of rules that govern the behavior of the Bro. It’s often confused with the Regulations of the Bruh and the Dude Laws, but the Bro Code is a much more universal set of directives. We’re just kidding—the bro code is a mostly humorous set of ideas that supposedly dictate how men are supposed to behave. But while there are plenty of sarcastic or silly bro code “rules” out there, it is true that men follow an unspoken credo—one of respect, kinship, and surprisingly specific rules about which urinal you’re allowed to use. Read on to learn everything you’d ever need to know about the bro code.
Have your bro’s back.
This is the central pillar of the bro code. It is the lynchpin holding the entire constitution of bro-dom in place. Always have your homie’s back. If they call you in crisis, you get in your car and head over. If they just got dumped, give them a hug and treat them to a night on the town with the boys. If they’re struggling in any way, it’s your responsibility to watch out for them. X Research source
- This doesn’t mean that you should enable anybody’s behavior if it’s bad or unsafe in some way. If your friend wants you to “get their back” while they go rob a bank, you have responsibility to try and stop them.
Be a good wingman.
If someone is making progress with a potential significant other, do everything in your power to give them space, occupy the possible partner’s friends, and direct the night in a way where they’ll be able to get some alone time. Be the best possible wingman you can be to make sure that your homies get the chance to score when they’re wide open for the shot. X Research source
Don’t date your friend’s ex.
Or their sister. At least, not without their very emphatic seal of approval, anyways. Things can get really messy if you date someone’s ex- or family member, even if you go into things with the purest of intentions. As a result, you’re better off just looking for romantic partners elsewhere. X Research source
- This is one of those practical bro code rules. It’s not that it’s immoral or problematic to date someone’s ex or family member per se, but it just often gets out of hand when things go sideways.
Bros don’t discriminate, period. Whether one of your bros has the bravery to come out as LGBTQ+, or one of your bros isn’t even a dude in the first place, true bros are inclusive. The world already has too many people who try to make themselves feel bigger by putting down others, so don’t add to those numbers. You can’t honor the bro code if you don’t respect others. X Trustworthy Source Harvard Business Review Online and print journal covering topics related to business management practices Go to source
- Don’t be mistaken by the moniker, “bro.” Girls can be bros, too. Non-binary folks as well. Bro is a state of mind, not a restrictive category.
Stand up for your boys.
If someone is being rude, hateful, or confrontational with one of your friends, stand up for them. Even if you don’t say anything, get behind their shoulder and let them know you’re there. Every bro has a responsibility to look after one another, so if you’ve got a squabble on your hands, don’t shy away. X Research source
- This isn’t to say that you should ever start a fight. Don’t escalate things beyond what they need to be.
Honor your bets and debts.
The bet is the cornerstone of contemporary culture, and you can tell a lot about a person by how they behave when they lose a bet. Always pay up if a bet doesn’t go your way—especially if you bet something other than money, like beer or something like that. In fact, if you owe anybody anything it’s important to always pay them back. Don’t shirk your debts. X Research source
Look after your inebriated homies.
Don’t let anyone drive drunk. Let your friends crash on the couch if they’re too turnt to get home. Give your drunk friend a glass of water. It’s no secret that a lot of bros out there enjoy the occasional party, and there’s nothing wrong with that! But it does come with some responsibilities. Look after your people. X Research source
- If it looks like someone might be on the verge of doing something dangerous, don’t hesitate to intervene.
If a friend of yours lets you know that they’re uncomfortable with you talking about their family, referencing the time they got a speeding ticket, or whatever, honor their request. People who are brave enough to let you know where their limits are deserve to be heard, so don’t ignore it when a bro lets you know they’re not fond of something you’re doing. X Research source
Honor the men’s room rules.
Centuries of indoor plumbing have helped men around the world develop a very carefully curated list of bathroom laws that must be upheld. This includes: X Research source
- Avoid the middle urinals if the bathroom is empty. Fill in the corners and work your way inwards skipping every other urinal.
- If the bathroom has only two urinals, use a stall if one of the urinals is occupied.
- Never pee on the seat. Always lift the seat before taking a leak. If the seat is filthy, just use the side of your shoe to lift it up.
- Wash your hands—even if you only peed. Don’t be that guy.
- Absolutely zero eye contact is allowed. In the event you accidentally lock eyes, acknowledge the moment with a quick downward head nod and avert your gaze again.
- Never go to the bathroom in groups. We don’t know why, but this is a core tenant of the girl code—the yin to our yang, so to speak.
Respect everyone’s tastes and interests.
It doesn’t matter if your friend is into football or ballet dancing—don’t put a friend down for their interests or tastes. Everyone has different callings in life, and there’s nothing wrong with following your heart. Whether it’s foods, hobbies, or behaviors, everyone has different tastes and everybody deserves respect. X Research source
- This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with joking around or poking friendly fun at a homie, but don’t be cruel.
Gas your people up.
Hand out compliments like you’re running for office. Tell your friends you like their outfits, shout out new haircuts, and show love when someone achieves something at work or school. Making people feel good feels good, and showing your bros love is one of the best ways to make sure everyone is cared for. X Research source
- Like your friends’ social media posts! Those little gestures mean a lot.
- A lot of guys have a problem with giving compliments to their male friends. By openly showing love, you’ll disarm a lot of that energy among your crew and make everyone feel better.
Leave no man behind.
If you hit the town with your squad, make sure everyone is accounted for between bars. Bros have a responsibility to make sure everyone makes it home safe, and if you’re only looking out for yourself, you’re not honoring one of the central tenets of the bro code. X Research source
Play your homies up to their crushes.
If your homie is crushing on someone and you ever get some one-on-one time with the crush, make your friend sound like the coolest dude of all time. Emphasize how fun they are, casually mention how kind they can be, and compliment him in any way that feels natural and honest. X Research source
- Under no condition should you be talking trash or putting down your bro in front of someone they’re crushing on.
Handle your beefs like an adult.
A good bro never lets his emotions get the better of him by resorting to physical combat or extreme outbursts. If you’ve got a problem with a friend, pull them aside and talk to them about it in a calm and respectful manner. No good comes from the drama of bro-on-bro violence, so respect your fellow man by handling conflict peacefully. X Research source
- It’s okay to air your grievances if you’re upset. In fact, it’s healthy to work things out if you’ve got friction with a friend. Don’t shy away if you’ve got a problem with somebody, just handle it intelligently.
Keep your friends’ secrets.
If someone confides in you, you have a responsibility to keep your mouth shut. A good bro never shares someone else’s secrets unless they’ve been given explicit instructions that it’s okay. This is one of the biggest indicators of whether you’re a decent friend or not, so never break your word when it comes to keeping secrets. X Research source
- Similarly, if a friend of yours is incapable of keeping your secrets safe, it’s a sign that they aren’t worth including in your bro network.
Don’t kiss and tell.
A true bro is a gentleman in matters of the heart, which means no running off to brag if you get with the guy or gal you had your eye on. Respect your romantic partners, keep things low-key, and play it close to the chest when you, erm…get close to someone else’s chest. X Research source
Pitch in for beer runs.
Nobody likes a freeloader. When you’re chilling with your homies and someone steps out to hit the store, chip in a couple of bucks. Even if you only have one or two drinks when they get back, it’s important to contribute to the greater cause. X Research source
- The same applies to pizza, snacks, fast food, and other consumables.
Know that all beards are beautiful.
So your best friend decided to grow something out and it’s looking a little…raggedy. Don’t turn him away on his journey. Some guys just can’t grow out a full, luscious beard overnight, but every man has the right to try without being shamed. X Research source
Give honest advice when asked.
Don’t walk around providing free advice or criticism without being prompted to do so. It’s important to give honest (but tactful) advice, but only when you’re asked. In other words, if your bro isn’t rocking that linen suit but he’s really amped about it, don’t rain on his parade. But, if he says, “Be honest, does this work for me?” then give them the truth. X Research source
Fill the tank before returning the car.
If someone lets you borrow their car or truck, don’t bring it back with the gas tank lower than it was when you got the keys. Even if it costs a few more dollars, fill the tank. Not only will your friend appreciate it, but it’s only fair to replace what you use. X Research source
- Clean up after yourself, too. Never leave fast food wrappers or trash in a friend’s car.
Clean up after crashing at your bro’s place.
If you hit the town with your crew and you end up having a few too many to drink, you may find yourself crashing on someone’s couch. When you get up in the morning (or afternoon, depending on how hard ya’ll went), clean up the cushions, fold any blankets, and throw away any empty beer cans before you leave. X Research source
- As a rule of thumb, always leave places cleaner than they were when you got there. A clean bro is a good bro.
Reciprocate all fist bumps and handshakes.
If you accidentally miss an outstretched hand or fist, go back and rectify that situation right now. The fist bump, handshake, and half-hug are the cornerstone of all male friendships and relations. If you don’t return fist bumps and handshakes, you’ll throw off the equilibrium of the universe. Well, maybe not, but who’s to say there won’t be severe consequences? Just return the love when someone extends a hand. X Research source
Hug your bros.
There are too many taboos out there when it comes to men showing physical affection to one another. In fact, there’s an epidemic of men out there who are starved for physical touch, which actually contributes to feelings of loneliness. X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source Show your boys you care about them. Hug ‘em when you see them or part ways for the night and don’t hesitate to tell them you love them. X Research source
- Don’t let anybody judge you or put you down for showing your friends that you appreciate them. You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.
Help your homies move.
Moving sucks—especially if you don’t have any help. So, always answer the call when the beacons are lit and your friend calls for help moving. This is also the perfect opportunity to play some friendly games of “I can lift more than you” with your friends. It’s a killer workout, too! X Research source
- If you’re the friend asking for help moving, don’t forget about the beer and pizza exchange rates. If you aren’t going to pay your friends actual money, you must provide the beer and pizza once the move is complete.
Put the weights back when you’re done lifting.
Physical fitness is important to a lot of bros, and that often means a gym membership. But if you’re going to honor the bro code, that means you’re legally required to put your weights back when you’re done using them. Okay, maybe not…legally required, but real bros will judge you from a distance for sure. Clean up after yourself. X Research source
- Bro code addendum: if your homie happens to pass away while you two are lifting weights, throw a few more plates on the barbell before you alert anyone.
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