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Sex + Relationships

The Official Written “Unwritten” Rules of Off-Limits Boys

Don’t you hate it when people reference the “unwritten rules” of hooking up? Admittedly, we all need a little reminder from time to time about which boys might be crossing the line, and whether he might cause tension between friends, in the workplace, or within family. If it seems like your friends always throw around phrases like “chicks before dicks” with a dirty look in your direction, maybe you should print this out and highlight the key points. Consider this the official written rules of the boys who are considered off-limits – though of course there are exceptions to every rule….
 
OFF-LIMITS: Best Friend’s Ex-Boyfriend
SAFE: One of your best friend’s past hook-ups
 
We can start with an easy one first. Probably the most infamous unwritten rule of hooking up, everyone knows that a best friend’s ex-boyfriend is off-limits. However, many girls fall into sticky territory when friends start to overlap with casual hook-ups (how many girls reading this article have hooked up with some of the same boys as a friend?)

If you have trouble restraining yourself, casually slap this sticker on his back at the next party.
 
If we are strictly speaking about one-time flings, there is absolutely no reason why a friend should get mad at another friend about overlapping. If you have a particularly promiscuous friend and attend a small school, it’s not like she could argue the whole school is off-limits, right? Not that any of us have friends like that…
 
OFF-LIMITS: Best Friend’s Brother
SAFE: Best friend’s brother’s friends
 
When you sleep over at your best friend’s house and sneak off into her brother’s room right when she falls asleep, you know you are doing something wrong. Of course, there are probably some people reading this who are thinking “I would love it if my best friend was my sister-in-law!” but most of the time this happy love triangle does not work out for the best.
 
On the other hand, her brother’s friends are completely safe territory. Just clarify with your best friend first about whether or not she has had a secret crush on him ever since he squirted ketchup in her eye at her brother’s third grade birthday party.
 
OFF-LIMITS: Ex-Boyfriend’s Brother
SAFE: Ex-boyfriend’s friend
 
I have a friend who is familiar with the consequences of hooking up with a family member of an ex-boyfriend, and it’s not pretty. Besides people cracking jokes like, “Are you going to hook up with his father next?” it’s just riddled with complications. However, it is perfectly acceptable to hook up with your ex-boyfriend’s friends; they are probably your friends too.  Let your ex get mad and throw around phrases like “bros before hoes” at his friend, but it’s not your problem. 
 
OFF-LIMITS: Superiors (Boss, TA)
SAFE: Fellow colleagues
 
You might have a particularly cute manager at your on-campus job, or maybe the TA in your Bio 101 class has been giving you the eye over the stack of papers on his desk. This rule is perhaps the most important to continue to follow after graduation: NEVER hook up with a superior. If something goes sour, you are vulnerable to his every whim and it may jeopardize your future career or academic performance. Even if your relationship goes swimmingly, you will probably be judged by your peers for having ulterior motives and be accused of receiving preferential treatment.
 

Her leg is definitely in off-limits territory.
 
If you cannot resist starting some romance in the workplace or in the classroom, stick with your equals. Keep in mind that most human resources departments insist on being informed about any inter-employee relationships, and check out Gennifer’s article on the pros and cons of working relationships.  
 
OFF-LIMITS: Relative by Marriage
SAFE: Family friend
 
Assuming “relative by blood” is finally a universal no-no (hopefully no one is dating a cousin), it can get tricky when the guy in question is just a relative by marriage. While watching Clueless we got a taste of what it would be like to hook up with an ex-stepbrother, and lucky for Cher, her father and Josh’s mother are divorced by the time things start to get steamy. In the real world, inter-family relationships can get messy pretty fast, especially if you live in the same house.
 
On the other hand, if your mother’s best friend’s family comes over for Thanksgiving every year and you play footsie with her cute son under the table while passing the cranberry sauce to your grandma, a post-dinner hookup may be inevitable. Blame it on the tryptophan in the turkey all you want, but just remember not to make it awkward next year.
 

Why are you so pouty Cher? Oh right… because Josh is basically your brother.
 
And there you have it: the finally written “unwritten” rules of off-limits boys. I could waste space by adding “Best Friend’s Current Boyfriend,” but I don’t think any HC reader is that dumb.
 
Photos Sources
Off-limits: http://www.memphisflyer.com/images/blogimages/2009/08/09/1249867046-off_limits.jpg
Office romance: http://sex.sheknows.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/office_romance.jpg
Cher and Josh: http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/Cher-Josh-cher-and-josh-631292_852_480.jpg

Joanna Buffum is a senior English major and Anthropology minor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.  She is from Morristown, NJ and in the summer of 2009 she was an advertising intern for OK! Magazine and the editorial blog intern for Zagat Survey in New York City. This past summer she was an editorial intern for MTV World's music website called MTV Iggy, writing fun things like album and concert reviews for bands you have never heard of before. Her favorite books are basically anything involving fantasy fiction, especially the Harry Potter series and “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke. In her free time she enjoys snowboarding, playing intramural field hockey, watching House MD, and making paninis. In the spring of 2010 she studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and she misses the friendly, tall, and unusually attractive Danish people more than she can say. After college, she plans on pursuing a career in writing, but it can be anywhere from television script writing, to magazine journalism, to book publishing. 
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