I don't doubt for a second that you're one heck of a lady. I bet you're an amazing friend, a girl power-y coworker, and someone who always supports female causes. And yet, we live in a world where it's often easy (and even encouraged) to be a bad friend to other women.
Just take a look around — at job interviews, on TV, in advertisements — and you'll see how society often tries to normalize the whole female vs. female thing. "It pits us against each other," says Dr. Nikki Martinez, in an email to Bustle. "And even creates conflict where none might actually exist."
While gross, and entirely unhealthy, this mentality has a way of sticking in the subconscious. In fact, once you start believing the world is one giant competition, it's not uncommon to turn against friends, coworkers, and even perfect strangers. "We become part of the problem, and make the path for the female as hard as anyone else," Martinez says.
Of course, I'm not saying everyone falls into this trap. And not everyone feels this way. But, unfortunately, it does happen. If you're afraid you're falling prey to it all, read on for some sneaky ways you might be failing your fellow females — as well as what to do about it.
1. You're Frequently Overcome With Jealousy
Let's say your BFF just landed an amazing new job. Or maybe she went on a whirlwind European vacation. It can be difficult not to feel a bit jealous, especially if she is unlocking life achievements left and right. And yet, absolutely nothing good comes from comparing yourself, Martinez tells me. It just brings you down, and her down, and makes life way too difficult. So, be happy for your friend's successes — especially since they have no bearing on your own.
2. You Have A Hard Time Respecting Her Relationship
While you have every right to be friends with another woman's SO, it's totally not OK to flirt them or otherwise undermine their relationship, speaker and counselor Davida Rappaport tells me. Of course, you might not do it on purpose. And some people are more touchy about this subject than others. But if you have a friend who is otherwise taken, it's always a good idea to keep some healthy (and respectful) boundaries.
3. You View Her As Competition
There will always be women who are more successful than you, and it sure can hurt. But instead of pitting yourself against them in an unhealthy (and never-ending) competition, try to look on with pride as they pave the way. "They may actually be opening doors and laying groundwork for others," Martinez says. And that is a wonderful thing.
4. You're Only There In Difficult times
As board-certified psychiatrist and relationship expert Ayo Gathing, MD, tells me, some women have a tendency to help their friend through tough times, only to bounce the moment things get better. If this is you, it could be that you get a subconscious self-esteem boost from being the "helper." And while that's understandable, it's not exactly helpful, fair, or healthy.
5. You're Passive Aggressive
Women are at our very best when we're being assertive. This is true at work and in our relationships, but also with our friends. And yet, because assertiveness can feel a bit uncomfy, passive aggressiveness often sneaks on in instead. "It can make you a bad friend because you're not expressing your feelings in a healthy way," friendship exert Nicole Zangara, LCSW, tells Bustle. Definitely a skill worth working on.
6. You're Hypercritical Of Her Every Move
Many ladies hold their female friends to impossible standards, often judging too quickly and expecting them to be perfect. If this is you, you're being "hypercritical," Martinez says. And it's not a good thing. "By being hypercritical of anyone, we are diminishing their self-esteem, hurting their feelings, making them question themselves, and not acting in a manner of someone who supposedly cares about and supports them."
7. You Hate Sharing The Spotlight
Attention is a beautiful thing. It feels so good to be the center of it, and to have all eyes on you. But there will come a time (at work, for example) when it's necessary to let someone else have the spotlight. This is, however, something some women find difficult, blogger Janil Jean, of Motivation Matters, points out. If this describes you, remember that it is awesome, supportive, and very girl power-y to share.
8. You Only Call Her To Vent
If you're going through it right now, it can be tempting to run to your friend for every little thing. (Think: calling her at 2 a.m. to vent about your ex. Again.) While that's what friends are for, make sure it doesn't become the only reason for your relationship. "When you complain time and time again, your negativity [can take] a toll on both you and your friend," says relationship expert Samantha Daniels. Learn to hold back a little, or at the very least make sure the venting is a two-way street.
9. You Have A Tendency To Judge
If your BFF consistently does things you don't agree with, then by all means sit by with a judgmental look on your face. (If you have that type of relationship, that is.) Just be careful with how and when you speak up to offer your two cents. "You can be judgmental, but deliver your thoughts in a respectful manner," Zangara says. "It's all about delivery."
10. You Only Ever Talk About Yourself
If you want to support your female friends, you kinda have to know what's going on in their lives. So, take note if the topic of conversation always circles back to you and your life. "It is great to want to share your successes with your besties," Daniels says. Just make sure you listen to them, as well.
11. You Stir Up The Drama
Drama has a way of sneaking into even the best female friendships — mostly due to all the bad habits listed above. If you struggle with jealousy, or have a tendency to be judgmental, then little spats won't be far behind. That is, unless, you make an effort to be a more supportive friend. As Zangara says, "In healthy, supportive female friendships, you don't see drama as [often] since women are able to be more logical and communicate with their friends, instead of feeling the need to emotionally react."
And really, that's the key to being a great girlfriend. Be supportive, look out for your fellow females, and remember — there is space enough for all of us.
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