So, I have this friend. She’s beautiful. She’s an amazing writer. She sings and models. And sometimes I want to hit her.
Don’t look at me like that… I’m not a violent person. It’s just that, well, I’m a writer and singer and model, too — and she’s in my space!
When I hear of her newest success, I congratulate her and I am happy for her (truly), but there’s this little demon inside me that says, “You should have gotten that photo shoot… that gig… that magazine article. You! You! You!”
We all have that friend, the perfect one we compare ourselves to. We see what she’s doing and think, “I should be doing that!” As women, we’re always comparing — we’re always competing. This competition causes adversity. This competition is the reason I’ve heard so many women say, “Most of my friends are men — women are too nuts.”
And we are. Nuts, that is. We wish the best for each other… but do we? Really? Thanks to our ever-helpful experts, let’s look at some reasons why we hate on each other and how we can hopefully discover a world where we can say, “Congratulations!” And mean it.
1. Competition for Mr. Right
Comedian Dan Nainan gets right to the point: “Women are too much in competition for men.” In this modern age of female rights and empowerment, we’d like to scream, “Nay!” But, he’s right. You know it. When you go out with your single friends, you look your best because it feels good to dress up, but also because you want to get a guy’s attention. Well, so do the rest of your friends, which is why they dress up, too. I’m not saying you’ll go all Jerry Springer for a guy’s attention, but face it: In the back of your mind, the competition is there.
2. We’ve been taught there’s not enough room at the top
Donna Henes, author of The Queen of Myself, says, “Women are socially programmed to compete with each other for the crumbs of success that society has offered us. […] There is very little room at the top of any field for women, so other women feel they must compete for the crumbs of the pie, and are therefore jealous of the chance to reach success. The popular belief is that if I am on top, then you must be on the bottom, and I have to step on your head to get there.”
I think this is where my own jealousy explodes in regards to my writer/singer/model bestie. If she’s getting the shoot with that photographer, I am not — therefore, she must be destroyed.
Henes continues with a hopeful solution: “Empowerment — the authentic power that emerges from within each of us. In this view, competition is irrelevant, as each person is individual and unique and irreplaceable by anyone else. The first step to becoming powerful women is to accept responsibility and sovereignty over our own lives and to feel secure in the effectiveness of our own authority.”
3. Harsh mother/sister/aunt…
If we are raised with nothing but harsh female role models, that’s really gonna screw us up. As Dr. Fran Walfish, author of The Self-Aware Parent, puts it, “A lack of trust, safety and security with women is substituted with feelings of rivalry and competitiveness. These women can never relax and be their imperfect selves with other women.” We’re always trying to please the mommy who never loved us. We are always trying to be more perfect than everyone else.
4. Lack of self-awareness
“Women who do not recognize their own self worth and personal value do not know how to value the success of others,” says Huffington Post contributor Maura Sweeney. “By constantly comparing themselves to external values and markers rather than pursuing and developing their own interests and skills, women continue to view themselves as small, insignificant, etc. A solid sense of self gained through personal development and accomplishments, rather than limited comparisons, goes a long way in reversing the negative comparison friendship paradigm.” It’s time for us to look inside instead of constantly looking for meaning in the world around us.
5. Self-hatred and insecurity
According to Vironika Tugaleva, founder of The Real Us, “The number one reason women hate each other is that they hate themselves. They project their own insecurities onto people they feel are most like them.” Oh, dear. This sounds like the way my psyche acts around my best friend. We are similar (like, creepy similar), which is probably why my resentment sometimes rests on her. I’m not jealous of Oprah — I’m jealous of women close to me who share my talents and interests because I’m insecure.
6. Anxiety and fear
Sara DiVello is the author of Where in the OM Am I? and she sees fear and anxiety as a prime culprit in the battle of me versus you. She blames it on “a false sense of scarcity, and that scarcity creates anxiety-based scrambling or hoarding-like behavior, whether it’s hoarding attention, resources or the perception of too few opportunities.”
But, there’s hope. She continues, “If, on the other hand, we shift to an attitude of abundance, women could shift their behavior from ‘There’s not enough for all of us, so I’ve got to get mine at the exclusion of you and yours,’ to ‘There is plenty for all, and I can help create more so we can all have enough.'”
Let’s fix things together
From Lisa Bahar, marriage and family therapist: “Women can be happy; however, it requires a level of awareness to be internally focused versus externally focused on others and competing with other women.”
I’m never going to be perfect. I can’t promise there won’t be a twinge (maybe a little facial tick) when my gal pal publishes her next novel. But, our experts are right: We gotta stop hating on each other, ladies, because an army of women supporting women? Well, that could change the world.