Bitchy. Catty. Vindictive. Homewrecker.
We’ve all called or been called some version of this in our lives. But why?
Maybe because female friendships have always been marred by the constant sense of competition. But who is to blame for this?
Society. Society has taught girls to compete with each other over everything and anything, from boyfriends to beauty. Because of this, for me, it’s always felt more natural to just have male friends.
I know the typical stereotypes about having male friends – they’re less drama, they’re more active and fun to hang out with – and having that, all the fun without the drama, appealed to me.
But what I never knew where the “guidelines” to having a male friend who also has a girlfriend.
Last year, I went through a tornado of confusion and frustration with one of my close friends and his on-again-off-again girlfriend. For simplicity, we’ll call them “Romeo and Juliet.”
Romeo and I had been friends for a long enough time that he felt comfortable coming to me for relationship advice. Juliet and I were merely acquaintances – even though I had known her much longer.
I was extremely happy for both of them, but things went sour when Juliet’s only seemed to see me being happy for Romeo. Thus the beginning of this one woman war.
While we had never been best friends, we had always been friendly and I had been someone she could talk to. And I had absolutely no intentions of damaging their relationship, hurting anyone’s feelings or causing any drama. But that’s exactly what happened.
The next thing I knew, I was getting my head bitten off for no real reason at all and Juliet is accusing me of trying to “steal” Romeo from her – less than a week into their relationship.
I tried to talk to Juliet, but her hostility was borderline unbearable and we got nowhere. I figured it would take some real effort to break the ice with her, so I stopped hanging out with Romeo.
I hoped to assure her that I was not trying to harm her relationship in anyway. Of course it wasn’t that easy and Romeo began feeling like I was neglecting our friendship. I literally couldn’t win. One week of unnecessary drama was more than enough for me, but it continued and got worse.
Little things like what I was wearing, a happy conversation with someone or how I did my makeup that day would trigger Juliet. She would sneer, roll her eyes or make sarcastic head movements if we made eye contact. That became the norm.
Despite the fact that it seemed like I couldn’t win, I attempted to try again for the third time, once and for all so I thought, to figure out why she felt she was in competition with me over someone she was already in a relationship with. I decided to message her on Facebook.
What I thought was a good attempt blew up in my face, but I can’t say I didn’t think it would.
She responded saying she didn’t want to talk to me and that I only make things worse.
On the bright side of things, at least she replied?
All I was trying to do was keep both friendships intact without hurting anyone, trying to prove to her that there were no romantic intentions between me and her boyfriend. But even though I gave her no reason to not trust me, nothing I did helped.
The situation just went down from here. Juliet no longer wanted Romeo to have any type of involvement with me, and in trying to manage his relationship with Juliet, he cut off all connections with me.
I became the center of gossip. People I didn’t know were depicting me as everything from a bully to a relationship wrecker. Being the center of negative gossip like this made it impossible for me to concentrate in school.
I stepped away from the drama and focused on my studies. I was done with her ignorance and I felt like if she felt like I was a threat to her relationship she should be the bigger person and come straight to me and talk about it.
Women are taught from birth that other women are the competition. As Emily Gordon writes in Why Women Compete With Each Other, “When [female] value is tied to the people who can impregnate us, we turn on each other.”
It’s because of these double standards that women are held to that I fought with someone who I never thought I’d have a problem with and permanently scarred what was once a thriving friendship.
Women already face enough of a disadvantage in our society, we can’t be tearing each other down on top of it all. As the Representation Project argues, it’s simply a price women can no longer afford to pay. I lost one friendship and damaged another because of this culture of competition and I refuse to let that happen again.