Why Women Don’t Like Each Other
I love women. And sometimes dislike them at the same moment.
That’s not a terribly uncommon sentiment among my ilk. Affection and disdain can accessorize the world of women like an infinity scarf. They’re made of the same cloth.
“Girls have never liked me……I had more guy friends in school than girls…..women are exclusive and critical and catty; friendship is difficult,” people of my kind will say.
And they are often correct.
But, after years as a woman (42 to be exact) interacting with other women, I’ve discovered a commonality that has the potential to dramatically unite us for the long haul, or at the very least, color us in a favorable disposition towards each other.
100% of the women I’ve ever met smuggle around a life hurt that has threatened to extinguish them. If I haven’t met you and you would take issue with my proclamation either a) you’re fibbing; b) you’re a unicorn, or c) you’re in store for a doozie.
Hurt. It’s as universal as our affinity for chocolate. But, it is born as varying personalities…
The Victim. She has allowed her pain to seep into her DNA. It replicates itself and permeates her cells. She white-knuckles her hurt and dares anyone to take it from her. She’s entitled to it. It has become the fabric of her identity, the dominant color of her life. She often unwittingly propagates more hurt and loneliness because she feels due our pity and we have very little stomach for that.
The Mean Girl. She sees the world through anger. It’s her default emotion. Her life leaks venom, and her people are always on guard against a barb aimed in their direction. She is entirely predictable and anxiety-inducing. She thinks little of publicly sawing people off at the shins. Red is her favorite color; nails are her favorite snack, and high blood pressure is her trademark. She is impartial, cursing a sunny day with the same vigor as a rainy mess.
The Controller. She needs to feel she is capable of warding off everything undesirable if only she is vigilant enough, bossy enough, well-informed enough, assertive enough, in-charge enough, together enough. She is possessive and terribly, terribly afraid. She is often paralyzed by fear which further nourishes her attempts to keep all aspects of her life within the bounds of her reach. Rest does not come easily because something may stray beyond her if she relaxes her grasp.
The Unconvinced. See also The Career Woman. The Party Girl. The Domineering Mom. The Scantily-Clad Girl. The Material Girl. The Promiscuous Woman. The Comedienne. The Workout Obsessed. She believes her value is external. She operates under the assumption she has little to offer intrinsically, so she must add to who she is to establish her worth. She is defined by what she does. She is tired and her happiness is extremely volatile because it is completely circumstantial.
The Fortress. Her composition is one part tender, four parts steel. Her softness is about an inch deep; after that you hit an impenetrable bunker. A no-man’s land. She can smile easily. She can be gentle and kind easily because everything of any importance to her is behind lock and key. Gaining clearance is unlikely, and she can sit across from you in a coffee shop, chatting life, and sipping a Salted Caramel Mocha, and inhabit a land a million miles away all at once. She is always alone because she doesn’t know how to let people in.
The Disappearing Act. She often pretends she is invisible. Feeling that way is her favorite. She approaches life as a transparent spectator, assuring herself, “If I’m quiet and nondescript and cooperate with the mandates of the universe, maybe I can escape the notice of pain or loss.” She believes by averting her eyes she exempts herself from all that life requires. She acquiesces, disappointed and protected by her own resignation. She wants more but feels incapable of it.
The Pretender. She doesn’t even let her own self know that her life isn’t perfect. She’s got the ugly locked in the gun safe. While she sunbathes in a hurricane. If you were to stare into her eyes, you would find a tumultuous longing for disclosure. If there were only a safe place for her. A place or a person who could know her pain without her ever having to give words to it. She is absolutely convinced the syllables would kill her. She moves quickly so the truth can’t catch up.
The Strong & Tender. The Steel Magnolia. She is friends with her brokenness. She has processed her hurt in a way that leaves her open without leaving her weak. She is free to love without being shackled by fear. She is certain hurt will come again, and she is confident she will survive it. The strength in her is not of her. This juxtaposed assimilation of hurt and hope is otherworldly. There is no other explanation.
I’ll come clean. I can be all of these. I have been all of these. I naturally veer towards The Unconvinced and The Fortress, but I can suit up in Mean Girl with the best of them….
It’s little wonder we struggle to love each other well, is it? Our defense mechanisms are rarely compatible.
A whole bunch of masked hurt bullying our interactions.
We can fight to be whole instead.
To be healed.
To revere our scars as beauty marks.
We are free to champion our kind as we do the hard work of rehabbing our hearts.