The Art of Being a Lady: Getting Along with Other Women

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Getting along with other women can be a complicated game of unspoken rules – unless you're willing to get honest with yourself.

Just the other day I was enjoying the company of a lovely group of women, listening as they engaged in conversation about a topic that is intimately familiar to any woman who has ever walked this earth: weight. Suddenly, the phrase "chub rub" caught my attention. 

If you're in the same English-as-a-second-language boat as me, there are thousands of idioms, cliches and slang that are completely unfamiliar to you. Thus was the case with chub rub.

"What is chub rub?" I inquired with genuine sincerity. Up until now I had kept my mouth shut, very aware of their strong opinions about my own weight.

"Something you'll never have to worry about!" one woman shot back, followed by the typical onslaught of passive-aggressive comments about my weight.

Embarrassed and utterly confused, I sat in silence, bottling in my frustrations at their constant jabbing, when suddenly – before even realizing that I had opened my mouth to speak – I said, "I will be more than happy to demonstrate whether or not your theory is correct, if that's what it takes to put a stop to these constant, ridiculous jokes."

Taken aback, one woman quickly explained that they were "just kidding around" because they are "just jealous" – her exact words. 

I have a confession to make.

Had it not been for the last comment – had there not been that confirmation of what I suspected was the reason for their contempt – I would continue feeling frustrated and hurt over constantly being singled out for being the thinnest woman in the group (as if that somehow equates to not having body image issues). 

Instead of taking the opportunity to encourage and uplift the other women, I caught myself quietly reveling in their jealousy. Though I would never dream of deliberately insulting or shaming anyone about their body, I am ashamed to admit that their insecurities served as a boost to my own self-confidence – and that is just as destructive, if not even more so.

But I don't want to be that woman. I don't want someone to look at my life, or my body, or my marriage and feel bad about theirs!

The dynamics of female relationships are extremely complicated, and that's a fact. If the women in your social circle think you to be prettier, or thinner, or more successful, or better dressed, or smarter, or kinder, or more confident, or have better-behaved children or a cleaner home or a more-devoted husband or whatever else the case may be – it's safe to say your fate is sealed. On the other hand, if you find yourself on the other side of the spectrum, jealous of, or intimidated by, women who deliberately or unconsciously flaunt their body, marriage, children or life in general then your attitude towards them will always be tainted by this fact. From early childhood, we are conditioned to learn the art of pretentiousness when interacting with our female counterparts, which begs the question, "Can women really be friends with other women?"

Before you cry out in outrage that my statements are misogynist, or that your own circle of female friends is nothing short of wonderful, or that I am some sort of monster and that you would never have the audacity to react the way I did – let me clarify that by no means am I including all women under the toxic umbrella. I myself have a number of genuine female friends and can testify to how beautiful and satisfying such relationships can be – but that becomes possible only after we've personally sorted through our own insecurities, from which our passive-aggressive behavior stems. 

The sugarcoating, the manipulation, the judgmental looks, the repressed emotions, the fake smiles, the holier-than-thou attitudes, the backhanded compliments, the gossiping – you know exactly the kind of behavior I'm talking about, and I will be the first to admit how often I fail, despite my best efforts. This widespread acceptance of what can only be described as a disgustingly distorted idea of female relationships is disturbing. 

I want to encourage women (myself included) to analyze our hearts, to dig through the repressed emotions and fully deal with our insecurities. Let's vow to be more honest with ourselves and more open and genuine with others. Honesty is the only way to break the vicious cycle of jealousy and comparison. 

In a continued effort of promoting transparency, below are some hard lessons I've learned for myself. Consider them confessions of sorts. By no means am I insinuating these lessons apply to your life as well; I only share my thoughts hoping that we can all move forward with a newfound awareness and desire to put forth effort to show honesty, humbleness and grace toward the women around us. Our power as women is in our ability to love and to connect, and if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and honest, we are bound to find supportive and healthy female friendships.

  1. If you do not have genuine female friends, chances are that you're the problem – not them. Analyze your behavior: Do you question the motives of every woman who opts to wear heels rather than your idea of "appropriate footwear"? Do you proudly declare that you get along with men better than women? Do you secretly hate when another woman shares with you her story of success and interpret her actions as gloating? You can't litter negativity everywhere and then wonder why you can't connect with others on a deeper level. 
  2. Confrontation is hard, but unless you meet those unresolved feelings of hurt straight-on, you will soon be left with no friends at all. Tension, if not dealt with properly, has a way of unraveling the strongest of relationships.
  3. On a similar note, the old adage that nothing brings two people together like the mutual hatred of a third is, unfortunately, true. Sometimes so-called friendships are built entirely on the fact that two women hate a third. Analyze the female friendships in your life: Why are you friends? What is it that you have in common? If the only thing you bond over is your dislike of another woman, it may be time to find new friends.
  4. Some women truly need to be called out on their catty nonsense, but do it only if you're willing to be called out on yours. But don't sacrifice your peace trying to point out someone's true colors. Lack of character always, always reveals itself in due time. Besides, the people who hurt you typically do it in an attempt to heal themselves, and when you become aware of that, your desire to "put them in their place" disappears altogether.
  5. There will always be somebody prettier, smarter, better dressed, thinner, wealthier, more successful, etc. than you. It's natural to feel intimidated, but if you can't sort through your insecurities and learn to deal with this fact in a healthy way then you will always, always be miserable. Similarly, if you have women in your life with whom you interact only to feel better about yourself and your own life, it's time to face reality. Whether or not we're willing to admit it to ourselves, we find some sort of sick satisfaction when other women feel envious or intimidated by us. It's bad, and it needs to stop. Go the extra mile to prove that you are more than a pretty face, that your life is not as perfect as it seems and that you need friends, too.

Now, I want to know what you think: What are your thoughts on genuine female friendships – do they exist? Are there parts of this article you agree or disagree with? Have you ever felt threatened or intimidated by other women? How did you deal with it? Are there women with whom you interact only to feel better about yourself? Do you secretly gain satisfaction from the jealousy of other women?

I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

 

Posted in LIFESTYLE, THE ART OF BEING A LADY.
  • Tamara Reisch

    While reading this I thought of several of my friendships, and reflected on what problems may be present. Its so eye opening to consider yourself the problem. I think my relationships will definitely benefit from some introspective reflection on my part. Thank you for another great post!!

    • Hi Tamara! Thank you so much for stopping by! It’s terrifying to be so open and transparent about the ugly side of our innermost world – to put our most vulnerable self out there for people to judge – so I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts! I’m very happy to hear you’ve already taken a stand to be more reflective in your relationships, and I would be delighted if you decide to share any stories of progress! XOXO, Oksana

  • Alena Chernenko

    I really appreciate this post! As a woman I realize these things are true and exist among us, but often I try to ignore them, which never resolves anything. Sometimes it even makes matters worse. I came to extremely hate jealousy amongst women. And I agree that most women put others down in attempt to feel better about themselves. So, when someone says something snotty my way, I try to see them in a different perspective and forgive them the hurt, but it’s so hard! Because my self defense and sense of pride screams to be hateful towards them from then on. It becomes an unseen inner battle that I have to face. So, let’s start by encouraging other women and reflecting on our selves to be the woman we want others to be ☺️ Thank you for this wonderful post!

  • I found you through IFB and I love this post. I’m lucky enough to have some genuinely wonderful female friends, but also a number of friendships that have unhealthy traits. However, I believe that even in the really good relationships, we women have a tendency to compare ourselves, which can result in unhealthy jealousy. For example, my best friend is a stay-at-home mom, while I work full time outside of the home. We both respect one another’s situations, but I know there are times I’m jealous that her husband makes enough to support their family on a single income, and she sometimes gets jealous that I get to dress up for work and interact with adults while she deals with playgroups and nap times. It’s so hard to be satisfied by what you have, even if you know logically that the grass isn’t always greener…

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  • Thank you for sharing honest and open thoughts about female friendships. I do have close female friendships and I do agree that in order to have a healthy one you have to branch out beyond a dislike of someone else. I grow very tired of girl-on-girl hate. I’ve definitely been a victim of it and at times felt frustrated when I see someone else who knows more or advances careerwise as I am left behind and forgotten. How do I deal with it? By improving my own skills and relationships with others. I look up classes, take trainings, and show others what they can do to learn more. I also take a step back and realize the value I already do have and utilize those skills on a project at work. In the end there will unfortunately be insecure people who are jealous and mean to you and you will never understand why. I do my best to respond to them confidently but not catty. And, to those who are jealous, if you want your situation to be different, change your life. I’m in full support of people making changes to have a better life, even if I don’t always get along with them. Go for it!

    • Hi Brooke, thanks so much for shopping by and sharing your thoughts! One of my favorite quotes is “Be so busy improving yourself, that you have no time to criticize others.” It serves as a good reminder that if we’ve got time to be sitting around and criticizing others, then we’re not living our life to its fullest potential. Besides, you can’t litter negativity everywhere and expect to have a positive life, right?

      At the same time, as much of a proponent of self-improvement as I am, I also have to realize that my self-identity doesn’t lie in my skills or talents or how close my friendships are or how much money I make, or how quickly I advance in my career, etc. I have to be completely content with myself without all the “bells and whistles,” if you know what I mean, because self-improvement is more about a mental shift than anything else. Wishing you success with all you’ve set out to do! XO

  • I love this post. I am lucky enough to have some great female friendships but I have also been on both the giving and receiving end of some serious girl-on-girl hate. Most of it boiled down to competing for attention, from guys, from other friends, from coworkers. It took me working on myself to get to a point where I don’t feel like I need to one up the woman next to me. That and growing up. It makes me think of a meme that I’ve seen circulating for a while that says “girls compete with each other, women empower each other.” We need to teach more girls to empower each other from day 1.

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