Photo courtesy of familymwr
I have a handful (maybe two) of women in my life that I thoroughly enjoy spending time with. A few years ago I began selectively reducing my female friendships because I simply wasn’t getting anything out of them other than added stress and annoyance. Recently, after an unnecissarily complicated interaction with someone, I became curious about the psychology behind female friendships. Everyone knows that women’s friendships can be fraught with difficulties, but what I wanted to know was: why? I have spent most of my life engaged in extremely deep and meaningful friendships that gave me immense satisfaction. However, those friendships were usually with men.
As I did a little research and discussed this phenomenon with some of my friends, I learned a few interesting things about women that explain many of my experiences over the years. Typically, boys are raised to be confident and competitive, while girls, on the other hand, are taught to be caring and empathetic without a hard competitive edge. These girls slowly grow into women who have stifled their aggressions and self-confidence in order to meet society’s expectations. The result is dismal: instead of expressing their competitive natures openly, these women have developed a hidden desire for other women to fail, thus making them look better in comparison.
Once I fully grasped this concept, I did an inventory of my current list of close female friends. As I was raised to have a strong competitive edge and determined personality, I naturally connect with women with similar upbringings. I realized that the female friendships I have chosen to walk away from were all with someone who had low self-confidence, little sense of healthy competition, and a general aura of resentment. The women I have in my life now are all highly motivated, accomplished, competitive and can take what they dish out because they are extremely self-confident. Most of my girlfriends will tell you that they have been referred to as “one of the guys,” which just goes to show that society only expects men to be openly aggressive.
My ultimate opinion is that many of these women have become uncomfortable with their own feelings of aggression and power, and when they sense it in other women, they feel threatened. Stifling their own desire for success or satisfaction can lead to feelings of unworthiness, envy and depression. I have two sons who society has already gotten its grips into – they’re very competitive, determined, outspoken young men. Social cues are very strong, so I am also busy instilling them with good communication skills, empathy and an ability to express their emotions, hoping for well-rounded men in approximately 12 years.
If you have a daughter, help her pave the way to her future happiness by teaching her that it’s okay to win. And, not only is it okay to win, but it’s also okay to want to win. Celebrate her as a strong female now so that she will be comfortable expressing her full competitive edge as she moves through life, giving her an excellent chance at overall success.