Women can act in very strange ways when they feel threatened. Most iconically featured in Mean Girls, catty-girl behavior can take all sorts of shapes and forms, and is usually inspired by jealousy, pride, and a host of insecurities. You may be dealing with your own version of Regina George in college, or even a less obvious Gretchen Wieners in the workplace. So what are you to do when encountering catty-girl behavior out in the wild?
It may feel complicated, but it tends to boil down to something as simple as: They will never be you, and why would you want to be them? Let’s dissect it.
When You’re the Victim: They Will Never Be You
If someone imitates you, take it as flattery, but if the imitation turns into competition, lean hard into who you are. Because no one else gets to be you, and we all need the best of you in this world. If the other person is truly trying to compete, the game will start and end with her as there is no such thing as truly becoming someone else. At times it may not even be obvious as the perpetrator may not be fully conscious of her intentions, but that doesn’t discredit the fact that it’s happening and can be quite uncomfortable.
No matter what she does or tries to take from you, she never will be able to be you. Set boundaries and focus on all the things you love about yourself. What makes you unique and what makes you you!
Sometimes there is a sense of being robbed when you’re in this situation. Girls going after your boyfriend, or after your job, or even trying to ruin your friendships; these are all very painful experiences, and they’re mostly out of your control, but they are also opportunities for growth. Have charity toward them and understand that their behavior comes from a place of woundedness and truly has nothing to do with you as a person.
The saying “Give them enough rope to hang themselves” also applies in these situations. People with this sort of behavior will ultimately humiliate themselves as these conniving games never end well, and sooner or later the consequences start to show. So stay detached from whatever is their problem and lean hard toward your values, interests, and character. With time, it will pay off.
When You’re the Perpetrator: Why Would You Want To Be Someone Else?
Catty-girl behavior is rooted in insecurities. No secure person is obsessively concerned with what others are doing, looking like, or even thinking. Nonetheless, something about the particular situation or the person’s behavior is evoking an emotional reaction in you. That is worth stopping to think about: Why does it bother me? What exactly is it triggering?
It’s normal to see a girl succeeding at something you’re particularly interested in and desire it for yourself too. This in itself is not a bad thing, and when channeled toward good, a sisterhood is born. Learn to gather inspiration instead of animosity over other people’s successes. If seeing another woman’s beautiful figure inspires you to work out more, that is a win. But competing with someone else’s physical appearance is out of place.
Be mindful not to copy others outright. It’s normal for us to look up to celebrities, older sisters, or even that girl we’ve never talked to who works down the hall and dresses impeccably every day. Don’t simply copy them, but gather inspiration from whatever took them there. For example, instead of copying someone’s exact hairstyle, be more mindful of what hairstyles work best for your face shape and personal style. Instead of competing against someone for a specific job, look critically at your professional goals. Sometimes we desire things just because everyone else desires them, not because these things are particularly important or beneficial for us.
When it comes to boys, that’s a whole different ballpark. No man who makes you compete for attention against another girl will be worth your while. It may happen that two girls, even friends, may like the same guy, but if the guy is taking this as an opportunity to boost his ego, that’s a clear sign that both you and your friend are wasting your time. There are no winners in those situations, so you should set boundaries and cut your losses. A man of character will set the boundaries himself and be intentional; once he does that, there is no game to be played, and everyone gets to live happily ever after. Remember that good character is one of the most attractive and useful things when it comes to dating, so don’t sacrifice it for an unwinnable competition.
Cultivating healthy friendships is the best way to avoid catty-girl situations, but it’s very hard and, at times, even impossible to completely avoid them, as jealousy and insecurities are a part of life. However, your attitude and behavior toward these situations are your responsibility and always an opportunity for growth. Take it as a compliment and an opportunity to learn about yourself and others. Don’t shy away from being honest and direct, as authenticity is an antidote for catty-girl behavior – use it generously.
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