I value friendship and camaraderie between women, and I like giving advice on how to develop those relationships.
When the Claws Come Out
A few years ago, I sat amongst a lovely group of church women whom I hardly knew and listened in as they engaged in the same kind of conversation almost every group of women have when they sit down to share a meal together: The fat talk. You know how it goes. They say things like, “Oh, I really shouldn’t be eating this,” or “I just can’t seem to lose the last ____ (fill in the blank) pounds after the baby.” One woman spoke up about a new book she had read on the topic that suggested the solution was to change the way we think about food. All of the ladies listened in to learn the secret to weight loss.
“How are we supposed to think about food?” I asked. Up until then I had kept quiet because the privilege I held as the smallest woman at the table meant that I should listen rather than center myself in the discussion. “I don’t know. Why don’t you tell us?!” The woman snapped back. Stunned, I gulped down the food in my mouth before I choked on her words. What just happened?
For all of the women who have found themselves in the same awkward position of wondering what they’ve done to cause the claws to come out of their female counterparts, I have comprised a list of the top 10 things that make women seem threatening to other women.
Pay attention to your interactions with others and remember that any one of these things can put you on the outskirts of female companionship. Also keep in mind that any combination of these qualities can make you a double or even triple threat to another person. If you have all 10 of these qualities, I might even hate you too!
10 Reasons Why Other Women May Be Jealous of You
- You're Beautiful
- You're Smart(er Than Them)
- You Have a Strong Work Ethic
- You Don't Fit Into the Group Pecking Order
- You're Confident
- You're Fashionable
- You're Thin
- You Have a Strong Personality
- You're Competitive
- You're Wealthy
Ten Traits That Make a Woman Threatening to Other Women
Let's take a closer look at these 10 qualities that can inspire jealousy.
1. You're Beautiful
Whether or not you believe you're beautiful, if other women around you think you’re prettier than them, you may struggle to connect with them. People of any age, body type, or size can be confident or insecure about their appearances. If someone feels that their appearance deviates from societally imposed standards of beauty, they may project their insecurity onto people who fit the standard more closely.
It's possible that other women may feel threatened by your beauty and your mere presence may make them feel inadequate. If they are single, they may see you as competition for romantic partners. If they are married, they might see you as a seductive temptress who is plotting to steal their spouses.
Short of bodily mutation (that was a joke, not a suggestion), there is not much you can do to change your appearance. You can try to down-play your attractive features, but ultimately, you shouldn't have to hide your good qualities to assuage someone else's insecurities.
If people seem threatened by your appearance, it may be helpful to offer sincere compliments about their appearances to help them feel more confident and less threatened by you. Don't be excessively complimentary or self-deprecating, but be kind and encouraging. If you've demonstrated that you don't consider yourself to be better than others based on appearance and you're still being treated with hostility, consider distancing yourself from that relationship.
2. You're Smart(er Than Them)
It’s okay to be smart, so long as the people around you aren’t reaching for a dictionary to translate your last sentence. The bigger the words you use, the smaller your audience may feel. Until you know the people around you, keep the conversation and the mood light. Most people just want to have fun. Make sure that you're a fun conversationalist when you communicate with other people.
Brainiacs should be smart enough to know that giving a lecture on some obscure topic can be alienating for the people around you! You don't have to dumb yourself down when you talk to other women, but if you're a very smart person, try to refrain from using your intelligence to make other people feel stupid. Don't show off or act condescending, but don't hide your intelligence either. Get comfortable with being yourself and let other people know the real you too.
3. You Have a Strong Work Ethic
Whether you're a stay-at-home mom who cooks every meal from scratch with organic ingredients grown in your own garden or the professional woman who performs every task above and beyond the call of duty, your hands-on approach to life can make some people feel insecure about their own work ethic. I know you’re probably thinking that lazy, bare-minimum bums need to rise to the occasion or just let it go. Unfortunately, the only thing they will want to see go is you.
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If your accomplishments and drive seem to make other people avoid you, try to avoid bragging, and don't offer unsolicited advice to people about their initiative or lack thereof. Save detailed conversations about your goals for friends who similarly have a lot going on.
4. You Don't Fit Into the Group Pecking Order
There are some women who try to bond with others by creating power imbalances and social hierarchies. One way to maintain a power imbalance is to undermine some people and make them seem inferior. This can be accomplished by putting other women down or by gossiping about them. Other members of the group will follow the lead of the more powerful person in the group so they won't get ostracized by everyone else.
Some people will contribute to and participate in unfair power imbalances because they want to, and some people will participate to avoid being placed at the bottom of the pecking order. These kinds of people are judgmental, critical, and mean.
If a person is willing to engage in petty gossip with you, they will probably also gossip about you. The most critical people are often the ones who have been the most criticized. Take pity on gossips, but don’t get too close to them!
5. You're Confident
My grandma used to say, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” Well, don’t. It’s okay to know yourself and like who you are as long as you aren’t egotistical about it. When you walk into a room, does your presence say, “Here I am!” or “There you are?" Some under-confident people will feel threatened by another person's confidence. Make sure that you are being confident and not arrogant when you interact with people.
Learn to like yourself and love others at the same time. You can be confident without being arrogant, and you should encourage your friends to be confident in themselves too.
Keep in mind that it's not your job to make someone else feel good about themselves. You can be the most supportive and encouraging friend and still encounter other people who will treat you as if you're doing something to undermine them. In addition to unabashedly owning your confidence, seek friends who can sport theirs without expecting you to shine less brightly.
6. You're Fashionable
To some women, a pair of high heels is the same as sporting a pair of fishnet stockings and a tramp-stamp. Don’t ask me why, but a well-dressed woman can strike fear into the souls of all your flip-flopping, ballet-flatty, tennis-shoe-sporting friends. Maybe you just like to play dress-up, but the insecure women around you won’t care. They will question your motivations until their insecurity eats both them and you alive.
Know the dress code and don’t over-do it. There is a thin line between flashy and trashy. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and attractive, but be aware of how you're presenting yourself and what kind of outfits are appropriate for each occasion. If your friends complain about your clothes, consider what they're saying and why. Feel free to let them know that they're welcome to change the way they dress if they want to enhance their style or get a different kind of attention.
7. You're Thin
It doesn’t matter how much you weigh if you are skinnier than someone else. And the thinner you are, the easier you are to dismiss. It’s not because you are so small that they can’t see you, it’s because they are purposely ignoring you.
Heavier women may think that thin women just don't know what it is like to have a larger body type, and they're right to a certain extent. Thin people are not treated badly on the basis of their thinness, but large people are definitely treated badly based on their size and weight. While a thin person can understand that intellectually, she will not experience the same kind of prejudice as a larger person.
A plus-sized woman may be less open and friendly towards a thin person. Maybe she's been bullied or treated as if she's less important by thin people, and as a result, she may not want to be close to or vulnerable with you if you're thin. Perhaps you've flaunted your size or been disrespectful about hers. Or maybe she struggles with feelings of jealousy. No matter what the reason, weight can affect how a person is treated.
Recognize that being thin is a privilege. You don't have to feel bad for being thin or apologize for it, but you should acknowledge that people (especially women) are treated differently based on their weight and body type. Treat all people with respect regardless of their appearance, acknowledge your privilege, and use it to be supportive towards people, rather than oppressive. Befriend people of all body types and treat them with dignity and respect.
If you still struggle to connect with a person because of the power and social imbalance associated with your sizes, then understand that sometimes, you can't be close friends with everyone. Unfortunately there are social and cultural systems that create barriers between people. Treat others kindly, but don't force a fit.
8. You Have a Strong Personality
There's a difference between being strong and being overbearing. A strong person is usually firm about who they are, their boundaries, and their beliefs. When a woman is strong, she typically doesn't need obedience or approval from every person she interacts with, and she can accept that she and her friends may disagree on some things.
However, an overbearing woman has an opinion about everything, and she usually insists on sharing that opinion. She always has an answer to every question, it just may not be the right one. She could be far left or far right, extremely spiritual or an extreme hippy, but no matter what she believes, she can be extremely annoying when she forces her opinions and perspectives onto other people. Which kind of woman are you?
If you are the sort of person who embraces a black-or-white perspective try to recognize that most of the world operates in shades of grey. It's okay to have opinions or beliefs, but remember that other people may have different perspectives. Try to respect that other people will have their own ways of viewing the world and don't force your opinions onto other people.
9. You're Competitive
You know that girl who always has to win? The one who views every aspect of social interaction as a competition, and the one who will use your heart as a stepping stool to the top? Well, she may win the game, but she will lose her friends in the process. And what good is victory when you have no one to share it with?
Don't let a sense of competition cause you to mistreat others and don't maintain friendships with overly competitive people. Even if you're a naturally competitive person, try to avoid treating all aspects of your social interactions as competitions. Constantly trying to out-do others will make it hard for people to be vulnerable with you. It might be a good idea to examine why you feel the need to compete with others.
10. You're Wealthy
The wealthier you are, the more out-of-touch you may be with average people and their problems. Women can connect over their weaknesses as much as their strengths. Your mansion and your luxury cars may be overwhelming to the most down-to-earth ladies. Being wealthy may eliminate some types of stress from your life, and some people may resent the fact that you have so much when they have less.
Unfortunately, even if you can hide your car in the garage, you can’t hide your Gucci purse, your designer jeans, or your wealthy lifestyle. Money talks, and in this case it may be saying, “I’m too good for you.”
Don't flaunt your wealth or brag about the financial blessings you enjoy. Nobody likes a braggart, and it is hard to be friends with someone if they use their wealth to make others feel jealous. Try to be discreet about your capital—especially if your friends don't have the same financial background as you.
Is She Jealous of Me?
People can dislike someone for a number of good and bad reasons. Sometimes a person will act mean because they're jealous of someone else. Are you constantly getting picked on or left out? Have friends who were previously cool suddenly become hostile or passive aggressive? Or maybe you just can't manage to feel welcomed by a group of people no matter how hard you try to befriend them. Inexplicably hostile people may be feeling jealous of you. But how can you know for sure? There are a number of signs that someone is jealous of you.
Even though feeling jealous and dealing with jealous people is a part of life, you can determine whether or not you want to continue interacting with jealous people. You can also decide how you will respond when you feel jealous of someone else. Don't hurt other people because you feel jealous, and don't accept hurtful treatment from people who are jealous of you. While we can't control how people treat us, we can make decisions about who we decide to interact with based on how we feel around others.
Why Women Feel Threatened (and How to Get Over It)
There is a difference between feeling threatened and feeling intimidated. The difference is fear. When a woman feels threatened, she is afraid that you will take (or try to take) something she has (including her man, her confidence, her best friend, the role she has established in her group, etc.) or something she wants (like a promotion, a future boyfriend, etc.).
In any case, these threatened feelings usually stem from our own insecurities. People don’t fear losing the things they are secure about. When a beautiful woman walks in the room, we may feel intimidated or jealous, but we won’t feel threatened unless we are insecure about our own looks. Feeling threatened can bring out the worst in us. We may shut down or lash out when we let insecurity get the best of us.
Overcoming Insecurities and Building Bridges
Don't be self-righteous or act like you're better than someone who feels threatened by other women. Everyone has insecurities, and everyone will feel threatened sometimes. The best way to overcome these feelings is to recognize that you feel insecure and examine why you feel that way. When you take an honest look at yourself, you may be less inclined to be hurtful to someone else.
If you're being ostracized by other women, let me offer my condolences to you. It’s tough being singled out. Even if your positive traits alienate some people, you still have your striking beauty and outstanding I.Q. as consolation prizes.
All jokes aside, I hope that you will move forward with a newfound awareness of your appealing traits, and I hope you will practice humility, kindness, and gentleness with the women around you. If you feel that you're being unfairly judged for your positive qualities, consider going the extra mile to prove that you are more than a pretty face, and that your life is not as perfect as it seems.
We All Deserve Good Friends
You need and deserve good friends just as much as any other person. Envious, insecure people may pick on you out of fear, and people who act that way probably dislike parts of themselves more than they could ever despise you.
If an empathetic and friendly approach to bonding with some people fails, keep in mind that you can always try to befriend people who will treat you well. You don't have to stay connected to hurtful people, and it is not solely your job to make a relationship work. In addition to being empathetic and self-aware, have enough self-respect to know when you deserve better.