Friendship is a tricky thing, and I am still learning the ins and outs of how to navigate the world of female friendships. In my life many of my friends are moms, but some are not, and each and every one of them is different and special. Overall, no matter the person, there is one overriding lesson: always be nice, no matter what happens.
I never experienced Mean Girls behavior until I ran a Mommy & Me group and even then my introduction was slow in coming, maybe because I ran the group, but when it arrived I was blindsided. There was infighting, there were several competing cliques, there was hate and backstabbing. Moms were getting invited to playdates only to arrive at an empty park, go home, and see pictures on Facebook of the group of 6 moms that invited them at a different park, with an excuse about a last minute park change. A clique was angling to take over the group, manipulating other moms and back stabbing me. Women were calling me in tears at least once a week. It was so bad that one day I just gave up and closed the whole group down. I was sick of it all.
One of the women who stuck with me after I closed the group was a person I eventually became very close to (on our way to best friends, or so I thought). For two years “Sarah” (name changed) and I did everything together, even shopping. We worked out together too. It worked out really nicely. Every once in a while we would invite another woman to work out with us, and she and Sarah really hit it off. It became clear to me that they were now better friends than I and Sarah, and our friendship was on the decline as some friendships do. Sarah decided at some point that not only was I, not her best friend, that she didn’t like me at all, that I was no longer good enough, and she was choosing a skinny, less authentic, replacement of me. Where I would always ask questions that were a bit challenging to some of Sarah’s behaviors and practices, this woman was a yes woman. Everything Sarah said, this new woman immediately agreed with, everything Sarah did was affirmed, no matter how sketchy. Unbeknownst to me, Sarah was badmouthing me, making fun of me for being fat, calling me lazy and negative to our mutual friends during this same time, thankfully, they saw through her bullshit and that she was an asshole before I did and told me that this was going on. I had no idea because Sarah was still being friendly to my face and inviting me to do things with her and her new friend. I don’t understand this mentality. If I don’t like someone, I’m just done hanging out with them, I don’t pretend to still be their friend and continue on with our chats and things. When she started badmouthing me, it was confusing for me. I still don’t know why she didn’t just ditch me in silence. In the end, I think she saw her new friend, not as an addition to our friend circle, but a step up and saw me as competition (I AM pretty fantastic!) so putting me down was their weird way of bonding and deluding themselves into thinking they were better than me without actually having to work at being better people. Why couldn’t we remain friends, keep hanging out and working out while this other woman was Sarah’s special friend? I don’t know, and I don’t care anymore. We’re not friends, so be it.
Where it becomes interesting is; our worlds overlap frequently, and I see Sarah twice a week or so. Sometimes with her new friend, sometimes alone. She used to move to the machine next to the machine I was working out on at the gym all the time, maybe to show me up? I don’t know how, I’ve worked out for an hour and a half before just to beat some rando next to me, she wasn’t going to beat me. And after a few weeks of this, she gave up on it. At first, I didn’t know how to act when I met her face-to-face, but making eye contact and then avoiding her seemed childish, so I decided to meet the challenge head on. Now I always make a point to talk to her. There’s no point in being rude to her, so I never am, condescending; yes, (after all she talked a bunch of shit about me to people I care about, trying to convince them I had a bad attitude and they should ditch me too), but rude; no. I make a point to be bubbly and super friendly, I always ask how her kids (who are awesome) and husband (who she hates, and has to tell me how great he is) are every time I see her. I mouth “call me” and make the hand phone gesture whenever we part ways. And now I’m always entertained at how desperately she wants to get away from me. An unexpected benefit after just one of our super fun convos is she no longer seeks me out to try to make me uncomfortable anymore, in fact, she now gives me a wide birth. If she happens to be in the sauna with her new bestii when I am entering they immediately run out without even a hello. It makes my day brighter every time.
So: in summary, be nice to everyone, even shit talking ex-friends. You never know when it’s going pay off.