Why Women Bully Friends

August 7, 2018 By
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Why Women Bully Friends

When I write about my husband, Sheldon Good, I typically mention he is my best friend. He’s also my best girlfriend. While it may sound strange to call my very masculine husband my best girlfriend, I think I am savvy to realize and appreciate this gift. Sharing is caring and whether I am over the top elated or a little blue, he always has my best interests at heart. He is my sounding board and my comfort.

A few days ago he looked up from his newspaper and asked, “What are you writing about today?” I replied, “Women who bully other women.”

While most men would go back to reading their paper, not my husband. He is a kibitzer and loves to give me advice. He quipped, “Don’t forget to tell your gals people throw stones at fruit-bearing trees.” I smiled.

Girlfriends are a great source of joy in our lives. Most women are compassionate and have the desire to support and nurture one another… yours truly included. The female experience is a sisterhood because no one understands us better than us.

So what do you do when your emotional radar picks up on an unpleasant personality shift in a close friend? Out of nowhere, you are caught off guard when your girlfriend’s behavior takes on a bullying pattern and she becomes mean-spirited.

Your Choices & What I’ve Learned

You have two choices. You can either disassociate yourself from this woman because you don’t want to deal with the toxic behavior, or you can try and resolve this attitude change.

If you decide to stay in the relationship, it is important to understand the personality of an aggressive woman who uses bullying tactics. Here’s what I know and what I’ve learned about women who bully others:

1.     Many women believe they would never bully a friend. Nothing could be further from the truth writes Cheryl Dellasega, author of Mean Girls Grow Up, and a women’s studies professor at Pennsylvania State University. She writes, “The adult aggressor even gets a little more polished and subtle as they get older.” Their goal? Power over you.

2.     Then there are women who feel invisible and choose to build themselves up by knocking others down. They will gossip and exclude you in order to demean you, especially if they know they can get away with it. Their issue? Insecurity.

3.     Remember, women do not use their fists, they use their mouths. Women are very verbal and verbal aggression is the quickest way to hurt you. Their plan of attack? Talking badly about you to others.

4.     “Female friendships are one of the greatest comforts and the greatest weapons,” writes Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. What’s one of the greatest causes of bullying?The bully is jealous.

Power, jealousy, aggression, and insecurity make a bully.

A Feminine Woman is Often the Victim

I think bullies attack women who radiate femininity. A truly feminine woman is loving. She embraces life, exudes warmth and her beauty shines from the inside out. She is a life force and this makes our bully friend feel threatened.

So, my dear readers, you have a choice: you can help your friend to feel more confident, and hopefully, this will bring out a different side to her. However, more often than not, these types of women don’t want to change.

I’ll give you an example from my own life. I thought I had a close friend. We laughed, shared stories and dined as couples. I loved to be in her company. Then, she began to threaten me, insult me, and made up lies. She even created a negative pet name for me. “How could this be?” I asked myself. “Why is my friend changing?”

One day, after this behavior had continued for a month, I was sitting on my window sill on a gorgeous day looking out at Lake Michigan, when I suddenly began to softly cry. My husband heard me, sat down next to me and asked, “Why are you crying?” I told him about this woman and he asked, “What are you going to do?”

I thought about my role in our relationship. Did I deserve her unkind, aggressive behavior? The answer was an immediate… no! I decided to terminate the friendship. My half-full cup was emptying swiftly and my life on the happy side of the street was being affected.

As I mentioned above, it is up to you to decide if you can help your so-called friend ‘see the light.’ Each situation must be judged on its own merit.

My advice: Don’t let the situation go on any longer than it should. Don’t allow these types of women to disrespect you. Stand your ground, rather than shy away. Live on the happy side of the street with girlfriends who love you.

Have You Ever Shared in This Experience?

Please share your thoughts with me via TwitterFacebookPinterest, Instagram or in the comments section below.

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  • Jan says:

    Thanks for such a great article and perfect timing for me, as it has just validated what i about to do, which is to divorce a couple of so called friends out of my life. Being over 50 can be a hard enough challenge so we need the best support team not the toxins who will yo-yo in and out of your life when it suits them.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Right on girl! Go to it. I applaud your decision. You will feel emotionally powerful that you were able to say, Enough is enough to yourself and then act upon your thoughts. Warmly, Honey

  • JJ says:

    Thought your column focused on female bully friends and acquaintances, I think the worst is a bully female boss. I worked for one for about 18 months. We could tell how the day would go by how the door slammed as she arrived. When I first took the job she trash talked my predecessor. I could find no files, maybe 50 cards in the Rolodex (yeah, that thing), I thought my predecessor was an idiot. I found out she was a detailed person with an MA and that the boss had trashed all my predecessor’s records and files before I arrived. Then my mother died, then my dad died a few months later. While I was away for Dad’s funeral with laptop in hand, I didn’t order the “right” food that the boss wanted in the company’s skybox at our sports arena where she planned to entertain her school age children and their pals. I prayed for time off to deal with the grief. I got it when she fired me 4 months later for some other infraction. I had been with that firm 15 years and worked exclusively for corporate officers including the president. She got hers a few years later when she gave dishonest guidance to her investment bankers which eventually took that Fortune 100 company down in flames.

    Lesson learned: There is a lot to be said for mental health. Toxic environments are not worth your mental or physical health.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      There are usually consequences for bad behavior. She deserved hers. Unfortunately, you took the brunt of her bullying. I am so sorry. Warmly, Honey

  • Jane says:

    Had tears in my eyes reading your post today . I have just left a 15 year workplace and believe I was bullied out exactly as you say , I’m feminine love and am interested in all people clients work mates and believe a female colleague became jealous and slowly infected a manager using a vulnerable young staff member along the way . I believe it’s indemic and we need training in learning to recognise and shut this behaviour down in our workplaces and personal lives . Thanks for the post and relative links for further information.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      It is my pleasure. I am so sorry you experienced this type of behavior. So have I so I know how you are feeling. Have you joined the Sisterhood at Honeygood.com? Please do if you care to. Just go to my site and follow the prompts. We are going to have many discussions on this type of behavior and how to avoid and stand up. Warmly, Honey

  • Jeanne says:

    Perfect message. My sweet husband and I moved five years ago and I have encountered this behavior in a couple of women. It has been my decision to distance myself from this type of person as I navigate this journey of making new friends. Our neighborhood is all new homes and everyone navigating this adventure of making new friends. I have noticed most people just want a friend they don’t care that a person is a valueless bully. I want friends who share my values and are kind and caring people. Your message helps me know I am on a good journey for me. I still am interested in the sisterhood and focus groups. The Lake Norman area of Charlotte NC is my new life. Come for a visit.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      My motto: Let your friends mirror you. You do not mirror them. Love that you want to start a focus group. And, join the Sisterhood. You can join the Sisterhood now by going to my site, honeygood.com and signing up. There is a form. Maybe I will come and see you, one day. You may be one of our darlings to start a focus group. How fun and fascinating and helpful they are. Warmly, Honey

  • Judi says:

    My middle daughter had been bullied really badly in school, it began in 7th grade, now she is a 30+ beautiful young woman and yet still is bullied somewhat. She gets talked about behind her back and in Facebook. She basically has let go of most relationships and I hate it for her but even though I know it bothers her somewhat she is such a strong woman and very busy with her family, traveling and career but neither of my other daughters ever had this problem nor have I. I wasn’t the most popular in school, not a ton of friends but now I still don’t have tons of close friends but the ones I do have are incredibly loyal and we have a sister type friendship. But last year while living in a different city ( I have recently moved back to my home town. ) I met a woman, I liked her very much, we had so much fun, swimming, riding bikes, visiting thrift stores and boutiques and lunches. So forth, then when I was out of town a couple months later she met a woman and then we all did some things together, including going to listen to live music at a little club and going to the beach and swimming. But after several weeks the second woman began to ( because of my political beliefs which just kinda came out began to ridicule me, and so I did not say anything but several weeks later I accidentally ( not thinking) just mentioned something political and she begins to scream and yell. We were in a little antique area of town. Going into lovely boutiques and having a lovely picnic lunch on a really beautiful day. So she is yelling at the top of her lungs, people of course were all around, it upset me so much. The whole weekend I was just really upset. I’m not sure if this is considered bullying but to me just because you think politically different from someone doesn’t give them this right because I felt she was yelling and criticizing me also. We went out a few more times but then she got sick and was in the hospital and I reached out to her. Then I got really sick for several weeks. And I was very sick so I did not talk to either of them, then I ran into her in Walmart one day she did ask how I was I told her I’d been very sick but finally felt better just in past few days and that was true. She cut me off didn’t seemed concerned or interested. That was 3 months ago and I literally moved as of three weeks ago. It’s like God gave me Titus 3:9, and I prayed and thought about it and then he gave me the verse. And I decided to end my relationship with them, and I have not heard from either anymore. There were some other little things but with all of it put together I felt like God was telling me to sever my tights. I’ve wondered if I was right or wrong but now I feel I made the right decision and they probably don’t even realize I’m not living there any longer. I hate it but I’m blessed with my friends here, and who knows maybe one day we will meet again and at least be able to talk and catch up but if not it’s ok too….

  • Lulu says:

    What if it is your daughter?

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Dear Lulu: If it is your daughter remember this: There are consequences for unkind actions. I would tell her that and be strong in a soft voice. I would tell her if she does not stop bullying you for what ever reason (you are her mother) you will learn to accept what she cannot seem to change and stay out of her reach. Tough love. Warmly, Honey

  • Kimberly Jackson says:

    This article comforted me so much. I am currently in a social situation where envy began brewing in one little girl’s heart toward my daughter. She infected my daughter’s friend group, and the mothers ganged up on me as well. My daughter started college at 15 and is an accomplished musician, but has always been humble about her accomplishments. It is therapeutic just knowing the group banishment of us was probably borne out of their own insecurities. I believe primates also behave this way when they feel threatened by a more capable primate. Thank you for this post. The head game can be daunting, but one has to learn to go it alone and pray for friends that will sharpen us, challenge us, and most of all love us. Also, some women really never do grow up.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      I firmly believe that everyone woman should be with women who ‘mirror’ their values, who are like them. Then there is a comfort level, a mutual trust that allows a friendship to develop. And, of course they should sharpen us. Warmly, Honey


  • Liz says:

    Thank you for your post.
    I recently had the experience of a woman, 25 years my junior take credit for a report that I literally spent hundreds of hours on at work. I was stunned, although I don’t know why I would be, this is exactly the behavior I’ve experienced from women over and over. I did confront her but she was snippy and denied it. I’m thinking about leaving the agency. The only reason I’m currently staying is because I’m trying to monitor her and make sure she doesn’t continue to credit herself with my work; which I’m convinced she’ll do after I leave.
    It was very validating to read your article and to understand that this is a cultural thing and that lots of women experience this. It doesn’t make it right but it helps me to not feel quite so isolated and attacked.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      If you are very unhappy at your agency why don’t you look around for another place to ‘hang your work and be validated?’ Why spend negative time watching over her shoulder. She is not going to change. Put your time into positive actions that will fulfill you. I am not aware of how your company handles problems but my reward would be to leave a documented report, not hateful, of her actions to the higher up that will do something about this the day I spread my wings and found fulfillment somewhere else. Just something to think about.Warmly, Honey

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