I believe healthy female friendships are the best relationships for self-development, building self esteem and confidence — and a great practice field for improving our communication skills for all relationships in love and life. However, when the relationship is toxic, all of those benefits can quickly reverse, leaving us questioning everything we thought we were making progress with, including mental, emotional, physical and career health.
A true gal pal is someone you feel comfortable confiding in and who appreciates you for who you are, not just for the things you do for her. She has your back and you have hers. You share core values, like honesty, integrity and gratitude; these are things you truly want and expect in a friend, and what you provide to her as well. Your relationship is healthy and drama-free. Neither takes advantage of the other and you both feel appreciated and valued in the friendship. Although your core values are similar, some of your opinions may differ dramatically and this makes for great conversation and new perspectives.
You can feel comfortable telling her your raw feelings about what's going on in your life and listening to her, providing support and helpful suggestions. Good female friends grow to be better people and live their lives with higher self esteem and greater confidence, strengthening their romantic relationships and family ties as well. The benefits of a healthy women friendship are numerous.
Frenemies, on the other hand, are toxic and detrimental friendships that usually develop over time, usually after the toxic person becomes a trusted friend. They are enemies masquerading as friends, and can wear down your self esteem and leave you doubting yourself in areas where you previously exuded confidence. This toxicity can stall or put your self-development in reverse, instilling doubt and fear that you have any value, or are appreciated at all. In fact, this is a frenemy's purpose; her low self esteem is bolstered by her perception of control over you.
We see and judge people based on a reflection. In other words, they reflect back to us what we think of ourselves and how we feel about ourselves compared to them. We all judge; it is human nature and comes from our need to protect ourselves at a primal level. Our first and most basic judgment about others is, "Is this person a danger to my existence?" We can learn to be less judgmental so that our second thought is polite, but the first one is always judgment and dates back to the beginning of man.
When we see another woman, we judge and compare automatically. She is a reflection of us. Is she thinner, more successful, happier or wearing better clothes? When we're not where we think we should be in life, love, health or career, and we see a woman who looks like she has it together (whether she does or not isn't the issue), we feel a tinge of discomfort because of our insecurity or low self esteem in that area. All women have some degree of low self esteem (how we see, think about and feel about ourselves) and raising it can be a lifetime journey.
Insecure women feel threatened by confident women but they won't admit it because low self esteem does not lend itself to being open and honest. Instead, they may stay completely quiet and beat themselves up internally for not being good enough, or lash out in toxic behavior. If so, they may have the mindset of, "I may not feel as together as you look but I can drop you down to my level with one unkind word, and then I will have company in my misery." A woman with healthier self esteem, who's on a self-development track, would rather model the example of the together-looking woman, and visualize herself in that position, feeling what it would be like.
I want to give you a real-life scenario to help you visualize what happens when we see someone who we are, by human nature (the universal law of relativity), comparing ourselves to and may feel jealousy toward.
My Personal Story:
I was with a gal pal at a pool party and we saw a woman wearing a great outfit. My friend said, "Look at that cute skirt. What a bitch she is." I said, "It is adorable! I'm going to ask her where she got it!" I walked up to her (to my soon-to-be-ex gal pal's amazement) and said, "Hi, I'm Kelly and that is the cutest skirt ever! Where'd you get it?"
Two Important Lessons:
First, my ex-gal pal who called her a bitch had low self esteem. She saw someone who looked better than she thought she looked, which put her into attack mode. She didn't feel like she had her life together and that was reflected back to her by someone she felt looked like they did have it together. She attacked verbally and because the target of her drama didn't hear her, she belittled herself and looked stupid to everyone who overheard her. The negative energy alone (universal laws of vibration and attraction) will bring more negative situations her way.
Second, although like all women at some point, I've struggled with low self esteem, I have done my due diligence in self discovery and self-development to improve it and gain more confidence. My comment was healthy and complimentary, helping to increase the other woman's confidence and her self-image while potentially making a new friend.
Why Frenemies Attack - The Attacker Mindset
I love to simplify things, and in my former career teaching personal safety and self defense, I simplified why people attack (verbally, mentally, emotionally and physically). I called it The Attacker Mindset. The description is understandable and comes in handy as I assist my life coaching clients in gaining clarity in their relationships. It fits in perfectly here as we talk about frenemies because all attacks originate in this subconscious mindset.
The attacker mindset is feeling out of control of your own life and choosing to control someone or something else in order to feel powerful again. Attacks may be verbal, mental, emotional, physical or a combination of two or more.
An important distinction is that mental attacks inspire you to question your thinking, whereas emotional attacks hurt your feelings or cause you to feel differently. Just remember: mental is thought and emotional is feeling.
Haven't we all shoved our little brother when we were kids or manipulated someone to get what we wanted? Most likely, yes. We were in the attacker mindset. We've all been there and will probably be there many more times in our lives. Therefore, in addition to preventing attacks on us, this understanding can help us recognize it in ourselves when it rears its ugly head and gives us an opportunity to make a better choice. Keep reading...
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