Friendship. They say if you can count the number of good friends you have on one hand, you should consider yourself lucky.
I believe each friend serves a different purpose in our life. Some friends are the kind that:
~You can call at 2 a.m.
~Make you laugh so hard you cry.
~You go to for a shoulder to cry on, a compassionate ear.
~You can have philosophical and spiritual conversations with.
~Where you can sit in silence and not have it be awkward.
~Months can go by without speaking and you are able to pick up right where you left off.
~Have similar interests and hobbies as you do.
Friendships are important – connection with others is vital – studies have shown that friendships have positive effects on our health. Friendships elicit many different types of feelings – happiness, joy, comfort, confidence, love, contentment, reassurance, etc.
Not every friendship functions in a positive manner and exudes uplifting emotions. There’s another type of friendship that many of us have surely encountered – toxic friends. These types of friends show up in different ways, and the type we’ll be discussing here is competitive friends.
The types of feelings that may be stirred within you when dealing with a competitive friend are quite different from the ones we mentioned above – unpleasant, irritated, powerless, hesitant, uneasy, upset, distrustful, unsure, etc.
I think some common signs or traits of a competitive friend include: always trying to ‘one-up’ you; all-consuming jealousy and envy; self-absorbed; make most conversations about herself; often compares her life to others in hurtful ways; is unwilling to be friends with people who she perceives as having ‘more than’ or having something or a lifestyle that she craves.
As Mark Twain said, “comparison is the death of joy.” I think comparison is what a competitive friend focuses on. It’s not comparison in a “the grass is always greener” kind of way – it’s comparison in a way that propels this friend to either wish bad things on those she envies or try to make others jealous of her to make herself feel better about her perceived inadequacies.
Her goal is to ‘win at life.’ She needs to be doing better than you in all areas. She perceives your success as a threat to her – you can’t do better or have more than her in life. You must be jealous of her and how wonderful her life is. She struggles – you should struggle too. Life isn’t fair, unless she’s “winning” at it.
Competitive friends can show up in subtle, mundane ways and more direct, impactful ways.
~You could be talking about your terribly frizzy hair and your friend responds with how perfectly smooth and frizz-free her hair is. (This example is more subtle and mundane. And this type of interaction depends on the tone – this would be said in a non-humorous way.)
~You share about your job promotion. Your friend, instead of offering congratulations, quickly responds by sharing with you about her last promotion and the huge raise it came with.
~You’re expressing financial concerns you and your spouse are having. Your friend responds with an, “oh, my husband and I are practically millionaires.”
~You’re a new mom and you have a friend who’s struggling with conceiving. You do your best to be mindful of this; however, your friend’s envy is all-consuming and she is unwilling to be a supportive friend and acts out in hurtful ways. (This is a very sensitive example. It is meant to show how some women, whether she was competitive to begin with or became this way during her fertility struggle, are driven by comparison and jealousy, which can lead to a toxic relationship.)
There are many examples that can be shared. I think the biggest clues to look for in identifying a competitive friend are:
~Pay attention to how often your friend responds to you in a way that makes the conversation about her.
~How present that friend is in your life during your successes and joyous occasions, and her reaction to your joy and success.
~If she tends to compare herself to you and others in unkind ways.
At the root of a competitive person is most likely insecurity. For others, it may be arrogance. Often times, it may be a mixture of both. I don’t think a competitive friend views herself this way due to the self-absorbed nature of her character.
Either way, it’s not your issue. If you are secure within yourself and your successes and joys in life, you will be less likely to be affected by this competitive friend and take her words and actions personally. And, I’m sure, if you look around, you’ll see you do have compassionate and supportive friends you can turn to and count on. As far as what to do about a competitive friend, that’s really up to you.
If you see value in the relationship, perhaps she falls in that ‘she makes you laugh so hard you cry’ friend or ‘has similar interests and hobbies as you’ friend – establishing a boundary may be a good solution for you. The boundary can be something you’re aware of (not her) and an example would be: you only see her when you’re in a group with mutual friends.
In some cases, if you feel the friendship is too toxic or no longer plays a positive role in any capacity in your life, then you may have to move on from the friendship. Friendships should be about supporting, empowering, and nurturing one another. We don’t always take every friend with us as we move forward in life. Sometimes, the best thing to do is treasure the good times and move on.
“People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty; to provide you with guidance and support; to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.” — Unknown
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
I do my best to accept people the way they are. This is also something I’m still working on. I often get caught up in doing ‘what’s right’ versus what is convenient in the moment. I try to choose doing what’s right – at times I do and at times I don’t. I also see this struggle in other people and have a hard time when people don’t do what’s right. I’m working on accepting this within myself, as well as in others and realizing what’s right for me may not be right for someone else.
What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I’ve learned to appreciate what I have versus what I don’t have. This is also still a work in progress. It’s very easy, especially with social media and the over sharing that occurs in our society nowadays, to compare the life someone is projecting to the world versus my real life. I don’t compare in a competitive way – I tend to compare in a way where I start to feel down about myself: am I behind in life because I’m not married, don’t own a home, and don’t have children? When I get like that, I try to focus on what I do have and what I’m grateful for. On days when I’m really struggling, I do something nice for someone else (even if it’s just holding an elevator for someone or smiling at a stranger). A kind act, no matter how simple, helps life me up.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
Currently I’m proud of myself regarding this past work year. My boss had to go out on medical leave last March and then passed away in August. I’ve been doing her job and my job this past year, which has been very challenging. It’s been a sad year and also a year where I’ve learned a lot. A goal that I have is to continue to grow professionally and figure out ‘what I want to be when I grow up.’
We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
My not-so-perfect way is being a people pleaser at work – especially this past year. I say yes too often and overload my plate. I try to “come from a place of yes” and I’ve learned that sometimes that means saying no.
“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)
Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my … work ethic.