Recently, an article was shared amongst my Facebook friends about relational aggression and what parents can do to help the so-called frenemies situation in school. Relational aggression is the psychological term for what we’d refer to as mean girls or bitchiness. It’s those ‘friendship’ circles that are destructive through the need to impress and belong. It’s when you associate with individuals who you class as your mates but are really knocking you down. I’ve always been a victim of this.
I’m not alone, the majority of girls have experienced teasing, gossiping and exclusion from people considered their friends. Part of growing up is finding your place and your peers become important. There is a strong need to impress so you feel like you belong to something. I remember ridiculous things at school like you were only cool if you brought your PE kit to school in a Jane Norman plastic bag. Some girls had a different coloured bag every week and I made sure I saved up all my pocket money to buy something from the store for the sole purpose of taking my PE kit to school in the bag it came in. I doubt I ever even used the item I bought. And the reason why? Just to fit in, just so my friends thought I was cool.
They weren’t friends though. A true friend wouldn’t care what you carried your PE kit in. A true friend wouldn’t gossip about you. A true friend would not tease you about something you’re insecure about, hiding behind “only joking”. A true friend wouldn’t exclude you. That’s the main issue I found at school, exclusion. I went through a few different ‘friendship’ groups at school but all were pretty much the same. One day I was in, the next day I was out. One day I was the best thing since sliced bread, the next I was given the silent treatment. When your so-called best friend tells you her beauty birthday party is cancelled then your entire friendship group are back at school after the weekend with their eyebrows waxed, you know it’s wrong, you know you shouldn’t stick around but the desire to feel included makes you put up with the shit until you’re welcome back in the group. Looking on it as an adult, it seems ridiculous but as a teenage girl, you don’t have the confidence to turn your back on them.
Typically, relational aggression is school age but it’s not exclusive to teenagers. Even in adult life you can become a victim, it’s just handled better. The way adults go about being bitchy towards their friends is a lot more subtle and when friends are bitchy, it’s a lot easy to say ‘you know what, fuck you’ and move on with your life. Even now, I become friends with people who randomly turn their back on or bitch about me for no apparent reason. You would think as you grow up that girls mature but a lot of females don’t and act just as childishly as they did at school. Thankfully, I’ve found it easy as an adult to realise I don’t have time for those people. This means I can count reliable friends on one hand but at the end of the day, it’s quality over quantity. I’m not gonna play innocent in all of this, I love a good bitch and a good gossip but the difference is, I would never slag off my best friends and a lot of people do in fact cross that line. I’ve even had friends who get jealous and bitchy of your success or happiness but where is the friendship in that?
One of the reasons why we girls love the movie Mean Girls so much is because we can all relate to it. We’ve all been subject to bitchinness and frenemies. I’ve never been bullied as such but I believe this relational aggression is just as destructive. I remember a lot of down periods of my teenage years and taking days off school to avoid my ‘friends’. When your friends turn against you, it’s an emotional slap in the face and as a teenager, that’s difficult to deal with. For some reason, the idea of knocking someone else off balance emotionally makes people feel more balanced themselves but that’s just wrong. Friends are people who add something good to your life and support you. If your friends don’t do this, I’m afraid you have frenemies and you should get rid. When you realise not all friends are positive or meant to stay in your life, you will appreciate the true ones so much more. There is no need to knock each other down, we should be building each other up.
All opinions are my own and just that: opinions. This blog post is not sponsored or endorsed in any way.