01/30/2015

The catfight club

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Claws out or hold back? From rude officemates to boyfriend stealers, here’s a guide to navigating the tricky world of catfights.

Female friendships are complicated. If girls admit that they themselves can be crazy sometimes, imagine how girls function in actual relationships with one of their own. Tina Fey put it bluntly in Mean Girls: the girl world is not far from the animal world. In the real girl world, there is an expectation of civility. All-out catfights should be reserved for (if not, limited to) encounters with your boyfriend’s kabit. But when it comes to real girl friends, a little bit of cattiness is inevitable. How do you know when it’s appropriate to let that cattiness out of the bag? Here is a guideline for when and how to be discourteous to girl friends that may have crossed the line.

Case #1: She is a friend at work who is secretly competitive. She’s a teammate. A colleague. You have lunch together every day at the pantry. But when you get your one-year evaluation and your boss tells you that your performance is under par, she’s suddenly more interested in listening to your sob story, not so much as a friend — but because it’s key information that can help ever outperform you. You learn that she says things behind your back to the higher-ups, and she’s very efficient at pointing out your flaws.

What to do: Women you meet in the office should be your colleagues first, and your friends second. A workplace is a race to the top, so what those “friends” of yours are really more concerned with is their own career path, not yours. Talk back. If she rats you out, rat her out, too. If she berates your performance, call her out on her shoddy work as well. Do not allow her to put you down without a fight. But do everything with an air of professionalism, a fake smile, and nice hair.

Case #2: She kissed a guy you were seeing (but said you didn’t like). Well, you did say he had no chance, but you still feel a bit odd that your friend so easily swooped in, and on your birthday too. He was your prey. He was your bragging right, the guy you said “no” to. She’ll say she was drunk and is now sorry, but you can’t help but feel a very tiny, tinge of betrayal.

What to do: Give her the cold shoulder for about a week and stop talking to that guy. Passive-aggressiveness is key in this situation because it’s not like she was technically wrong, only wrong in the unspoken rules of sisterhood (which are wishy-washy and ever-changing). If she’s a good friend, she’ll get the hint. If not, you better just forget about it and move on. You didn’t like him anyway.

Case #3: She keeps flaking out on you. Nothing more irritating than a flaker when you’ve already moved your schedule around for an uneventful night of overpriced cocktails with the girls. A friend who flakes clearly has more important things to do with her life, and you are not one of them.

What to do: Tell them off. This is a light issue, but can become annoying over time. Don’t let it become a habit, because you actually do miss them. Call them out jokingly and put it out there for everyone to hear. Embarrass them a bit, and I promise they’ll shape up, but totally resent you for it. You’ll be the “feared” friend, but at least now they’ll be more careful about making empty promises and save everyone time.

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Case #4: She spends too much time with her boyfriend. A long time ago you two were inseparable — BFFS 4 LYF. Now, she has found someone just like you: cool, funny, game and attractive. She can’t help but skip on The Mindy Project marathons to book midnight runs with her significant other. You feel like an afterthought.

What to do: Let her be. They’re in their honeymoon phase and we all know honeymoons die. Make a comment now and then about how “replaced” you feel, but only in passing. In the meantime, just stay on standby — you’ll find that she’ll run to you constantly anyway for relationship advice, or to rant, or just to cry, because men can be so dense sometimes. And then you realize that your place in her life can never be replaced because you are infinitely more awesome than any dude.

Case #5: She spilled your secret. In unspoken girl rules, what you shared with her was clearly something that should’ve been kept secret. Even if you didn’t say, “it’s a secret.” But a week later, you find that she’s already told another friend, as though your years of friendship didn’t already establish which things should and shouldn’t be shared.

What to do: Confront her about this seriously. Send a lengthy text message and be stern and dramatic. Or if you’re the confrontational type, tell it to her over coffee. Tell her that it was an absolute breach of trust, and her loud, yapping mouth needs to learn to shut up. Tell her off like your mother does:  “I’m disappointed in you.” And then don’t spend time with her for about 1-3 months. That girl better learn her lesson. Doesn’t she know how valuable “secrets” are to female relationships?

Case #6: She keeps touching your boyfriend’s chest. Yes… there are those kinds of friends, the ones who are so full of themselves. She openly flirts with your boyfriend, not to intrude, but just because they have a lack of manners and they think that the world revolves around them and they have the power to attract anyone.

What to do: Rethink that friendship. If you one day find them kissing in a room during a party — rip her eyes out. Yank her hair. Throw a drink in her face. Say nothing, and then walk away. I told you that bitch was not your friend, and in this situation, a catfight is very necessary.

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