This began as a post about saying goodbye and then morphed into one about mean girls. I don’t think that’s an accident.
The stories in Dumped, Women Unfriending Women continue to swirl around in my head, along with so many questions that don’t have good answers.
When grown women are mean to one another, and believe me, I’ve seen a lot of that and some of it surrounding that anthology, it’s often easy to identify defensiveness and damage as roots.
But then, there’s that silent thing. Nothing is said. Nothing. A friend just disappears into thin air without a trace. Not even a formal goodbye. Why do some women think it’s perfectly ok to leave a friend’s life without a word of explanation?
Are they afraid to have a conversation? Or a confrontation?
Is there no reason to work it out? Work through any issues?
Is it even ethical to leave a friendship that way?
I’ve left exactly two friendships when it became clear they were not friendships at all. One was when a friend used me (and I do mean “used” me) for financial gain. She was somewhat of a pathological liar, too, so there was no way I wanted to be in her sphere. The other was guilty of a betrayal of gigantic proportions, so big that I have no interest in that person at all. I wish both these women well, but I don’t need that kind of crazy in my life. But in both of these cases I made very clear why I was leaving the friendship. I wasn’t going to disappear without a trace.
Even so, saying goodbye has always been difficult for me. I like to stay tethered to the people I’ve known and loved, men and women. Because if there was once a reason I cared, that reason still exists over time and space and age.
Goodbye’s not the only thing that’s difficult for me. So is being a “mean girl.” I can’t do it. It’s not me.
When I look at the mean behavior of grown women, I have to wonder: does it go back further?
Where do little girls learn to be so mean to each other? And what can parents do about it?
This behavior was clear in my own family. Excuses were made. One of my relatives has spread harmful and untrue gossip about someone else. Those of us who see her for the mean girl she has always been steer clear. We might bless her first, but we do steer clear. When I was visiting my hometown late last year that person–now in her 70s!– was in the same restaurant I was. I made sure she didn’t notice me. Another relative is just flat mean and has been consistently this way for decades. Excuses were made. No one called her on her behavior. She is pushing 60 and still that way. Both very sad women.
In a super-extreme case I’ve blogged about, two teenage girls actually killed another friend. As incredible as it may seem, these things happen.
But the roots of mean girl behavior must run deep.
There must be something parents notice early on. Is there?
I’m interested in hearing from moms and dads about this subject and what they have experienced as parents observing the behavior of their own daughters and their friends.
Would you weigh in? Thank you.