Monday, July 7, 2014

The Importance of Female Friendships

The older we get, the more we seem to treasure our female friendships. However we also find the dynamics are more complicated. Things were much easier when we were children. All was not perfect, though. Sometimes, there were squabbles. Some girls could be mean. Some were even bullies, and practiced the art of exclusion, which is the type of bullying preferred by women. But it seemed as if every girl back then did have some friends, even if they didn't belong to the most popular clique at school.

Then, many of us grow up, get married and have children. For awhile, our thoughts are more focused on our families. Our children need us so much during these years. Then, life changes. Our husbands still love us, but they develop their own interests, and they have their own friends. Our children are becoming much more independent, and eventually they'll be out on their own. At this point in our lives, female friendships take on a new importance, almost as much as they did earlier in life.

However, we also find that making and keeping friends isn't always easy. Rivalries come into play. Some of the girls who were mean, way back in elementary school, didn't outgrow this behavior. Instead, they learned to cover it up and appear almost as living saints, even though, underneath, they're still highly competitive. They work discretely to undermine anyone whom they view as a threat. Their behavior through the years becomes so self centered, and anti-social, that they fit the clinical definition for narcissistic personality disorder.

Now, much worse than they were in childhood, their personalities are highly malignant. They must run everything, whether it be an elementary school PTO or a corporate board room. If you don't march in perfect lock step, expect harsh social sanctions. The narcissist will then work to destroy you, attempting to undermine all of your other relationships. Because malignant people are so clever, they often accomplish what they set out to do.

This dysfunctional dynamic is often seen at work. Currently, more than 30 percent of American workers say they've been bullied at some point in their career. When this happens, the typical course of events is that the targeted worker becomes unemployed. Don't underestimate them. Malignant narcissists are very dangerous people.

I believe personality disorders are one of the reasons why it's so hard to make friendships, maintain friendships and even to trust other woman nowadays. It's estimated that 1 out of every 25 people have strong narcissistic traits. Given the prevalence of malignant narcissism, we have to be careful not to reveal or secrets, or even too much information, to someone we barely know.

Sometimes, we get involved with the wrong women because they "befriend" us only to gain information. Or, a friendship may be broken up by a malignant personality, as these types of women specialize in being divisive.

Oftentimes, a malignant narcissist appears perfectly normal, until we get to know her better. 

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