You might be forgiven for thinking Lindsay Lohan is the secret villain in Mean Girls. But if you have zero women friends because for SOME reason they don't like you, OR you have have a posse of PTA moms who follow you around but also annoy the crap out of you, then we need to talk.
Because, uh, don't take this the wrong way, but you just might be a "mean girl."
Yes, even if you're a mom with an adorable baby. Or a doctor who saves people's lives. Who knows, maybe you're married to a pastor and teach Vacation Bible School. Whatever your external situation, you can still have enough negative emotions churning within that are making you -- and we say this in the NICEST way possible -- kinda toxic.
A "mean girl" -- of any age -- "is someone who feels entitled to have, keep, and prevent others from having the valued experiences or material things that reflect social status," says Jeanette Raymond, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of Now You Want Me, Now You Don't.
If you fall into this category, you see other women as competition and try to exert power over them. Doing so "dehumanizes" them, explains Raymond. "That way, mean girls feel no guilt or conscience over hoarding, not sharing, not including others, and feeling haughty."
But surprisingly, this isn't happening because you're such a tough cookie. Just the opposite.
"Mean girls love to be in control because they have a very thin skin," says Raymond. "In order to protect themselves from rejection and criticism, they take on the role of arbiter or leader of the social group they're in, using their 'goods' -- smarts, contacts, status, rank or material things -- to make others feel small and at their mercy."
So ... let's go through the checklist of signs that despite your age or mom status, you're more "mean girl" than you think.
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1. You are preoccupied with being on top. You fuss over your holiday cookies, kiddos' birthday parties, Easter decorations ... If someone's doing the same thing as you, yours simply HAS to be the best.
2. You crave being in control. Classroom parent. Soccer coach. Girl Scout leader. Leader of the neighborhood association, head of the block party committee, volunteer coordinator of the yada yada -- you are ON it and doing a f*****g awesome job.
3. If it comes right down to it, you'd sacrifice someone else to save yourself. ("You only have enough tickets for one more family to go to the Nets game tomorrow night? We'll take them. I'm sure Suz and her kids don't really want to.")
4. You're low on loyalty. Be honest. How long do you stay friends with someone if there's nothing in it for you?
5. You exert power in subtle ways. Maybe you conveniently "forget" that you weren't supposed to share with your book club that another mom's on antidepressants. Or a neighbor irks you so you accidentally leave her family off your end-of-school party guest list.
6. You make remarks about others that shame. An example: "Aw, are you still trying to lose weight?" (Sad face.) "Don't worry, I'm sure it will eventually happen."
7. You don't feel mean. "You may be conscious of hurting others in a conceptual, intellectual manner," says Raymond, "but 'mean girls' don't feel it in their gut, which is why they lack empathy." You're so busy protecting your status, that you simply don't register the effect you have on others.
Is any of this ringing a bell? Even a tiny one, from far away? Don't worry. You're not doomed to be a bitch forever.
"Seek a good therapist who cares in a supportive way, but is not afraid of telling it like it is," advises Raymond.
Image via pathdoc/Shutterstock; unsplash/Christopher Campbell