Having an overly competitive friend can be an annoying and difficult experience because everything always has to be about her. Instead of enjoying your successes or celebrating your accomplishments, she tries to one-up you or undermine the significance of whatever is making them feel inferior. It’s probably not something worth throwing away an entire friendship over, but coping can be a hurtful uphill battle. If you’re struggling with an overly competitive friend, here are some tips on how to deal:
- Try to be understanding. Your overly competitive friend probably has some self-esteem problems. She’s constantly comparing herself to other people, wondering how she’s measuring up, and worrying about being a failure. This doesn’t excuse her behavior, but it helps to try to see where she’s coming from.
- Feel free to speak up. If she’s upsetting you, say something! She might not even realize that constantly one upping you is rude and hurtful. Your feelings are valid, even if her competitiveness is a coping mechanism.
- Keep your cool. Don’t lose it if you’re getting upset with her! Hyper-competitive people tend to have a lot of anxiety and insecurities. Talking it out is encouraged, but yelling and swearing will probably just result in her shutting down.
- Have boundaries. You have to stick up for yourself when she’s crossing the line. If trying to be the best means attempting to take things away from you, like taking credit for your ideas at work or hitting on your boyfriend, then you need to shut that kind of behavior down ASAP.
- Be very blatant about what’s important to you. You can’t assume she’ll turn her competitive nature off when it really matters to you. For example, you have to blatantly tell her, “This birthday party means a lot to me and it’s important to me that I feel special that day.” If you don’t, she may do or say something nuts to be the one who gets the most attention.
- Let her “win” when it’s not important to you. Do you really care if she has a more expensive car or more followers on Instagram? If it doesn’t, let her have that “win” and don’t engage in the competition.
- Be supportive. Show her that not everything is a race. You can support her in the things she does without it harming your goals at all, and vice versa. Competitions aren’t fun if no one else is playing, so being supportive is the best way to help her calm down while simultaneously modeling good behavior.
- Turn the negative into a positive. Find ways to make her competitiveness an asset to your friendship. Competitive people are usually willing to work really hard, make sacrifices, and take on extra responsibilities. If you share a common goal, like a project at work or a charitable fundraiser, her aggressiveness can be used to your advantage.
- Recognize her good qualities. Competitiveness can be one of those obnoxious qualities that’s just so annoying that it overshadows that person’s really great traits. Keep in mind that no one is simple enough to be defined by just one trait alone, and remember what you originally liked about her that sparked your friendship in the first place.
Why are some women so competitive even with their friends?
Friendships are the bedrock of our social lives, but they’re not always straightforward. While many cherish the unwavering support of their friends, competition can sometimes sneak in. So, why do some women feel competitive with their friends? Let’s dig in:
- Pop culture and media have encouraged this mindset. Our perceptions are often shaped by what we see and hear. Media, in its many forms, plays a crucial role in molding these perceptions. TV shows, movies, and literature frequently portray female friendships with a mix of camaraderie and rivalry. Dramatic tensions (like fighting over a romantic interest or being jealous of one’s success) make for great watching. Over time, these fictional scenarios can influence real-world expectations and behaviors.
- There’s a historical perspective to consider. For much of human history, societal structures were different. Resources, including potential mates, were limited. Women have been conditioned to compete for these limited resources to ensure their well-being or that of their offspring. Although modern society has evolved, remnants of these competitive behaviors might still persist in our subconscious.
- Societal pressure is real. Society imposes numerous standards, especially on women. From beauty standards to career achievements, these benchmarks can be overwhelming. The pressure to conform or even surpass these standards can instigate competition. If one woman achieves what society deems “success,” it might inadvertently pressure her peers to match or exceed that accomplishment.
- They might be (read: they probably are) extremely insecure. Everyone, regardless of gender, grapples with insecurities. However, in women, they often seem magnified to an extreme extent. These insecurities can be magnified when someone we consider an equal (like a close friend) achieves something we desire. Instead of pure happiness for them, our insecurities might foster a competitive spirit.
- They’re feeling the pressure to hit life milestones. Society often sets a timeline for certain milestones—like marriage, having children, or reaching particular career goals. If friends reach these milestones faster, it can induce feelings of falling behind or the need to ‘catch up,’ thereby introducing competition into the friendship
- It could be down to personality differences. People are diverse, and personalities range across a broad spectrum. Some people are naturally competitive, thriving on challenges and comparisons. This trait isn’t confined to any gender; it’s just a part of human variation. It’s a pain in the butt to deal with, but that’s just the way it goes.