Women + Men = Competition

women-fighting-over-man

What’s a foolproof way to turn women against each other?… Add men.

Women are alternately thought of as the gentler, more cooperative gender and as unnecessarily catty and ruthless; society can hardly decide which one represents women’s true nature. But one area where the competitive side of women can be clearly seen is in their dealings with the opposite sex — dating and relationships.

Why Do Women Compete Over Men?

Women who were once friendly and kind to each other can morph into the greatest of enemies the minute a man becomes involved. The change is so instant and drastic that upon hindsight they wonder what happened and are surprised by their own behavior.

What about the presence of a man causes this reaction in women? The answer is simple, yet complex: women base their self-worth in their value to men and their ability to attract and keep their interest. While some women have an inner sense of self-worth, other women have a fragile sense of self that is based not in themselves, but in what society, and particularly men, think of them.

  • The Rarity Mindset

Some women seem to believe that good men are hard to find so when she finds a suitable man, she is determined to have him. Even if that means she must step on another woman’s toes or ruin a friendship.

With such women, the choice of fighting and possibly hurting another women or not having one good man is simple. The former, of course.

How Women Justify Their Behavior

The most common way in which women justify treating other women badly in the sake of men is by telling themselves that the better woman “won”. In this “survival of the fittest” rationalization, they are the prettier, smarter, and more interesting woman, and that’s why they have won or will win the prize — the man. They tell themselves that it may not be the most pleasant situation, but that’s life, and there’s nothing else to it.

Another common way that women justify their behavior is by not justifying it — they just don’t have an explanation or reason for their behavior and they don’t need one. In most cases, what the truly don’t want is to admit to themselves or other people that they are simply being self-centered and ruthless.

Why Competing Isn’t Worth It

Ultimately, competing over men serves no real purpose. Contrary to the rarity mindset, suitable men can be found everywhere and anywhere — there is no shortage of “good” men. But by competing over men, women tear each other down while simultaneously reassuring and bolstering a man’s ego. Confident that he can have either woman, a man will value neither of them in the long run.  Instead, what is left is two women who will never be friends and yet another story to add to the “catty women” book.

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30 thoughts on “Women + Men = Competition

  1. There is no “true” female nature. People have both their good and their bad traits. Fighting over men and mean comments, gossping and talking behind people’s backs are socially acceptable forms of aggressiveness for women.

    I don’t see a point in fighting over men. I guess I have a very low opinion on myself so i always assumed the guy would pick another girl. In the long run, this was helpful, because no friendship was ruined for it.

  2. Mira,

    ‘There is no “true” female nature.’

    Come on, you know there has to be one! Because all women are basically alike, or at least more like each other than they are any guy. 😉

    “Fighting over men and mean comments, gossping and talking behind people’s backs are socially acceptable forms of aggressiveness for women.”

    Unfortunately this is true.

    “I don’t see a point in fighting over men. I guess I have a very low opinion on myself so i always assumed the guy would pick another girl.”

    Don’t think that… I’m sure it’s much more complicated than that, anyway. I don’t see many situations where two women fight over a guy, one woman “wins”, and they live happily ever after. Women who fight over men tend to be just a bit insecure (just a bit!), and that affects any relationship they are in.

    Besides, the guy just knows he’s loved by the woman who fought for him, and you know no one wants what they can have… No one.

  3. Mira: I don’t see a point in fighting over men. I guess I have a very low opinion on myself so i always assumed the guy would pick another girl. In the long run, this was helpful, because no friendship was ruined for it.

    Ha! Same here. I also thought the guy would pick another girl so I never would bother competing anyway. Like if me and a friend are out and we both see a guy we think is cute, I usually just let her go for it cause in my head “oh he’ll want her” but its no jealousy or anything on my part or even really low image of myself. I just imagine bad scenarios and then I think “yeah I could see that happening, I can see him going for her instead of me, that makes sense” lol

  4. Jess,

    “Ha! Same here. I also thought the guy would pick another girl so I never would bother competing anyway.”

    Sheesh, you and Mira need to stop. I mean, it’s great that you don’t fight with women over men, but why do you think that a guy would want someone else? Isn’t it just as likely a scenario that he “picks” you?

    You both have hot men anyway (which you didn’t have to fight for), so in the end I guess you truly “win”.

  5. No, no, this wasn’t whining. I’m just saying. I don’t know about Jessica, but I was always that type of a girl guys ignore…. Unless they are interested. Not sure how to explain it.

    I think that when a guy is interested, he is interested and there’s nothing you have to do about it. And when he isn’t, some women have means to make them interested or to make them notice them, but I was never one of those girls.

    Most of the guys I’ve met treated me like I wasn’t even there. I was that ugly friend in a group (you know, every group has to have one). The one that, rules say, guys should approach when they want to make pretty girls notice them.

    It did happen once that a guy noticed me even when another girl was interested. It’s the infamous ex I talked you about. It ended badly. I guess guys like this respect you less when they see all those girls interested in them. Blah. Not worth your time, I say.

    But an 18 year old me didn’t get that memo, I’m afraid.

  6. When I read this post earlier, I had no idea how to comment so I just left it alone. Thanks Mira and Jessica for starting the discussion. I too feel like competing with another woman for a man’s affections is a waste of time because I’m not the type of woman that men are drawn to. Male attention seems too fleeting and mercurial to be engaging in bloody conflict over!

    Besides, the guy just knows he’s loved by the woman who fought for him, and you know no one wants what they can have… No one. This I just cannot rubber stamp. I definitely want something I can have; but not EVERYTHING I can have!

  7. I’ve never been that type to try and compete for a guy, way too pampered princess lol. Either you try and get my attention or it’s not happening. My friends and I all have wildly different tastes anyway, so it’s not likely that we’d stab each other in the back for each other’s men. I’ve vetted my group of friends and have known them all for a decade, many men have come and gone in that time. There were no weird situations or issues, so i’m glad for that because apparently it’s rare? who knew

  8. I’ll never had to do that. Men have always come up to me, even if most of them turned out to be a disappointment.

    Gossiping is a fine art. The thing is not to do it about your friends. Where I’m from you gossip and we even got a proverb about that.

  9. Mira,

    “No, no, this wasn’t whining. I’m just saying. I don’t know about Jessica, but I was always that type of a girl guys ignore…. Unless they are interested. Not sure how to explain it.”

    I get what you’re saying. And I don’t think you were whining.

    In general, I wouldn’t put so much emphasis on whether guys notice you or not. It’s really not that serious. Even if guys do show interest in you, their interest usually doesn’t last and it doesn’t mean that they’re your husband-to-be.

    Really, I’d prefer if no guys ever noticed me (except the ones that I’m interested in), but I know that’s never going to happen.

  10. Sherry,

    “When I read this post earlier, I had no idea how to comment so I just left it alone. Thanks Mira and Jessica for starting the discussion.”

    Oops, forgot to include my usual opening question.

    “Male attention seems too fleeting and mercurial to be engaging in bloody conflict over!”

    Well, I’ll agree with that.

    But even if wasn’t, it still says a lot about the relative worth women place on other women versus men. Men fighting over women isn’t nearly as commonplace and the infamous “bros over hos” expression didn’t appear out of thin air.

    “This I just cannot rubber stamp. I definitely want something I can have; but not EVERYTHING I can have!”

    I was only half-joking… I also want what I can have (given it’s something I do want). But a lot of people don’t and people sometimes don’t value what they know will always be there.

  11. Vonnie,

    Exactly — men come and go. It’s not worth burning bridges or ruining friendships over.

    It’s not that having competitive/backstabbing friends is really common but that it’s more common than it probably should be. If a person truly was a friend they wouldn’t consciously decide to wreck a friendship over a guy.

    Nkosazana,

    People who gossip (about anyone) are suspect in my book… Gossiping is “a fine art?” Oh, really?

  12. Hmm.. Did you just call the whole country of South Africa suspect? Gossiping can be a very useful tool against women who are flirting with your husband for example.

    Sweden don’t really got a gossiping culture as do a lot of African cultures so I do almost zero gossiping here, but a good gossiper knows how to ruin another woman’s reputation and make her unmarriageable by any decent man. Very useful against the type of women who might try to steal your man. My aunt is a expert at playing the game.

    It’s all about balance.

  13. Nkosazana,

    “Did you just call the whole country of South Africa suspect?”

    Does the whole country make it a regular practice to gossip about other people and women in particular?

    I don’t really find ruining another woman’s reputation appealing, sounds kind of devious and cruel. I could see why that may appear to be a good thing especially if a woman is coming on to a taken man. But gossiping has a way of making both the gossiper and gossipee look ridiculous. Which of course does nothing for women as a whole…Would you really feel proud of yourself that you ruined another woman’s reputation?

    Besides, gossipers IME, tend to be generally gossipy. Which means if you’re hanging around with a gossiper, you’re likely next on the list of topics, especially if you do anything they don’t approve of. That is assuming you haven’t been talked about already.

  14. Does the whole country make it a regular practice to gossip about other people and women in particular?

    Black part of it. I don’t concern myself with whites and mini whites (AKA Asians) People gossip about men as well.

    You might feel different if that woman tried to steal your husband. Not just a boyfriend, but your husband you exchanged vows with trying to tempt him away and ruin your family. Or if the man you married is an asshole even go so far and ruin your marriage bed with bringing in another woman. Then they deserves whatever they get. Proud? No but it sure as hell would be satisfying getting her frozen out of social circles. And if you are skilled, it wont make you look foolish.

    But lets be real, these kinds of situation is not really that big a deal here in the west. Women and men do that sort of things all the time and get away with it.

    If you friends with a person you don’t talk about him/her. I don’t at least.

  15. Gossiping is disgusting. Gossiping in order to ruin someone’s reputation is pathetic. End of story.

    +1000

    On the topic of competition, I agree with you. Women are still bombarded with the message that our value and self worth comes from men. So of course when a man enters the pictures they’re going to get competitive. A woman who doesn’t need validation from men, won’t waste her time competing for one. She also knows that she deserves better friends and a man and will move onto those.

  16. And as usual no one agrees with me. It’s just easier to jump on the bandwagon, jump on the ignorant African. With her silly ideas of people being punished for what they do and marriage being sacred. Let’s not forget the verbal beating I got for saying shaming is good.

  17. Nkosazana,

    “You might feel different if that woman tried to steal your husband.”

    I guess we’re all liable to act out of character in such a situation. I won’t say that you’re “wrong, so wrong” for thinking of gossiping as retaliation. But in general I don’t see it doing women in general any service. I may do a post in the future on why I’m not a fan of gossiping, slut-shaming, etc.

    “…Or if the man you married is an asshole even go so far and ruin your marriage bed with bringing in another woman.”

    Then I’d be angry with him. In all cheating situations, I automatically look at the guy — he is the one I’m in a relationship with, who made a commitment to me, who claimed to care for me, etc. The woman he cheated with had no such arrangement with me (if she is a friend or someone I’m friendly with, that’s another issue though).

    The guy is obviously not the best person to be with. And in a weird way, I’d be thankful to the woman for helping me to see that.

    “But lets be real, these kinds of situation is not really that big a deal here in the west. Women and men do that sort of things all the time and get away with it.”

    I wouldn’t say they get away with it. It’s not like people don’t gossip around here; there’s really no difference in that aspect, especially if you’re in a smaller town/circle.

  18. “And as usual no one agrees with me. It’s just easier to jump on the bandwagon, jump on the ignorant African.”

    I don’t think this has anything to do with where you’re from. People will disagree with things they disagree with, regardless.

    I mean, it is what it is. I wouldn’t take disagreements personally. It’s just a difference in view. People disagree with me here all the time; it means nothing in the grand scheme of things. As long as there are people in the world there will be disagreements.

  19. Nkosazana,

    Having people agree with you is overrated. Sure, it’s nice, but you can be friends with people even if you don’t agree with some of their opinions.

    Just because I think gossiping is pathetic doesn’t mean I think you are pathetic. I just don’t see it as a productive or a good thing. I’ve been on a receiving end of shaming and what not, for reasons that had nothing to do with me or my behavior. 9 times out of 10, people shame you and want to ruin your reputation based on what they THINK you’ve done and based on what they THINK you are, and not reality.

    I also don’t believe a woman can take someone’s man, unless he wants to be taken. In any case, even if someone behaves badly when it comes to romantic relationships and family, it doesn’t mean (s)he needs to be ostracized to the point of his/her life being ruined. Sure, when you’re the one who is cheated and hurt, many bad things come through your head, and you plan a revenge and what not… But that’s not a behavior that should be encouraged. Especially not by gossip- remember, it takes more than one person to start a gossip, and those the loudest are usually those who don’t have any personal connection to the events: they are just there to enjoy watching other people’s misery.

  20. And as usual no one agrees with me. It’s just easier to jump on the bandwagon, jump on the ignorant African. With her silly ideas of people being punished for what they do and marriage being sacred. Let’s not forget the verbal beating I got for saying shaming is good

    Once again it seems you’re getting defensive just because people here disagree with you. That’s fine if you think gossiping is good, I just don’t think so. No one here is attacking you. It has nothing to do with you being African, you’re grasping at straws.

    Then I’d be angry with him. In all cheating situations, I automatically look at the guy — he is the one I’m in a relationship with, who made a commitment to me, who claimed to care for me, etc. The woman he cheated with had no such arrangement with me (if she is a friend or someone I’m friendly with, that’s another issue though).

    That’s the position I take. I know it’s easier to want to go after the woman, but in reality my beef would be with the guy. He’s the one who cheated, he’s the one who violated the sanctity of our marriage or relationship.

  21. I HATE being talked down to like I’m a child.

    It’s the same way everyone does when they find out that I’m African. I can go as far as I can and I can’t escape it. Makes you no different than the people at RAU.

  22. ^I’ll reply to this later.

    For now I’m sending hugs to you and your baby in the womb! Try not to be stressed.

  23. Nkosazana,
    I am African too. I was born in the Horn of Africa, raised in several other countries before moving to Canada at age of 12. A lot of your comments remind me of things my mother and her friends would say. Or at least, they would say it when we first immigrated to this country. In the 20 years+ we’ve been living in the West, my parents and their friends changed their thinking on a lot of things. It happens.
    I distinctly remember my mother commenting there were no gays in our country and that if there were they should be shot (this was years and years ago).
    Now, their neighbours are a lesbian couple and my folks are good friends with them, even entrusting them to check up on their house when they go on vacation. My mother gets extremely embarrassed when I remind her of her old views. They’ve changed and adapted to this society and its values.

    My mother, however, always believed that if a man cheats, the woman should have it out with the man, not the other woman. In her opinion, the majority of the blame should go to the man who committed to her. It used to appall her when women would fight over a man on the talk shows. She uses very strong words against women who focus all their ire on blaming other women for their men cheating.

    One of the core values that Westerners developed is a sense of fairness and equality that I am sorry to say, a lot of us Africans simply don’t have.
    Our African values are community minded and thus puts a lot of onus on good behaviour on the women and tends to minimize bad behaviour by men even though its men who have power throughout Africa.

    These community minded values come across a lot in your comments, which puts it at odds with how the people raised in the West think.

    I think its good to talk it out because I assume your children will be raised in Sweden and hence will also be thinking like a lot of the commenters here. Look at me….I have two African immigrant parents and I think like the commenters on this site for the most part as well, even though I have retained a lot of my cultural values re family and behaviour.

  24. Okay, Nkosazana:

    “I HATE being talked down to like I’m a child.”

    You also have to realize that people feel like you’re talking down to them if you’re proposing to tell or know the “right” way to do things.

    Also as an opinionated person (like myself!) you have to realize that others have opinions too. And since you’re so opinionated and have no issue letting everyone know your mind on things, people will respond in kind.

    I’m not trying to talk down to you (hah!), just letting you know why perhaps you feel like you get more opposition to your views than other people. I recognize I have a similar quality where when I’ve thought over something and settled on a view, nothing short of the world ending will change it.

    (That’s partly why I don’t always dash to approve new commenters the second I get notification of them, because 50 percent of the time it’s “I completely disagree with this post/you suck/STFU”. 😉 )

    Also, there are plenty of African (native, 1st, and 2nd gen.) people who read this blog, trust me! They make up a large percentage of the readership, I’ve found. So like I said, I hardly think people disagree with you because you’re African.

  25. Sophia,

    “One of the core values that Westerners developed is a sense of fairness and equality that I am sorry to say, a lot of us Africans simply don’t have.”

    *coughs*

    You said it, not me. 🙂

    But I agree. In general, I’d say Africans tend to be harsh punishers and have no clue what the word “fair” means when it comes to consequences. Although at the same time they show a lot of kindness to strangers, and are essentially really kind-hearted people.

    Western societies are a little better in the equality aspect, but I also personally feel that Western societies can swing too much to the other side of the pendulum. Things can get a little loose and unprincipled where people could benefit from more structure in their society.

    I think Nkosazana would love the black Southern portion of the United States, because it shares a lot of qualities with African communities — I think this comes from its strong, less diluted African roots. Her views and way of thinking would not stand out at all in the South; most Southerners think I’m the most liberal person around (and this isn’t a compliment, from them), whereas in New England I was considered more on the moderate or even conservative side.

    “Our African values are community minded and thus puts a lot of onus on good behaviour on the women and tends to minimize bad behaviour by men even though its men who have power throughout Africa.”

    I really, really dislike the way the genders are treated in most of Africa — men are not the second coming, and women are not second-class citizens. But I think most people here could have guessed my views on that.

    “I think its good to talk it out because I assume your children will be raised in Sweden and hence will also be thinking like a lot of the commenters here.”

    Yes, this will be really important. Around here the immigrants tend to clash with their Western-raised children in the beginning, but eventually (most of the time!) they come to a compromise which is somewhere in the middle.

  26. Hi Laura-Ashley,

    I love your blog. I’m still LMAO at the “cubicle” post. Glad you agree with this one! 🙂

  27. Alee,
    As usual this article is spot on! No need to compete, but there are still women out there who will. I have had friends (who are no longer my friends) try to compete with me over men. They would even try to compete with me after I was dating the guy already. All I have to say to these women is “evolve already!”. That’s it :).

  28. Nikisha,

    “They would even try to compete with me after I was dating the guy already.”

    Uh oh… I guess they’re still trying to make that final push. 🙂

    ‘All I have to say to these women is “evolve already!”.’

    Lol, good one.

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