Gossip: Creating Insecurity

gossiping-harmfulGossip — one of the most popular and enduring pastimes, an activity that spans cultures and generations. Most of us have engaged in it at one point or another. Although most people would deny the title “gossiper” and when consciously aware of it, try to stay away from gossip, many of us regularly participate in discussing rumors about others.

Even though many willing take part in gossiping, most people have been the victims of negative gossip. What makes gossip so irresistible? Those who study social dynamics and psychology claim that gossip helps to create a sense of community and bonds between people, warns against danger, and teaches lessons about morality. However, they acknowledge that gossip can be a double-edged sword — undermining the benefits it is thought to created.

Creating Community

Superficially, gossiping about others can serve to bring people together through the sharing of information and common knowledge. As with any discussion, people may find points of similarity in their views and interests and forms bonds as a result.

On a deeper level, however, gossiping creates mistrust between people. If someone will gossip about one person, what makes others safe from having rumors spread about them as well? In addition, the person being gossiped about feels anything but included or part of the community.

Teaching Lessons

Negative rumors make clear what behavior and situations will not be tolerated among a group of people. Those whose actions cause them to be the topic of gossip learn quickly what is acceptable or expected of them.

A greater lesson that may be learned is that of secrecy. While some may change their ways to more fit the community they are a part of, others may not change but simply keep their thoughts and actions to themselves. This further undermines the community and bonds that gossiping is supposed to create, as people feel they must keep their lives to themselves or suffer the consequences.

In my view, the most obvious impact of rumors and gossiping is insecurity. Both on the part of those gossiping and those being gossiped about. The cons far outweigh the pros, so I don’t take part in it, when possible.

What do you think of gossip? Have you ever been the subject of a rumor and what do you think the effects were?

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“I Have No Female Friends”, Part 2

woman-envyTo round up this month’s attempts by women to set back the Women’s Movement and themselves, this is an article response to another blogger’s thoughts on the original post “I Have No Female Friends”.

The response is entitled, Women Who Don’t Have Female Friends, and begins:

Earlier this week I found these blog posts about women who say they don’t have female friends. It reminded me of a discussion forum I found online some time ago with a similar discussion about women who say they don’t get along with women. In both cases, the discussion about these women was negative and full of assumptions about women who say these things.

After which the author proceeds to make countless negative statements and assumptions about women as a group, and numerous other amazing statements.

-“The majority of women don’t feel good about themselves.”

Besides that this is an overreaching statement, it is contradicting the entire post — to make a post deriding assumptions, then proceed to make your own.

It doesn’t seem to occur to the author, or she fails to mention, that her superior and belittling attitude towards women might be noticed by them, and disliked by them. If all people would believe that women don’t feel good about themselves, the author would find herself in a bad position.

-“I think saying men and women are not that different is PC bullschitt. Men and women are different, whether it’s because of society or biology or a mix. It’s fine to admit that.”

I think saying men and women are totally different is conservative and closed-minded. I would never say men and women do not have their differences but painting them as two sub-species is not something I’d ever do, and not something I’d expect from any intelligent and open-minded person. Experience and research tells me they aren’t nearly as different in their basic motivations as our brains would like to make them out to be.

To use the author’s own example, there are logical women and emotional men. A person’s outward behavior does not always or even usually reflect who inwardly are. Yes men and women are socialized differently, but those differences may affect only the social. Men lean toward the rational because that’s what’s accepted and expected of them, but their core personality may be quite different.

-“I feel good about who I am because I know I’m intelligent, talented, a good person and so on…the biggest thing with women, I’d say, is more than half of heterosexual ones strike me as not thinking they’re complete or good enough if they don’t have a man or a husband.”

The problem with this statement is that it is a judgment against women who have a strong desire for love, as if that is wrong. Everyone has something they wouldn’t feel complete without, and the love of a man doesn’t seem any worse than others. But whether it is wrong or not is not so important. What is glaring is that in a post about how judging other women is wrong, there is so much judging.

-“Personally, I’d love to find even just one woman who can talk football all day–I really would. Sure, there are women out there who like football. It’s not even unusual to find women who love football. I just simply have never known another woman who lives and breathes football”

The author needs an award because she loves football. Unlike every other woman on earth, she likes football, and that makes her truly unique.

It’s ironic that the author is in fact, feeding right into the original hypothesis that women who claim to have female friends feel that they are “special” and different from other women, and these differences make them better.

-“I understand that some of the women over at the blog link try to make a distinction between women who seem proud of not having female friends and other women who don’t have female friends, but it seems like a half-hearted attempt… As far as I read, they also failed to state or point out that saying you don’t have female friends sometimes is…well…simply a statement of fact.”

“As far as I read” would be the key statement here.

That “I have no female friends” is a statement of fact for a woman saying it was never in question, the question was why. Why do they make these statements and what sort of mindset do they have?

Judging from this response and the author’s own words, the author didn’t actually read the article or the comments following. This might have come in handy, in making stronger arguments against the original article; arguments that didn’t prove the point.

Note: All snark in this post was intentionally kept to a bare minimum

Women vs. the “Sexy” Woman

kate-upton-GQ In past posts, the phenomenon of competition and hostility among women was discussed. There are many theories on why women seem to dislike and compete with other women, a very popular one being that women are simply born to view other women as competition. Another, as discussed in the book Catfight, is that a competitive atmosphere is created by the gender roles placed on women and the human desire for inclusion.

There is another aspect to the reality of female competition — certain women tend to be excluded and hated more than others. These types of women can have female friends, but often they attract mistrust and ill will by other women. They are what I have dubbed the “Sexy” Woman.

The “Sexy” Woman

The Sexy Woman is a woman who draws attention to her sexuality and sees it one of her more attractive qualities, if not her only attractive quality. She can even be explicit about her desire and ability to draw others — particularly men — to her, with her “assets”. To the Sexy Woman, using what you were born with (or bought) to get ahead in life is no different from using your intelligence, hard work or talent. The Sexy Woman’s looks and body are herself. In other words, she objectifies herself.

As a result, the Sexy Woman is usually very popular with men, in the most basic of ways, and has male friends. With women, she is ignored, at best and notorious, at worst. Given this, she considers men to be more understanding and less hateful than women. She does not go out of her way to be friendly with women, but likes the companionship of men.

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful?

The Battle of Women vs. the Sexy Woman is thought to be the classic tale of women being envious of the most beautiful woman. The Sexy Woman too believes that it is her beautiful face and body that cause women to hate her. Yet the situation is much more complex than mere beauty.

The Sexy Woman can be pretty or even beautiful, but it does not seem to be her appearance that cause women to be suspicious of or dislike her. Other women, who are just as “sexy” and good-looking, are loved and admired by their fellow women, and get along with them well. What separates them from the Sexy Woman is their attitude and presentation. Whereas the Sexy Woman calls attention to her sexuality and wants to be known for her attractiveness, other women are less forward about their looks, and do not view them as their most redeeming asset.

Hate It or Love It, or Hate It

The real question is what makes women so uncomfortable with the openness of the Sexy Woman? Why does her willingness to be objectified make women consider her unworthy of a kind word? Maybe her overt sexuality reminds other women of the pressure placed on them to be sexy and conventionally attractive. Maybe she is just another airhead. Or maybe we’ll never know.

See also:

Preventing Passivity

passive-sliding

Aggression has a bad reputation, but what happens when you ignore the inevitable?

Most would consider niceness, calmness, and tolerance to be positive qualities, traits that make interactions pleasant for everyone involved. But too much of a good thing can be dangerous, and when grievances are not aired to “keep the peace”, a road to passivity is created.

Personally, a passive personality is even harder to deal with than its opposite — the aggressive personality. Most who regularly practice the art of passivity consider it a good thing, and consider themselves easygoing, nice people. For the most part, their passivity deflects confrontations  and conflicts that others easily fall into. The problem is that angry or sad feelings do not disappear when you choose to ignore or suppress them. They either cause resentment or arise in a later situation. It can also turn into passive-aggressive behavior, where the passive person’s ignored anger shows itself in subtle ways

After awhile, passivity becomes self-creating — suppressed negative feelings cause the passive person to feel more resentment towards whatever or whoever they believe caused them. When this happens, the feelings can be expressed more strongly than they would have been if they were dealt with immediately.

Conflicts caused by passive behavior can be hurtful and confusing for all involved. That said, here are some actionable tips to prevent yourself from slipping down the slide of passivity:

  • Practice speaking up for yourself when you feel you’ve been wronged
  • Express negative feelings constructively, as soon as they arise
  • Once a disagreement has been discussed, try your best to dissolve any resentment that might be leftover
  • Realize when trying to keep the peace is causing you to feel hurt or angry
  • Do not use disagreements of the past as a reason to be angry, or stay angry, with another person
  • Keep disagreements separate — if you dislike the way someone handled themselves in another situation, don’t bring it up in a later disagreement

Finally, remember that anger alone is not bad, it’s the way you deal with it that determines the outcome of a situation, and ignoring your anger is not the best way.

Anyone else with experience with passivity or other tips for stopping passivity in its tracks?

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Some Thoughts on Friendship

baby-friendship

In the realm of interpersonal relationships, romantic relationships get all the attention. People want to know how to find a romantic relationship, how to keep one, or how to end one. So much so that the word “relationship” has become synonymous with romantic relationship.

However, I’ve found platonic relationships to be just as difficult as intimate relationship. In dating, there are a list of “dos” and “don’ts” if one wants to be successful, but lists on how to be a good friend are less common. But friendships are tough and true friends are hard to come by.

It is important, in my experience, to be as discriminating when forming a friendship as you would be with choosing a romantic partner. In some ways, a good friend is hard to define, but there are a few basic traits that I would say make a real friend:

Loyal — It sounds so simple, but a real friend will stand by you. Many so-called friends will not be faithful when the friendship is tested. On the other hand, a true friend in these times will show that they are concerned with your well-being as they are with the their own.

Sincere — A friend will tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it, and will be genuine about themselves.

Positive — Never ignore the effect that a negative acquaintance can have on you. Whether your “friend” is negative about you and your hopes and dreams, or about life in general, negativity is toxic. A friend will make your day brighter by just being around.

Helpful –– Not only does a good friend offer helpful advice, but a friend will provide assistance, even if they can’t do much to help physically. True friends always try to help, and make your friendship one of their priorities.

Understanding — A true friend understands that everyone has flaws and is not overly judgmental of you. They understand your point of view and point of being, even when it may differ from their own.

How do you determine if someone is a friend or not? What qualities do you think make a good friend?

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Forgiveness Not Likely

I-hate-you-this-much

Well, not really. But I surely don’t forgive you.

I have a confession to make — I’m terrible at forgiving. Actually, I’m the Queen of Unforgiveness. The likelihood of me forgiving someone who has wronged me is very close to none, and II regularly hold grudges for years. It’s not that I purposely try not to forgive (or forget) wrongdoings, it’s just that I can’t. It seems that I’m simply not capable of forgiveness, in any real sense.

Now before you start wondering if you’ve ever done something wrong to me, I’ll add that it takes a bit of work for me to reach the point of not forgiving.  Some say three strikes and you’re out, but I probably give many more chances than that. A person would have to make a concerted effort to bother me enough to reach the point of being “out”. In fact that’s probably part of the reason I rarely forgive people — if someone has reached that point, the way I see it, they don’t deserve forgiveness.

Another reason I don’t and won’t forgive is that I simply don’t see how it would benefit anyone. I’ve observed that few of the people I’ve not forgiven have any wish to be forgiven by me– they don’t care. They don’t apologize, and usually believe they were somehow justified in what they did. This makes it even harder to feel the need to forgive them. And I wonder: can you actually forgive someone who is not sorry?

I know it’s commonly believed that holding a grudge only hurts you.  Maybe it does — if you constantly think about how you were wronged. But if you don’t think about it often it simply is. When or if you must face the person or situation again, the resentment might arise, but if in your daily life you don’t dwell on it, why let go? Grudges are rarely in the forefront of my mind, so they don’t hurt me.

Yet however my many reasons not to forgive, I still believe that forgiveness is theoretically a good thing. So I try to forgive, on a regular basis. But I can’t. Each time I think of forgiving, I remember what happened, and something in me says, “No, never.” Having a long memory works against forgiveness — I can’t forget a thing, so I can’t forgive. But maybe a person can only keep so much resentment in the back of their mind before space runs out and it becomes an issue for them. So I try to understand forgiveness and learn to forgive.

Does anyone else have trouble forgiving? Or have tips on how to forgive?

Online Relationship Intrusion: Don’t Be a Victim

online-frustrationOnline relationship intrusion: The act of internet-based relationships affecting a person’s offline. Often causing frustration, negative thoughts, and unreasonable fixation.

Ah, the internet. Information, entertainment, and people, at a few clicks of a mouse. Such a great resource, and one some people have come to rely on, possibly to an extreme degree. Who ever would have suspected that what makes the internet so enjoyable could also cause it to be the reason some people end their internet sessions not feeling refreshed, but upset and let down.

Many people who are or have been disappointed in their online relationships believe they are alone in their frustration. After all, it’s just the internet, no one else takes it so seriously, right? Online relationship intrusion is more common than you might think.

It seems that online relationship intrusion more easily happens to those who spend much time on the internet and those who lack strong boundaries. Both groups allow their online, interactive lives to merge with their offline, real lives. Some create intimate relationships with those they know online, or interact with people from their offline lives in their online world. Others allow their negative interactions on the internet as reflecting the reality of the world outside of the WWW. However, the medium of the offline and online worlds are different, and so are the people in it. When mixed together, they can create a more complicated and complicating combination.

Online relationship intrusion is more common with some people, but anyone who interacts with others online is susceptible to it. Every time you find yourself irritated, sad, mad, or otherwise strongly moved by something or someone online you are inviting online relationship intrusion. Don’t dismiss the effects of this: intrusion can bring real-life negative effects, affecting how you feel about yourself, your mood, and your overall happiness in life.

So what can you do to stop or at least decrease online relationship intrusion? Being one who has experienced online relationship frustration and works online, I’ve developed actionable steps that work for me, and I believe could work for others as well:

  • Do not merge online and offline lives. Keep them separate, whenever possible.
  • Limit your time on the internet. The less time you spend online, the less chance you have to become frustrated by what happens in it.
  • If you find yourself feeling frustrated, take a break. It’s okay.
  • Recognize that you have the ability to quickly and painlessly end any online interactions that are no longer working for you.
  • Repeat to yourself “This is not reality”. This helps to keep your situation in perspective.
  • Do not frustrate yourself further by continuing online discussion that is stressing you out — press the x in the corner, never looking back.

Have you experienced online relationship intrusion? How did you deal with it? Do you have any other tips?

Your Partner is a Jerk and Why You Should Care

rude-partnerYour partner is a jerk. They yell at service people, are quick to engage in an argument or fight, and make sure to put anyone who crosses them back “in their place.” When they come around, people who are familiar with them are wary. To put it bluntly: your partner is a rude, unbearable torture.

So what do you do? If you’re like most people I’ve known: nothing. You ignore it. After all, your partner is sweet as pie to you, and is only rude sometimes. You just know deep down that they are truly a kind, humane, and civil individual. But you laugh at their jokes at the expense of others. You may even find their surly manner to be admirable and attractive and are proud of how easy they “assert” themselves.

There seems to be an epidemic of rude, outright gruff partners. Particularly these partners with people who are quite unlike them — the most polite and kind people you could ever meet. Opposites attract, right? Well, in addition to this epidemic there seems to be more break-ups of this type, and more people complaining about their unbearable ex-partners.

When I hear about a friend or acquaintance remarking how horrible their ex is now being to them or was to them during their break-up, I’m usually not surprised. What did they expect? Their partner has always been on the rude side — this is not a new development. The only thing new about the situation is that their partner’s rudeness is now directed towards them, instead of only to others. Which brings me to one reason why you should care if your current partner makes Spencer Pratt look like Mother Theresa:

1. You Are Not Immune

For reasons unknown, persons who find themselves in relationships with rude people believe they will never or rarely have to deal with their partner’s “other” side. They believe that is reserved for everyone else, those the person doesn’t love as much. This delusion remains up until the break-up, when they realize just how wrong they were.

I’ve yet to see a rude person spare former partners from their jerkiness. Try as they might, questionable comments slip out here and there. Or they might not try, especially if the break-up was a difficult one. And in either situation, their former partner, the one who would look the other way as they cursed out their favorite enemy, end ups having to clean up the mess.

spencer-pratt-heidi-montag

Spencer Pratt and gloriously oblivious victim, wife Heidi Montag

2. If You Lay Down With Dogs…

When in a close relationship with another person, you may begin to take on their traits. Subtly though this may be, one day after years together you may find yourself their opposite sex twin. Same clothes, same hair. And same insufferable attitude.

However, even if your transformation is not as obvious, your association with this person will begin to affect you socially and personally. Friends and even family members may decide to avoid dealing with either of you. By linking up with someone who people find immediately, or eventually, to be unbearable, you become unbearable. Just ask the people whose relationships with close friends and family has been ruined by their tolerating of a rude partner’s attitude.

3. Relationships Are About Growth

Ideally a relationship should bring out the best in both partners. Both should learn from each other, and become better people for being in it. But this takes active participation — it doesn’t happen by accident. You are short-changing your partner –and yourself– by disregarding their disrespectful manner and way of handling issues. Neither of you grows, neither of you learns from your mistakes and becomes a person that others enjoy dealing with.

Have you ever had a rude partner or known someone with a rude partner? How did you deal with the situation (if you dealt with it)?

Romantic Chemistry: The Chemistry of Relationships

chemistry-man-womanChemistry in relationships is the way two people interact with and relate to each other, and the effect they have on one another, emotionally, physically, and psychologically. As long as two people are in touch, they have some form of chemistry. But good romantic chemistry — chemistry which causes two people to feel comfortable and want to continue interacting — is a catalyst in relationships; good chemistry creates relationships without much effort.

What Causes Good Romantic Chemistry?

Interpersonally, good chemistry is caused by simply being involved with someone you are in tune with. It is experienced as a “high” or a general feeling of well-being and happiness in the presence of another person. With great chemistry you may be attracted to someone without wanting to be attracted, and without knowing why you are.

Biologically, romantic chemistry is created by the typical “feel good” neurochemicals that cause people to become addicted to intimacy, drugs, or certain types of food. The most important of these, dopamine and oxytocin, create feelings of pleasure, trust, and energy. Your body likes these feelings and desires more of what is creating them — in this case, interacting with the person you have great chemistry with.

Is Chemistry Necessary?

While romantic chemistry provides the spark of instant attraction which causes intimate relationships to be formed immediately, chemistry is not entirely necessary for a relationship to begin. A relationship can be built for other reasons, some of which are more substantial than good feelings. But more importantly chemistry can not sustain a relationship.

Romantic chemistry will not last forever — eventually, being in the presence of another person will cease to have the effect it used to. Just as the pleasure of a certain food decreases with increasing servings, the feeling of energy and euphoria of being with another person wane with time and amount of interaction.

But it’s easy to become addicted to this state of well-being, to become a love junkie who needs these excited feelings to be comfortable in a relationship and feels restless otherwise. Soon you’re off to find a new relationship — or a new high — to recreate these feelings of intoxication. As romantic chemistry lasts a few months to a couple of years, you can repeat this cycle over and over again.

Lasting Chemistry

That initial jolt of excitement and well-being may not last forever but true chemistry can. This chemistry is created by rapport and harmony, commitment, and respect for your partner. It’s important to develop these aspects while you’re still in the first highs of new love, to create as smooth a transition as possible from infatuation to loving commitment.

Have you ever experienced good chemistry with another person? How important is chemistry for you in dating and relationships?

When to End a Friendship

friends-holding-hands

Whoever said friends were forever?

Throughout the years I’ve gained many friends, and lost just as many. In some cases it was clear that the friendship was over. However, in most situations, the friendship seemed capable of being saved or worth saving. It seemed like these friendships were just going through a rough time and would get better with time and effort. Ultimately though, these friendships declined, as they were destined to.

These experiences weren’t all negative — one positive aspect is that they allowed me to understand the signs of a dead friendship. When many of these occur, I know it’s time to end the friendship:

1. The friendship is depressing

Friendship isn’t all about having a good time. True friends will stick around through the good and bad, and friends show their worth in life’s unhappiest situations. But if a friend is constantly pulling down instead of uplifting; if I feel worse rather than better after interacting with a certain friend, then it is a sign to let the friendship go.

2. The friend is gossipy

Most people are not fond of gossips, but when the gossip is your friend, what do you do? Some people will remain friends with a person who is known to be a gossip, safe in the idea that the friend would never gossip about them. This is an error: a person who is gossipy will tend to be so about everyone. You shouldn’t wait until the friend gossips about you to turn them loose.

3. The friendship is competitive

Unless you’re in high school it’s time to let go of your competitive friend. A friend who competes and shows envy instead of joy at your achievements is simply not worth it. Why stay in a friendship where you can’t share your greatest moments? A friendship is about reciprocation, not competition.

4. The friend plays the blame game

As with all relationships, friendships are a mutual undertaking and both sides are equally responsible for it. Yet some will blame their friend when things go wrong in the friendship, or outside of the friendship. Instead of realizing that this is a toxic relationship, their friends will take the blame and burden the responsibility. It is much less emotionally draining to simply end the friendship.

5. The friend is really a frenemy

Get rid of any friend whose actions your unsure of or who puts you down.  If you’re not sure whether your friend is a friend or an enemy, don’t worry about figuring it out. Just end the friendship.

6. The friendship is one-sided

Most friendships are not a perfect 50/50 give and take all the time. At times your friend will need you more, at other times you will require their help. But a friendship should not be one-sided in emotional or physical giving and help. Otherwise it’s not a friendship — one-sidedness is one of the most obvious signs of a dead or dying friendship.

Do you know when to end a friendship? What are some of your friendship deal-breakers?

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