Updated: Jul 5, 2020
Relationships are complicated. Regardless if they are intimate or platonic (intimate and affectionate, but not sexual), relationships between women can be difficult, at times emotionally and mentally exhausting. We can be uncertain when and how to approach uncomfortable situations or differences of opinions in a relationship. As a woman, I have found it difficult when maneuvering platonic relationships with other women. As I have reflected on previous discord with friends and/or family, I can honestly say it is not always about the other person. Often, I am wrestling with my own internal issues.
We tend to overcomplicate the relationship with both external and internal factors. There comes a time when we should take a moment, reflect, and ask the honest question, “What is the reason?”
External factors may be easy to identify. It could be an argument with your friend or family member that stems from a differing of opinions, not feeling heard, or detecting you are not being supported. An external factor between women can also be a relationship triangle, or quadrangle, in some cases.
This is when more than one woman is in a relationship with one mate. These external factors that may cause a breakdown in the relationship and can cause significant damage. This damage can have a lasting effect.
In the 2017 reunion episode of popular reality television show Love and Hip Hop, now famous music artist Cardi B was involved in a business relationship with a man named Swift. Swift was in an intimate relationship with a woman named Asia. During the reunion show, Cardi B had the opportunity to explore Asia’s apparent issue with her. Cardi B and Asia had never met in person, yet there was clear tension. Cardi B began yelling “WHAT IS THE REASON?!”
Although the root of the issue was not revealed, what was revealed was an external factor that created the tension. Asia felt “disrespected” by Cardi B’s interaction with her significant other. Unfortunately, that is the only reason that Asia provided. I would venture to say there was more. External factors often begin internally, such as insecurities, jealousy, lack of trust, etc.
External factors that impact relationships can be damaging and long-lasting, but internal factors run deep and can stay with you for a lifetime. Considering, YOU TAKE YOU WHEREVER YOU GO it is important to explore and address those internal factors that may negatively impact your interaction with others, especially other women. How we view and value ourselves has a direct impact on how we view and value others, especially those who we have something in common with such as gender. We often put expectations on others that we would like to see in ourselves. Sometimes those are expectations that we had of ourselves and was lost at some point in our life’s journey, and we internally grieve those losses. That grieving can manifest into unhealthy interactions with other women. The question becomes, “Is the internal struggle and grieving a result of created competition?”
You Versus Who?
Competition is an organized activity with a specific purpose and goal. Examples of these types of competitions could be a sporting event, a bake off, science fair, just to name a few. But what about when the competition is not organized, and the participants were not made aware of the specific purpose or goal? Women have been thrusted into competition for centuries. There are several industries that have played a part in this staged competition. The beauty, music, television, and cinematic industries have all been willing participants in the perpetuation of the stereotypes that women are catty, have low self-esteem, are insecure, and thrive when forced to be competitive with one another. The competition that has been created is mostly about external factors and physical attributes, but it eventually begins to impact you internally and guide how women interact with each other. The orchestrated competition fuels division and can play a significant role in damaging relationships. There will come a time when you must ask yourself, “Who are you in competition with?” Is it the woman next to you or the woman inside of you? Are some of those competitive factors causing internal damage to how you determine value in yourself and other women?
Have you ever been made aware that another woman who you have not encountered previously did not like you? Have you ever been in conversation with a group of women when a woman who is not present becomes the topic (for whatever reason) and one of the women present says, “I don’t like her?” When she is questioned as to why, her response is, “She thinks she is…” No real reason is given. Only perception of how the woman views herself is presented as the bone of contention, but not a concrete explanation. Go figure.
It is a frequent occurrence that a woman can easily create an issue with another woman. I wonder if the mental and emotional health of women would improve if we dedicated time to look within and not focus on “just not liking her.” Would we have more time to focus on improving ourselves? Would our relationships with our children improve? Would our relationships with our significant others improve? Would our work performance improve? Would our businesses grow and improve? Would we grow spiritually and physically? I think you get the point. Would we as women be more well-rounded if we spent time focusing on our internal growth and not the perceived deficits of other women? I realize this may be difficult and force women to do something that is sometimes uncommon. How would our female to female relationships be different if we afforded other women grace?
Yes, kindness, goodwill, courtesy, and forgiveness. These words can be foreign amongst women. This, too, is something that I believe is a direct indication of the lack of grace we give to ourselves. Many women go through life repeatedly blaming themselves for past and present issues that have not been addressed in a healthy manner. They have not learned how to forgive themselves which may make it difficult to forgive others. They spend time projecting what they are lacking in their peers. This may explain why the answer can be vague when asked, “What is the reason?”
Unfortunately, women may not know the reason until they begin self-inventory and reflection. In Chapter 3 of W.A.S.H. (Withstand All Strife to Heal): Time To Do YOUR Laundry, I pose a few questions during the “pre-soak” stage of completing your laundry.
Self Inventory & Reflection
What are your issues or concerns?
How long have they been concerns?
Was the issue self-inflicted?
If yes, how?
Are others involved?
If so, what is their relationship to you?
The pre-soak stage is an opportunity to go deeper into the process of self-reflection. It is important, to be honest, open, humble, willing to change, and grow. This process may reveal some things about you that you may not be pleased with, but it will be worth it.
Dig deep and explore your internal issues and how you may have projected those issues onto other women. It is imperative that you commit to resolve those unhealthy issues within yourself. This process will improve your relationships, especially with other women. Remember this is not about pleasing others, but about your own growth. You will change how you love others, and more importantly, you will change how you love yourself.