Is it just me or are there more “diva” women around than ever before? I am noticing that there are more “women behaving badly” who act like spoiled two-year olds with their women friends. Often, such women attribute their abhorrent behavior to “going through a divorce” or “I’m in a bad place” as rationale for mistreating tolerant and giving friends.
I do realize that men treat women badly, and women treat men badly, but today I want to talk about women who treat non-romantic, purely platonic friends poorly – just because they can get away with it. This came up on my radar again today when one of my best friends called me to talk about a situation that arose over the weekend. One of her women friends yelled at her in a parking lot and she wanted my opinion on whether she deserved it. After listening to her (the story follows), I realized that she was subjected to “diva treatment” at the hands of said-friend and it was totally unwarranted. As I listened to her relay how she was embarrassed, amazed, and ultimately saddened by the way her friend treated her, I thought about how I have endured similar treatment by women who at one time I had also considered friends.
Here’s the story:
- Jess (my friend) went out with Tracey (the one I’m calling a diva) to a beach bar for a drink before going to a party, and after ordering a drink, Tracey decided she was bored with the selection of men and wanted to leave. Jess had just started to enjoy her drink and told Tracey that she wanted to finish it first. (Diva infraction #1: Jess didn’t immediately follow Tracey’s request to leave.)
- When they got to the party, Tracey got a phone call from her boyfriend who wanted to meet her at another place, and Tracey told Jess they had to leave immediately. Jess told Tracey that they had just arrived at the party and she wanted to stay for a few minutes to talk to a few friends they had come to see. (Diva infraction #2: Jess asserted her right to talk to others.)
- When they left, (Tracey stood by the door pouting until Jess was ready to leave 15 minutes later), Tracey blew up at Jess in the parking lot yelling that Jess was self-centered, selfish and really didn’t know how to be a friend! Classic “diva” behavior!
Now if these were middle-school pubescent teens, one might forgive such an outburst, but these were mid-forties women dressed to the nines going out for a couple of drinks on a Saturday night. If it was an isolated incident, maybe one could attribute it to an error in judgment. But this isn’t isolated behavior – it is classic, spoiled, mid-life diva-esque behavior on the part of those who never grew up. Unfortunately, those of us who were taught to tolerate others often forgive this type of behavior until it spirals out of control. As a result, we end up having to release such toxic friendships, with the result being a smaller and smaller cadre of friends to hang out with.
In the end, my friend Jess was disheartened and asked what it was she did wrong; what had she done to incite Tracey’s outburst? She even pondered what it was she did to “deserve” such treatment. (Jess is one of the most tolerant, and giving human beings I know!) The answer is that it was not Jess’ fault for Tracey’s bad behavior and there is little she can do to prevent a future outburst (aside from trying to talk to Tracey about how she feels.) More than likely, Tracey has always gotten away with such tantrums and sees her behavior as “normal”.
I had a friend Lisa this past year who was just like Tracey – she would leave any occasion the minute that she was not 100% entertained or if the men in the room did not adore her “accoutrements” (she used to tell me that “any guy who does not stare at my chest must be gay”). It became too much of a burden to tolerate her diva behavior: she bored way too quickly, was entirely self-absorbed, and she would abandon me the minute a good-looking potential boyfriend walked into the room. I realize that there are simply too many middle-aged “divas” looking for new friends they can abuse and I am simply no longer up for it. Saddly, there are others like my friend Jess who are finding out the same thing (even though this was the first major blow-up at Tracey’s hands.)
It occurred to me that women often treat their “friends” much worse than others would tolerate, and it is those of us who are givers (and over-givers!) who suffer the most at the hands of these “divas”. We misguidedly take responsibility (and blame) for the bad and immature behavior of others – and it has nothing to do with us!
As Jess and I talked, I thought about a stand of trees in a forest – some trees tall and strong, others tall and brittle, others large and looming. The trees that are strong and tall simply bend and sway in strong winds without complaint. The tall and brittle ones tolerate minimal wind with branches snapping at the slightest breeze. Jess and I and Tracey and Lisa and other women are all part of a similar forest.
Some of us have grown up to learn to tolerate the tirades and verbal abuse of others – and we learn over time that wind and storms are not about us – they simply surround us. Others, have somehow grown up to feel they are privileged to deserve special, sheltered treatment and who blow up at the slightest breeze. Most often, these “divas” justify their right to snap and behave badly by blaming others for even the smallest breeze.
Going forward, I believe that as women, we need to stand up for the givers among us and say “no more!” to the divas who treat us poorly. Slowly we can hopefully change the world…even if it is one diva at a time.
p.s., Here’s a link to the Self-esteem: Personal bill of rights – a great reminder that we deserve great treatment from others – especially ourselves.
Have a great week!