• Wed, Nov 13 - 1:00 pm ET

It’s Not Them, It’s You: On The ‘Girls Don’t Like Me’ Mentality

How I Met Your Mother female friends Robin

How I Met Your Mother.

“I can’t be friends with girls.”

“I only have guy friends.”

“Girls just don’t like me.”

We have all heard the above statement a million times. And every time, it’s increasingly obnoxious. It’s almost always for the same stupid reasons, too: women don’t like me, women are jealous of me, women are full of drama. Some will say they only have one female friend because that particular woman is “different” and “not like other girls,” but are otherwise opposed to lady friends.

Literally every woman I have ever met who says this is full of shit. How do I know? I was one of them once. As a teenager, I was an insecure brat who felt competitive about other women because I was (A) terrified they wouldn’t like me if they got to know me, which was probably correct since I was a competitive insecure brat, and (B) so negative about myself that I assumed being next to other women would mean men wouldn’t see me as being of value (yes, really).

Then, I made a discovery that shocked nobody but me. Hey! Other women are actually just fine and it’s me who’s driving them away! So yeah, I recognized that I was being an immature dolt and that any guy who judged me based exclusively (or partially) on how they felt about the women around me was worthless, and then I started being nice. I also apologized to the women I had been rude toward and explained myself; they went on to become my closest friends and now we laugh about the past.

But where do these thoughts originate? Where does this notion of “women just don’t like me” spewing from?

There is this bizarre value placed on having “guy friends.” I have met so, so many women who call themselves “guys’ girls” or “one of the guys,” as though that is inherently more positive than being “just a woman.” No, you are not “one of the guys.” You are a female who hangs out with males. If you consider habits like enjoying athletics, knowing about whiskey, playing video games, watching Breaking Bad or anything else along those lines to make you “one of the guys,” then sorry, but that means you still define your favorite activities as being gendered, and that’s fucking depressing.

I grew up playing more computer RPGs than anyone I knew, played on a few soccer and tennis teams, and did. I drink a lot. I cook decently well. I wear a ton of makeup, get mani/pedis (that I do, indeed, refer to as “mani/pedis”), I don’t shave my legs, I like Breaking Bad, I own too many skincare products. I scream when I see cockroaches and love playing with rats. I feel insecure about my body, I feel confident in myself. I like avocado. I like cats. I like many of you. These are all things about me that have nothing to do with my gender; they’re just facts.

But still, people see men as being easy friends and women being difficult friends. It’s often based on stereotypes that are offensive and toward both men and women — sweeping statements that are inexplicably perpetuated by, again, both men and women. Guys are easygoing, guys don’t judge you, guys are straightforward, guys just wanna drink beer and watch football and all women wanna do is paint their nails and dabble in wearing sexy jerseys with short shorts.

And so many figures in pop culture influence this. Let’s start with How I Met Your Mother, shall we?

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  • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

    A thousand times yes! This is so spot-on, Sam.

    For a time, I tried so hard to fit into that “one of the guys” mold, and it made me so unhappy and often lonely.

    What helped me was not only opening myself up to female friends (I was bullied as a kid by some girls, so it took awhile to realize that everyone grows up and most people aren’t horrible), but also finding myself with more queer friends in college. When you drop the gender qualifiers from your friends or your pastimes, life becomes so much more interesting.

  • Cari

    “It’s not them, it’s you” except when it’s the patriarchy pitting a minority group of women against each other in a majority male space. OFC yeah you could say “well then it’s all of you, for falling prey to that old gem in the first place” :P

    • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

      Oh, very good point! Female competition, especially in work spaces where it’s treated as part of the office culture, can be so brutal and unnecessary. It have to remind myself of something I read in the Bullish columns here when I fall into that trap: success is not a zero-sum game.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Oh, totally agreed — ESPECIALLY when it comes to the work place. And like I said, any male who would be “choosy” about women based purely on their comparisons to other women is a fucking prick.

      I wanted to make this post primarily directed toward females, though, because (A) this blog is primarily directed toward a female audience (B) I think we can actively change how we think about one another, and by placing value on having male friends over female, we wind up depleting the potential for bonds and progress.

    • Karen

      I had this in a workplace where they employed this rich Jewish woman once and were falling all over her and rating her a 10, thinking they could get their hands on some of her social contacts or money, whilst treating with contempt the ones who were poorer, but got the job done.
      I treated them with contempt right back and in fact this woman only lasted a couple of months because she couldn’t do the job – she used to brag about her boob uplift (which was in fact invisible) in front of the men and embarrass them.
      God I hate workplaces.

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    My mother always told me to be leary of women who claim to hate other women, because they’re usually the “bitchy” women they claim to hate so much.

  • Emily

    Great read and well-said! I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Eliza

    “Other women don’t like me because I’m too pretty.” I’ve heard that said by several women recently and my response is always, “no, it’s not that you’re too pretty, it’s because you’re awful.” It’s not common enough for people to look inward; too often do we blame others for our woes. Find the true source and then you can find the true solution.

    • Stephanie Kjaerbaek

      I disagree. This happened often to a friend of mine. She was very attractive and I was not intimidated by this. Women were intimidated by her looks. They really thought she would take their boyfriend. Certainly, she had her share of men but wasn’t interested in your boyfriend or husband.

  • sunnni

    i have said these statements before but it’s not because i’m competitive or am insecure about how i’ll look next to another woman. as if those are the ONLY reasons a woman can say “i have a lot of guy friends”. this ignores genderqueer shit all together, maybe i don’t particular relate to women because i didn’t relate to myself as a woman, for example, as a teenager. and truth be told i will NEVER be friends with a group of girls or have ladies night or something like that because i don’t like how competitive groups of girls are with each other or girls outside the group.. ‘mean girls’ mentality DOES exist on a pretty heavy scale enough for it to have been a topic that school counselors study to attempt to equip girls in dealing with this common behavior. maybe the writer has found her personal reason for saying these statements in the past but it isn’t the end all be all answer to why some women feel this way. if you’re going to explore this topic, you should try looking at other views besides those of your own personal experience.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      1) I don’t think women are only friends with women because they relate to them as women. Oftentimes, people relate to one another as people, not just, “Hey, you have a vagina and identify as female? Me, too!”
      2) I don’t think all women are competitive, either. Yes, there are tons of people who are, but there are also millions of women who are not. I’m sorry you haven’t found any yet, but I promise, they’re out there! And I sincerely hope you find some. :)
      3) Like I said, this isn’t the situation every woman.
      4) My own personal experience does include non-gender binary specific situations (myself being the non-gender-binary-fitting party), but I’m not comfortable disclosing or discussing them online. I might someday, but unfortunately, I haven’t had the best luck with people’s reactions.

    • thatkimgirl

      If the qualifying factor for you not being able to relate to someone is their woman-ness, that’s suggestive of an underlying issue you have with women, what qualifies someone as a woman, or what it means to be a woman. Claiming that female identified people are too competitive, and that’s why you can’t stand to spend time with them, is to imply that genderqueer and male identified people aren’t competitive, and that’s why you CAN hang out with them. It’s also straight up incorrect. If you’re going to criticise the author for basing her piece on anecdotal evidence, and her sentiment is echoed by a gazillion women who demonstrate through their input that they’re self-reflective and critical of patriarchal socialisation, you’d better bring something other than anecdotal evidence in your rebuttal.

  • Jenniwren

    I have NO idea where the notion that men aren’t bitchy comes from. I’ve always hung out with mixed-gender friends and have frequently worked in male-dominated jobs, and some of the men I worked with/hung out with were generally just as happy to gossip and make snide remarks as some of the ladies, and in about the same percentages, too. Except when you confront them on it they won’t accept that it’s “gossip.”

    Not that gossip is always a bad thing- I think it’s very natural to want to talk about mutual friends- but honestly some people are just negative, and that’s not a quality that knows any boundaries of gender.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      I have zero idea where the “men aren’t bitchy” thing came from either; I’ve always known being dramatic as a non-gender-exclusive quality. But oh my god, yes, so many people refuse to acknowledge that it is, in fact, gossip because apparently, that’s for “girls and Perez Hilton,” but not men. Sigh.

  • mvista

    I really appreciate this and definitely agree. I specifically want to thank you though, for acknowledging, toward the end of the article, that some women with lots/only male friends are in this situation due to psychological and/or environmental circumstances. I was bullied for much of my pre and early teens by a group girls in my, very small, hometown. Making friends with these girls, and those that went along with it, was not going to happen at the time. So, if I wanted to have more than one friend, males were really the only option. I did slowly make female friends late in high school and many more once I moved away. However, I was accused of being ‘one of those girls who hate other girls’ a few weeks into college when a group of my hometown male friends came to visit, The accuser automatically assumed I fit into the category of women you focus on in this article, despite not knowing my full history. So thanks again for noting the distinction, I feel like its one that is often missed when people discuss this topic.

    • Alfreda

      I also was bullied by girls in a small town. They were all very focused on grooming and appearance, I was not so I was weird. The guys never bugged me about anything, but we never really hung out much. When I moved to go to university, I went in computers not really thinking it was male dominated. There were only four girls in the program, and oddly enough the others seemed distant and competitive. They did warm up by the end of the program and I still speak to them. When I got married, now we socialize as couples, and for some reason in my neighborhood the girls are social and the men are recluses so I have mostly female friends but male co-workers. One of my only female coworkers puts a lot of emphasis on appearance. We will sometimes joke about our differences but I do not get a sense of any judgement from her. She accepts me and I accept her. She is a nice person. I would never turn away a person who was trying to be my friend, but if you can’t handle the fact that I hate skirts and make-up, then I have no use for you. If you are nice to me, I will want to be your friend. In elementary and high-school, almost all the girls in my small town really were shallow drama queens. Even they grew out of it though. We still keep in touch via facebook. I have no use for grudges. If you are nice to me now, that is all that matters. I am sure though that a lot of women who say women don’t like them may have just had a few bad experiences with women from high-school. Being a tom boy in school is really just not cool. That could also just be my small town upbringing. There were only 13 people in my graduating class and that was a big class. When I graduated the whole school K-12 was about 150 students. Plus I graduated with the kids who I went to kindergarten with.

  • meteor_echo

    My closest friends are all men, but I suppose it’s more of a coincidence, since I’m not actively driving women away. Guess it’s just how it turned out.
    Also, I dislike all people, regardless of gender. Equality for everyone!

  • Eileen

    Ugh, stop reminding me why HIMYM has made me come to hate Robin when I actually quite liked her in the first season (when…shocker!…Ted met her while she was hanging out with a bunch of her female friends).

    I think most girls have had that stage, partly because in middle school girls do tend to be clique-y-er than boys and middle school is often the peak of everyone’s insecurity. But then you grow out of it.

    I do think there are some women whom other women just don’t like. It’s usually because they’re awful people who make it clear that they’re so much better than the rest of us because THEY’RE friends with MEN. But seriously, if you’re a person over the age of, say, 15, and you don’t live in some type of monastery or convent that is single-sex, you should have friends of different genders. It’s really not that complicated.

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

    Preach, sister. I’ve never understood that mentality. And what a bummer to not have any girlfriends. The thought of that makes me sad.

    • Truth Inc.

      I hope you realise that sometimes men who can’t get women are like that because of circumstances beyond their control.

  • Sabina

    Women ca be very bitchy to some women who are prettier than them, and those pretty women can become bitchy themselves, and so on, the bitchiness perpetuates.

  • Muggle

    I used to say the same shit. I wasn’t the one driving them away, though, I was the one being pre-judgey and assuming that my interests were only interesting to men and a few select female friends who were speshul. It took me a while to realize that women aren’t naturally passive-aggressive and over-competitive, it’s beaten into us.

    I do my part by being a genuinely kind and polite person to everyone. I’ve actually gained female friends doing this. It’s not hard at all :D

  • Anne Marie Hawkins

    To sum it up, we’re socialized to value male opinions more highly, so there’s more social cache to be had having more guy friends than gal friends. Just one more way that internalized misogyny sucks.

  • Sam Fisher

    Your articles are the best, hands down.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Thank you for making me grin, beam and blush all at the same time. Seriously.

  • OhOk

    Maybe a little more room for the effects of gendered bullying next time. If you’re a woman who grew up bullied by other girls, especially throughout your childhood at different times and places, then you may feel like women as a whole have rejected you. Defining yourself as one of the guys or a guys’ girl is just a coping mechanism, a way to try to empower yourself after feeling like your gender doesn’t want you.

  • ash

    I used to think this way when I was in high school. I’m not like that anymore, but I still find myself in situations where, even upon meeting me, some women have smart alec remarks or give me mean looks. I’m usually really quiet (introvert) and don’t gossip or stick around when people are having negative conversation. And I’m not sure if it’s about looks because a lot of times it’s great looking women who are being this way. I grew up around three boys so I was never very girly but I am more now than I used to be. I think that there really are situations where some women continuously deal with other women being mean for no reason at all. I just don’t know what it is :-/

  • JW

    Well with much more women that are gay and bi nowadays, that would certainly have a lot to do with it.

  • Stephanie Kjaerbaek

    Over the years, I have seen the ugly side of women.

    I have watched women use others mostly for their own benefit. A
    lot of women are narcissists, obsessed with themselves. They want
    other people for their convenience, and do not see others in terms
    of people, but in terms of how they can use them. They are more of
    these types than the supposedly angelic, caring, giving, loving, nurturing
    and supportive types out there.

    There are a lot fo women who expect other women to clean their houses,
    cover their work shifts, listen to their problems for hours, buy gifts for them,
    babysit their kids at the last minute, cook their dinners,
    drive them long distances at night, pay their bills, bail
    their boyfriends out of jail, and put up with their problems. I have had
    requests for money in order to bail someone’s boyfriend out of jail, to pay
    his court fines, to babysit for free at the last minute, to pay people’s rent,
    to buy them food, to clean their houses, to carry their belongings, to move their
    furniture, to iron their clothes, and all of these requests have been met with the
    finger on my part and stone-cold silence. I am not the fucking maid. Do it yourself.

    A lot of women expect others to focus on them and follow them and they
    have huge egos. They really believe that they are meant to be everyone
    else’s focal point, and that other people swirl around them for their benefit.

    They have no concept of other people having feelings, needs, and priorities.
    They take and do not give. There are more of these types than there are ones who
    are giving, kind, loving, and supportive. Women by nature are competitive, jealous,
    and guilty of a herd mentality.

    A lot of women gossip, criticize, judge, and argue. They have no personalities, so they choose to act this way instead. They have a herd mentality based on cliques, and require all ‘outsiders’ to join by changing their looks, interests, attitudes, speech, demeanor, dress, and even way of movement to join.

    Most women hate ‘outsiders’, e.g. the single girl without kids at the gym in a group of women who have kids, (they think there is something wrong with her for not having kids at the time they did and getting married like they did, and even seek to ‘correct’ this ‘character flaw’).

    If you do not wear the same names as them, or style your hair in a way they approve of (they will stop you in the street and make this clear, about how they approve or disapprove of you) or wear makeup, they will hound you and make rude comments to you, as if I get up in the morning and worry about my looks FOR THEM.

    Also, if you hold down a full-time job, have a car, an apartment, etc. THAT EXISTS FOR THEM. They will even say so, that you work and can give them money because you have a full-time job and they don’t, so you should give your hard-earned money to them. AS IF YOU WORK FOR THEM. And then they will claim, if asked if they would ever pay it back before lending, that they do not have to because ‘lending money is a gift’, and ‘it is between friends’, and ‘they don’t work’.

    They won’t hang with ‘unattractive’ or ‘unfashionable’ women and divide women into groups based on status and class. It is beneath the lawyer’s wife to hang out or speak to a woman who runs a cleaning business, a seamstress, a single mother on welfare, who are ‘inferior’ or ‘unsuitable’.

    They also will hang out only with women who look like them and feel threatened by women who are taller, heavier, thinner, more muscular, less or more attractive, etc. than they are. Then there are the ones who sleep with other women’s husbands, who try to get them fired, who spread rumors, who hit, who bully, who use them for money or status, who try to get others addicted to drugs, who are verbally abusive, who order them around, who are pushy about their beliefs, who borrow money and don’t pay it back, who post nasty commentary on the Internet, who steal things from people’s houses, who take clothes and food from their friends without permission, who carry drugs on them to events and don’t care about the possibility of getting arrested, who try to use their friend’s houses and apartments for one-night stands, affairs, etc.

    It is women’s own damn fault they have wrecked their own friendships, and for people who justify their failures with shyness, it is a lack of will and a lack of personality. Shyness is a pain, a difficult obstacle to overcome in a relationship or friendship, and not fun to accommodate or deal with. People often pass on shy people. There is nothing cute or sweet about it, and it is not a sign that ‘he is a really nice guy’ (nice requires a personality, assertiveness, and the demonstration of social skills) or that ‘she is really a lovely girl’ (how would anyone know this if she doesn’t talk?)

  • Karen

    There are both men and women who are idiots and the better women can be excellent to work with on a project. The ones who are gold though are few and far between and I have found a lot of women a) boring (in that they only ever talk about relationships or who did what to whom) or wanting to deliberately go out of their way to make trouble for you and stir the pot. If you’ve had trouble with your mother and female relatives growing up (my mother was a case in point), an all-girls’ school, college courses with a majority of women, work, or clubs, you can’t necessarily take ALL the blame for any friction, it’s gotta be at least 50-50, right?
    For example, a male friend invited me to a birthday drinks get together. There were three very large women at his table when I arrived. Two, who were friends, promptly got up and left. One of the two I had met before and had on that occasion made a comment about my miniskirt (yup, I am tiny). The other one, who was there with her boyfriend, seemed more reasonable and we did actually have a good conversation.
    Men can be as daftly emotional and insecure as women but by and large I find them easier to have a discussion with and to work with. However, they can also be difficult to be friends with over a longer period of time as, say if they want a relationship with you and you don’t – then bang goes the friendship. I find friendship really quite hard work these days.

  • Robin

    Women get more jealous of other women than they do of men. This causes friction in female-female relationships and quite frankly, if you’re going to pull that jealousy shit on me, I’d rather hang out with all the ding dongs who DON’T get jealous.

    And the men who get jealous? I lump them in with the bitches. I guess I’m saddened that jealousy isn’t gender specific, otherwise I’d have all friends of one gender and none of the other.

  • Gemma

    I’m sorry but women tend to be very judgmental and if you don’t meet up to their expectations on the first meeting they most likely will not give you a second chance. I can smile, compliment, and be nice and females still turn their nose up to me or act competitive. Especially black women; If you act too nice to them they think you are weak and start to walk all over you. I think I would have more non black friends if we had more stuff in common, but many times…we don’t. I’m about to have a baby so I really hope that gives something to have in common with other women:-/

  • Let’s Be Honest, Ladies

    I have a friend who is very attractive and receives a lot of attention from men. She is also incredibly intelligent and successful at was she does. Furthermore, she is the sweetest, most sincere, open, modest, and friendly person I know. Yet, many women are either either passive aggressive or straight up aggressive towards her FOR NO REASON. This happens all the time, even with women we don’t know and encounter for the first time. And it is directed at her because I do not experience this kind of treatment on the level she does (I can speak from experience because we hang out all the time). Even after this behavior, she continues to treat these insecure, horrid women with respect. Because I am actually a true friend-despite her many wonderful attributes (don’t lie to yourselves about what many women are truly like), she confides in me about this problems. It tears her apart. She doesn’t know what she can do (BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING SHE CAN DO– IT’S NOT HER, IT’S OTHER WOMEN). She tries really hard, and occasionally, some women will acknowledge this and come to be friends. She says that this treatment makes her insecure because she is always getting critically assessed by other women ( you know the women that do the up-and-down eyeing of a woman’s body and the way she’s dressed. I see this happen ALL THE TIMe). So, while I acknowledge that there are women who push other women away because of the “girls don’t like me” mentality that the author talks about, I see the other side too. There are so many beautiful women-inside and out- that search for friends and eventually give up because of the rampant jealousy and and cruel pettiness of women. As my dear friend as pointed out, this disgusting behavior has gotten worse as we’ve gotten older rather than better.

  • Let’s Be Honest, Ladies

    Interesting, I posted a comment that was at odds with some of what the author was saying, and it appears to have been taken down.

  • lala

    I think this article is limited. It’s assuming a once size fits all attitude with women who feel this is the case. For me… I’ve always wanted to be friends with other girls and I am not a competitive person but, I’ve never fit in. This began in kindergarten! I was not an exceptionally cute or good looking little girl. I was more of the ugly duckling. Anyway I was bullied and left out for years. When I got older I grew into my looks and became more confident but, I still don’t make female friends easily. I really would prefer to have a ton of girlfriends but, it’s never been the case with me. I have a few long time friends who are true friends. In general though females don’t seem to want to connect with me and I don’t know why. I get along with men super easily which in a way I kind of hate because some married guys are way friendly when I’ve made no effort to be extra friendly and I’d rather be friendlier with their wives but, the wives, thet all seem to dismiss me. I am actually frustrated with this dynamic because it keeps repeating itself and I don’t like it. I want to be cool with the other women. I can’t hang out with men platonically like I can with a woman. I am not all that, and I know that I am not. However I honestly don’t know how to change this around.

    • adonna

      I am in almost exactly the same position! Thank you!

  • Jessica

    I tend to avoid GROUPS of women because people (men and women) tend to organize themselves into social hierarchies. I hate hierarchies. If I’m in a group of men though, I’m not expected to be part of their hierarchy. There are many women that I’ve met one on one who are sincere and nonjudgmental. I really enjoy their company.

  • Jnjnja

    I agree that stereotyping other women is bad. You can be friends with girls and guys. In fact I am friends with females a lot who are generally at least a couple decades older than myself because they are at the point the don’t give a s$&t anymore. Yes I have difficulty maintaining female friendships. I get mani/pedis, I own enough shoes to make the girls on sex and the city jealous and I love dresses absolutely love dresses. I also can tear apart your engine, clean it and put it back in, same with your street bike and lawn mower. I also can talk most any sport, and things viewed traditionally as male dominated subjects. This is why I generally have not guy friends. But if I find that chick willing to spend her Saturday helping me lift my truck, or change my head. It is on and she is my BFF forever. So I don’t necessarily think it’s a “I’m the problem situation”
    I think it comes down to common interest.
    Maybe it was because I was raised by my single father and grandfather bless their souls they had no idea how to handle me. But I never learned to gossip, or sit around doing female orientated activities like gardening, cooking, or scrap booking. ( my sister raised by my mom scrapbooks with her friends) so yes you have valid points but while you are pointing out that individuals who would rather hang out with guys is stereotyping ones self. I feel you are stereotyping us who don’t have much in common with the average female as well.

  • nateDenverresident

    I’m really friendly to everyone. I’m just really shy when the girl is one that I find a high quality potential partner. I want a relationship, and I don’t require sex immediately. I’m incredibly ethical, moral, and really family oriented. I like to think I’m fairly witty.
    I am also really into beautiful girls. Like stunning. I just know I could be SO happy, and it’s so amazing how strongly some girls can make my heart react.
    Just a girl brushing her hair back with her hand, or just being somewhere I’m looking… they make my heart just stop.
    But, it doesn’t matter because I’m not a rich person. I feel that women of that type seem to only be looking for the bigger better deal – and nobody wants to earn it together any longer.
    Wasn’t it the thing that the girl would help out while the guy went to school or vice versa? Instead now it’s just you better already be finished and established with anything before you try to date a genuine “10″…
    I think it’s sad and I wish I lived during my parents generation or even before it. The gender roles have been all but eliminated in the US social structure. Only room for masculine females and effeminate males.

  • rosa

    Lmfao you are so judgemental and psychotic. Why do you think you have to write with such a condescending tone to get your point across? Please drain your mucous-filled skull; maybe you’ll find a brain in there to speak with more eloquence and feeling.