My husband broke the gender divide down for me. “The difference between guys and girls is: guys fight by punching each other. Somebody wins; the problem’s over. Girls fight by talking to other girls. Nobody ever wins. The problem never ends.”
I know this smacks of gender stereotyping. Apologies. But some traits came down to us from the cavepeople.
And is he wrong? He’s not. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but us chicks, we’re like, still too gentle to tell another chick we’re pissed off. Instead, we tell all our friends we’re pissed, and win the fight that way: by making everyone else hate her, too.
One of my teen clients was the center dot in that bulls-eye recently. Let me tell you about her. She’s the definition of cool. Great hair, half smile, and AE clothes, but not too tight or short. She even has a girl name that doubles as a boy’s. And here’s the rub: she doesn’t know how frigging cool she is. She thinks she’s a semi-loser, lucky to be orbiting in her mean-girl friends’ circle. Oh, Jordan*.
This awesome humility is exactly what makes Jordan a target. The shitty human is forever trying to boost itself by squelching its superior (see: Adolf Hitler. Donald Trump. And if her songs tell the truth, all of Taylor Swift’s boyfriends.). And the superior human, naturally humble and innocent, is easily squelched. At least, the first few times.
Guys fight by punching each other. Somebody wins; the problem’s over. Girls fight by talking to other girls. Nobody ever wins. The problem never ends.
So last week, Jordan comes to me with the half-smile gone.
Jordan: “My three best friends won’t talk to me, and I don’t know why!”
All she knows is the one friend (who’s the most popular in the group, because she’s so skinny) is mad at her. Nobody will tell Jordan why Slim is mad, but they’re happy to send texts like, “Slim is SO mad at you.”
Ping! Ping! goes Jordan’s cell, each text the same message with new words. Poor Jordan thumbs out, “Why?”–SEND–each time, helpless and confused. I’m working real hard to not pull a Mama Bear on these tweeny bitches.
After a struggle, I manage to pry the phone from Jordan’s shaking hand. And I even get her to listen to me.
Me: “Jordan. Me. Over here. We got this.” If she was the kind of girl who needed eyeliner, it would be smudged all down her face. “Check this out. You know that one guy the girls all looooove?”
Jordan: (sniff) “Yeah.”
Me: “Does he act like he loves them back?”
Jordan: “Um. No.”
Me: “How does his ignoring them make them act?”
Jordan: “Like they love him even more.”
Me: “Exactly! Sad fact of human nature: we want most whatever doesn’t want us. Which is why you keep race-texting back these ‘friends’ who are dissing you. You want them to want you back?”
Jordan: (sob) “Yes!”
Me: “Then be that guy all the girls love. Act like you don’t give a shit. Now. In case this takes a minute, do you have other friends you can hang out with at school tomorrow?”
Jordan: (gulp) “Um, yeah…my friend Tyler and his lacrosse friends….”
Me: “Bingo. Ready? Here we go….”
You want your friends to want you back? Be that guy all the girls love. Act like you don’t give a shit.
Jordan’s Cell: PING! “Slim said find another lunch table.”
My Thumbs on Jordan’s Phone: “Alrite”
Jordan’s Cell: PING! “And she said don’t come to her party fri”
My Thumbs on Jordan’s Phone: “Got other plans”
Jordan’s Cell: PING! “JK”
Jordan’s Cell: PING! “Jord, it’s Slim”
Jordan’s Cell: PING! “Want to match outfits tomorrow?”
Jordan: Smile. A full one, that time.
Oh, and by the way? I am in no way JK. It was that fast. Lightening fast. Shit works.
(*Jordan isn’t her real name. Her real name is way more badass.)