Womens-issues

Toxic Friendships: When It’s Time To Let Go

When a good friend turns frenemy, it can be more painful than having your teeth pulled and turn your world upside down.

RELATED: Is Friendship A Higher Form Of Love?

Do you:

a) Rid your world of toxic friend once and for all by sending her a vomitous mass of glitter, coupled with hate mail, via latest social media sensation, genius website: shipyourenemiesglitter.com?

b) Watch endless re-runs of Mean Girls on a loop, crying into your Tim Tams and chardonnay?

c) Gracefully cut all ties with said toxic friend and move on with your life, fast?

female friendships, frenemies, toxic friendships

The answer, dear reader, is of course C (although A would be so satisfying!).

Everyone encounters a toxic friend or two at some stage in their life. The key is not to dwell too much on why it happened, I think, but just to get the hell out of it, stat! Of course, this can be easier said than done with it’s a one-time great, long-term friend who now seems hell-bent on making your life miserable.

Interestingly, new UK research recently revealed both men and women are equally likely to lose two of their closest friends when they start a new relationship.
Sad fact of life, isn’t it? You’d think your closest friends would be thrilled for you when you meet a great love?! But no – jealousy is indeed a curse.

female friendships, frenemies, toxic friendships
I interviewed a senior clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, about this complex topic of toxic friends. Her insightful answers are below:

Q: Are there any warning signs for a toxic friendship?

A: Relationship experts define a toxic friendship as one which causes more hurt and pain than good. So, when the friendship is causing you to feel bad about yourself, guilty, miserable, used or any other of a possible range of negative emotions a good deal of the time, and these negative emotions outweigh the positive feelings you get from the friendship, then you are in a toxic friendship.

Some people have a talent for making themselves feel better by putting their friends down with criticism and cutting remarks. If you realise this bullying is happening to you, take some deep breaths and resolve to end it. No one can “make” you feel sad or depressed, it only happens with your cooperation. So, dig deep and find the strength to end the friendship!

Q: Why do our one-time BFFs sometimes become our mortal enemies?

A: Sometimes, a friendship starts off being pleasant and fulfilling, but over time it turns into something toxic. Why? It could be that one friend has been successful or had happiness come their way and the other has missed out and feels jealous and resentful. Or maybe one party feels superior due to their successes and starts to be condescending and contemptuous towards the friend they regard as less successful. Maybe one friend is miserable due to a failed relationship and wants to make others suffer too.

There are many possible reasons why are some friends so good for us at the start and then turn into our worst foes. You could try talking to your friend about what is happening and how you feel about their behaviour towards you. But the important thing to remember is you can’t change someone else, you can only change yourself. So, if you find yourself in this situation and your friend is not prepared to acknowledge or change the way they are treating you, walk away!

female friendships, frenemies, toxic friendships

Q: How do you combat a toxic friend?

A: If you discover that you are in a toxic friendship, my advice is to walk away. Trying to change the relationship for the better would be very difficult: both parties would need to recognise the need to behave differently and want to change – that’s unlikely.

Usually in a toxic friendship one party holds most of the power, the other party is the recipient of hurtful putdowns, cruel comments and/or manipulations. The powerful one won’t want to give up their power – it enhances their self-esteem and gives a sense of superiority. Why would they want to change that? If you are the injured party, cut your losses and walk away. Yes, you’ll feel lonely for a time but you’ll feel better about yourself knowing that you’ve had the strength to end the abuse. Instead, spend time with people whose company your enjoy and who you walk away from feeling happy.

Main image via forty2014.com; secondary image via en.wikipedia.org; third image via theberry.com and final image via www.pinterest.com.

September 18, 2015

Is Friendship A Higher Form Of Love?

It’s been said that friendship is a higher form of love than romantic attachments; in its purest form, platonic friendship is unconditional love, unhampered by the complications of sex or monetary arrangements.

And long-term female friendships, in all their complex glory, can be extremely rewarding and joyful when they work –like the glue that holds you together.

RELATED: Friends Are Like Lovers – Minus The Smarts And Looks

Conversely, when they fall apart, a best friend break-up can be extremely gutting and heartbreaking – indeed almost as painful as a divorce between opposite sexes (or so I imagine).

Arguably no other TV show before groundbreaking 90s’ hit Sex and the City (pictured) came even close to demonstrating this depth and complexity of female friendships.

Of course, the much-loved TV hit which so beautifully chartered neurotic sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw’s loves, friendships and shoe fetishes in New York, did glorify female friendships. You so related to Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda’s many wondrous highs and lows in love, sex and careers that you felt like you knew them, or indeed that they became a part of you.

But SATC’s genius was also in its ability to reflect the real-life dark side of female friendships as well: the toxic, soul-destroying friendships which crush your spirit.

BFFs, female friendships, Sex and the City
Like most of us, I’ve experienced both the highs and lows of female friendships, but am happy to say my BFF and I have been firm friends for almost 20 years. Our 20th friendship anniversary in 2015 will no doubt be marked with more than a few wines and much happy reminiscing.

We met at a local newspaper and it was so long ago, I can’t even recall how our friendship first developed, only that we quickly became immersed in each other’s lives and barely ever went a day without speaking.

Jen is six years older than me, but our birth dates are a day apart, and somehow – despite our emotional, fiery Gemini temperaments – we’ve remained loyal, honest and trusted friends through thick and thin; BFFs despite many highs and lows and both lengthy interstate and overseas adventures apart.

Aside from one dark and thankfully short-lived period, years ago, when we were at war over something stupid (I forget what), Jen has always been my best confidante. She lifts my spirits and makes me laugh like no other and I’ve come to rely on her brutal honesty and amazing strength.

She’s at once tough as a CEO and soft as a marshmallow and an amazingly accomplished career woman and mother of three. Just like a sister from another mother, she is the one person whom I’ll really listen to at times, one of the few people I can always rely on for sane advice, wise counsel and tough love, if I need it.

Many men have come and gone in our lives, until we both, purely coincidentally, met and married men both called Marty! And prior to that, when I was single and despairing that I’d never have a baby, let alone fall in love with the right kind of man, Jen was always there saying: “I know you will. Keep the faith, sister,” and so I always did.

When I had also lost faith and confidence in my career at one stage, she was also instrumental in giving me the boost I needed to apply – and get – that shit-hot job in my 20s.

We’ve joyfully danced at each other’s weddings (see below); grieved each other’s losses; ecstatically celebrated each other’s career wins and toasted champagne following each other’s safe and healthy childbirths.

There’s no high or low I haven’t experienced with my BFF and I hope we are fortunate enough to grow old together.

What’s the secret to a great, long-lasting friendship? I’m no expert, but brutal honesty and unconditional love goes a long way, I reckon, as in our case: knowing someone inside out, warts and all, and still wanting to hang out with them all the time anyway.

What do you think? Is your BFF one of the most important people in your life too?

Images via www.episodegenerator.com and geniusquotes.org.

BFFs, female friendships, Sex and the City

January 7, 2015

Basic Feminine Hygiene Tips

Sadly, schools and even some parents fail to provide the proper sanitary advice to girls. It is unsurprising then that many adult women still don’t know the basics of feminine hygiene. Not to fear – SHESAID has your back! Follow these basic tips for healthy and happy lady parts.

RELATED: Can you locate your vagina?

How to wash ‘down there’

The vagina is self cleaning, therefore putting strong chemical soaps will throw off the natural acidity of your lady parts, which can lead to bacterial infections. You shouldn’t need to wash with more than water, but if you do, stick to using pH-balanced products for this sensitive area and under no circumstances should you clean inside the vagina.

What smell?

While a very mild smell can be normal, it shouldn’t be noticeable to other people or through clothing. However, if the smell is strong you should see a doctor.

Let it breathe

While wearing jeans or tight trousers shouldn’t make that much of a difference, if you have been wearing them all day, perhaps change into something lighter when you get home. The area is naturally moist anyway, and it doesn’t like to be kept it cramped, clammy confines all day. Similarly, check the material of your underwear. Your panties should be cotton or cotton-lined for optimal breathing!

Wipe out

You should know this by now! But if you missed this vital lesson in personal hygiene – always wipe front to back after using the toilet. Always. You don’t want the dirt from your rear being wiped into your sensitive area.

That time of the month

Clean with mild soaps more often during menstruation. If you’re using tampons, read the instructions provided with your product and change when required – do not leave a tampon in for more than four hours. Leaving your tampon in can encourage the growth of bacteria or lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome. Similarly, change other sanitary products every 2-3 hours.

October 22, 2014

Are You Wearing The Right Perfume?

Charles University in Prague has identified that your personal odour can affect the perfume you wear. So, what might smell incredible on the small pieces or card may not smell quite the same when it mingles with your body chemistry.

There have been vast studies made by psychologists regarding smell. If we smell something which we perceive as smelling good, we associate it with good. If it smells bad, it can have the opposite effect. This is why perfume selection is so important. It can either attract or repel people and experiences in your life.

For example, you are more likely to be hired during a job interview if the smell you are exhibiting is good. You are also more likely to be asked out on a date. When it comes to major life opportunities, such as these, it’s easy to appreciate just how important perfume selection can be.

So, how do you know when you go out and spend a hundred or more dollars on a gorgeous looking bottle of perfume, that it’s right for you? Sure, the bottle might entice you, maybe it’s the smell, the brand or something else that lures you in. Unfortunately, there no exact science to it and it really comes down to a process of elimination.

Firstly, when you head to a perfume counter be aware that the smells can be overwhelming. That in itself can be confusing. You should make the initial selection based on several variables. Think about what type of smells you like around you. If you burn candles or incense, what scent appeals to you? What type of perfume had you worn in the past and what response has it had? Most of us have a preference toward citrus, floral, musk, etc. Ask the customer service staff to direct you to the family of scents which appeal to you and begin your selection.

If you want to try several perfumes, test them on the cards provided, write names on each and take a walk outside. This reduces the overpowering smell which comes from many perfume retailers. You should be able to eliminate several scents immediately. They might be too floral, musky or whatever else that turns you off. After you narrow your selection down to a two possible candidates; it’s time to test how they perform with your body chemistry.

Chandler Burr, New York Times perfume critic, suggests that perfumes evolve on your skin over time. There are three stages, which can take as long as 5 hours to be fully appreciated. The first stage occurs within moments of spraying in on. The scent hasn’t had an enormous time to mix with your chemistry and can smell much like it does when it comes out of the bottle.

After around 5 hours is really when you will know how the perfume will actually smell, if you choose to wear it. Most women don’t continually apply perfume so, after this duration, is how it will smell on you and be perceived by others.

If you have others around you, ask if they like the scent. Partners are usually an excellent source of feedback. Take everything into account and then make a selection. Investing a few hours into choosing the right perfume is minuscule when you think of the amount of time you’ll be wearing it. Many women choose a scent and become known for their smell, which lasts a lifetime.

Image source: http://cs620324.vk.me/v620324355/b684/VLYBFxWeEEU.jpg

October 14, 2014

Beyoncé Demands Equal Pay for Women

Beyoncé is using her celebrity status to bring equal pay for women to the world’s attention.

The 32-year-old singer has penned an essay called “Gender Quality Is a Myth!” for The Shriver Report, an initiative led by  Maria Shriver, which aims to discuss social trends that impact women.

“We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet,” she writes in the essay, which is included in a special report, “A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From The Brink.”

“Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change.

“We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.”

The singer, writing under her full name, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, urges men to join their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters in demanding equal pay for equal work.

Other celebrities to add their voice to the project include Eva Longoria, whose essay “Empowering Latinas pushes for  educational opportunities for Latina women.

Jennifer Garner contributed “Turning Poverty Around: Training Parents to Help Their Kids”, while Jada Pinkett Smith wrote the essay “Human Trafficking and Slavery in the United States: ‘You Don’t See the Chains.'”

Do you think women will ever achieve equal pay to men? Tell us in the comments below.

January 15, 2014