I recently recorded a video called How women are pleasers with other women and why it doesn’t make sense any more. I was calling out sisters who are afraid to be in meaningful relationships with women due to a history of mean girlness in their lives. I get it. I did not grow up with great friendships. On the contrary, I experienced gossip, physical assault from women because I didn’t conform to their standards of friendship, competition, back-stabbing, you name it. I was much more comfortable and felt safe with boys. I could be myself with boys. I had a few good girlfriends and the number increased as I got older. Now I have a large sisterhood of women who are vulnerable, real, courageous, supportive, and nurturing. We love collaborating with each other and lifting each other up. That’s the world I want to live in and the one I’m creating.
Following the video, a sister asked
how do you balance standing up for yourself with your desire to maintain the relationship?
Both are equally important: honoring yourself and honoring the relationship. I’m not going to say it’s easy yet it must be done if you want to have trusting and loving relationships with women. It takes courage and a fierce radical love for yourself. Here’s how I advise women to share vulnerably with their girlfriends:
- collect yourself and be in a calm space before addressing your friend. Remember that standing up for yourself is of utmost importance in determining your confidence and self-worth. You speaking up is more important than the outcome. Letting go of controlling your friendship is key.
- Always address these two things that are true for you and unarguable: what you observe and your own feelings. It sounds like this:
When you say I’m dumb or I don’t know what I’m doing, I feel angry, frustrated, hurt, and it makes me wonder if you respect me.
- Then you wait and listen. Hear what your friend says. She can either hear you and listen or she will become defensive. Defensiveness means she is not hearing you and perhaps doesn’t have the capacity (due to her own victimhood) or the desire to hear you. This is important information for you.
- Ask your friend to repeat what she heard you say. You can say “communication is important to me and I’d like to know what you heard me say so that we are on the same page”. Again wait for a response before trying to please or jump in to fix.
- The best outcome is your friend hears you and looks at herself. You come to a loving understanding with a commitment from her that she won’t speak to you in demeaning ways or act disrespectfully. Your boundaries matter.
- You have to be ok with your friend not hearing you and starting the blame game. If that happens, you tell her that you love her and you are walking away until she is ready to listen. Then you walk away.
Walking away is excruciatingly painful. There is no alternative, however, when someone is continuously violating your boundaries after you’ve let them know about it and they show no sign of growth. Maintaining a relationship is not worth being a pleaser. EVER.
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