How to Stop Competition in a Friendship

by Karen Kleinschmidt

Most women feel a sense of competition from time to time toward the women in their lives. Psychologist Irene Levine, author of "Best Friends Forever," explains that women naturally compare themselves to their friends. Jealousy and competition are natural reactions to a friend having more, whether it's possessions, achievements or looks. It is important to be aware of those competitive feelings and learn how to cope with them. Jealousy can lead to annoyance and anger, causing you to avoid your friend or show aggressive behavior toward her.

Focus on what you have rather than what you don't. If your friend has a bigger house than you have, rather than letting your competitive feelings turn to jealousy or anger, sociologist Jan Yager, author of "When Friendship Hurts," suggests thinking about the negative aspects of having that bigger house, such as the time it takes to clean it or the extra money it takes to heat and maintain it. Next time your friend comes over, show her something in your home that you are proud of, such as your colorful garden or the mural you painted in your son's room.

Take control of your own destination. Rather than allowing competitive feelings regarding your friend's career to wreak havoc on your friendship, Levine suggests that you ask her for advice. Seek her out as a mentor, practice interviewing with her, or ask her to review your resume. Your friend also may be able to assist you in resolving workplace issues or help you come up with a plan to ask your boss for a raise.

Find your own comfort zone. You have to be satisfied with how you look. Make a list of what you like about yourself when you begin to envy your girlfriend's thinner frame. Gender/relationship expert Susan Shapiro Barash, author of "Toxic Friends," advises that you focus on your own body type. Instead of allowing your jealousy and sense of competition to interfere with your friendship, use those feelings to help you make positive changes, which can boost your self-esteem and help you feel more empowered. Dress to emphasize your positive features. Make a plan to tone up or slim down by changing your diet and beginning an exercise program to achieve your goals.

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  • When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal With Friends Who Betray, Abandon or Wound You; Jan Yager
  • Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend; Irene S. Levine; 2009
  • Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships; Susan Shapiro Barash; 2010

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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