They may even eat high-calorie foods they don’t desire when with a friend who is struggling with her own weight but having trouble being disciplined with food.
In such situations, women may succumb to what they experience as an instinctive pressure to protect their friend in this way, sabotaging themselves but insulated from becoming the object of envy and resentment.
What could have been healthy competition becomes a secret feeling of envy and desire for the other to fail – laced with guilt and shame.
Thus, what looks like hostile competition between women may instead mask feelings of insecurity, fear of success, and healthy aggression.
Women seem to have a reputation for being “catty” and competitive with other women, unlike how men behave with other men.
This is a curious notion, especially since women are actually less competitive than men out in the world and less comfortable being competitive. Healthy competition and confidence are encouraged in boys but often seen as undesirable traits in girls.
Women, often experts at being tuned in and sensitive to others’ feelings, may easily overidentify with other women’s insecurities, projecting how they would feel in the other’s shoes and then feeling bad about their own success.
Women learn to feel guilty for feeling happy and successful – and with their female friends who may not be having such luck, they may experience their own success as hurtful to their friend.
Team spirit and friendship provide the glue that strengthens and bonds men when competition prevails.
Not surprisingly, men are typically comfortable with competition and see winning as an essential part of the game, rarely feeling bad for others after a victory, and maintaining camaraderie with their buddies.