Why are we attracted to mean people?
As a teenager, I grew up enthralled with movies and television shows such as Mean Girls, Clueless, Jawbreaker, and Popular. I found the group dynamics in these productions fascinating. I believe this to be partially because I had the feeling of "wanting to belong" to some sense of community for so long.
Needing to Belong
In my own schools I often daydreamed what it would be like to be close friends with certain girls I idolized. More often that not, it was always the pretty mean girl. Once I broke this limiting pattern, I always wondered why we can be attracted to mean people, and I think it all comes back to how we value ourselves.
Nature or education?
As humans we are conditioned to view ourselves from an external perspective. Our environment, upbringing, relationships, and the feedback we receive from others often dictates how we see ourselves.
For example, if you are a teenager and start dating your first crush, how you pursue relationships moving forward will illustrate a certain level of confidence. But somebody who experiences rejection initially can suffer some questionable relationship patterns.
When it comes to life, there is typically one area of focus that impacts people more than others- whether it would be money, love, friends, career, image, or finances. Whatever that one subject is that is lacking, consumes a lot of their thoughts and focus.
Taking a closer look
If you look deep enough, those that gravitate towards mean people often experience a lot of lack. This will be evident in their relationships. They will tolerate unacceptable social behaviors because they either do not know what is better, or they fear the change of having to look for something better.
Therefore, introspection is so important and that we must set our own beliefs from the inside and see them reflected out. Because all these limiting beliefs stem from a sense of powerlessness.
Is it lack or the need to belong?
There was a time in my life where I felt a lot of lack. I remember craving a core group of gay guy friends to do all sorts of social activities with. I felt I did not have much of that, or if I did, these friends did not do the things I wanted to do.
I finally was able to get that group and at first it felt amazing! However, these friendships were toxic, and it did not take much time for me to realize these people were not my tribe. This group thrived upon exclusion, gossip, and calculated social behaviors, and it was very unhealthy. It was all such typical “mean girl” behavior, trying to control group dynamics by a means of exclusion and other malicious practices.
Why are people mean?
Why are people mean? (And I say people, because I am a gay man and mostly have experienced gay male mean type behaviors which is very applicable from female mean girl type behaviors.)
The number one reason is insecurity. When one thinks of insecurity, they may think low self esteem, but someone who displays mean girl behaviors is typically exhibiting false self esteem. Meaning what they project out is not what they really feel inward. This will look like someone who is confident, but they are wearing a mask and try to put people down to make themselves feel better.
Manual on handling attraction to mean people:
Number 1: Pay attention to character and not popularity. Ask yourself: how do these behaviors land with you, truly? What are your core values and how do they relate to your friends?
In American culture, social status becomes engrained in our minds. So, people will put up with things they do not like in order to achieve a status they aspire to. I tolerated vicious behaviors to have a big group of gay male friends, but everything went against who I really was deep down.
This brought out my own mean girl behaviors where outside I was acting like a confident person who could not be taken down, but inside I was hurting badly. Your friends should be your friends because you like who they are AS PEOPLE and typically they should make you feel good about yourself.
.Number 2: be friendly, but distant.There’s no reason to lower yourself down and start exemplifying these behaviors, it only makes you feel worse, and trust me, I have been there and cried many tears going down that path...
Number 3: Embrace brotherhood/sisterhood. Remember that lack mentality I referenced earlier? I firmly believe everybody gets to eat the table. So be kind, inspire, be welcoming, and embrace others openly!
If you struggle with friendships, whether it be making or maintaining them, contact me to schedule a session.Together we can come up a plan that’ll get you the most success in your social life!