Women who compete with other women often harbor these 6 hidden insecurities, according to psychology

Society has pitted women against each other for hundreds if not thousands of years, and while we have come a long way since the days when we viewed each other as competition, we still haven’t fully arrived.

Not every woman roots for other women. Not every woman sides with her gender. In other words, not every woman is a girls’ girl.

And those who still compete against other women tend to have one thing in common: they have some of the 6 following insecurities.

1) They’re insecure about their appearance

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first, shall we?

Ever since women can remember, we’ve been comparing ourselves to others. From classrooms to social media or random women on the subway, we all know the plight of feeling like we are not as “pretty” as the girl next door.

And while many women have grown out of that mindset, embracing their looks and going directly against what society tells us we should be doing, there are still others who struggle to accept their own unique kind of beauty and lift other women up.

So, why do women care so much about appearance in the first place? Are we just naturally vain?

No. Far from it.

As psychologist Nigel Barber PhD explains, “In general, women are much more concerned about their appearance than men are. The key reason for this is that their appearance is central to how they are evaluated by others.”

One of the main reasons women compete with each other is that they are insecure about their looks. And the reason they’re concerned about appearances is that it has been traditionally highly valued by men.

Therefore, embracing your imperfections and championing both yourself and other women is a radical act of kindness, confidence, and solidarity.

2) They’re worried they’re not intelligent or funny enough

Beauty isn’t everything.

All women know that.

In fact, those who consider themselves beautiful often try to prove to others that they are more than just “a pretty face” while those who think themselves “not attractive enough” tend to hyperfocus on wit and intelligence, thinking that these traits might help them make up for it.

Of course, there is nothing to make up for. We’re all beautiful in our own way.

The point is, many women who compete with other women feel like they are not “enough”. Like they lack some sort of substance.

And if they don’t have any substance, what will make them stand out in the crowd? If they don’t possess anything that makes them unique, how will their romantic interests notice them?

The issue is that this line of thinking – trying to be noticed by the gender we’re attracted to, and especially men – is wrong at its very core.

You do not need to categorize yourself as “beautiful” or “clever” or “funny” in order to matter.

You matter as you are. And the right person will see that.

3) They’re terrified of being ordinary

Of course, that brings us to the whole special snowflake business.

There’s a term floating around the internet that’s made it out into the real world in recent years: “a pick-me girl”.

A pick-me is essentially a woman whose main goal is to grab a man’s attention – even if it means she might trample on other women in the process.

Psychologist Amber Wardell PhD writes that “feminists label this behavior as a byproduct of unaddressed internalized misogyny.”

Many pick-me women purposely distance themselves from traditional femininity, claiming they are “not like other girls”, embracing hobbies traditionally viewed as masculine, and going against the norm in order to receive male validation.

While this kind of behavior can come across as insecure and frustrating, it is very counterproductive to criticize women like that because it just serves to undermine those we should try to support.

Wardell puts it best when she says, “A compassionate approach to the problem is to address systems that uphold misogyny, not individual women.”

Those of us who prioritize male validation over female companionship are probably secretly insecure and in need of strong fulfilling friendships.

4) They’re scared they aren’t loveable

“For many of us, the possibility that we are truly unlovable is our deepest and darkest fear,” says psychologist Michael Friedman PhD. “It is a deep, gnawing, and inescapable feeling in the pit of our stomach that tells us that we are ultimately unworthy of being loved by others.”

This feeds into all the three points mentioned above.

Our deepest insecurities are often tied to our darkest traumas – abandonment issues, insecure attachment styles, PTSD, low self-esteem, or dark memories from childhood.

This is also why we shouldn’t tear each other down for displaying competing or pick-me behavior.

These attitudes come from unhealed wounds deep within ourselves, and the last thing we need is judgment.

5) They’re afraid they won’t get their happy ending

The fear of not being loveable or “worthy” enough is connected to a much larger narrative, one that has loomed above us all ever since we were children.

We want to get our happy ending. We want to date someone who will love us in all our vulnerability, someone who will see us for who we truly are and make us feel cherished and understood.

And while these desires are completely valid, it’s important to note that they also directly tie our self-worth to the actions of another person.

In other words, they rob us of agency to a large extent.

You can’t always control how a man treats you. You can’t always stay in charge of the narrative because you only make up 50% of the relationship. You can’t choose whether a man falls in love with you or not.

What you can do, however, is to become your own happy ending. That is where your true power lies.

If you shift your mindset and begin to view a romantic relationship as a bonus to an already amazing life rather than a requirement, you’re much more likely to work on your insecurities, build meaningful friendships, get to know yourself on a deep level, and nurture a sense of self-worth that is not connected to what a man thinks or does.

As someone who’s been on this journey for many years, I can honestly say it’s incredibly empowering and freeing.

6) They are drowning in contradictory expectations

“Young girls feel the pressure to be ‘superhuman’ and fill many contradicting roles at once,” writes Erin O’Neil, LCSW.

She explains that this constant demand to fulfil contradictory expectations has been termed the Gender Role Strain Paradigm. Within these confines, she says, “We feel constant pressure to adhere to traditional gender roles set by our society, regardless of whether or not they align with who we really are.”

Nowadays, things are even more complicated – in the West, women are expected to have full-time jobs, be highly educated, and earn a lot of money, but they’re also burdened by traditional expectations around motherhood and household chores.

As America Ferrera’s character says in the 2023 Barbie movie, “It is literally impossible to be a woman.”

And unfortunately, women who compete with other women tend to harbor plenty of hidden insecurities around these contradictory expectations.

If this sounds relatable, I want you to listen very carefully.

You can’t please everybody. More to the point, you shouldn’t have to. Your life is yours to live, and gender is but one of many things that contribute to your existence on this planet.

Other women aren’t your enemies. They’re in the same boat as you, fighting their own invisible battles.

We are on the same team.

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Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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