It never fails. Every time I go to some social function, I come home and get ready to fall asleep when some seemingly harmless comment from the evening pops into my head and I wonder, “What did she mean by that?” It could be something said by the host’s wife, the person you’re seated next to, or the woman everyone swears is going to be your new bff. Someone will make a passive aggressive comment that will go under the radar of all the men there, but hit home with my self-esteem. I’ll toss and turn all night wondering, “Am I too sensitive? Did I read too much into it?” Any guy would probably tell me, “Oh you’re probably being paranoid, after all she hugged you good-bye, didn’t she? And she pointed out how much you have in common. She must like you.” Yet any female friend will read between the lines of said comment and say, “Oh she’s got it in for you.” It could be something simple like a dig at your outfit said with a smile as if you’re pals, “Yellow washes me out, too.” Or maybe a comment on the food I brought, “I know how it is, I don’t cook either,” which deflated my confidence in the dip I worked all day to perfect…at least I thought I perfected. An hour after the comment, I felt like I might as well have set a can of Alpo next to the chip bowl.
Why do women do this to each other? Is it jealousy? Trying to undermine another’s self-confidence? Boredom? Do I not engage in this behavior because I have better cable and therefore don’t need to pick apart people’s self-confidence because I’m too busy catching up on reruns of “American Dad” and DVR’d episodes of last season’s “90210?”
How am I supposed to take it when I walk into a room with a new hairstyle and someone says, “Oh you chopped your hair,” then pauses with a wrinkled nose as they ask, “Do you like it?” Well I did until you made that face. At least in high school, girls weren’t quite as skilled as hiding the acidic remarks. If they wanted to be bitchy, it came across mean and you felt the sting. There was none of this one-hour later wondering of, “Was that comment about how can someone be emaciated and have a fat ass at the same time be directed at me?” If a high school girl wanted you to know she didn’t like you, she’d at least have the decency to sneer when she told you, “Cute outfit.” Well decency or she just didn’t care enough to hide her disgust—it’s a fine line. Back in school I could see through fake niceness. Now, not only is it harder to spot, it’s harder to understand. I get why the girl in high school who used to date my boyfriend was being a bitch, but why does the woman I just met act that way? I mean it’s one thing if they’ve gotten to know me and I put them off somehow, but when I haven’t even had a chance to offend them in some way, what is their issue then?
For a while I thought it was just me, but I’ve found I’m not alone in this—a lot of women leave a party and later get hit by the passive aggressive dig an hour after it was fired. They wonder if the person who made a comment about someone’s outfit being too tight or if they say someone dresses “too young for their age,” was really about the woman across the room or them. They go from feeling confident in their new dress to feeling like an aging stripper in a cheap rag.
The worst part is that you can’t call the person out on the comment and get anywhere. If you do they either a) get defensive and their inner reality show bad girl bitch comes out, b) act like you’re paranoid and overly sensitive, or c) cry and get upset so you look like the bully and they are the victim. So what to do? Well, recently I was in the situation of someone repeatedly making passive aggressive digs at me. So I became overly sweet and innocent. My theory was, if someone’s mean to Bambi, the doe eyed innocent deer, they come across looking like a bitch. So as long as I stayed polite and nice and didn’t engage in their battle, their true colors started to show. After all, when two people are screaming at each other, no one stops to wonder who the sane one is. Two people screaming at each other makes both look crazy. But one aggressor going after someone who remains calm in the face of crazy—well, you can spot the lunatic a lot easier that way. I wish I could say I felt like I took the high road, but really, I went home still feeling hurt and wishing I had fought back. I know it wouldn’t have done any good to engage, but part of me feels like a victim for not. I guess it is better to take the high road, but part of me wants to set a bridge ablaze and walk away with a smile….however seeing as I only come up with snappy comebacks two hours after the fact, that just ain’t gonna happen.
I went through this in high school and now I just don’t have time to engage in this warfare. After all, I have a whole season of “Hart of Dixie” to watch, plus some new bookstore finds to read. Frankly, I’d rather passively watch and read my drama, and not sit and absorb passive aggressive barbs.