I like to think of myself as a pretty easygoing woman. I have great female friends. I get on with many, many women. But, man, there are times when engaging in girl-talk can feel like you've been chucked in a bear pit. Of course friendships come and go as times change and lives move on but there are some things that, once said, cause a friendship to wither and die quicker than a penis in an ice bath full of piranhas.
I'm speaking from experience here - I've been the friender and the friendee (and a very nosy bystander) in these situations - and I've seen enough fallout to know these are seven GUARANTEED ways to piss off a woman. Any woman. This stuff isn't discriminate; it'll pretty much work on any woman, anywhere, anytime.
1. Criticize how she raises her kids...or if she's not got kids, pets.
Saying ANYTHING derogatory about the quality of a female friend's child-rearing is unquestionably going to curdle a friendship. It's easy to tut and roll your eyes at a complete stranger when her kid is gnawing on a razor blade while sucking on a crack pipe, but to a friend we know well this is an absolute taboo. Similarly, if your friend hasn't got kids, don't for Christ's sake tell her that her Shih Tzu's "been allowed to develop bad habits." Same result: friendship = doomed.
2. Tell her you're far richer than she is.
Gloating, in any form, is odious. It's especially irritating if it's done about money. Or, for that matter, sex. If you suggest you're getting more of either, don't be surprised if your BFF spits in your sambuca. Saying you've now got a "really tiny mortgage" and that you've "not even noticed that Stewart's not taken a salary from his company for months because he wants a nice big dividend at year end" is not going to result in high fives. Especially after the worst recession known to man. Even if you do claim you said it completely unwittingly, you're going to sound like a bit of a nob.
3. Tell her what's wrong with her children. (Or pets).
Offering an unsolicited diagnosis for what might be wrong with a problematic child is, at best, unwise. It suggests you're far more 'switched on' than your friend, that you alone have the insight and expertise to pinpoint exactly what the trouble is and how much she'd benefit from your hallowed wisdom. Also, to suggest that any condition the child might have is "barn door obvious" when your friend hasn't previously mentioned it is also pretty offensive. Even if you are a doctor. Obviously, if your mate asks your advice that's a completely different kettle of fish. In that case, go for it. Just don't go storming in there uninvited.
4. Tell her where she's going wrong in her marriage.
Despite living in a post-feminist age where women have the vote, contraception and She-Wees, I don't think women take kindly to having their womanly boundaries breached. Don't tell a woman that what her husband really needs is "a wife who's totally sorted" or indeed one that "is capable of giving him what he needs, on a basic level." (I was there when someone actually said that once. "On a basic level." Can you imagine what happened? Baby shower = ruined). Needless to say, the pair of friends in question have not tagged each other in any Facebook posts recently.
5. Tell her she should lose weight/change her wardrobe/consider surgery.
That's just damned bitchy. Made worse if the woman giving the advice is to style what Gok Wan is to panel-beating. And honestly, if you're feeling so miserable you've resorted to boosting your self-esteem by putting someone else down, try counselling.
6. Change her access to your Facebook page so she can't write posts on your wall.
Now this did happen to me once. It was a friend's birthday and I went to her FB wall to wish her many happy returns. I couldn't. She'd locked me out. I was gutted! I asked her why I couldn't post on her wall and she didn't reply. I've avoided her ever since.
7. Respond to her Facebook posts by telling her she really should should stop writing status updates and clean her filthy house.
Talking to a friend like you're her mother isn't helpful. Being patronising and judgmental is usually a flimsy cover for being downright nasty. Even if it's veiled in the seemingly well-meaning desire to help a woman "be her best self." You're fooling no-one, cupcake.
Do I feel better after writing that lot? You betcha. Was it therapy? Hell yeah. Am I a hypocrite? Almost certainly. Will I take my own advice? My God. Here's hoping...Suggest a correction