Sadly, the mean girl phenomenon is not just something you encountered in your youth. This woman may reappear several times throughout your life—sometimes she works with you, sometimes she’s your ex-boyfriend’s new lover and sometimes she manages to infiltrate your girl squad, transforming it from a peaceful democracy into a tyrannical dictatorship seemingly overnight. How do you know if you’ve befriended one of these subtle bullies? Here, eight signs.
You and your friends are terrified of saying no to her, so you almost always acquiesce to her needs, wants and desires. Have you ever stopped to think that you're always doing exactly what she wants? This could be a sign that she's subtly bullied you into permanently deferring to her.
If she doesn't believe in biting her tongue to spare the feelings of a friend, she might be a mean girl. She thinks that you need to be told the truth about everything—from how bad you look in your outfit to the fact that you need Botox to the likelihood you're failing at your job—and that she's the one to do it. She's also incredibly judgmental, so her "advice" is almost always condescending.
Does vulnerability of any kind make her cringe? Is she constantly telling you to toughen up? If she tends to respond to displays of weakness with disgust rather than empathy, chances are she's a mean girl.
Sure, she's never come out and said it, but it's clear she thinks it. According to her inner monologue, she is the prettiest, most desirable, smartest, most successful and most popular girl in your friend group. This makes her the natural born leader of your squad—and also, a mean girl.
Is she rude to Uber drivers, housekeepers, waiters and the like because she feels entitled to be (after all, she pays them)? Consistently bitchy behavior with service professionals is a pretty sure sign she's a mean girl.
Objectively, this isn't the case, as no one is always right; however, if anyone tries to suggest she's wrong, they can expect to be schooled into next Sunday. She will not give up until she's won an argument, so the people who know her well generally cry uncle quickly or avoid arguments with her altogether (both of which perpetuate her feeling that she's always right).
No one is off-limits from her behind-the-back critiques, though in all fairness, as she always says, she would say this to their face. If she can find something negative or mocking to say about everyone in her life, she may be a mean girl.
We once had a mean-girl bestie who felt the need to incessantly make fun of our job, which at the time was working for the head of a major movie studio. (In other words, a great job for someone who had just graduated from film school.) You'll recognize the mean girl among your friends by her tendency to downplay the good things in your life, or by her attempts to get you to ditch them. That same mean girl? She also bad-mouthed our boyfriend, who remains to this day the best guy we've ever dated. Watch out for this snake in chic clothing, as she does not have your best interests at heart.
If all eight of these signs apply to your mean-girl candidate, it may be time to consider pulling your parachute in the relationship. Here, our advice for breaking up with a bestie.