To a Queen Bee Friendship Is A Serious Business

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In his book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey tries to explain the concept of the male psych. According to Steve Harvey men are really very simple. Apparently, the terms in which men see the word can be boiled down to:

              • who they are – his title
              • what they do – what he does to get that title
              • how much they make – how much he earns

I have to confess that the neatness of this summation appeals to my logical nature. These basics of the male DNA are displayed daily in my working life. Business presents the perfect forum for males to pursue their who, what and how much dreams. Many hours have been spent in business meetings while the males sort out which one has the biggest ummm…… credentials. It also seems to be ingrained in men that credential contests are part of a greeting ritual and that these contests are never, ever personal. Whilst wounds can certainly occur, men don’t seem to fuss over them too much, one quick lick and they’re back in the arena and having a beer with the vanquished.

So having experienced several recent instances of women behaving badly, I’ve tried to come up with my own hypothesis on how some socially active women see the world. I am desperately hoping that I can develop a hypothesis or at least a starting point as to why some women so often choose to be less than kind and less than honest in their group friendships.

The starting point of my hypothesis is that for some women the social arena is akin to the business arena for men. In the social arena these women can relentlessly pursue their dreams. And like the business arena, politics and maneuvering are permissible, how else do you explain the concept of the “frenemy”? A concept, by the way, which I have never understood. To me friendship is a black and white issue, you either like someone enough to be friends with them or you do not – there is no half way, no pretense.

Passive aggression seems to be the weapon of choice by which a woman achieves Queen Bee status within a social group and the means by which she maintains that position. Add a considerable amount of drama into the mix and they are seemingly untouchable, lapping up the attention they crave. After all, we all know that any hive or nest can only ever have one Queen Bee at any given time. If you are still breathing after being so emotionally and mentally exhausted after victimization from a Queen Bee, you have the privilege of helping to keep the Queen Bee fed with an endless supply of attention. The bigger they get, the more they need, the more drama that is created…. endless loop.

If a queen bee were crossed with a Friesian bull, would not the land flow with milk and honey? Oliver St John

The Queen Bee’s view of the world therefore seems to boil down to:

    • who she is – her title in the social group
    • how many other women she can influence – more means a wider audience
    • what she needs to do to achieve and keep her social status in the group – constant feelings of insecurity and feeling threatened

However, unlike the business world, female friendship is very, very personal and wounds run deep and can take years to heal, if they heal at all. And the worst of it? As the behaviour is mostly passive aggressive, often you don’t understand it for what it is until some time after it occurs. Unlike for men, there is rarely an open contest.

Possibly there is a place for the Queen Bee in our world. The concept keeps several television stars employed and audiences entertained, just think the Housewives of….franchise or Jersey Shore and spin offs. For mine, TV is the only place for the Queen Bee. I’d rather channel my friendship energies in more positive ways.

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

14 thoughts on “To a Queen Bee Friendship Is A Serious Business

  1. WOW! I can [truly] see clearly now. There are several Queens in my intimate friendship circle. Your hypothesis…helpful, helpful, helpful especially in answering some of those niggling questions, one being “Why do you act this way?” Excellent. Well done. Thank you!

    • Thanks Jots. I’m trying to make sense of it all as well. It’s so far removed from the way I would treat people. We’re all different, I guess that’s what keeps life interesting.

  2. I refuse to be intimidated. I figure I’m not in highschool anymore and anyway, who has the energy for this kind of nitpicking. I know who I am and I don’t need to prove anything. I like to do my thing, but if you want to make waves, get out of my way.

    Fabulous post. I once saw Harvey interviewed about this book. He is FUNN–eeeeeeeeeeeee!

  3. I think you could have stopped at the ‘men are very simple’ part. Sorry – too facetious? Love your hypothesis regarding friends though. Like you, I err on the male side of black and white – you’re either a friend or you’re not – no grey>

  4. There is also always the people who have spent their lives trying to figure out how to live in this world. For many reasons social cues are not taught and learnt. Due to this individuals may find it difficult to adjust to the world. Throw social media into the mix and it is even harder.

    Added to that is mental illness can impair social function as well.

    Judy, I don’t know, have never known how to live in this word


  5. I severed ties with a Queen Bee a couple of years ago after I noticed that I was being either ignored or undermined and subtly put down whenever I accomplished something positive. The Queen bee became my friend after my divorce and whilst I reinforced her inner sense of superiority by needing her advice/sympathy/help I was made to feel VERY SPECIAL INDEED. However I’m independent by nature and as I healed and got back on my feet the chipping away began. This was a very hurtful and confusing part of my life, I couldn’t fathom how or why such a GOOD FRIEND would undermine me as I was recovering and regaining confidence. Eventually I came to the conclusion that this was a co-dependency issue. My ex friend needs people to need her, needs everyone to need her, needs to be the most needed, popular, pivotal person the world has ever seen.

    I’m not into this, I like friendships to be more or less about equality and a LOT less of a pyramid with one person parked like a semi- benevolent know it all, on the apex.

    Breaking away from someone who needs you to be their inferior in all things and at all times is healthy, just do it, and yes there will be shit, but it isn’t life threatening, just awkward and perhaps sad and angry for a while. We don’t all share the same values, morals or hang ups. The option to leave is always available, unless the bitch has you chained up in her broom cupboard what’s stopping you from removing yourself from her tiny, claustrophobic and controlling circle of power?

    Big world, little circle, you only get perspective from the outside. But don’t expect the journey to be peopled with others, it’s a lonely one when you bust out of a co-dependency coven with a queen at the top, but you’re probably ready, if you’re on here and thinking about it. My best advice is have a bunch of things lined up to do, I got onto a degree course at Uni and made sure I had a LOT going on that was VERY far away from this woman.

    I’m in my last year now and training to be a teacher, the best form of revenge in regard to a breach of trust from a co-dependent queen bee is to disengage from her and then succeed minus her disempowering ‘help’ or conditional approval. Success and personal growth done all by yourself feels better than ANYTHING a Queen Bee has to offer.

    • Fran: Thank you for this. This is exactly what I am experiencing with a sad queen bee in her late 50’s. Her behavior is so obviously transparent and as I distance from her she responds by latching onto an old good friend of mine and creating a friendship triangle. Then she forces me into a “get together” (read: intervention) that was in retrospect, quite strange as she cooed and touched me sympathetically while throwing several undermining zingers at me. She gossiped about other people with no apology. We were alone, drinking wine and I felI back into my role as “victim” (because I just don’t act this way and did not know how to respond while tt was happening). Ugh. Hindsight is 20-20. So, I’m out. I have absolutely no desire to spend any time with this women who is jealous, insecure and wants to chip away at me so she can be on top. I know she will be trying to undermine me to other women in the group as I refuse to be a pawn in her stupid sad game of one-upmanship. I know I’m not the only one who has noticed her passive aggressive and competitive nature.

      Seeming successful on the outside looking on, thi tortured woman claws to maintain her queen bee status as part of a larger social group and it is so interesting to watch how she frenetically gathers new women into the group, and then gossips about each one and puts them down behind their backs. I am also independent and will not participate in her dysfunction, and she does not like it one bit! To witness a woman pushing 60 behaving this way is really pathetic but I remind myself: it is her problem, not mine.

      • Hey hello. Yes your intuition is serving you correctly, her ‘intervention’ is not about you it is about her need to be important, relevant, needed, fill in the blanks…. Cut loose, get past the ‘Gagh’ feeling that comes when a woman shafts you for her own shallow level of not very actualised type of fulfilment. Why do these sorts of ladies NEVER cheer self made overcoming?
        I think that they are heavily invested in not addressing their own issues. It is more comfortable and less taxing to intervene in the lives of others in order to create a sense of position, self actualisation and power. Lazy ladies of power are a bit crumbly on the inside but are ten foot high walls, electric fences and cultural anything that can be slung when they are in danger of acknowledging their own shortcomings/failings/mistakes/lack of perfection.
        It is not your job to chip away at her ten foot wall of ‘I know best’.
        Your job is to take care of you and your loved ones.
        It hurts to realise that the person that you thought was deeply invested in caring about you is actually using your doubt, insecurity,or re-adjustment to mask their own unacknowledged pain and need for power. In my experience you can lay a whole bunch of ‘truth’ on a woman like this but she will expertly convert it into victimhood, you being cazy or whatever else she needs it to be in order to protect her own sense of self denial.
        My advice is to disengage and even if you have to go through a lot of anger and hurt and bewilderment refrain from giving her ANY social networking type ammo to turn around and call you bully or abuser.
        When in a corner these sorts of people will do a revolving door on a ‘call out’ and make it public and make you look the bad party. After all they are heavily invested in being the ‘nice person’
        The anger is hard to reconcile. But sitting with it and letting it just be there as you change your life will go a long way to helping you remain drama free. I am not very good at this I gave my ‘redeemer of spite’ a fat and straight forward threat of resistance that was worded in a way that she could not share without exposing herself.
        She blocked me, did not share and ultimately she fucked off. I think I scared her with my excoriating analysis of her behaviour, but I was good with the possibility of a pack hatred at that point and I was not afraid of it because it could not impact on my job or life or motherhood. I’m old enough and travelled enough not to care, and also educated and free enough for it not to impact on me.
        This might have been different had my son still been at the school gates where she held court and I had less comfort in free wheeling. But he was not and I had ZERO need to fear a backlash and everything to gain from a series of escalating blows that flattened her bid to control and undermine me..
        That was five years ago. I’m so free from her influence now that it is laughable that I ever worried.
        But I still see the new members of her horrible coven online and in the news feeds when I have the odd six monthly look. (Always look back occasionally, but not obsessively…. it makes you know that you made the right choice for you)
        Best and fly…good friends help good friends self actualise and overcome. They do not trade on dis-empowerment, gossip and spite.
        Love to you xxx

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