How to Prevent a Cat Fight
Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Check back at Glo every Monday as Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.
The Dilemma: From friends who are always ready to pick a fight to frenemies who try to cut us down in social situations, mean girls have stepped into most of our lives at some point, making things complicated. How does one deal with these drama-seeking women? Do we always need to take the high road when a nasty woman slings a stinging comment our way? Or is there a time when we should fight back?
Caroline's Ruling: Ah, the mean girl — we all know her, don't we? The thing is, what do we do with her? I believe in taking the high road as often as possible. You need to look at this person and realize that she has issues that probably have nothing to do with you at all. So basically take it from where it comes. Why give her the satisfaction of getting a rise out of you? That's what she lives for.
The best way to handle it is to do nothing, nothing at all, and eventually she'll move on to another victim. The last thing you want is to become her, to bring yourself down to that level of pettiness and cattiness, which is not attractive behavior in any arena. I know this can be very difficult at times, and your knee-jerk reaction will be to whip an insult right back at her, but you're only fueling the fire in a very childish game. Rise above it; it takes a better person to turn her head and walk away.
Now, having said that, there are times when you do have to respond. If the bullying and remarks become threatening and dangerous, you need to address the situation. Remember one thing: Two wrongs don't make a right. Your response should be well thought out and, above all else, be calm and nonthreatening. You don't want to ignite the powder keg. Assess this person and the situation at hand with clarity. Take the emotion out of it and really look at it for what it is. Is it truly threatening, or are you overreacting? Are other people getting involved just for the sake of the drama? Is it a game of telephone, where remarks get lost in translation? Were you looking for trouble, or did it come and find you? Really dissect it from all angles before you act.
If you decide that you need to respond, do so with brains, not emotions. State your case calmly and clearly. Make her understand that there will be no tit for tat nonsense and, more importantly, no violence. Make her understand that you won't tolerate the bullying anymore and she's only spinning her wheels because no one's listening. More often than not, she'll have some ridiculous comeback and ultimately walk away with her tail between her legs.
Remember one thing if this person poses a real threat to you: Do not handle this alone. Tell a family member, a friend, teacher, your priest or whoever can get you through it, and go to the proper authorities and ask for help. Don't blame yourself. The sad truth is there are many unstable people in this world who have a distorted view of reality and can be dangerous to themselves and others. The last thing you want to do is put yourself or anyone else in harm's way. It just isn't worth it.
We've just begun a new year, so wouldn't it be great if we all just got along? Wishful thinking, I know, but maybe if we all closed our eyes and wished real hard …
From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!Photo by Michael T. Greco