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How to Deal with Competitive Friends

Neha Joshi Mar 6, 2020
Agreed that competition is healthy; however, competition for the sake of competition always ends up in ruining relationships. We'll give you helpful tips on how to deal with competitive friends, suggestions on how you can improve your friendship, and advice on healing previous wounds.

A Simple Solution.

Competitive friends resort to unnecessary comparisons only to show they're better at something and seek acknowledgment. Thus, consciously try to not lash out during such a situation and praise your friend instead.
A friendship is one of the most special bonds in the world. It teaches you how to care, share, bond, love, and give. It teaches you to connect with people irrespective of their age, sex, or ethnicity. It is friendship that makes the world a happier place to live in. Friends help you grow emotionally.
They give you moments that last you a lifetime, bring a smile to your face in times of sadness, and also tell you that you're cared for. With friends, you can never feel alone.
Every relationship has its ups and downs and a friendship is no exception. Competition among friends is a good thing. You can teach each other to compete and get better in a healthy manner. However, when competition only results from envy, it can take very wrong turns if not checked and curbed at the right time.
Competitive friends are hard to handle. It's not that they hate you. They might be envious of a few things that compel them, sometimes even unknowingly, to put you down. If you're troubled by such a friend, these tips will definitely reduce your problems, if not solve all of them.

Start by doing an objective evaluation.

Certain issues may be a little sensitive for everyone. All of us have our own set of customized vulnerabilities, wounds that are raw and ginger. If your friend is continuously comparing you on the grounds of these issues, it might hurt you more than usual.
Start listing down incidents when you were deeply hurt because of your friend's "I'm awesome" trip and do a self-check. Did she really mean to hurt you? Or do you see some truth and practicality in what was being said?
Did you feel offended because a sensitive chord was touched or was something said only with the intention of causing hurt? Also analyze whether her competitive behavior affects all her relationships. If she is just the same with her other friends and colleagues, then maybe she's wired that way.
If her approach to all conversations and dialog (not just the ones with you) is usually based on comparison in one way or another, then you have no choice but to maintain calm rather than lose control and confront. Maybe she just wants attention and her idea of getting it is being better than someone else, which she tries to achieve by constant comparison.

Spend more time on non-competitive activities.

If the situation isn't very bad, think about improving your relationship with your friend.
If both of you spend a lot of time in a competitive environment, like in the same office where you're continuously portrayed as the better one, chances of your friend feeling the need to get noticed and appreciated will increase. Start spending time doing non-competitive activities.
These could include things like reading, going for a movie, or maybe even cooking. Sometimes, external factors have a lot to do with competition. Her competitive nature in this case only stems from natural envy. All she wants to do is show that even she's not bad, but she does this by showing you are. That's the problem.

Do not get aggressive or defensive.

Sometimes, you might strongly defend yourself against something you're wrongly accused of.
However, in this case, you know the problem has a certain history to it. Keep calm when your friend is comparing you to someone with the sole intention of hurting you. You know why she's doing it. Give it time and it may stop. However, if you resort to aggression, things might get more complicated than they already are.
Your friend is already not thinking clearly and aggression is only going to confuse you as well. Sometimes, you might get defensive even when it's not needed. This might happen when you assume that everything she says is to put you down. Instead, decide to be calm every time you converse. Being patient now will only reduce a lot of stress later on.

Think about ignoring as much as you can.

Though it might not always be possible, ignore what she says as far as possible. If instances of her ridiculing you increase, think about ignoring her as well. Maybe she'll get the hint and do a self-check herself.
Ignore every remark that hurts you, shows you in bad light, or portrays her as a better person. Maybe these comparisons are nothing but her way of showing you that you are not that good. If she sees that you're continuously ignoring these comparisons, she'll stop. You have to show you don't care.

Try to reason indirectly.

Sometimes, talking to a particular person doesn't help. Even before you start, you know how the conversation is going to end. In these circumstances, try reasoning and explaining with indirect examples. Say your friend has compared you to herself only to show you that you're not that good.
In this circumstance, accept that she's right. Say that everyone is better at something than the other person. This way, you are agreeing and not agreeing with her at the same time. Direct examples will only bring the problem out there, and you will have no choice but to deal with it at that very moment, in that very state of mind.
In this circumstance, accept that she's right. Say that everyone is better at something than the other person. This way, you are agreeing and not agreeing with her at the same time. Direct examples will only bring the problem out there, and you will have no choice but to deal with it at that very moment, in that very state of mind.

When it gets too much, talk to her about it.

You know how your friend is wired.
You know exactly why she's become competitive. Even after ignoring the comparisons for a few days, if they don't seem to ebb, you might consider talking it out with her. Though that would be a permanent solution to the problem, you need to handle it extremely carefully.
You must remember that your friendship is still more important than these comparisons, fights, and tensions. Don't approach her with an intention to fight but with that to resolve. Accept that you might be wrong, and that you're doing this only to assure yourself. Remember, a blame-game never did anyone any good.

Analyze if this behavior is affecting other people in your life.

Is her behavior affecting your other friends, colleagues, or children? Have they become a part of comparisons solely because they're related to you? Do common friends and colleagues have to listen to her complaining all the time?
Is her competitive nature making a mockery out of your friendship? If the answer to all these questions is yes, you must talk to her as soon as you can. However, if you think that by giving it time, these problems might fade away on their own, you can choose to keep quiet about the entire issue.

Think about maintaining distance as a last option.

After a certain point, you may feel that no amount of talking is going to save your relationship.
You might realize that she was always this way and you just didn't see it coming. In such a situation, it is always better to maintain as much distance as possible.
Don't give up on your friendship, but make sure that you guys don't spend too much time together. This would, however, be the last option. If you've tried doing everything that's mentioned above, and things still don't seem to change, maybe only this will.
Every relationship is defined by the two people who are a part of it. Though these tips on how to deal with competitive friends will show you the way, you have to play by your rules. Depending on your friendship and its history, only you can decide what you can let go and what you can't.