One of the most-read articles I’ve written was about mean girls, so I think I struck a chord. That makes me sad because I know so many of us encounter mean girls in our personal and professional lives at every age and stage of our lives.

I find that success brings the haters out the woodworks. Some people you thought were your friends turn out not to be. People are fickle. Nothing in life is certain. I’ve learned the hard way to be very careful who I trust and let my intuition guide the way. I had seen red flags with each of these people that I chose to ignore and it hurt me in the end.

Your high-quality friends are the ones who celebrate with you, rather than let their envy get the best of them. They support you no matter what – good and bad. They are like family.

People are judging and hating on you right now. Some people will like you and then change their mind about you or never like you at all (for no reason) and there’s nothing you can do about it. No amount of people-pleasing or convincing will help. If someone doesn’t like you, there’s no point in trying to convince them to. Why bother – you don’t need that! Just live YOUR life and be unapologetically YOU.

I had the unfortunate luck of being stabbed in the back but all over by two of my supposed closest friends last year.

One of the friends believed terrible lies and half truths spread by the other without even giving me the benefit of the doubt, had been disrespectful and hard on me for a while and ganged up on me at a time when I needed support.

Then there was also the acquaintance in my social circle who made me uncomfortable with her interactions with my live-in boyfriend and started dating him less than a month after he abruptly ended our relationship in part over fabricated lies spread by one of my supposed best friends. This sounds like a season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills but it was my life.

The worst thing the backstabber who fabricated lies about me did was knowing that my ex was going to leave me and say to other friends that she was excited about seeing it potentially happen in a public place in front of people we knew – meaning his birthday party. (I was completely clueless.)

She enjoyed orchestrating drama and feeding he and I both damaging information. She also pushed him and the “friend” he started dating immediately after me together – all while pretending to be my friend. It took me a while to unravel all of the lies and to realize that people who I thought were my friends really were not.

These friendships turned incredibly toxic. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. But did I deserve this? Absolutely not.

The ringleader of the mean girls tried to recruit other people we knew to not be friends with me. She continued to spread malicious lies designed to damage my friendships and to tarnish my reputation. She was actively trying to destroy me while also still pretending to be friendly with me. People were so appalled by her behavior that she wound up alienating herself from our entire group. I still hear about lies she spread about me, they are outrageous and mean spirited.

Here’s what I’ve learned from this terrible eye-opening experience. Real friends:

  • don’t betray your confidences
  • don’t twist your words around
  • don’t gang up against you and kick you when you’re down
  • aren’t competitive with you
  • are dependable
  • don’t talk about you to other friends.
  • cut you slack and give you the benefit of the doubt
  • want to spend time with you
  • don’t do things that make you uncomfortable like getting too friendly with your significant other
  • don’t intentionally try to hurt you.
  • don’t make fun of you behind your back.
  • aren’t in competition with you professionally and personally
  • celebrate your successes and don’t relish in your failures and setbacks
  • don’t meddle in your relationship and try to drive a wedge between you and your significant other.
  • don’t believe petty gossip about you from a shady source
  • don’t suggest that your significant other would be a better match with someone else you know
  • don’t pretend to be your friend to use what you say against you
  • don’t watch bad things happen to you and enjoy it
  • always have your back
  • have good intentions
  • accept you at you worst
  • have your best interests at heart
  • know all your secrets, and keep them secret
  • celebrate your successes
  • aren’t cruel to each other

When someone tries to destroy your life and intentionally cause harm to you, you should realize this person is mentally ill, cruel and at a very sad and unhappy place in their own life.

Mean girls are mean because something about you brings out something in them that they hate or makes them feel insecure or jealous.

They enjoy picking on others because it makes them feel powerful and better about themselves. The sooner you recognize this behavior and cut these people out of your life, the more peaceful your life will become.

People will always have a reaction to 1) your successes 2) your failures 3) your evolution. Pay attention to how those closest to you react to not only your 1’s, 2’s and 3’s, but also, how they react to other people’s. This will tell you everything that you need to know about them.

So how do you deal with mean girls? You don’t.

Cut them out of your life without a word. That’s what I did with the one who tried to destroy my life. She didn’t deserve even a conversation.

Today I have a close circle of friends who I trust, and I no longer speak to anyone who turned their backs on me. My life is simpler and drama free now.

Through what happened to me, I have learned to be a better person, and to not be a mean girl myself. Behavior like this is despicable at any age. If you see yourself being influenced by a mean girl and falling into their ways, extricate yourself and remember that you’re better than that.

Some women never outgrow mean girl drama and are insecure, jealous and selfish. I thank these “friends“ and my ex for showing me the definition of toxic relationships.

If this has happened to you or is happening to you, keep your chin up and know there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Have boundaries and only surround yourself with people who truly love you for you.