How to spot a psycho chick (and how fast you should run)

The trouble with psycho women is that they don’t have glow-in-the-dark eyes like Natalie Portman in Black Swan or breathe fire or carry assault rifles which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to spot them at first glance (though I have come to be familiar with a certain type of hair which I recognize as ‘mad hair’, but more about that later). But I’ve had a couple move in and (thankfully) out of my life so I know that they exist and that while they’re around things can get a little crazy.

At first, these women seem like the nicest, most thoughtful friends a girl could ever have, and they’re generous as anything, showering you with invitations and gifts (it’s part of their M.O.), but just when you get close enough to start wondering how you ever lived without them, they start with their antics. At first it’s subtle because they’re clever and manipulative, and a lot of the time you’ll start wondering if it’s you who’s mad, but this is a sure sign: If, at any point, you find yourself puzzling over an incident or a conversation with this person which has left you hurt and bewildered and wondering if the problem lies with you, get your Nikes and head for the hills. You’re dealing with a psycho, and you’ll never win.

I had this friend a few years back, we’ll call her Nadine. Nadine and I became friends predominantly because we were from the same small town and were living in the same big city. Nadine, at first, was a dream come true: Fun, funny, easy to talk to and loved socializing. From the get go we hit it off and became firm friends quickly. But it didn’t take me long to get a sense that something was up. Nadine was a little nuts. I could tell by the way she turned on her husband, fought with her family and had fall- outs with her friends. She also started copying me – wearing the same clothes, preparing the same dishes at dinner parties, befriending my friends.

Through all of the dramas in her life I was her closest confidante. But then she started turning the weirdness on me – offering to host my birthday dinner and then ‘forgetting’ at the eleventh hour; putting me down subtly in front of mutual friends; inviting my friends to parties at her home and excluding me. This went on for some time during which I endlessly harangued my husband with tales of what I said versus what she said, trying to make sense of what was going on, why I felt so hurt and confused and how she could do these things to her so-called best friend.

Ah, how naïve I was. It took me some years (and the friendship ending) to see her behaviour in context, understand that these are the actions of a deeply damaged woman (her mother openly rejected her – you never get over that) and that, while she loved and admired me, on a different level – one which even she could not understand – she hated my guts and would have liked to see me die a painful death. She has been hurt so deeply by a woman it’s difficult, if not impossible for her to form healthy relationships with other women. Once she wins you over with attention and affection and stuff (I got all kinds of amazing gifts for no particular reason) you become the recipient of her wrath. And it’s wrathful and pretty scary.

So, if you’re in a friendship which confuses your brain, ask yourself this: How are her other friendships? Are they happy and long, or are they a series of mini dramas which tend to end badly? Is her marriage/relationship with her partner stable and healthy or kinda crazy? How does she talk about the people in her life? Is she generous to a fault, or mean as a snake? Pay attention, because these things count. What happened with the others will more than likely happen with you, no matter how tight you you are now because there’s a hole in her that no amount of love from you or anyone else will ever fill. It’s gaping and it’s sad, but it’s not your problem. So, get out while you can.

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