PITY poor Kim Kardashian. Heartbreakingly pretty, rich as stink, and still banned from the Met Ball a few months ago.
If industry gossip is to be believed, icy Vogue editrix Anna Wintour has taken exception to Kim’s slightly try-hard brand of beauty (and most likely her tacky career trajectory) and wouldn’t even let her buy a ticket to the event. Still, a missing party invite is probably the least of her worries at the moment. Worse still are the persistent rumours that she’s being frozen out by new boyfriend Kanye West’s inner circle.
No sooner had the relationship been confirmed, that whispers of discord within Kanye’s camp began to leak out. The rapper’s close friends Beyonce and Jay-Z had issued an edict that Kim can’t hang out with them. Beyonce was left seething after Kim snuck backstage at her concert, and tweeted a photo with one of her dancers. Kim was banned from the Paris leg of the Watch the Throne tour altogether, prompting Kanye to forgo the after party and sulk in his dressing room instead. Beyonce and Jay-Z were shook by ‘the worst row of their marriage’ when she flatly refused to attend a friend’s 40th because Kim was going.
Kim’s representatives have issued denials, insisting that the girls are great mates (tellingly, Bey’s have kept quiet). Yet the fact
that people readily believe the stories speaks of a wider set of truths. That even among the ranks of the rich and famous, there’s a distinct and
discernable sense of hierarchy. That no matter
who you are, there’ll
always be some clique willing to leave you out in the cold. And that this sort
of rejection still stings,
even if high school is a distant memory.
“We all want to be
part of a clique,” explains Cheryl Dellasega, author of Mean Girls Grownup: Adult Women Who Are
Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees and Afraid-to-Bees. “We’re social creatures, designed to be part of
a group. We tend to get
our identity from them
and they’re self-reinforcing because the other women in them are looking for
the same thing.”
Countless studies have shown that for many, friends now function
like families, nudging relatives from the top of our priorities. Recent research has found that close friendships have a more beneficial affect on our longevity and allay stress more
efficiently than blood ties. One study this year found that even macaques feel the same way, prizing
platonic mates over parents and siblings. But making the move from these tight-knit groups into a relationship can be an awkward transition,
especially if the new partner doesn’t meet with approval all round.
“I still really feel guilty about the way we treated Lucie,” says Verity*, a 29-year-old copywriter from London whose group immediately took against one new girlfriend: “When Sam started dating her,
the rest of us made no secret of the fact that we thought she was boring, and controlling, and that he’d be better off without her. Instead, he got rid
of us. He married her
and they moved out to the country. We hardly ever see him now. They did invite us to the wedding though, which was fairly big of them, all things
Advice for new partners still turns on impressing the in-laws. Yet a friend’s assessment will often carry more weight, and they’re usually the tougher crowd. Just ask Kate Middleton. Bright, beautiful and charming, Kate was embraced by the Royal Family, who immediately saw her for what she was: perfect princess material. But she still had to put up with years of jibes from Prince William’s friends, simply because her mother had worked for a living, as an air-hostess.
And if you’re on the receiving end of pack-based aggression like this? It’s never pleasant, but there are some things you can do to diffuse it:
“One thing is just trying to single out individuals and getting to know them on a one-to-one basis,” says Dellasega. “Then maybe one of them will be your advocate. You could be the better person, and not even acknowledge that there are negative things out there. Or your partner may need to go to the group and say, ‘Listen this is somebody I care about deeply, we’re in a relationship, I need you to be supportive of it.’ He has to be the one that speaks up on your behalf.”
But if in doubt, stick
it out. Even hard-to-please friends have a habit of coming round in the face of enduring love. Just
look at Kate Middleton. Bet no one was sneering ‘doors to manual’ when
she stepped out of Westminster Abbey the Duchess of Cambridge last spring.
“It’s not just about showing that you’re persevering, but also developing your own coping mechanisms,” confirms Dellasega. “You have to say: ‘I love this man, I want to be with this man, that’s my priority, the rest of this stuff is out there in the ether. It’s not going to define my relationship’.”