A tale as old as time. You meet a cool mum, she seems to live a high-flying existence and starts to invite you to fun events. Then she asks if your friend Grace wants to come along. After a few nights out or coffee meet-ups, you realize this fun mum and your friend Grace are meeting up without you, and you are no longer needed… you’ve been mum-jacked.
Social climbing and ghosting are cutthroat social behaviors, and they tend to catch you off-guard — you just don’t expect it as a grown up, least of all as a vulnerable new mum with a helpless lamb clinging to your athleisurewear.
This will have happened to you at some point in your life. Maybe you have done it to someone? And it stings, it stings real bad. It’s 100 percent happened to me, and it serves me well to keep an eye out for “ambitious” women now. The ones who clock every tiny detail about everyone else. Who lurk on social media to see what everyone is doing, hungry for some gossip but never participate, (unless it’s to do some serious brown-nosing to a wannabe friend) so they can announce that they never go on Facebook (indicating that they are far too busy and important), but who you know are on it, trolling through like the rest of us, sitting on the loo, phone in hand. That person who was probably angling for your job in your early 20s, but is now angling to climb the elusive social ladder to a higher plane of mom-dom.
I know someone who actually admits that if they want to get closer to X who is actually friends with Y (the mutual friend), they have no shame in manipulating situations to cut Y out.
There are many theories by psychologists about the nature of a social connector (the mum-jacker) and the connected (the person they want to befriend to elevate their status), but I can break the phenomenon down to these telltale signs of the connector to help you avoid heartache, as who needs that B.S. when we have actual children to deal with?
- She’s status obsessed. Essentially a star f**ker, someone who just wants to know you or someone far more glamorous by association; gross.
- She’s a name-dropper. Oh my god this is SUCH a classic. She might even dig a little with you to see if you know anyone that is of this caliber.
- Lacks true empathy. Not like a textbook psycho, just that she creates large, segregated social circles of people she doesn’t actually know that well or connect with on a human level (so then maybe slightly psycho.)
- Wannabe queen bee (see my article on the mum bees!) she tries to control social circles (or hives, hehe) has no qualms about leaving people out or trying to steer plans to meet her needs.
If you can detach yourself from the bad feelings and personal hurt, then you will realize that you can’t ever like everyone you meet. Yes, be polite and courteous, treat people the same way you expect to be treated but understand that to deep-down actually like someone requires pure chemistry.
Find someone else to play with who is nice all the time. Don’t ask to play — as that implies that they are in charge of you — and just play somewhere else. Also, don’t sulk. No one likes a sulky 40-year-old.
So how do you deal with this situation if it happens to you — if it’s you get slacked off? It can be quite heartbreaking, and to realize you haven’t made the cut can cause you to question your whole life, personality, the color of your latest sandals, you name it. Being mum-jacked can really bring out your insecurities in a tsunami of unwanted emotional torture.
I had a conversation this week with my 7-year-old daughter about a problem she’s having with some girls in her class, and it feels quite relevant to this predicament.
She said she keeps asking to play with a group of girls who she thought were her friends, and one particular girl is saying “no” and last week this girl was her BFF.
My advice about mum-jacking is of a similar nature. Find someone else to play with who is nice all the time. Don’t ask to play — as that implies that they are in charge of you — and just play somewhere else. Also, don’t sulk. No one likes a sulky 40-year-old.
A ruthless social climber is quite easy to spot from their target’s point of view. A clear message that they are after something from you is not an endearing quality sensible people look for in friends.
I think the best way forward is keep them at arm’s length, be light-hearted, fun, and enjoy them in small doses at parties but keep it concise and don’t get drawn in. There are people around who don’t care if you know someone whose brother knows Megan Markle’s mum’s hairdresser. Those are your people.