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Why can lesbians be so cliquey?

Did you ever notice that lesbians can be cliquey?

My straight friends are always surprised when I tell them that lesbians are cliquey. But the truth is, queer female cliques can be even more extreme than heterosexual cliques (sometimes they’re like regular cliques “on crack.”).

It’s important to understand cliquey behavior because when we feel left out of social situations, it can be a paralyzing experience. Feeling left out when women are acting cliquey can make us less able to connect with the women we want to connect with, less happy about going out, and far more insecure.

What is a clique?

The common definition of clique is an exclusive group of girls who are close friends.

When we say people are “being cliquey” we generally mean that they are “leaving out” anyone who is not a part of their exclusive group.

Let me tell you a personal story…

When I first came out I didn’t know any women who were LGBT.

Back then social media didn’t exist yet and online dating was not mainstream. So it seemed to me that my only option was to start showing up at lesbian bars and events.

Quite honestly, I expected it to be fun. I expected women would be happy to meet me. … from my perspective I was a nice person with a lot to offer. I thought the women I met would be happy someone new had joined the community. I expected it to be easy. I expected to be welcomed with open arms. I expected it to be the opposite of cliquey.

I was wrong.

When I showed up it seemed like everyone already had their friends and knew their place in the scene.

I was intimidated.

It felt like girls I was attracted to and wanted to talk to were parts of groups that seemed to exclusively only want to hang out with each other. I felt unwelcome when I tried to engage in conversation with any of them. I felt like I was on the outside of a social web that I didn’t know how to penetrate.

I was extra-sensitive to feeling socially rejected because my adolescence was full of mean-girl drama and I was already traumatized by that. It felt like I was re-living all my most insecure memories of being ganged-up-on at sleepaway camp and of being left out by groups of friends in middle school and high school…

Many other women have said the same thing…

One client (who was already a big success in the fashion industry when she came out) said she first found the lesbian scene to be very cliquey and very closed….

She said “it was a lot like going back to high school…” She said friends would stick with their friends, always staying with the same crowd and it was difficult for new people to break through or get in…

She said she didn’t feel like she fit in, she felt “on the outside.”

She described it as feeling like she “was reduced to nothing, like being told she couldn’t sit at the table at the cafeteria.”

She said it was a total “ego killer.”

So many clients and friends in big metropolitan areas tell me they’ve felt the same way at times.

Why does this happen?

The forces underlying all social hierarchies (like cliques) are competition and aggression.

But that’s not necessarily a “bad” thing.

It’s natural for animals to be competitive and aggressive with other members of their species… All creatures compete for food and resources and territory and for mates and for survival. That’s just how nature works on Planet Earth.

But most creatures hash out their competition and aggression in a physical way. They beat each other up, and the strongest one wins.

Humans are creatures, and humans also have to compete for resources and mates and survival.

That's why the most popular guys during adolescence were often the strongest, toughest and most athletic.

But human females (at least in western societies) have evolved culturally to behave differently.

Women in western societies are brought up to be “lady-like.” So unlike the boys, little girls can’t take out their competitive and aggressive urges in physical ways.

But we're no less competitive.

Instead of fighting physically, girls in our culture fight with our relationships.

Girls are aggressive with each other in non-physical ways… We can be secretive, we glare, we roll our eyes, we talk and scheme and back-stab, and we don’t always know where we stand with each other…

“Girls are mean…”

Girls fight with each other by hurting each others’ feelings instead of hurting each other physically.

This applies to all females, not just lesbians.

Any female who has lived through adolescence in western society can relate to the experience of women being cliquey.

Queer women might be MORE cliquey than straight women…

There are 3 reasons why lesbians might be more cliquey than straight women…

  • Being a part of a group is a source of confidence…
    • Lesbians can be very insecure because they inherently have to overcome more obstacles that get in the way of their self-confidence than straight women (as I explain in more detail HERE.)
    • Being a part of a group brings people a sense of safety and security. So women who are less confident can be more motivated to be connected to a group.
    • Groups are defined not only by its members, but also by who is “not included.” Leaving people out makes members feel more secure in the group. So for women who start out feeling insecure, they can give themselves more safety and security by leaving other people out of the group. In other words, they act cliquey.
  • Insecure women don’t want to lose their place in the group
    • Studies have shown that girls who are on the bottom of the “totem pole” of a group (and have the “lowest status” within the group) will often be the most unwelcoming of new-comers because they fear that a new-comer could easily replace them (and they don’t want to lose their place in the group.)
    • So the more insecure women feel within the group, the more cliquey they can act.
  • Sexual tensions complicate group dynamics.
    • Even in groups of heteronormative women there will still be jealousy and competition within the group.
    • But when the group is comprised of queer females new energy can get added to the mix: sexual attraction and sexual competition and sexual jealousy...
    • That can make everything far more intense.

That’s why lesbians can sometimes be even more cliquey than straight women.

And when we’re coming out or moving to a new city or breaking up and "getting back out there" again for the first time, we might find ourselves in places where it feels like everyone else has a group of friends and we’re on the outside…

But here’s the good news…

This is a “good problem” to have…

I get emails from women all around the world, from cities in the farthest reaches of Africa and Asia and Latin America and the Middle East, where women like us don’t have the privilege of being out and open with their sexuality the way that women in big, liberal metropolitan cities are able to be.

It’s actually a miracle and a blessing that we are free enough to gather together in groups (even if those groups sometimes make us feel left out.)

Meet people someplace else…

When we meet lesbians outside of the “lesbian scene” we are far less likely to run into lesbian cliques.

So that’s a great reason for us to constantly be seeking out other ways to meet people... Hobbies, interests, friends of friends, volunteer work, community service, community events, talking to strangers…

Good things always happen when we open our lives up to new opportunities and new possibilities.

Sometimes it’s just in our heads…

Not all groups of women are cliquey. Sometimes women who are hanging out together are simply enjoying time with friends who they haven’t seen in a while. They’re just in their own world, not trying to exclude anyone.

It’s easy to feel left out, especially if it looks (from the outside) like they’re an exciting group of people who are all meeting each other.

But we don’t have to take it personally or feel rejected.

All of us can be cliquey sometimes, and that’s ok…

Feeling competition and fear and jealousy and anger are a natural part of what it means to be alive as a human.

As women we have the privilege of living life with a tremendous range of emotion – the light and the dark.

Denying our darkness or trying to keep it hidden in the shadows (or pretending it doesn’t exist) is harmful and can make us sick…

If we are going to be our most empowered selves, we have to own all of our emotions. We have to learn to love and embrace our jealousy, competition, anger and rage just as much as we embrace our joy and kindness.

(And if we can love and accept the darkness in ourselves, we can accept it in other people as well…)

Bottom line…

Feeling left out and leaving people out is part of being a human female.

We’ve probably all been on both sides of it.

It’s ok.

You’re still awesome, I promise.

Does this make sense?

I’m not sure if what I’m saying here will resonate with everyone, so I’m curious to hear your opinion.

Have you run into cliquey groups of queer women in your cities?

Please share your stories and experiences and perspectives in the comments below the video here!

The most important thing to remember…

The most important thing to always remember is that love is real.

If you’re not currently in a relationship it means that your future life partner is alive somewhere on this earth, looking for you, just the way you’re looking for her.

And so even when you feel “left out”, the truth is that your future love is always with you, longing for you, the way you’re longing for her. You are a part of the most epic partnership you will ever know in your lifetime, and so nobody can ever really “leave you out” of anything.

So stay on your game and keep working on being the best version of yourself every single day. Because that woman could show up any minute, and you’re going to want to ready for her when she gets here.


Until next time keep remembering that love is real, that hot lesbians are everywhere and that the woman of your dreams is on her way into your life in perfect timing.

With softness,

Jordana Michelle


There are secrets of female same-sex attraction that any woman can use to have more success with queer dating. Watch this video to learn more.

1 Comment

  1. […] may also feel like some of the women you want to be friends with are leaving you out. Women can sometimes be cliquey, and lesbians are no exception to that […]

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