We all had that one friend in junior high, you know, the one who complimented your shoes and showed up the next day wearing them, went after the exact same guy you liked, even though she had called him “dorky” two weeks earlier, and claimed she too was a vegetarian when you decided to swear off meat? Dealing with a copycat when you’re thirteen is tough, so how do you even go about dealing with it when you’re an adult? Yes, unfortunately, the end of puberty does not necessarily mean the end of the “groupie” friend.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but feeling like a victim of identity theft can be beyond annoying. Here’s how to handle that one girlfriend, co-worker, or friend of a friend who can’t seem to stop mirroring your every move, like a tacky, counterfeit Fendi purse.
Stop and Assess
Yes, we all think we’re completely original, and one-of-a-kind, and while that’s mostly true, there are always going to be other people who share our interests, big and small. And in a way, we’ve all been copycats at some point—we have to have picked up our preferences somewhere, right? The point is, there’s a line between merely using someone as, say, style inspiration, and going all single-white-female. You need to step back and consider if your friend is just mildly annoying, as in she occasionally picks up the same tops you have—in this case, you should probably keep your mouth shut and learn to deal with the fact that you obviously have amazing taste. On the other hand, if she’s bordering on full-blown clone, and has adopted not only your hairstyle, but also your ex-boyfriend, career and life philosophy, then you may need step in.
Switch It Up
So, she shows up at work wearing the exact same Chanel nail polish shade as you, is toting the designer bag you bought last week, and has also suddenly become a yoga-enthusiast overnight. Instead of excusing yourself and sprinting to the women’s washroom to scream behind a stall, try to take this as an opportunity to change things up a little—whether it be your appearance, your hobbies or your coffee shop haunt. If she follows suit, maybe you’ll help her find new favourites, and who knows, they just might stick. The bonus: you’ll get new experiences out of it along the way. Note: this is also a sure-fire way to tell if you’ve indeed picked yourself up a full-fledged copycat.
Keep It To Yourself
If you find she’s constantly picking your brain, and spouting off your opinions and passions as if they were her own, try keeping more to yourself. As in, don’t tell her your stance on an important issue, and conveniently keep her in the dark as to where you picked up your new, gorgeous LBD.
Talk To Her
Chances are, if your friend is continually copying you, she’s most likely insecure and has problems trusting her own instincts. Being straight with her, and addressing the issue might help more than you’d expect. The key is to be gentle, but direct—in this situation, subtleties won’t get you anywhere. By talking it out, you might find that she’s been adopting your interests as a way to get to know you better, or she might not even fully recognize her own behaviour and just needs a few words from you to tone it down, or cut it out. You can also help her to look away from you, and turn to magazines, TV, art and books to form her own set of thoughts and opinions.
Ride It Out
If all else fails, the only other route is to accept the fact that you’re just that great that someone wants to be exactly like you. That isn’t too bad of a thing really, and even though it can get result in some serious teeth-grinding in the meantime, your copycat friend will eventually grow bored of you and start picking up inspiration elsewhere. It will also help if you maybe stop being available for drinks after work, or trips to the gym for a little while.