The Brady Bunch is arguably the most well-known blended family sitcoms in pop culture. The feature film version of the show satirized the original characters in a with a modern twist. One of the most memorable scenes was little sister Jan’s frustration with the favoritism of her big sister, Marcia. From the expression of that frustration came the memorable line; “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” While we think back at the amusing catchphrase, we hardly considered the reality of emotions like Jan’s and how detrimental those feelings can be in real life situations.
We often refer to individuals who harbor negativity toward us or exhibit toxic behavior as “haters.” I believe that being a hater is more of a short term and quickly resolvable experience. Yet, there’s a deeper issue that exists and could pose a greater concern than merely “hating” on someone in their moment. Jealousy and envy sometimes manifest in ways that can be uncomfortable not only for the target but also for oneself. The type of jealousy and envy we need to identify and dissect is the internally triggered combination of the two which I’ve coined as the “Marcia Complex.” I use the term “Marcia Complex” because it happens most among women whether just acquainted, friends, or relatives, and it happens in the dynamics of feeling frustration toward another woman for any given reason, as though she’s the highly favored sister (Marcia) shining while you (Jan) remain in her shadow.
The key factor to consider about the Marcia Complex is that it almost never has anything to do with the person being targeted, and often everything to do with the person who’s angry and frustrated. There are people who some of us may find ourselves tired of seeing or hearing, not because someone did something to you but merely because they exist or because they’re admired and favored.
In the past, having to cope with someone’s streak of mass admiration meant hearing your immediate family members or school community constantly boast about them. Now that we are in an era of global popularity and “winning” being validated via public opinion, it has become easier to watch someone else’s life from the outside and begin festering undesirable feelings toward them. When this happens an individual targets a person and begins to negatively fixate on disliking that person. If you’re that individual you’ll find yourself despising someone else for no justifiable reason. A good example would be the infamous statement “she thinks she’s all that.” You create fictional dynamics of tension with the target which is really only a projection of how you’re feeling inside about yourself.
In the Brady Bunch, we see that Jan is fully capable of identifying and verbalizing her frustrations with her sister. She designates time to self reflect and honestly express that her feelings toward Marcia stem from disappointment with herself. Unfortunately, in the real world, this level of admittance is extremely difficult for the average human. Because many of us struggle with being honest with ourselves, we have even more of a battle being honest with someone else. It’s never easy to watch a sibling, family member, close friend, or even an associate evolve in a way that you’ve been hoping to achieve and still genuinely express happiness for them. In fact, it’s easier to pretend none of those amazing things are happening or find reasons to be annoyed by them as it helps take away from the attention they’re given. These are a few signs that you’re suffering the “Marcia Complex.” You unconsciously dwell on minimizing someone else.
We’ve all had loved ones, friends, and frenemies who brought unnecessary drama and toxic energy into our environment. This can be passive-aggressively such as a “shady” comment, purposely not liking a post, ignoring someone in group chat, and intentionally not showing support or being present. It can also be the very opposite and aggressive extent that can include vindictive behaviors like talking badly about someone publicly or behind their back with the intent to defame their character, encouraging others to feel the way you feel about them, and even reacting with verbal aggression or threats of violence. Again, this is important to identify especially in cases where the target has done nothing to warrant your negative attention.
If you find yourself upset with someone for unidentifiable or exaggerated reasons it’s ideal to seek support or self reflect as to whether you’re suffering from Marcia Complex. The toxic feelings described above are necessary to address and resolve in order to avoid further detriment. Individuals who behave in a manner such as Jan become consumed in finding reasons to attack the target. The target now controls their mood and daily emotional well being, which as a result develops into issues that never existed from the beginning. This behavior can cause you to lose other friends in the process and even find yourself isolated from loved ones as people begin to view the behaviors as obsessive and self-sabotaging. If this Complex is not identified and managed early in, it can very ugly for all parties involved.
Being a target of the Marcia Complex is difficult to deal with in itself. The difference between the target and the individual with the complex is that support system one lacks and one has. The Marcias of the world will maintain those admirers who have her back, and they’ll have access to the appropriate coping mechanisms for being attacked. The person suffering the complex will eventually find themselves having to deal with their unresolved issues alone as the behaviors continue to manifest and send those around you in the opposite direction.
The first step to identifying and managing this complex early in is to sit down with yourself or someone and discuss what’s truly causing you to exude this energy. Discuss how you value yourself and what kind of attention you wish to receive. Self-love is extremely important to creating and putting out the positive vibrations you wish to experience in return. Failing to love yourself makes you more vulnerable to “hating” on someone else. People who love themselves rarely ever find reasons to dislike anyone else. Study the signs below of the Marcia Complex, do a deep-rooted temperature check, and if more than two sound like you then start shifting your focus off of that individual and onto loving the great things about yourself. Once you love the skin you’re in and claim the direction you’re heading, frustrations of all things “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” toward your fellow sister will be irrelevant.
Signs You’re Suffering the Marcia Complex:
- You find things to take the attention off of someone else.
- You purposely bypass posts of your loved ones/friends accomplishments.
- You make plans to sabotage or withhold opportunities that may benefit another person.
- You feel annoyed with their excitement for themselves or others admiration/support for them.
- You’re easily annoyed by the sight or mention of them.
- You instigate or participate in drama and gossip that involves them.
- You make shady comments or condescending statements as a response in conversation.
- You try and talk them out of ideas or activities that only brings them more attention.
- You only reach out when it’s in response to something negative happening (thrive on their downfall).
- You intentionally keep other friends or partners at a distance from them.
- You’re seeking negative attention and conflict-driven interactions from them.
- You team up with others to defame or discredit them verbally.
- You’re unconsciously comparing yourself to them frequently.
- Congratulating them is like pulling teeth.