Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
UNpopular group member dilemma(26 Posts)
First of all, I have NCd for this post for anonymity. Will also change a few factual details. Sorry it is so long - don't want to drip feed.
My DH and I belong to a friendship group, the roots of which go back to his infant school days. He has stayed very close to a few friends from back then and 40+ years on, although the group is geographically very diverse and people have died/split off/moved on, there is still a very solid group there. They have married/divorced and us wives/ex wives and girlfriends have mainly formed an equally close bond, as have our many children who have all grown up together. Obviously within this large group there are smaller sub groups/pairswho do things independently of the larger group (family holidays, hobbies, etc), but the core group is still tight. The men go en masse for fishing breaks or to gigs, the women have girls nights/mini breaks and there are occasional house weekends where we rent a big property and as many of the 8 families who can make it will all join up there.
This is all great. I am so lucky to have walked into this group, but one particular female member is becoming increasingly difficult. She is outspoken and abrasive and is becoming embarrassingly grabby. One example is inviting all the women partners over to hers for a swim and sleepover (Lovely big country house with pool and annex) when the husbands were away at someone else's holiday home and then presenting each house guest with the bill for that weekends grocery shop and asking them to pay their share - the receipt included a giant pack of Persil and 48 toilet rolls! On that same occasion some overnight guests had to sleep on the floor while the rooms of her 3 DCs who were away at uni/working overseas remained unoccupied. On another occasion she invited a few couples round for dinner. We all arrived with flowers/wine/hostess gifts and were surprised to be presented with the local Indian takeaway menu but no matter- we all said what we liked, the food was delivered and a nice evening was had. The next day we got an email asking each couple to forward their share of the takeaway bill (about £4 a head) to her bank account.
The stinginess is bad enough, but her abrasiveness is getting wearing. In any chat about work/family/partner dilemmas she will present her opinion as fact and hector people in person and then by text or email insisting they follow her advice. One woman whose marriage broke down, but has remained in the group is regularly reduced to tears by the abrasive one constantly telling her 'Aren't you over him yet/you are weak to remain this angry/you are such a mess it's no wonder your DSs have left home" etc. She will pick up on and correct any minor statement she disagrees with in a very loud and patronising way and most of us have been reduced to going to the loo for a quiet cry at one time or another after a tactless tirade from her. She has also been known to correct the grammar and accent of one northern friend.
This has been a slow burn, she was always a big character but she has been gradually getting worse over the last 10-15 years. It has reached the point where she is discreetly but actively avoided. A couple of years ago someone arranged a girls weekend in France for a date it was known she couldn't make. At the last minute her plans changed and she delightedly texted she could make it - at which point 2 of our more sensitive group members pulled out. They just couldn't face another weekend of tension/walking on eggshells.
SO my dilemma is - I have been offered the free use of a very nice holiday flat in a lovely historic city for a weekend. It is only 2 weeks away so I assumed not many people would be able to come at such short notice but when I asked a few of the women who I saw at a party last week everyone of them said yes, as did another friend I saw separately. That gives us 7 - the most the flat can hold. It also makes it a whole group event..except for the awkward one who was working away so wasn't present.
So - do I text our abrasive 'friend' and invite her too? If she says yes, at best it makes the flat overcrowded and alters the whole atmosphere of the weekend but we will still have some laughs I am sure. At worst, some people will drop out and I don't blame them - she really is a downer, she can be very hurtful and very hard work to be around., I could end up hosting a weekend for someone I don't much like, whilst people I very much like stay away.
I know the simple solution is don't invite her - it's my party and all that, but our DHs have been close friends for so long we can't just quietly drift away from her. And I know how hurt I would be to be left out of a whole group thing so I wouldn't want to inflict that on someone else.
I KNOW this is a first world problem. I KNOW we are grown women and should be above this sort of thing, but it really is troubling me. I would really appreciate opinions and advice on how other MNetters have handled similar situations,
It's difficult but if some of the group does separate things anyway and if the flat doesn't hold more people then I suppose you can not avoid asking her on those grounds. Maybe just say that you're sorry but you had to make a quick decision so it's based on the people you saw at the party and you can't ask everyone.
I usually think it's best to be honest though; is anyone close enough to her to have a discreet but nice word about all this? What about her husband?
Sorry, meant to say you can avoid asking her on those grounds
I think you telephone her and tacftully tell her with examples that her behaviour is upsetting people. Then decide what to do depending on how she reacts.
Alternatively you just don't see her any more but I think unless you state that and why it will sort of drag on.
Really I think this sort of behaviour needs calling out at the time or it does just escalate.
It seems like she has no idea where the social boundaries are any more. I don't know how much of that is her fault for being awful or how much it is everyone else's fault for tacitly condoning her behaviour by saying nothing to her at the time.
Just say that you asked people as and when you saw them until the flat was filled. And had you seen her while there was still space you'd have mentioned it. Is she the only one who isn't going?
That's the problem with "the group", and why more fluid overlapping friendship circles are easier to manage.
You get to choose whether you want to treat this weekend as a thing with "the group", or as a thing for you and the friends that you feel like seeing. And then act accordingly.
Invite her, and watch a couple people drop out, and spend what should have been a nice holiday feeling like your treat was hi-jacked by FWP-wrangling that you didn't even ask for.
Don't invite her, and watch her and her husband cause a fuss, involve the other husbands, and create divisions and resentment in the group. You will be scapegoated over this. But maybe it will be the spark for the splintering into overlapping mini-groups that many of you secretly want and need, who knows.
If I were you, I would invite your preferred women from this group, a couple women from other areas of your life, and thus have it be your own little chosen party, all nicely mixed. And not "The Group Minus One", which is a blatant exclusion, albeit for a very good reason (because christ she sounds awful and worthy of you all distancing yourselves).
I don't see what the issue is here. You have a group of 7 and the flat holds 7. Nobody wants her to go and she can't go anyway because there's no room. You say yourself the big group often splinters off into smaller groups and nobody takes offence.
So what's the issue? Just don't invite her
Have you already invited the other 6 (giving you a group of 7)? So most strategies aren't going to work.
I'd say you are sorry, you have been offered a flat by a friend and mentioned it to the other woman when you were at X party, all of whom have said they'll come, you planned to talk to "difficult" friend later (as she wasn't at the party), but have realised you now are at full capacity, if anything you think you might have too many for comfort (giving you a get out clause if others drop out). You hope she doesn't feel like she's being left out and it just snowballed, and that you hope you and DH and her and her DH can meet up soon.
Would you be disappointed if she said she wouldn't speak to you again after not receiving an invite?
If not, go ahead.
If yes, try meeting for a drink and start by asking her if anything has changed over recent years as you've picked up on some tension. Then explain that you sometime would prefer not to spend longer periods of time with her due to her need to be in charge. Then give your example.
You may lose the friendship either way, but the latter way at least you are honest and see if something is causing her to change. It gives her chance to reflect and change back.
If she reduces people to tears I wouldn't feel bad about not inviting her. You're doing it for the greater good. If she finds out and confronts you, just say 'but you were working away'.
Unless you are ready to tell her what you think about how she treats people. Might be better to leave that to a particular time, when you can call her out there and then for picking on the person going through the shittest time. But don't expect people to back you up - they're probably a bit afraid of being on the receiving end of it.
You're not being unkind. I think it would be unkind to invite her knowing others won't be able to enjoy themselves or will have to cancel.
The stinginess is bad enough,
This is a separate point from the abrasiveness but I don't think it's "stingy" to expect people to pay for what they eat. What do you expect that she's going to pay for all of you? Why would she do that? Plenty of people (even those who live in a big house) don't have a ton of disposable cash and even if they do why should they fund your entertainment?
I take the point about the Persil etc but that was probably an oversight because the bulk of the shop was to feed you and your friends.
The abrasiveness is the issue here.
I think you invite people, and they turn up with wine and flowers, then you are hosting them and should expect to provide them with dinner. If you say 'How do you fancy coming round to ours and we'll all chuck in a tenner for a curry' then you are clear about expectations. She sounds dreadful. Tell her the truth - that she keeps making people cry and you'd rather not face that on holiday.
I reckon telling her direct that she's hurtful to others would be a disaster; one of the better case scenarios is she actually accepts it all as true but breaks down in manipulative sobs, anyway.
I'd keep schtum & if asked point out the maximum flat holds is 7 (per request of owner, a request you must honour); you already asked the first 6 (7?) you saw so all done, nothing personal (well it is, but some lies preserve the peace).
I think the group need to tell her, her behaviour is upsetting the members. Be honest this is one event, how many others are going to come up. Two ladys dropped out of one activity previously. Either she takes it on the chin or she stops socialising with you guys.
You're not off to Dubrovnik are you? There was a post the other day from someone who had been excluded from a girls holiday...
Cant u invite her but call her out if she does anything that upsets someone? Tell her she's upsetting people. Give her this chance to realise what she's doing and change her behaviour. If it doesn't work you can be clear to her and everyone that you've explained to her what's wrong and she's still doing it therefore you won't invite her again.
If u just don't invite her this time, you will look like the baddy who's causing divides in the group.
Just tell her as and when she does stuff 'I think that was really insensitive.' 'XXXX was really upset by your comment...'
I agree with Wheredidsummergo112 - you need to call her out every time she upsets someone. If you see a friend go off to the loo crying you should say something immediately to the troublemaker.
As for her asking for a few pounds for the dinner - that is very strange if she invited you for dinner but I'd just pay. I'm not sure I'd pay for 48 toilet rolls, though!
Where's her husband in all this?
I'm exhausted just reading this.
Am I glad my life's not like this .....
I have no idea what you should do, but I can't wait to find out what happens.
I wouldn't invite her and honestly wouldn't even feel bad about it. You would only invite her because you feel obligated to her DH because he is a nice guy. But you have to say to yourself that she can't be allowed to ride along on his coat tails , treat them as separate people. She is one person, why upset a good portion of other people to cater for one person. Nobody likes her, it's a fact. Life's too short for pandering to people like this out of obligation.
I agree at this stage she needs telling whenever she does anything to hurt someone.
completely irrelevant but I can't remember anyone I went to nursery with, very impressed!
I'd invite her, but I'd call her out every time she upsets someone.
Don't invite her to your weekend- enjoy yourself, don't spend it on eggshells. If she asks later, say the flat was full after you'd asked the first 7 you saw and the owner said no extras, or that you know she was busy.
But going forward, your group really can't continue this way, with people crying and avoiding her.
The best method would be for a few of you to call her out on every bad behaviour. So when someone cries, tell her she spoke rudely and should apologise. When she criticises your northern friend's accent, tell her that is rude and boring. You will need a few others too so it isn't just you!
Alternatively someone could speak to her privately about it.
The tightness I would be less fussed by, I would focus on the rudeness. You can always decline her invitations.
I would leave her out.
You are not really friends. You are a bunch of people who hang out socially. If one of my friends sent emails berating another for not getting over a real up quickly enough and was generally rude we collectively would have responded to that.
If you don't like her well enough, if your friendship group is do superficial that none of you just say 'bloody hell X, that's uncalled for' then I don't think it matters if you leave someone out.
I'm sure I have phrased this badly but I'm trying to say you are sticking a plaster over the fact that you are all sort of convenient acquaintances rather the friends so it would be easier if you all stopped pretending it's a close group.
Just do what you want and stop worrying about it.
It is only 2 weeks away so I assumed not many people would be able to come at such short notice but when I asked a few of the women who I saw at a party last week everyone of them said yes, as did another friend I saw separately. That gives us 7
So it is sorted then. You have 7 places, and 7 people.
I would however start calling her on her bad behaviour in public. And start not going to her things if it is costing you money to furnish her house with loo rolls.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.