Q:Our group of friends has evolved over the past 40 years through school friends, work colleagues, marriage and so on. One of my oldest friends from school does not quite gel with another woman in the group who I introduced. They both like to be the centre of attention and are probably more alike than they would be happy to accept. Both like to be dramatic and outrageous but its getting boring watching the one-upmanship and back-biting. My oldest friend blames me for introducing her rival. The problem is that we’re all booked for a weekend away over the holidays but I am getting really anxious about keeping the peace. I initially tried to keep the outing quiet, but they have both invited themselves. How can you tell someone that they’re a liability? It’s making me nervous. What should I do?
A: Why do you feel responsible for the enjoyment of others? If it was children who were squabbling you would have to distract them or separate them. Maybe this would work with fifty-somethings? Keep them at opposite sides of the room and haul in two of your friends to collaborate and keep them entertained? This is not for you to micro-manage. Many families will be dreading one or other of the relatives visiting at Christmas. How to stop ‘Uncle One-Too-Many’ from hogging the sherry, or ‘Aunty And-Another-Thing’ from stirring the cauldron?Some people feel entitled to misbehave or act without consideration, especially after a drink, but this is not your fault.Have you tried talking to them individually and asking what the problem is? Relationships are a fine balance of give and take, especially in a large group, but you have become friends because it works. For the friend who complains that your newer friend is getting on her nerves, it sounds like jealousy. Have a chat with her before the event to reassure her that you are still friends, but that everyone needs to play nicely’.For your newer friend, ask her to reign it in a little. If there is a problem, the best thing would to be to nip it in the bud. Just tell them to stop. Lets face it, your over-dramatic friends haven’t paid for your trip and you all deserve to be able to relax. Some people are really not self-aware and do actually need to be told how to behave. Like children, they need to know that if they behave badly they will not be welcome until they are ‘fit for human consumption’.
Try to relax and enjoy your break. Your other friends must be aware of the situation, they could share the burden. If you approach the situation with love and understanding you cant go wrong. Have fun!