Yes, Just One Can Kill a Great Mix of Friends


birds of paradise

Some years ago I had a group of women friends whom I absolutely adored.  They were probably an early version of the “Sex and the City” troupe, you know the 90’s TV series that broke new ground as to what could or couldn’t be said on TV…

Yes, from Carrie Bradshow, Samantha Jones, Miranda Hobbes, and Charlotte York, we learned the bond among close women friends is special, indeed.

Like those women, our group met regularly, at restaurants, and we pretty much nearly got thrown out of some due to the antics we engaged in.

To say we enjoyed thigh-slapping good times, as we convulsed in laughter, is an understatement.  The looks of other restaurant-goers told us we were out of hand.  Because of the limitations of those settings, we moved to private quarters—going to each other’s homes.

Now, we could give in to our craziness, vent, use profanity, or discuss formerly-taboo subjects the public simply wouldn’t understand.

We were 5 or 6 women who, at any given moment, were caught up in the insanity of our lives:  One was getting a divorce; one wished she were; another’s husband cheated on her; the fourth pursued a punishing doctorate program…

And then there was my particular Hell.

My husband had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was going through different chemotherapy protocols. Most knew little of the personal horror we in his family suffered.  In fact, others wrongly thought he was pretty heroic, as he presented a solid public image in the face of personal duress.

But he wrought his fury on us, in the home, as he gave in to frequent bursts of temper.

That made all the more reason I desperately needed those nights out.  It was my one escape valve to release the awful pressure.

I recall one occasion when one of these women sent me a bouquet of Hawaiian Birds of Paradise (that’s a picture of that flower, above.)  They were strangely exotic and when I learned their cost, I was even more touched. She did this to brighten my day, because she felt my pain.

Another stopped by, in mornings, after everyone had gone to school.  We’d whoop it up for a couple of hours, as I laid bare the latest chasm in my life.

These women were my lifeline.

But then I got sloppy.  I found our little band so special and supportive, I determined to invite  another friend who had her own problems. It made sense to me at the time: “If I loved this group of women, why shouldn’t I share the wealth?”

So, I brought her to our next gathering.

That’s when everything changed. I found my usual banter challenged by my friend.  She took to editorializing everything I said.

She contradicted me, flat out, on other occasions.

I reasoned:  “Perhaps she felt nervous about entering such a high-powered group and tried to carve her niche (at my expense.)”

Before long, I regretted ever telling her about “My find;” the group slowly dissolved; we were no longer the cohesive force of spectacularly-funny ladies who met regularly, sharing our lives.

We splintered into couples of women who now met for coffee or drinks…. or met not at all.

But I blamed myself for introducing her to the group.

In the end, she was too bossy…too filled with herself…had too much need to be the center of every discussion.  In short, she killed group interaction. 

I’d find similar instances in life, later, with other women’s groups, but none quite so blatant, leading me to understand:  “One wrong element can definitely taint the mix.”

And I vowed:  I’d never again shake up a winning formula:  If I were lucky enough to find a marvelous mix of friends, I’d leave it so and just enjoy it. 

Because at the end of the day, they were rare finds indeed.

Had a similar experience to mine, above, where the group dynamics changed?  How did the group handle it….or did it merely dissolve?

Question:  Can the same thing happen with men?  Can only one wreck an entire group?


About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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