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Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 07:40 pm

Apocalypse meow

For years, a group of us girls has gone camping, to dinner, to concerts, etc. Our husbands do their own thing together while we hang out. When they bring a new guy into their circle, they seem to think we should automatically accept his female partner. We normally do because we’re nice like that. The problem is, there’s a gal who invites herself to everything she catches wind of from her husband. She consistently creates incredible upheaval, agitation and hurt feelings with her callous remarks and abrasive personality. Triple that when she drinks. Her bad chi is ruining the nurturing dynamic of our loving and supportive group. Help soon, as she’s trying to get in on a camping trip. We’d be stuck with her for five negativity-filled days. —The Women

Imagine if Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, communicated like so many other women tend to. Forget the direct approach. She’d roll her eyes behind some prime minister’s back, burn sage after he leaves, and make the Joint Chiefs hold hands and chant, “Shine white light on our borders and restore our protective womb of national security!”

Men and women approach conflict in very different ways. Men have an easier time being direct because they evolved to be the competitors of the species and see trying to top one another as a normal part of life. If the guys were bugged by a guy in their group, one of them would probably just blurt out, “You’re being a dick. Be less of a dick.”

Women, on the other hand, evolved to be the cooperators, nurturers and empathizers of the species, prizing group bondedness and keeping the peace. This sounds so much nicer than how the menfolk do things but actually leads to ugly indirect aggression like dirty looks, spiteful gossip and shunning. Though it’s best not to go around breaking one another’s noses over who has the cutest shoes, women often end up festering with nastiness, while guys can sometimes sock each other and then go off and have a beer.

Assuming you lack the “Bewitched” skill set — the power to twitch your nose and transform or relocate people and objects — wishing things were different is merely a way to kill time while in line at the supermarket. One of you needs to take this woman aside, gently explain the group culture, and give her a couple examples of things she’s said that don’t quite mesh with it. She also needs to be told that it’s kind of a problem when she gets likkered up. The direct approach is tough in the moment but ultimately less hurtful than the silent one, and it gives her a chance to mend her ways. If she keeps on harshing, it should be no surprise to her when she’s invited not to come, having been given fair warning that your group is more “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Chi” than “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pabst.”
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