A common piece of advice right now is to surround yourself with people who will lift you up and challenge you to be your best self. You are what you eat, and you are who you surround yourself with.
It only stands to reason that we’d want to surround ourselves with like-minded people in a support group setting, as well, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor notinterestednospine was unhappy to realize that the women’s group she was a part of, which existed to help women make smart career and financial choices, was not a smart choice for her any longer because of a new member’s negative contributions.
But when other members of the group found out why she was leaving, the Original Poster (OP) was surprised by how the group dynamic transformed.
She asked the sub:
“WIBTA (Would I Be the A**hole) if I excluded another woman from our informal women’s group?”
The OP was part of a women’s group that she admired.
“I need some perspective on this.”
“I (30s Female) and a group of six women started meeting about two times a month to talk about our careers, politics, and feminism. While we began to discuss our careers, we’ve also become friends who debate whether or not we could ‘have it all’ and how to balance ambition and family.”
“We’re not a women’s emotional support group, though. Our meetings are generally geared around navigating our professional careers and financial investments as women. None of us are licensed therapists.”
The dynamic changed when a new member was invited to the group.
“A while back, our friend brought an acquaintance named ‘Mandy’ to join, and if I’m honest, I became very annoyed by her.”
“Mandy works at a dysfunctional job, supports her deadbeat boyfriend who treats her like a piggy bank, and seems to always be taken advantage of by her family, coworkers, and friends.”
“Despite our constant encouragement, coaching, and job recommendations, Mandy can’t seem to set boundaries and advocate for herself or take our suggestion of therapy seriously.”
“When one of us moderates the discussion to move on, Mandy will get teary-eyed, baby-voiced, and apologize for ‘being a burden.'”
“It became a herculean effort for me to not snap at her when she did that.”
The OP wasn’t sure the group was a good fit for her anymore.
“A month ago, I sent out a group e-mail saying I can’t make the group anymore due to time constraints and that I wish everyone the best. I am the first woman to decide to leave the group.”
“One friend, ‘Kate,’ reached out, and in private, I told her that it got to a point where I dread going and having to hear Mandy talk about how depressed she is and how nothing in her life is going well.”
“Kate listened to me and confided that she also felt like she lacked compassion and was a ‘bad feminist’ for not being able to hold space for Mandy.”
The OP was surprised by how the group transformed after that.
“We made plans to hang out, and when we did, Kate showed up with everyone from the women’s group except for Mandy.”
“We’ve been meeting again, and to my understanding, everyone just white-lied about obligations to Mandy.”
“Yesterday, I received a group e-mail from ‘Mandy’ talking about how upset she was that the group disbanded and how she felt like she lost her only support system.”
The OP was left to wonder…
“Am I the a**hole for excluding another Mandy from our informal women’s group?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some understood why the OP needed more from her group than Mandy could give.
“NTA. Mandy was encouraged. You tried. There is a massive emotional burden people like this put on those around them, and it’s exhausting. If her situation had changed at all during her time with you, I would have said YTA, but really she’s an emotional vampire, and it ruined your time together and was the opposite of your purpose together.” – MerryE
“Honestly, I’d say NTA. Mandy clearly couldn’t handle the nature of the group. She was treating it as a therapy session by the sounds of things, and the fact that it was her ‘only support system’ shows she clearly got comfortable in complaining to you all without having to do any self-reflection.”
“Mandy was unable to mold to the group, and so you took the initiative to move away, and everyone followed. You’re right.” – shecalledpestcontrol
“NTA, and I’d like to see another marginalized group who are expected to spend their precious time listening to one member of that group whine about things that are at best tangentially related to membership of that group.”
“Sh**ty jobs and leeching partners aren’t inherently a feminist issue just because they’re the problems a woman is having. But, women are expected to be everyone’s mommy, and for some reason, Reddit can relate more to the person who complains relentlessly about bulls**t than the victims of these energy vampires.” – civilcivet
“I left a female-only book club after 17 years because one woman made it her personal therapy session. She tied her personal life into every. single. book. At great length.”
“The group disbanded shortly thereafter. It was inevitable. This is a very similar situation. NTA.” – Ipso-Pacto-Facto
“NTA. You guys gave her a chance. Seems like she was a bad fit and kind of a desperate hanger-on. We’ve all met people like this. Her being a woman doesn’t make her an automatic fit into a group of people who happen also to be women.”
“The one who was her original acquaintance is also cool with the meeting without her, right? Seems you’re all in agreement.” – notkeepinguponthis
“I think the balance has been restored here. I’m not sure if this was the best way, but it was an attempt at bringing balance and an attempt at being kind and subtle about it.”
“I wouldn’t sweat over it. ‘Mandy’ is going to ‘Mandy’ wherever she goes, and the lack of responses from each of you will encourage her to move on.”
“I would be wary of bringing anyone else into your group in the future. I know I’ve been an absolute sucker for the ‘Mandy’ types before and have been burned and all but lit on fire for it in a few cases.”
“Each one of you in your women’s group could have your vulnerable moment and bring another Mandy-bomb in to blow up the group, so perhaps have some sort of pre-arrangement prior to including unknowns in the future so your own group health gets factored in.”
“I’m never really sure how to navigate these things either. If I’m direct, the Mandy-types lose their marbles. If I’m subtle, Mandy-types lose their marbles. The only way you don’t get backlash from the Mandys of the world is to serve them the way that they want to be served, which just isn’t going to be in the cards.”
“So, picking your path to separate yourself from Mandy with as little Mandy drama as possible should be the desired path. If there is a secret decoder ring to this mess, I’d be all ears.” – Funny-Signature6436
But others felt the OP and the rest of the group should have been honest with Mandy.
“It seems that Mandy would be better served by finding a counselor or support group that would address her issues. Your group isn’t a good fit.”
“Do you know if this is the first time she has opened up regarding her troubles? Maybe this is why she feels attached to the group, not really knowing what other places she could find this circle of support. Do you believe that she is sincere in wanting to make changes but maybe needs to make smaller steps?”
“Maybe she is incapable of implementing the advice that you all have been offering. If you were inclined maybe she could be given some feedback along with some suggestions on resources in the community that could help her on her journey. That is your judgment call, of course.”
“NTA for not wanting her in your group… but maybe YTA for blowing her off without any closure.” – bmnewman
“I’ll break with the hive, YTA. Instead of being upfront with Mandy about derailing the group with her problems, you resorted to lying.”
“You are sitting here wondering if you’re an a**hole because it was like an entire group of six people saying they can’t make it because they need to wash their hair. It’s high school tier nonsense, and for a group of career women, it was pretty unprofessional.”
“If you end up in a situation where you don’t get a promotion, and you’re left wondering why, consider this exact situation as a case study.” – werfenaway
“I don’t think YTA for feeling drained by Mandy but lying about it makes you all TA. You’re adults. Tell her the truth, and it might do her good.” – Babygoth3000
“You and the group should just be honest and communicate. ‘This is not a support group but rather one to talk about investments and careers, so I don’t think this is a good fit for you.'”
“Did anyone at any time tell Mandy what the group was about? Sounds like everyone thought she’d take the hint but didn’t actually spell out to her what the point of the group is.”
“I understand why you’d want her out, but you are all adults. Don’t lie, just be honest.” – yavanna12
“YTA, you all lied and went behind her back. You speak of boundaries but manage your own by sneaking behind someone’s back.”
“Was it the right place for this person? Absolutely not. But you ended the situation in a way that would really hurt Mandy for no good reason.” – Usual-Worry8412
“Did you all communicate clear boundaries and expectations of the group to Mandy and reinforce those expectations when she didn’t follow them? If so, then I say NTA. If you all just stayed silent and side-eyed her when she’d take over the space of the group, that’s still her responsibility to take accountability for.”
“However, some people are truly oblivious or can’t read social cues. If there was no communication of expectations for the group before you all ditched Mandy, I’d say a slight YTA.” – UncomfyNobleGas
While everyone could understand that Mandy was in a tough situation and needed support, they also agreed that this group was not the support group or group therapy session she was in need of to change her life.
Some pointed out that it would have been far kinder to clue her in on the group change, but they did not disagree about removing her from the group others.