Game Night Takes a Turn
Dear Annie: I have been in a friend group that plays board games nearly every month for 25 years. We all know one another from working at a startup in Colorado nearly 30 years ago. We don't work together anymore, but we still play games together frequently. It has been tough during COVID-19, but we have played a few games online here and there.
Cautiously, we are starting to get back together in person. The rub is, I'm fed up with one of our friends. He was the boss all those years ago, and he still feels self-important and controlling. He does not seem to know how to behave in social situations. We put up with it when he was the boss, and then, 20 years ago, he found out that he suffers from bipolar disorder and depression. My own son has these same conditions, and I have taken the National Alliance on Mental Illness training and I have a special place in my heart for people who suffer from mental illness.
Since that discovery and diagnosis, we have put up with his behaviors. Over the years, it has become easy to tell when he is truly suffering and when he's just using it as an excuse to behave badly. He started this games group, and we always play at his house. That's not really a problem, but he just uses this and everything as a controlling behavior.
Online, it gets worse. I have now endured 18 months of insults, contempt and name-calling. I admit that it's mild. He is not super abusive, but it is annoying, and it is not how friends treat one another. I do not do this to him. He knows I don't want to cut him out of my life, and he uses that to manipulate me and others in the group.
During his last blow-up, which was only two weeks ago, I stopped talking with him for a while. This is all online, and I ghosted him for only 24 hours. He says in the group chat that he has apologized profusely (he apologized one time) and then started pushing the blame onto me saying that I was now punishing him.
I'm fed up. We have openly discussed his poor behavior, and he is aware. He has never modified his behavior longer than a week or two. For 30 years, I have been a good friend, and for the last 10-20, I have actively tried to forgive and forget. -- Can't Forget Anymore
Dear Can't Forget: I believe it was Albert Einstein who said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
You have tried subtle confrontation, and you admit his behavior has not changed for longer than a week or two. Time to try something new.
The next time he blows up -- even if it's mild -- tell him that you'll be hosting the next game night and that he's not invited. If others are similarly fed up with his attitude, they'll surely be on board.
The concept is really quite simple: If he can play nice with others, he gets an invite. If not, the games will go on without him.
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