Wedding Woes
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Talk to Harold off the court.

Dear Prudence,

We are a (co-ed) group of elderly friends who have a regular doubles tennis game. One of our members is incredibly hard on himself—curses, throws his racquet, and desperately wants to win. He never seems to be enjoying himself, and as a result, the rest of us get frustrated with him as well. The thing is, his anger is exclusively internally directed. He never criticizes anyone else, he’s warm to everyone, asks after the grandkids, thanks everyone for playing, etc. We’ve tried to gently say, “Harold, it’s just a game!” but he shrugs it off. If he were a jerk to everyone, we might feel OK about kicking him out of the game, but he’s a nice guy, he’s just really driven. But we’re all having a lousy time playing with him. How do we handle this?

—Getting Tired of the Game

Re: Talk to Harold off the court.

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    mrsconn23 said:

    Dear Prudence,

    We are a (co-ed) group of elderly friends who have a regular doubles tennis game. One of our members is incredibly hard on himself—curses, throws his racquet, and desperately wants to win. He never seems to be enjoying himself, and as a result, the rest of us get frustrated with him as well. The thing is, his anger is exclusively internally directed. He never criticizes anyone else, he’s warm to everyone, asks after the grandkids, thanks everyone for playing, etc. We’ve tried to gently say, “Harold, it’s just a game!” but he shrugs it off. If he were a jerk to everyone, we might feel OK about kicking him out of the game, but he’s a nice guy, he’s just really driven. But we’re all having a lousy time playing with him. How do we handle this?

    —Getting Tired of the Game

    Get a drink with Harold of some kind and have a heart to heart.  Let him know that you want to include him but you notice that when things do not go well he does X, Y and Z thing.  

    It's going to be something that likely works itself out.  And based on his age, I think you are going to need to find Harold's replacement. 
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    I agree that someone needs to have a heart to heart with Harold, with specific examples of the behavior that makes them uncomfortable and ask if he can tone it down.  While also mentioning and being positive about his good qualities and the reasons they do enjoy playing with him.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    Ditto PPs. The blessing and the curse is that it’s internal anger. It would be pretty cut and dry if it was directed at others. “Bro knock it off or we won’t invite you any more.” The the self flagellating is a lot harder to witness and talk about in some ways. 


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