Swipe Left! Why New Members Can Jinx Your Group’s Dynamics

So you’re part of a Pagan group that already has a really good feel to it – maybe it’s a small group of only a few people, or perhaps there are dozens of you. Anyway, at some point, you open up your membership to new folks, and as you’re vetting potential candidates… well. That’s when it hits. You’ve got concerns about one of the individuals who wants to join up and be part of the group, because you know them and they’re chronically negative and needy. You find yourself asking if you should talk to the other members about your concerns, but don’t want to cause unnecessary drama. What do you do?
If your group is working well, how will a new person affect that? Image by Latino Life via Canva

Hoo boy, lemme tell you, I can relate. About ten years ago I met a woman via work, and we really seemed to have a lot in common on the surface. We hung out a few times, and my initial thought was, Wow, I like this person, and it’s always nice to have a new friend. It didn’t take long, though, before I realized she was a total disaster – and worse, she was making noises about joining my coven.

She constantly angry and negative, but on top of that, she wanted me to be angry and negative along with her. Because of jobs and family obligations, I didn’t have the sort of availability she wanted in a friend, even though she wanted to get together and just do stuff all the time. Finally, after a day where she called me six times in half an hour, and I didn’t answer because I was in my gynecologist’s office, she sent me a lengthy diatribe via email telling me what an awful person I was, and she never wanted to talk to me again.

I admit it: I was relieved.

I thought I’d heard the last of her, until a few months later, when someone in my local Pagan community asked me if I knew her… because she had expressed interest in joining their Pagan meetup group.

I wanted to scream RUN AWAY FAST, and I’ll tell you, it was really hard not to. However, I decided to try to be a decent person, and went with my better judgment. I felt it was important to be honest with the person asking about her, but I didn’t want to come off like a total asshole, either, so I crafted a simply and diplomatic answer:

“This person has some very good qualities, such as X, Y, and Z. However, in the course of my interactions with her, I discovered that she is very specific about her needs in terms of her relationships with others. She clearly had expectations in our friendship that were different than mine, and I was unable to dedicate the excessive amounts of time and energy that she so obviously needed. I wish you the best in making your decision about this individual.”

That was it. There was nothing more l I could do. I don’t know if she ever joined that particular meetup or not, and frankly, I don’t care. I had been as honest as I could, without being nasty about it.

The big question here is, do you trust other people to keep your input confidential and not mention your name if a they discuss your concerns with a potential trainwreck who’s applying to your group? Will your priestess or priest decide that your concerns aren’t important, and invite this person in anyway? Is this something that will be decided by a consensus among the other members? Does your group automatically take anyone who is interested in joining, or is there a selection process?

Something equally important to consider is that it’s entirely possible that the person has changed since you last interacted. They could have been able to put aside whatever it was in their life that made them negative or emotionally needy. Perhaps they”ll surprise you, and turn out to be a positive addition to the group you’re currently part of.

It’s a tricky situation, either way, and it’s important to try your best to be truthful about this person, while not sounding too negative. While you can’t control what other members of your group do, you do have control over what you say and do. Be honest but not mean, and hopefully things will work out for the best.