Molly* was a pediatrician who loved her job. In her off hours, she competed in triathlons. But at 37 years old, Molly had never been married. In fact, she hadn't had a relationship that had lasted for more than a year since graduating from medical school. Molly owned a house, invested in the stock market and loved to travel. She also had a lot of friends, both single and married. But she really wanted to get married and start a family. On her 38th birthday, Molly met someone, and after a whirlwind romance, they got married. But when the dust settled, Molly discovered that many of her friends had scattered.
Kylie was an adorable but struggling actress with a supportive boyfriend who himself was a struggling musician. They waited tables and lived paycheck to paycheck while pursuing their passions. Kylie's friends all rooted for her as she went to audition after audition, but nothing ever panned out. Finally, she got cast in a pilot for a TV show. When her career took off, many of her friendships sputtered out.
Sylvia had a successful career in computer software sales and had been married to her college sweetheart for 10 years. Sylvia had always struggled with her weight and that was something that really bothered her. Her friends always reassured her that they accepted her exactly the way she was. Sylvia didn't realize that they meant that literally. In other words, their friendship was conditioned upon her remaining exactly the way she was -- overweight and unhappy about it. When Sylvia began eating healthy, working out and losing weight, her friends were suddenly far less supportive. The less of Sylvia there was to accept, the less accepting her friends became.
Molly, Kylie, and Sylvia each started out with different problems. But when they solved their respective problems, they ended up with a new problem in common: They were ousted from the Two Out of Three Club because their friends now viewed them as triple threats.
The Two Out of Three Club is a sorority of women dedicated to keeping each other from living full lives. Few people know that the sorority exists, and fewer still realize that they are active members of it. Like computer zombies that are part of a vast botnet, women in this sorority work overtime to sabotage each other's success, yet they aren't even aware that they are part of this destructive network.
Members of the Two Out of Three Club condition their friendship with you on your having only two out of the following three things going for you: looks, success and happiness. If you have a great career and a fantastic boyfriend, you'd better look like Ugly Betty. If you are gorgeous and have a job that you love, your boyfriend better be a jackass. If you and your significant other have a good thing going and you're also attractive, you'd better have a boss like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.
Members of this club will provide a shoulder for you to cry on when it comes to that one area where things never seem to go well for you. They'll even pretend to cheer you on in your attempts to shore things up where you've always faltered. But if all three areas ever do come together for you at the same time, these friends will turn on you faster than a silver-plated ring will turn your finger green. And the reason is just as simple: These friends present a sterling outward appearance, but underneath they are actually made of a lesser metal. And when things go well for you across the board, these insecure friends turn green with envy.
Women who are members of the Two Out of Three Club are our gender's worst enemies. They are more corrosive than those in the Priority Parent Club whose roster of stay-at-home moms disparages working moms for what they consider to be their selfish choices and substandard parenting. They do more damage than the "I Can Bring Home the Bacon" Club, whose members -- working women -- belittle stay-at-home moms, characterizing them as being underachieving, unevolved and uninteresting.
What makes those in the Two Out of Three Club so dangerous is they gain each other's trust by posing as friends. They pretend to be supportive but their secret desire -- often secret even to themselves -- is to prevent members from reaching their maximum potential. These women are not above thwarting each other's success in order to spare themselves from feeling insecure. Yes, ladies, the threat is coming from inside the house -- and it's every bit as creepy as it sounds.
If you just now realized that you yourself are an active member of the Two Out of Three Club and have been subconsciously rooting against your friends' well-being, don't despair. Now that you are aware of both the club and your membership in it, you can take steps to tear up your membership card and debug your system. The trick is to consciously override your insecurities and deliberately remain supportive as your friends overcome obstacles and achieve success.
If you discover your own friendship roster shrinking each time your list of your personal achievements grows, see this as an opportunity rather than a loss. Not only did you attain a goal you set for yourself, you smoked out a insecure zombie masquerading as a friend. The elimination of this fake friend opens up a space for a real one, instead. Double score!
March brings the first day of spring, International Women's Day and National Women's History Month. As such, it's a good time to do yourself and your gender a favor by determining whether you're a member of the Two Out of Three Club -- and permanently cancel your membership if you are. Fake friendships and toxic sororities pull you under. But the mutual support that comes from sincere friendships creates a rising tide that lifts all boats. This spring, make the changes that will lead to healthy living and smooth sailing for everyone in your circle of friends.
*All characters are composites.