The word ‘frenemy’ was first introduced to me, like most things, via Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City. I think for different people it has grown to mean different things, but for me especially it was that instinctive feeling that someone you know and call a friend isn’t acting as friend should. This could be in the guise of barbed comments, not so secretly revelling in bad things that happen to you or just one of those ‘all take-no give relationships’. Whatever it is, your intuition is normally correct and chances are if you feel like something is ‘off’, it usually is.
I dealt with some really horrible people in my younger and teenage years, and at age 28, I don’t really know why this still happens. A few long chats with my other friends has determined the most likely root is insecurity on their part rather than anything to do with you. I mean, why would they be bothering with you if they didn’t like you or admire you in some way, right? Whatever the reason, I’ve written some stuff below to help you identify a frenemy and how deal with them based on my own experiences. The main basis of this post was some form of therapy for me, and to hopefully see others identify points in their own relationships and think about them and how they affect you a little more.
Spotting a ‘frenemy’
- Whatever you’ve done, they’ve done better – we’ve all met Mr. One Upper. You’ve been to a show? They went last week. You ran 5 miles today? They’ve ran 10. You’re sick? Of course, they’re sicker.
- They take ‘subtle’ digs at your appearance, lifestyle, other half, etc, often using humour to do so. – Insults followed by jokes, putting you down (again ‘jokingly) in front of others, insincere compliments, stuff about you but not really (such as ‘I think tattoos are gross’, when you have one). All these are not innocent, and are said to make you feel about this big.
- They aren’t supportive when you succeed – Regardless of if your achievement is you’ve finally found that hairband you lost down the back of the couch, or you’ve won the Nobel Prize, your friends should be who you can go to and share your joy. If you feel a frosty reception when you share success at something, or are at the receiving end of another barbed comment with an insult thrown in, you have a frenemy on your hands.
- You find yourself diluting what you say, and not being your true self around them– The worst thing about being bullied, which is basically what these toxic relationships are, is that draining feeling where you can’t share things through fear of the sarcastic or unenthused reaction you will receive. If you can completely and unashamedly be your true, amazing self around someone with no fear, those people are your true friends for life.
- They are insensitive about your feelings, secrets, life choices: Putting down or dismissing something important to you, telling your secrets to others, not allowing you to speak about yourself, etc. Best example for this for me was becoming vegan. Never had I had so many people ‘care’ about what I eat before, insensitive comments about veganism, attempts to make me embarrassed about it, and so on. Did it work? No. I’m still hella vegan and if anything, more motivated to be so.
Dealing with them
- Phase them out – This is the ideal scenario, but believe me I know it can be hard. If you hang out in a group of friends with them, work with them or are even related to them, this isn’t feasible. If you are in a position to phase a frenemy out you should cut communication to a minimum, drop off the radar a little, and enjoy your new, less stressful life.
- Speak to someone you can trust– There will be other people you can speak to, whether it be a parent, boyfriend, best friend,etc. Tell them how you are feeling and ask their advice. Even better would be someone who knows the frenemy and can give a rounded answer. Who knows, someone else might be going through the same thing.
- Confront them– If you’ve tried to cut them out and they aren’t getting the hint, it’s time to take a deep breath and confront them. Chances are, the cases of them being horrible to you are etched in your brain so you will have examples to show you aren’t just overreacting. Meet them face to face as things get misconstrued via text, and then just say everything you’re feeling. The person might be going through some stuff that is making them act that way, feel the same about you, or even not realise they are doing it.
- Ignore their attempts to make you upset – One thing I have found pretty effective is to just be quiet. The worst thing for someone trying to get a rise out of you is to not give them it. If they repeat themselves just give the most minimal, non-committal answer you can. After a while, they should get bored when they realise they aren’t having an effect.
- Don’t dull your shine – This is kinda lame and corny, but I got inspired the other day while watching Gossip Girl. I just half-watch it when I’m cooking some days … LOL not really I LOVE it – amongst all the bratty kids there are some relatable messages, honest. Anyway, in this particular episode Serena realised she was subconsciously dulling herself down so her best friend, Blair, wouldn’t be threatened. She thought doing so, and keeping Blair happy was keeping their relationship going. I cannot stress enough, DON’T DO THIS. If your friends can’t handle you at your true self, they aren’t friends and you are better off without. I wish I had said this to my younger self, as I am only learning it now. It’s kind of a no-brainer that anyone who has a problem with you slaying every day is insecure in themselves and wants to bring you down to their level. Any relationship requires happiness at both ends, and if this isn’t happening, it’s not meant to be.
This brain vomit was courtesy of L.Bhairam. Celebrate the true friends you have, and dedicate yourself to being a good friend to those who deserve it. Remember that people who are out to put you down are almost always very unhappy themselves. Finally, if you feel you are being seriously bullied, mentally or physically, please speak to someone you trust.
Know your worth!