What is a frenemy?
Human beings are social beings. We gain enjoyment by being in the company of others. We form strong bonds with others outside of our families that we call friendships. As social beings, you are an average of the five people you spend the most time with.
If that is true, why would you want to be around people that you don’t feel good around? If you are forcing yourself to be around someone it may be because their toxic behaviors make you feel uncomfortable. The feeling may be subconscious. It may just feel like when you are around this person something does not feel right. You and this person may be in a toxic relationship. This person may be a frenemy.
“Frenemy” is an oxymoron and a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” that refers to “a person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry” or “a person who combines the characteristics of a friend and an enemy”( Oxford English Dictionary).
A frenemy is a fake friend. While holding the position in your life of a supporter they are actually detractors. They display the behaviors of enemies. The word frenemy is a mixture of two words, friend and enemy. These are two words that do not go together. An enemy most definitely is not a friend and vice versa. The word contradicts itself. How can an enemy be a friend? They cannot.
A frenemy is toxic.
Close friends are important sources of support in our lives. The more supportive, the closer someone will become to you. A frenemy is one of the worst kinds of person because they are able to get close to you and are able to do a lot of damage before they are detected for the harmful people that they really are. A frenemy is akin to a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Meaning, a frenemy is a person who appears to be a friend but in actually is an enemy. Exposure to a friend should be harmless and actually improve your life. There are some behaviors a friend will display than will reveal they are actually a frenemy and these behaviors will be distressing to you. It is the reason the frenemy is toxic to you. Nobody should be exposed to these behaviors long term because these behaviors are detrimental to your mental health and overall well being.
Frenemies are not kind to you. A frenemy is jealous of you. Frenemies put you down, especially in front of others. Frenemies tend to use you as the topic of gossip and they ridicule you in front of others to make them look better. You will notice they don’t stand up for you when people say mean things to you and about you.
Frenemies ask for help but never give it. An example is a friend who calls you often, and it is always because they need help from you. It may start off as them asking about your day but always ends up with them asking for a favor. They may need a ride because their car is being repaired. So you drive them around to do all their errands.
They may need you to watch their child an entire day and night because an emergency comes up. So you watch their precious bundle an entire Friday night and all day Saturday. And it’s always like that with a frenemy. They always need you to be there for them and so for you there is no problem for you to be there for them.
The problem comes when it is time for them to reciprocate. They never seem to be available for a ride, or are way too busy to babysit last minute. You may even ask something like, “What are you doing later on?” and anticipating you may want to hang out they will reply, “Nothing.” Now things start to get interesting when you say “I have an emergency, can you give me a ride?” All of a sudden they will remember that they are having car trouble or have to run their grandmother to the bank.
A healthy friendship should and will involve elements of give and take. A frenemy will take way more than they will give. If you notice that you are giving to a person and they are rarely if ever giving in return? That person may be a frenemy or toxic friend. After you have been around them you feel drained.
Frenemies do not feel like friends.
A fulfilling friendship will be filled with pleasant experiences. There will be respectful exchanges. You will feel nurtured, supported and rewarded. It will not be like that in toxic friendships. When you around frenemies you feel stressed.
Frenemies are notorious for social climbing. A frenemy would leave you behind if something better comes along and unless you make plans and organize everything you will never seem to never hang out with a frenemy. Frenemies like to spend their time gossiping about their other friends. If you have a friend that is known for telling others people’s secrets then you can be sure that friend is really a frenemy and sooner or later they will get around to spilling yours.
A toxic person will not be happy for you. But, what about a friend in your support circle? If you have somebody in your life that you get the feeling is not happy for you then they more than likely are dealing with a toxic friend, or a frenemy. An example of this type of friend is, the friend who does not have a love interest in their life and neither do you. You too may commiserate and stress out about it together.
Then you get somebody in your life and instead of you getting the feeling your friend is happy for you, you get another vibe. What vibe? The vibe you feel is of hostility, jealousy, envy, indifference, and a slew of other passive aggressive behaviors.
What if before you found the new love of your life, they too found love and because they are a toxic person, their relationship did not work out. But when they found this person, you were happy for them. You let them talk about the person and you supported their bliss. After the new relationship fizzes out, they are bitter and heartbroken and you comfort them and tell them things to uplift them. You notice you do not get that same treatment in return.
Some toxic friends will stop hanging around you. Why? They do not want to see you happy. They will seem like they are half listening when you try to gush over your new partner. They will cut you off or change the subject. They will stop hanging out with you rather than watch you, hear you, or feel your happiness.
Frenemies will never become true friends.
Unlike with healthy relationships, you cannot work things out with a frenemy because they are dysfunctional people. Frenemies can be extremely selfish and self-centered. If you do let a frenemy know that their behavior is a problem, they do not apologize. A frenemy can be a hurtful person in your life who never thinks they are wrong and does not acknowledge or validate your feelings. The only way things can improve is if they acknowledge the problem and work towards correcting it, but they never do.
What to do when you realize someone in your life is a frenemy?
The answer to this question should be come to you fast, because, just like with any other toxic person in your life, you should seek to end the toxic relationship with a frenemy. If a person does not feel like a friend, more than likely they are not. You should feel good when you are around people who are your friends. You should feel fulfilled and supported. So let that be a key indication that you may be in a toxic relationship. It feels like one.
You do not need to feel bad about ending the relationship either. Just simply disengage with them. If you usually call or receive calls from them, stop. Do not text them either.
At first they may not notice because they usually only want to be in communication with you when it is convenient for them or they want something. The fact that you are not reaching out may secretly be welcomed by them. But eventually they will notice because they want something from you or want to keep tabs on you. It will usually be disguised as “just checking on you”. If you must engage, be brief and disengage as soon as possible.
Do not allow a frenemy, who is as stated before, fake friend, to bully or guilt you into continuing a friendship with them either. Assert your right to have healthy people in your life.
Sometimes we keep toxic people in our lives because of a mental health or substance abuse problem we may be dealing with. If you are having trouble breaking a toxic relationship due to these issues please seek professional assistance with these issues.
Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area.
Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Have you had a toxic friend or frenemy in your life? Do you have any experiences that may help someone disengage from a frenemy? What are your thoughts?
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