One day, you are tight-knit and sharing secrets as easily as breathing. The next, there is a knife buried between your shoulder blades courtesy of their two-faced behavior. This is the confounding cycle of having a frenemy. Frenemy is a term used to describe an individual who you have a simultaneously contentious and friendly relationship with since they are your friend and enemy. They are “a proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing”, according to an article from the Huffington Post. You will encounter frenemies at least one in your life. They can be anywhere and can be anyone. Julianne Holt-Lunstad at Brigham Young University in Utah, states that about half of our social network consists of people that we both hate and love. Some signs that there’s a frenemy in your life include: someone who craves constant attention, someone who is in the habit of giving backhanded compliments, someone you suspect of wanting to sabotage you, and someone willing to overshare the details of their life upon your first few meetings.
Although some researchers have contributed positive effects to having a frenemy, Jessica Methot, an associate professor at Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, highlighted negative correlations of having a frenemy such as rapid ageing, high stress, and high blood pressure. Since the relationship between frenemies is one of ambivalence, Methot and other researchers suggest that mixed results can occur in the workplace.
The first time I encountered a frenemy was the underclassmen years of high school, more specifically sophomore year. I met a girl who was my new debate partner. She dealt backhanded compliments in every other sentence. She constantly threw me under the bus whenever we would lose a debate round, even though it was her temper that handed us the loss. She constantly interjected herself into the conversation and focus the attention on herself. Everything with her was a competition hidden behind a farce of a smile. I refused to partake in the toxic behaviour until I witnessed her making out with the boy I had a year-long crush on and was planning to ask out. She then abandoned me in debate and ruined my plans for the competitive season, a major factor in my decision to transfer events. Those two actions began the years long whisper and smear campaign between the two of us. I stooped to her level. We would smile at each other while hiding verbal daggers behind our backs, ready to wield them and destroy each other at any turn. Eventually, I decided to sever the relationship to the best of my ability since we still had to work together on the debate team. She hasn’t changed in the slightest, but leaving my mistakes in the past has improved my quality of life.
Here is my advice for dealing with a frenemy:
-Pinpoint which of your friend are actually frenemies. This is a difficult step, but acknowledging the ones who you never quite were sure about or suspected harboring ulterior motives allows you to take the next steps.
-Ignore the backhanded compliments. Never let the attempts by a frenemy to sink your confidence get under your skin. To do this, realize that everything is coming from a place of insecurity and that they are only lashing out because they are threatened by you.
-Determine if you want to end the enemy aspect of the frenemy relationship. If you decide that you want to sort out whatever bad blood exists between you and your frenemy, talk it out with them. The whole behavior might be related to something that upset them that you didn’t know. Attempting to repair the relationship may result in a tight, non-competitive friendship.
-Let them go. If you ultimately deem it not worth it to keep associating with them, consider cutting all ties completely. Try to keep the split relatively drama-free and polite. The less drama involved on your part, the better. Even if the frenemy attempts to stir up drama, take the higher road. Your friend group will thank you and more likely side with you, if they are involved.
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