When Friends Become Frenemies: A Guide On What To Do About Frenemies

Each of us will encounter a frenemy at some point or another in our lives. Be it in secondary school, in college or even in the workplace, there's just no escaping the wrath of these fake friends. Here are some steps to recognising and dealing with frenemies when they come a-knocking. ‘Cause believe me, they do...

1) Identifying the frenemy.

To begin with, you must ask how a frenemy is identified. It’s not always obvious at the start, but there are some major signs to look out for. First of all, do they make inappropriate jokes and remarks about you that you're not comfortable with? It’s one thing to engage in playful, harmless mockery in the company of friends, but throwing offensive remarks across a room full of people is a whole other ball game. A friend doesn’t degrade you in front of your peers and colleagues for their own social gain – a frenemy does.

2) The green-eyed monster frequently appears.

Not only are frenemies willing to bash your self-esteem at every opportunity, they’re also prone to severe bouts of jealousy. Competitiveness is a clear indication that you're dealing with a frenemy. If a friend is reluctant to congratulate you on an achievement regardless of its importance, then they aren’t a real friend. An attempt to quench the flame of your success is a nasty example of how begrudging one person can be to another. If you race to tell your friend that you've won an award and the only response they can muster up is “cool”, then you my friend have found yourself a frenemy.

3) Two-way conversations are a thing of the past.

Another thing to watch out for is the way in which your conversations flow, or if they even exist anymore. Are conversations more like lectures now? Is there only one sole contributor and everyone else is a listener? In friendships, communication is a two-way thing. Therefore, it’s needless to say that a friendship can’t blossom if one person is controlling the conversation. It really is a game of give and take. Give some information, get some information. Pretty straightforward, right? Not for a frenemy. A frenemy is so self-absorbed that they’ll manipulate and control a conversation so that it revolves entirely around themselves. No matter how uninterested you are in the story of their uncle’s wife’s cat’s diet, you’ll have no choice but to listen. Any attempts you make to contribute to the chat will immediately be shot down. Nice....

4) Sitting alone at lunch is a familiar feeling.

Perhaps the most frightening trait of a frenemy is their ability to isolate people with the click of a finger. One day you and your “friend” could be talking (or should I say they talk while you listen), the next you could be sat on your own pondering why it is you've been abandoned. Frenemies are all about status and power. If you can no longer supply them with either of these necessities, they bid you farewell. A frenemy thrives on being the dominant voice and any challenge made to this dominance is not tolerated. For example, if you were to share a differing opinion on a matter, a frenemy would, without hesitation, make a statement undermining everything you have to say. That’s typical frenemy behaviour, you see.

5) Dealing with their sh*t.

Once a frenemy is recognised, the next problem is how to deal with them. There are many ways to combat frenemies, but I believe there are two really effective approaches. The first approach is to confront them. By that I don’t mean asking them to meet you in the parking lot at 5pm. I mean telling them straight out that you have an issue with how they've been treating you. For many frenemies, this type of blunt statement may shock them out of their wicked ways. Unfortunately, not all cases are so lucky. Which leads me on to approach number two: disassociate yourself from the person. If they cannot acknowledge their own faults, then they're too far gone and there's no saving their sorry little souls.

6) It's time to move on.

People may criticise you for disassociating yourself from your frenemies, but pay little heed to these naysayers. They haven’t had the same experiences with your so called 'friends' as you have. However, you shouldn’t make such a big decision overnight. Think things through and decide what’s best for you. Confidence and the belief that you’re doing what’s best for you is key in breaking free from the clutches of a frenemy. Sometimes that inner self-belief may be hard to recognise after a battering by a frenemy but it’s certainly in there somewhere. One piece of advice I can give you is to avoid getting sucked in. If you begin to accept the dominance of a frenemy, you’ll lose yourself somewhere along the way. You’ll lose sight of how you deserve to be treated in comparison to the way you’re currently being treated. Worst case scenario: you become the frenemy. Never become the frenemy....

Olivia Dawson
Article written by
Olivia is a Journalism and New Media student at the University of Limerick. As well as writing for College Times, she is also a contributor with Campus.ie and SpunOut.ie. After college Olivia hopes to write feature articles and/or opinion pieces for a New York magazine, from a penthouse suite in Manhattan, earning a six-figure annual salary. She's also known for being slightly over-ambitious.
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