Calling them your "frenemy" may sound frivolous, but the toll they take on your peace of mind is no silly matter.
Friendship is all about mutual respect and love for each other. Your friends are supposed to have your best interests at heart and love you unconditionally. But just because you are being genuine does not mean everyone else around you are, too. It may not be obvious at first but your so-called friend could end up being your worst enemy. Calling them your "frenemy," the portmanteau of friend and enemy, may sound frivolous, but the toll they take on your peace of mind is no silly matter. If you thought you had seen the last of fake friends in your high school, think again.
You can come across a frenemy at any point in your life. Some might even be in your extended family (think jealous sis-in-laws, competitive cousins), or even a nosy neighbor. You may be taken by their charm at first, but it would be in your best interests to listen to your gut and look for the following signs.
The saying: "A friend in need is a friend indeed," does not apply to them at all. The basic foundation on which a friendship is built is being there for each other when times get tough. When it comes to your frenemy, you just cannot count on them to lend a shoulder to cry on. In fact, they may even take a sadistic satisfaction in your troubles. They will turn their back on you when they need you the most and make you feel like a burden. That is definitely not what friendship is about.
In a friendship, there is an equal amount of giving and taking. But with your frenemy, you are the one always giving and they are the one always taking. In terms of support, love, and favors. The conversations you have with them are also one-sided where it is always about them, their day, their problems, their new interests. On the other hand, when you want to share something, they will make you feel like you are "self-indulgent and insensitive," as per The Cut.
Teasing among friend groups is common and what leads to bonding. But that is only if it is light-hearted and playful. When it comes to a frenemy, they will pick out your deeper insecurities and make "jokes" about them. You may have shared things with them in confidence but they will use it against you when it suits them. When you try to tell them what they said was hurtful, they will turn it on you instead, to tell you off for not being able to take a joke. If they can't respect your feelings, that only means they don't respect you as a person either.
Friends always tell you things as is, in the hopes that it will make you a better person. If you find that a friend of yours is always pointing out that the things that have been going wrong and about the ways you'll fail instead of encouraging you, they are definitely your frenemy. They will degrade you about things you have no control over. "This person might be secretly rooting for you to fail," relationship coach Tiya Cunningham-Sumter told Bustle.
A frenemy will always find a way to disguise an insult in the form of a backhanded compliment. They do not want to come across as the bully that they are but can't help but be mean to you anyway. They will tear you down in public, hitting you where it hurts in the most subtle way. If people didn't know any better they would think your frenemy is being witty or sarcastic. But all they are doing is being mean.
Friends don't talk ill about you behind your back. They will try to sort out any issue with you face-to-face. They will definitely not talk ill about you to others. But a frenemy definitely would. They may smile and hug you in person, then turn around and spread rumors about you to others. They can even be trying to drive the other people in your life away by saying things that are not even true. Only a frenemy would gossip about you with another group of people.
Your joy about achieving something increases tenfold by sharing it with people you love. They will shower you with praise and appreciation in genuine affection. It is also possible to get a little competitive with your friends, but true ones usually go beyond the passing jealousy and wish their friend well. You can tell a friend is not a true one when they cut your achievements short. They act unimpressed with your achievements and downplay them. Or, they pretend to simply ignore it. If they cannot be genuinely happy for you, that is a huge red flag.
A friend would never lie to you with the intention of hurting you. Even if it is a harsh truth, they will tell you so you know better. But a frenemy will lie through their teeth and not bat an eye. It could be anything from why they had to make plans without you or about their whole personality. "They may feel that their own real-life is inadequate, so they feel the need to embellish at best and lie at worst, to make themselves sound more important," etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer said.
Your frenemy saw that you were useful to them somehow and decided to put on a pretense of friendship to get what they want. Maybe it's your contacts, a way to reach someone close to you, or your talent in a certain field. You are nothing but a stepping stone for them. They will use you for their own means and ends but never reciprocate in any way. Once they get what they want, they will probably even cut you off without a heads-up.
Healthy competition could help everyone to be the best version of themselves. To pull others up as you all scale great heights, helping each other out to each reach your own goal. But a frenemy only wants to beat you at something at any cost. There is nothing healthy about this competition. If you achieve more than them, they will undervalue your accomplishments to boost their own ego. Jealousy is normal but with them it is frequent and it always ends up with you feeling bad about yourself.
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