How to Recognize and Deal With Frenemies

Steps you can take to cope with toxic friendships.

Have you ever dealt with frenemies? They’re those types who appear to be your friends on the surface but stab you in the back when you’re not looking. It is important for you to identify your frenemies so you can deal with them appropriately and preserve your sanity and at the same time to know when to let go of these people when things get a little out of hand.

1) If you’re not sure as to whether the people around you are your frenemies or not, here are some indicators that can help you weed the good from the bad:
a. They are not happy when you’re happy. Every time something good happens to you, you will only hear insulting, bitter or a mix of negative statements from them.
b. They are experts in the use of backhanded compliments; these are statements that sound positive on the outside but actually have double meanings or often have a negative meaning behind them. For example, they might say, “You look really pretty when you wash your hair” when they actually meant that you’re ugly without your hair washed. They seem to use this kind of approach on you a lot, too.
c. They talk about you especially when you’re not around. When the gossip reaches you and you try to confront them about it, they deny having anything to do with it or lie through their teeth and simply claim how other people probably just misinterpreted what they heard.
2) Stop and think about how some people make you feel about what you say or do. If there are more instances that you feel bad in their presence than good, then you’re probably in the wrong company. Frenemies like to be around people who are miserable and use this for their own benefit. They like to put people down and make you feel even worse. True friends make you feel good about yourself and do not sabotage your efforts when you’re trying to achieve a certain goal. Frenemies are also good in bringing out the worst in you.

They will never have your best interests and you are aware of it. When you try to talk to them about something, they often become argumentative, defensive or negative about what you do.

You approached this person for support some time ago and you received their commitment that they will lend a hand; however what happens on the promised day? You get all sorts of excuses and you end up with no support at all. You are not surprised, though, that this isn’t the first time they did this to you.

3) If you are not sure whether someone is a frenemy or not, you might want to talk to someone you trust completely for advice. This person can help you analyze the situation and provide another perspective. You just need to ensure that this person will not divulge this information back to the frenemy. Apparently, frenemies can sense when you are aware about their presence and when you talk to others about them, others become warned about them and therefore might further their efforts in being the frenemy they are to you.

4)  You can try the straightforward approach and talk to this person directly rather than just keeping it all inside. Do your best not to appear affected or vulnerable; tell this person how you really feel and stick to the facts. Here are some examples:
a. “Hey, it made me feel really down when you said how tight my costume was in front of everyone in dance class. Did you really mean that?”
b. “I’d like to let you know how much you mean to me as my friend, which is why I also want you to know it hurt me yesterday when you said bad things about how I easily get distracted and will not be able to contribute as a speechwriter in our group. I remember you said it as if it was a joke, but hearing a joke like that felt strange so I thought it was meant otherwise.”
c. “I notice that you often say things to me that mean another. When we were at the mall the other day, you said that the jeans I bought were fantastic for a good bargain, but you made it sound like they were cheap and didn’t really look nice. Why can you not treat me as a real friend and just be honest rather than being spiteful all the time?”
5)  If you prefer the direct approach, don’t be surprised if your frenemy to appear surprised or deny what you are saying. The point of being honest about your feelings is to provoke the frenemy to either admit or deny their act. However, if the person becomes angry or refuses to talk to you about what you just said, then you have confirmed what type of person he/she is and at this point it’s time for you to decide whether you will give up this one-sided friendship or not.

6)  If you’re thinking of staying friends with a frenemy, look at how this person has contributed to your growth as a person. If all you’ve ever felt around this person was frustration, disappointment or sadness, then it’s probably not worth it. Also, try to look back and recall how challenging or difficult interacting with this person was and then weigh your options.

7)  Aside from analyzing the people you hang out with, don’t forget to look at yourself, too. Are you becoming paranoid with the people around you because you’re starting to be like them? If you’ve been hanging around with witty and sharp-tongued people, there’s a big chance that you’re starting to become like them without you noticing it. If you feel that you are indeed frenemy yourself, you definitely have to put a stop to it.

8)  Find people who truly respect you to hang out with. Make the move to stay away from the frenemy once you’ve confirmed that there isn’t any way for your frenemy to change but stay polite and nice; there’s no need to be high and mighty about it. Remind yourself that you are only doing this for the good of both parties and not for you to make a righteous person out of yourself.


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