Thursday, 4 October 2012

How to Spot And Ditch Those Frenemys

Years ago I used to have a friend who was witty, attractive, successful and funny.
We shared a lot of common interests and on paper were perfectly matched to be the best of gal pals except...
Whilst I rejoiced in her successes (of which there were many) and would be at the ready with my waterproof shoulder and love bombs when things went wrong for her, over time I began to feel that all was not as it had initially seemed.
Often after spending time in her company I would think over the days conversation  (a habit that I don't have a tendency to do so there's the first red flag) and would realise she had made a series of slightly snide remarks.All aimed at me and all subtly planted, like death by a thousand paper cuts.
I would arrive for our lunch date/shopping trip/meal feeling absolutely fine and leave feeling a bit, well flat. As if my life was slightly rubbish and so was I.
Beware the bitch masquerading as a freind
Looking back the signs were all there from the start.
Whilst I included her in many invitations with my other friends she never asked me to any activities with her social circle, even if they were things she knew I would have loved. 
She would gleefully recount the weekend of lunches, shopping and pampering with her other buddies (who on the few times I met them seemed perfectly lovely) knowing I had spent a lonely weekend kicking my heals.
Whenever things went well for me (and during the period of our friendship my career flourished and  I met the man I went on to marry so life was good) it seemed to make her irritable. 
She would point out what wasn't so amazing about my life or remind me of times in the past when I had made bad judgements.
Without realising it I started to underplay my achievements or not mention them at all.
You may wonder why I put up with this for any period of time however she was smart. 
Whenever her behaviour went too far and even I could no longer gloss over it she would go on the charm offensive. I had other friends, a husband and a creative rewarding job so it was fairly easy for me to take a step back and yet she would sense me pulling away. A funny, engaging email would hit my inbox, telling me how much she missed me, inviting me to see a fantastic exhibition, or go and see a film at my favourite art house cinema and like a total sap I would be reeled in. Not wanting to accept the horrible fact that this time wouldn't be different, she hadn't changed, it would only be much, much worse.
The utimate "Frenemy" movie

As is so often the way it took my mum to shake some sense into me. Sure other friends had voiced reservations about her behaviour and questioned why I wanted to remain mates with someone who ran so hot and cold but it was good old Mama Bee who summed it by telling me she was a "Frenemy"
I had never heard the expression before but the more I thought about it, the better it fitted. 
This chick wasn't my friend, she was an enemy masquerading as mate. A bitch in friends clothing.
My ridiculous need to see the good in people coupled with her manipulation had allowed what was basically a very unhealthy relationship to fester and continue, when it was obvious to everyone apart from me that she  didn't actually like me very much.
 I realised that when we had first met I didn't have the best luck with men, hadn't really worked out what I wanted to do my life and was just a bit aimless. This was how she liked me. She made herself feel better at my expense.
Over time as my situation and choices had improved I was no longer the poor relation. The other thing that had changed was that I had also made a few more friends. So I wasn't rattling around my flat like Miss Havisham waiting for her to pick me up or put me down on a whim.
The realisation that she was quite toxic and that life would be better without her in it hit me like a Juggernaut.
Once I resolved to cut her from my life I never waivered (and I am someone who is a real pleaser, I love to make people happy and hate confrontation to the point of idiocy) 
What was telling was that I made this decision whilst she was going through one of her cooler periods with me so a month or so later when the inevitable matey matey call came, I was suddenly very busy. The friendship which I had allowed to cause me so so much misery whithered on the vine and was completely over in less than three months. Bonkers but true.
I'm so blessed by the friends I have in my life now and perhaps its a rite of passage that you have to kiss a few frogs until you find your Princess pals. 
If any of my fremey experience ring bells and you have someone in your life who actually makes things slightly worse, not better take my advice-ditch the frenemy. Its marvellously liberating.

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