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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27 comments:

  1. I have had experiences like this over the years, and one ex-friend in particular stands out. The problem arises when its a close family member who behaves like this. Do you cut them out and risk upsetting the WHOLE family?
    V
    xxx

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    1. With family members if its not practical to totally cut them out I woud manage how much time I spent in their company very carefully. Allow them very little alone time with me and just make a point of being freindly but reserved. Take the power back. reduce their opportunities for snide remarks and you effectively gag them.

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  2. Very true. There's also the opposite kind of frenemy - where the other person isn't 'too cool for school' but lazy and almost resents/is bitter about anything good you do. The kind of person who will sit on the sofa in old joggers and suggest 'vanity' if you get a new look or whine 'it's alright for some' if you buy something new (forgetting you earned the money- of course doing a job that gets a snidy 'ooh lala' because it's not dead-end) - whilst they sit around moaning.

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    1. Yep know someone like that too, she cant stand to see anyone else catch a break. I am happy to see other people achieve goals or get long deserved treats and it bugs me when people take the 'it should have been me' attitude every time.
      V
      xxx

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  3. Schadenfreude, someone who takes pleasure in the misfortunes of others. I know these people are users. because something you have is missing in their own lives. Its a nasty trait.
    Well done!

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    1. Thanks Dave-Schadenfreude what a fab word

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  4. Have made my fair share of 'frenemies' in my time, and they used to really bother me. Deliberately cut me out and tell everyone else plans, try to manipulate others opinions of me...I however am as timid as a shrew when it comes to things like this and never actively do any 'cutting out' - I let karma take its course, and it's never failed me yet!

    A perfect example was a couple of years ago, a friend moved up here with no other friends or family...I was there for her, and she took advantage of my kindness, and ended up a prominent member of our friend group. But she got too cocky with her two-faced ways and rather than letting other people know and bitching about her, I waited for the inevitable, for her to start with them too, and now they see her for who she really is!

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    1. yes usually if you give them enough rope they trip up in front of others

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  5. Indeed it is! I had the exact same experience with an old "friend". Ditching her after 4 years of "friendship" was the best thing I ever did.

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    1. Its amazingly liberating isnt it-I look back and wonder why I wasted so much time on such a nasty peice of work

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  6. Fab post lady, we've probably all had our fair share of 'frenemies'. I think it's as we get older and dare I say it wiser, that it is easier to see these people for what they really are - a waste of our time and energy. We are all fabulous people and deserve our fabulous friends! :D xx

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  7. Great post. Luckily all my girlfriends are great but I have come across people who only seem happy when they're putting someone else down. Currently I have more of an issue with people who are basically too lazy to return calls.

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    1. that drives me mad too-just pick up the frigging phone

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  8. Amazing post, I could have inserted more than one person's name in this where you were being anonymous. Manipulative bitches who are actually jealous of you and put you down because they don't have what you do.

    Thank you.

    Cherry

    x

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  9. A fabulous post, well done you! x

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  10. Betty, I have just read my own story. Exactly same thing happened to me.
    I was new in town, useless with boys, start of my career and made a friend, who very subtly put me down, but it really didn't twig until... I met my boyfriend (now fiance), started a successful business & made lots of new friends.
    Suddenly she would tell me about "going out with the girls," obviously not inviting me. I would play down my achievements too, though in hindsight I have no idea why.
    We are no longer friends and it feels great to instead spend time with people who support me and big me up as much as I do them.
    Here's to the nice people in the world!
    Ana x

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    1. Gosh they sound like the same person. Once you ditch them you realise how much you subverted your personality to please them. Awful-hurrah that we ditched them!

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  11. Great post, so true. It took me years to realise I barely have time to keep in touch with the friends who love me & are positive presence in my life so why waste precious time on those who aren't. Time to ditch the bitches. xx

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  12. This definitely rang true for me. I am often percieved as 'quiet' so I sometimes attract these people. Recently, someone tried to befriend me and after meeting up a few times, I saw these traits quickly and stopped meeting up with her. Some days she was nice and I would think I had misjudged her, then another day she would be nasty again. It was quite hard to explain to others at first, as some of it was in her tone of voice and the way she said things. I also would come away feeling crap about myself and my life.
    This behaviour is rooted in jealousy. I have a little girl and strangely, this woman was often comparing her child to mine. I used to suffer from what I call 'too nice disorder' but now I just don't tolerate this type of person. It is plain nasty. These people drain you and I have little sympathy for them.
    I actually challenged what they said in the end and they tried to make out that I was overreacting. I suppose you can't reason with them so avoidthem like the plague! Funnily enough, she has very few friends!
    Nice post and am so happy that you got rid of this person and you have friends that appreciate you. xxx

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  13. wow Betty,
    pretty much the same story happened here with me! It took me forever and so many people telling me my frenemy was actually quite toxic. after a series of horrible events including being rather nasty regarding me at my own wedding (!) I sadly had to cut her lose which made it awkward as we shared the same social circles and friends.
    Trouble is now, she is cyber-stalking and harassing me but there's so few fustrating evidence i have to prove it is her so i'm at a loss as to what to do.
    What am i to do? - i don't know! I just do what the real friends say and ignore her, frenemies are clearly missing something in their own lives and go out their way to get it from someone else at their expense and confidence.
    Well written article Bettie,

    hannah

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  14. I think one of the things you realise as you get older, and is sometimes hard to accept at first, is that while some great friends will remain that way always, some of your friendships over time will change, and you realise that they were not the person you thought they were. Its often the people who at one point you were closet too as well..... Someone once told me that friends come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I think that is quite true :)

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  15. When I reached a milestone birthday a couple of years ago I reassessed many aspects of my life including friends. I decided to cut ties with a couple of frenimies and emotional leeches that only added drama and misery to my life and nothing else. I am much happier without them and haven't missed them at all, life is to short to put up with people like that.

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  16. I'm catching up on your blog this evening when I read this and again your words spoke volumes.

    I too had a toxic friend who when I started to fazed her out after years of cruel jokes at my expense e-mailed me to tell me what an awful friend I was and that I only ever cared about myself! After years of picking up her bad pieces I was now the one in wrong.

    We only parted ways once I wrote back to her 2 page long marathon message with one sentence "I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't, either way I don't care anymore".

    I occasionally think about her and wonder if I was mean but I mostly wished I'd listed all the bad things she'd done and all the awful put downs she'd inflicted on me.

    Ce La vie!

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