Monday, 14 July 2014

When Friends Become Frenemies

It’s been a long time coming. To be exact, it’s been two and a bit years coming, this post of mine. Although the idea came to me midway through transition year, the expression of this idea at the right time has been difficult to realise. In my six years of secondary school I have come across many “false” friends, for want of a better word. Friends who have betrayed my trust, humiliated me or simply rubbed me up the wrong way. It is to these “friends” that this post is dedicated.

To begin with, one must pose the question: how is a frenemy identified? Let me assure you, it’s not always obvious at the start. In my case, there were two prominent instances where I felt alienated by friends. First of all were the inappropriate jokes and remarks that were being launched in my direction. It’s one thing to engage in playful, harmless mockery in the company of only a few people, but to throw offensive remarks across a room full of people is a whole other ball game. A friend does not degrade you in front of your peers and colleagues to appear the joker – a frenemy does.

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

Another little thing that made me realise what I had on my hands was the way in which the daily conversations would flow. In friendships, communication is a two-way thing. Therefore it is needless to say that a friendship cannot blossom if one person is dictating the conversation. It really is a game of give and take. Give some information, take in some information. Pretty straightforward, right? Not for a frenemy. A frenemy is so self-absorbed that they will manipulate and control a conversation so that it revolves entirely around themselves. No matter how uninterested you are in their story of their uncle’s wife’s cat’s diet, you will have no choice but to listen. Any attempts you make to contribute to the chat will immediately be shot down. If you see an empty desk at lunchtime be worried – a frenemy doesn’t stop to catch breath.

Perhaps the most frightening trait of a frenemy is their ability to isolate people with the click of a finger. One day you could be conversing (or should I say they converse whilst you listen), the next you could be sat on your own pondering why it is you have 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 I was to share a differing opinion on a matter, the frenemy in question would, without hesitation make a statement undermining everything I had just said. Typical frenemy behaviour.

Once a frenemy is recognised, the next problem is how do you deal with the frenemy. There are numerous approaches one could take to combat frenemies but since this is my blog after all, I’m going to discuss the two which I, personally have taken. The first thing I tried was confrontation. By that I do not mean telling them to meet me in the parking lot at 5pm. By confrontation I mean telling them straight out that I have an issue with how they have been treating me. For many frenemies, this sort of a blunt statement may shock them out of their wicked ways. Unfortunately in my case I was not so lucky. Which leads me on to approach number two: disassociate yourself from the person. If they cannot acknowledge their own faults then they are too far gone to bother trying any further. Some people try to be a frenemy; others simply take to it like a boat to water.

People may say that I made the wrong decision by disassociating myself from my frenemies. However, it was not a decision I made overnight. No, this decision was made over months of tolerance and efforts to keep peace within myself and with others. Looking back I couldn’t be more content with my actions and the approach I took. Confidence and the belief that you are doing what’s best for you are 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. One piece of advice I can give is to avoid getting sucked in. If you begin to accept the dominance, you will lose yourself somewhere along the line. You will lose sight of how you deserve to be treated in comparison to the way you are currently being treated. Worst case scenario: you become the frenemy.

I’m sure my own frenemies will be dissecting this post in the hope of finding some evidence that it is fact I that is the frenemy. In that case, this post has served its purpose. If you are trying to find evidence that I have mentioned you in a post about frenemies then this post has been a success already. Admission is the first step to recovery, eh?

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