"False friends are like our shadow, keeping close to us while we walk in the sunshine, but leaving us the instant we cross into the shade." - Christian Nestell Bovee
Like it or not, some of our friends are "frenemies." Many are experts on this subject, and this author spent years surrounding myself with friends from school days, who simply get off on seeing people hurt, between jobs, or otherwise messed up.
My old school gang was interesting, hilariously quirky, with some destined to be the subject of a literary work or two. I will never be one of the writers. But there is that term "deep background".
Ideally, our close friends give us a foundation of acceptance and advice, a place from which we can build ourselves into the people we seek to become. But when we choose our friends poorly, the negative energy can consume our self-esteem like a lit cigarette in pure oxygen.
When we are honest with ourselves, we often see that friend hanging around is using us to make them feel validated. Are they a true friend? Most likely they are a “frenemy”.
Most "frenemies" don’t intend to hurt us. They simply seek to feel superior at our expense. Their method is to make someone else, stand behind their place in line. Their comments have a demeaning and passive aggressive subtext. Be wary if your friend gives you backhanded compliments that lets you know that they possess lower standards for you than they have for themselves. For being picked at by those we care for, is worse for self-esteem than being insulted by a known enemy.
A frenemy makes frequent comments that seem helpful in a passive-aggressive way, in order to advance their sense of self-superiority. They suggest that you wear something, and say that they would never wear something like that. They encourage you to date those breathtakingly wrong for you, that is unattractive or boring. The frenemy often advises hint that the person you really care about would never stoop to being with a person like you. However it's framed, frenemies speak in ways that decimate our self-esteem.
Not all criticism is bad. One of the great things about friendship is that we can reveal ourselves to others, and expect some constructive critiques. And yes, our little quirks may annoy others to death, and vice versa. Friends accept us for who we are and try to help anyway. They care about us and want us to make a great impression on the rest of the world while making sure we stay true to ourselves.
The frenemy sees success in your life as an affront, as a disruption to the natural order of things. If you wind up meeting a great person or doing something great professionally, they find a way to negate what you seek to do. Their words are driven by jealousy and defined by self-doubt.
Our successes serve as a rebuke that they are not really better than you or own all the answers. To correct this, they try to get you feeling bad about yourself so that they can get back into that place in line behind them. If you find your friend attacking you for the things you love about yourself the most, they are often trying to put you down to advance their own self-worth. And that’s not a friend you can count on.
Unfortunately, the friend vs. frenemy debate is not an apples to oranges comparison. Most of humanity has a bad time once in a while. For those we care for, it's their imperfections we find endearing. Even when we complain, we’ve got big grins on our faces.
With frenemies the calculus differs. If after a phone call , you feel devastated, that’s Red Flag #1. If you talk with other friends and find a dissonance between the way a certain "friend" talks to you and others behaviors, that’s Red Flag #2.
If you are constantly asking others friends about doubts in your mind planted by someone claiming to care about you, it very well may be a toxic relationship that is holds you back from the promise of joy. If you find yourself wanting to scream, “Why does .......talk to me like that, ” make certain that you don’t let yourself get bogged down by the frenemies within.