Despite the fact that they’re competing for many of the same voters, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz didn’t attack each other at the fifth Republican debate. In fact, they made nice, sort of. Cruz backtracked on his earlier claim that Trump lacked the judgment to be president, and Trump backtracked on his earlier claim that Cruz is a “maniac.” They’re acting buddy-buddy now, but the friendship between Cruz and Trump is awkward and tenuous, and it’s reminiscent of some other uncomfortable friendships, as well.
To be clear, there’s a reason Cruz and Trump are going so easy on each other. Their support base overlaps significantly, and as such, both are wary of doing anything that might alienate voters who are now in the other’s camp, since they may need those voters later in the primary. So make no mistake, they are indeed only pretending. This is pure political calculus on both of their parts, and so the “friendship,” as it were, isn’t too deep.
While this isn’t the most uncomfortable pairing imaginable, it certainly comes close. Here are a few more awkward friendships — though none are quite as awkward as the one between Cruz and Trump.
Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders
During their first debate, the two Democratic presidential candidates shared a warm moment when Sanders excoriated the media for focusing too much on Clinton’s email scandal. But the two are still direct competitors for a nomination that only one of them can win. That, not Sanders' lighthearted comment, is what’s paramount on both of their minds.
Cady Heron & Regina George
In Mean Girls, Cady and Regina's frenemy relationship includes slumber parties and backstabbing. But by the end of the film, they cross over from frenemy territory into cautious acquaintanceship, arriving at a steady, if slightly uneasy, truce.
Marco Rubio & Jeb Bush
It’s easy to forget that before they were rivals, Rubio and Bush were buddies. When Rubio was an up-and-coming politician in Florida, Bush took him under his wing and showed him the ropes. That turned sour rather quickly, of course. But despite their official rivalry on the campaign trail, the two reportedly still get along. Still, I'm going to speculate that when Rubio and Bush are seated next to each other on a plane, you can cut the tension with a knife.
Iron Man & Captain America
Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, also known as Iron Man and Captain America, are technically on the same team, both being members of the Avengers. Nevertheless, they spend most of their time bickering with one another, and by the end of the second film, they’re practically at each other’s throats. From the looks of the promotional materials for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, their friendship may soon devolve into full-blown rivalry. For now, though, it’s just uncomfortable.
Rand Paul & Mitch McConnell
When Paul ran for the Senate in 2010, he ran against a guy who was hand-picked by then-Senate Minority Leader McConnell. Paul won, but surprisingly, the two immediately made amends and struck up an alliance in the Senate. But it’s a fragile and uneasy bond that’s produced some truly awkward moments.