Friendships can be complicated, and they come with their fair share of ups and downs. Sometimes though, it can be hard to tell if your peers have your best interests in mind, which is why it's important to look out for any signs that your friend is actually more of a "frenemy." Your relationships should make you feel good and help enhance your life, and if you're starting to feel otherwise, it might be time to reevaluate your friendships.
"The term frenemy, seamlessly blending the words fr(iend) and enemy, refers to someone who pretends to be a friend but actually is an enemy — a proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing in the world of friendships," says Irene S. Levine, psychologist, friendship expert and producer of the online advice column www.TheFriendshipBlog.com, over email. "If you think about it, most of us have had a frenemy at one time of another, either at school, at work, or lurking in our neighborhood."
Sometimes social or work obligations require us to spend time around this "frenemy," but it's essential you recognize the difference of someone hanging around because they have to and someone who is going to have your back for years down the line. If there's someone in your life you're unsure about, you'll want to watch out for these 11 signs your friend is actually a frenemy.
They Don't Celebrate Your Wins
A true friend is excited for you when you have an accomplishment. "When you get that promotion or become engaged, for example, if they don't seem genuinely happy for you, that's a sign," says relationship coach Tiya Cunningham-Sumter over email. "If they can never seem to show up to any of the events that celebrate you, he or she is your frenemy."
They Point Out All The Negative Things About Your Life
"Another sign is constant negativity," says Cunningham-Sumter. "If they are always able to immediately pinpoint what's wrong in your life or why something won't work in your situation, they may be your frenemy. This person might be secretly rooting for you to fail."
They're Very Competitive
"Some competition is natural, but if you find that your friend seems to be competing with you frequently, particularly in a way that feels bad to you, they may be a frenemy," says psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky over email. "Some signs are trying to one-up you in conversations and minimizing or devaluing your accomplishments."
They're Passive Aggressive
"Some frenemies might not adopt common bullying tactics, so instead they resort to passive aggression because for some reason it's considered to be more socially acceptable," says life coach Kali Rogers over email. "These frenemies will subtly cut you down in public, make fun of you where it hurts, and always take jokes too far at your expense. They will do whatever they can to bring you down without leaving actual proof."
Conversations Always Revolve Around Them
A frenemy is usually self-centered, and they love when the conversation is about themselves. "If you have a friend who talks endlessly about themselves and their problems, but gives no thought to you or yours, you are dealing with a Narcissistic Nat," says etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer over email. "Your role for them is simply to listen and acknowledge and expect nothing in return."
They're Selfish With Their Time
Because they're so focused on themselves, a frenemy has little respect for other people's times. "If you’ve made plans and you need to get to the concert by 8pm, they won’t consider it unusual if they’re not ready until 9pm," says Schweitzer. "This type may simply not even acknowledge that there is a problem, or they may find excuses like, 'I was tired and didn’t feel like moving' to be perfectly acceptable.
They Take Advantage Of You
Do you have a friend who just goes through the fridge without asking or feels entitled to your stuff? "Friends should generally share and be gracious hosts to their guests, but some people take other’s hospitality and abuse it," says Schweitzer. "This frenemy doesn’t seem to have a concept that the things in their friend’s house don’t belong to them."
They Make You Feel Like An Accessory
A frenemy likes to look like they're popular by keeping lots of friends around as accessories. "They’ll invite you out 'just in case the party is 'boring,' and leave you alone in the corner if someone more interesting comes along," says Schweitzer. "They’re sweet, but when you ignore or decline their invitation, they tend to overreact."
They Enjoy Drama
No friendship is smooth sailing, but a frenemy enjoys conflict. "A frenemy thrives on friendships that are always in crisis mode," says Schweitzer. "They continually seek 11th hour sympathy, but never advice. For them, something’s not right if there isn’t anything that’s wrong."
They Lie A Lot
A real friend is not going to lie to you constantly. "If you know someone who has a new fantastic story every time you talk to them, and it’s always something that is totally out of character from your own experience with them, you’re probably dealing with a Lying Logan," says Schweitzer. "They may feel that their own real life is inadequate, so they feel the need to embellish at best and lie at worst, to make themselves sound more important."