We all have them. That one friend we plaster on a smile for, even though we can’t stand her. It’s the one where we use air quotes when describing her as a “friend.”
Frenemy, in this world of celebrity nicknames, emojis and abbreviations for everything, is a cute term for those you would describe as both your friend and your enemy. It’s not a new concept, just a cute little name-mashup for one.
A frenemy is someone you’re friendly with despite disliking her. Your dislike could be derived from rivalry or jealousy, or maybe she’s simply not your cup of tea. She could be an enemy you’re friendly with, or an untrustworthy friend that you need to keep close tabs on because you can’t really trust her. Or she’s not really your friend – you might just pretend to be for one reason or another.
Would you ever hear a guy utter the term? Of course not. So, why do women accept it and use it enough to make it commonplace?
I think it’s another way we tear each other down. We have a concept for false friendship or sisterhood that makes us have to watch our backs or be a version of ourselves that doesn’t express our dissatisfaction and instead glosses over the issue of why we don’t want these forced relationships.
We all love Regina George from “Mean Girls,” the ultimate frenemy. It took the main character the standard 90 minutes or so to go from enemy to friend, to frenemy to tolerance and mutual acceptance. Roll credits.
Can frenemies be beneficial? Is there a silver lining to our gray cloud of relationships with them? Maybe. Your relationship with someone you consider a frenemy can be an opportunity to hold the mirror up to your own behavior. You’re appalled at her behavior, but what about your own? Which of your relationships would others label toxic and fake? Maybe a dose of self-reflection is just what the doctored ordered. And there’s always a reminder for compassion.
Think of the people in your life. Any frenemies come to mind? OK, good. Now, why do you keep them? Can a real relationship be salvaged? Did the frenemy ever play a positive role in your life? Have you ever spent time alone together? Ever had a meaningful chat? Could you have a deep conversation? Cane you name 10 things you know about them that you learned outside of social media?
If not, purge, ladies, purge. Do the emotional equivalent of decluttering. Take what you’ve learned from Marie Kondo’s No. 1 New York Times bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Thank the frenemy for her service and thoughtfully discard.
I say change the frenemies into friends if you can, shake off those you can’t, move on and get rid of “frenemy” by making the concept obsolete. Besides, we have to make room for the newest and next eyeroll-inducing term. Like cronut. I am still waiting for something to arise that’s as amazing as the croissant-doughnut.