1. People & Relationships

How to Confront a Frenemy

Talking Straight With Someone Who Isn't Acting Like a Friend

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Frenemy

Is she a friend or a frenemy?

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Under normal circumstances, the way to get issues resolved in a friendship is to talk them out. If you suspect your friend is a frenemy, however, that may not work. Frenemies will usually react one of two ways when you confront them: deny any wrongdoing or move on. Frenemies think they are being sly in the way they act, so if confronted they may just leave without explanation. If that happens you know the person was never your friend to begin with.

Be Specific When Talking to a Frenemy

First, decide if your friend really is a frenemy or is just behaving badly temporarily. Never give general statements when confronting a frenemy, such as "You don't seem to be happy for me," or "Do you really like my boyfriend? You seem to say negative things all the time," because frenemies are very good at reassuring you they are for real. If you do confront them, use specific instances that have bothered you, and focus on how it made you feel.

For example:

  • "When you said, 'I'm so happy that guy is talking to you, but you know he's only doing it because he has nothing better to do' it makes me feel as if you aren't being supportive. How do you really feel"?
  • "Let me get this straight. You just said this dress looked good on someone my size. What exactly do you mean?"

Don't be surprised if your frenemy denies any wrongdoing. She may even turn it around and tell you that you "are taking it the wrong way" or that you are "being too sensitive." This is yet another reason why frenemies are so harmful. In the end, you will need to do some soul searching and pay attention to how you feel when you are around this person.

Stopping Frenemy Behavior

To stop a frenemy's negative influence on your life, here are a couple ways to proceed.

  • Test your suspicion that your friend is a frenemy. Tell your frenemy alone something personal and see if this information comes back to you through gossip.
  • Pull back from your frenemy to see how you feel. When you're too close to a situation, you might question your emotions. Get some distance by telling your frenemy you are too busy to talk or see her for a specified time, and see if those nagging feelings you've had were justified.
  • Spend more time with people who make you happy. You don't need to over-analyze why a friend is making you feel bad. By surrounding yourself with people who are truly supportive, it may prompt you to permanently walk away from your frenemy.
  • Clarify your frenemy's remarks. If she mixes a compliment in with a nasty remark, stop her and ask her to explain herself. Do this each time she makes a statement that makes you uncomfortable. She might get frustrated that you aren't letting it slide and decide to give up and pick on someone else.

Making the Distinction Between a Friend and Frenemy

Many of the things a frenemy does (saying negative things, failing to be happy for you) can happen with your true blue pals, too. Every friendship goes through ups and downs, and sometimes friends don't always act as they should. Therefore, it can be hard to spot a frenemy.

If you have any doubts about a friend's loyalty, pay close attention to your feelings and spend some time observing the way your friend acts. When you do bring up your concerns, a true friend will be sensitive to your feelings and will want to make it right when she hurts you.

Here's more on how to leave a toxic friendship.

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