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Is She a Frenemy?

How to Spot a Bad Friend

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Gossiping On a Friend

Gossiping breaks down trust in a friendship.

Michael Goldman/Getty Images

Since the term "frenemy" comes from a combination of the words friend and enemy, it should come as no surprise that frenemies are difficult to spot at first. Oftentimes, a friend who seems to be insincere can leave you confused and wondering if you're being too critical. If you're wondering whether your best gal pal is really just a frenemy in disguise, here are some clues to help you out.

Frenemies Give Backhanded Compliments

We all have moments where we slip up and say stupid things, but the difference between a true friend and a frenemy is intent. A real friend might hurt your feelings on accident, but a frenemy means to say something to bother you. The variety of things a frenemy can comment on vary from clothes, to boyfriends, to your career.

Some examples of frenemy-type statements include:

  • "That's a great outfit for someone your size."
  • "I'm so happy about your promotion. You almost make as much as I do now."
  • "You should just be happy a guy like that would pay attention to you."

Your true friends will give you a compliment that is sincere, while a frenemy will say something that will make you question whether they just put you down or not.

How to Spot a Frenemy

It's difficult to tell when your friend really isn't on your side. Often it takes a while, and rarely is there one specific event that causes a betrayal. Instead, frenemies say supportive things and pretend to be there for you, but also throw negative energy and hurtful remarks into the mix. Your first clue that someone is a frenemy may be nothing more than a feeling.

Common situations where frenemies show their true colors include:

  • Ruining a positive moment for you with careless words that diminish your achievement.
  • Gossiping about you behind your back.
  • Inability to be totally happy for you.
  • Constantly comparing her life with yours or competing with you.
  • Compliments mixed in with criticism.
  • Hurtful words followed by a hug or big smile.

Frenemies Damage Trust

No one wants to think badly of a friend, so it can be hard to confront someone you think is a frenemy. This is especially true because a frenemy usually says positive things at the same time that she cuts you down. You might question your own loyalty because you wonder if she is, indeed, a friend.

Frenemies damage trust in a friendship because they take the most personal and private things about a person and play them against the friend's own fears. For example, if you confide that you suspect your boyfriend is cheating, a frenemy will exacerbate that fear by constantly talking about the possibility or even flirting with your boyfriend.

Even if your friendship was solid at one time, you need to acknowledge that something has changed. If you have tried to confront your frenemy (for example, giving her a specific example of how she hurt your feelings) and she refuses to change, it is time to find someone who understands what friendships are really about.

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