You call her your friend, you tell her you love her, you support her decisions, you buy her birthday presents … and then you backstab her. We have a name for who you are: a frenemy.
While the term is new, frenemyship has been going on (to my knowledge) forever. I imagine living in the early 1800s, a young Englishwoman bred to marry a handsome rich chap and bringing down all my friends who are in my way (a girl’s gotta do what she can to survive). Anne and Mary Boleyn, loving sisters of the 1500s, had a tarnished relationship because of their vying attention for King Henry the 8th. It doesn’t even have to be about men either (although it’s a really good motivator). Jealousy, spite, money, and a girl’s own inner rage can take over and ruin something that was once so beautiful.
Or it doesn’t get ruined. In fact, sometimes a frenemyship becomes the basis of the relationship that you have with another girl. Teen movies about girls illustrate this so well: think Amber and Cher in Clueless or Cady and Regina in Mean Girls. To me, this is the most poisoned relationship that one could have with a “friend.” The shit-talking and sabotaging mixed together with two girls is a bad brew of hate.
Let’s not be hateful, girls! Here are some situations that could diffuse a frenemy situation:
“I hate her boyfriend!”
But you love her. Of course, we all want to save our friends from bad relationships, but what if you’re wrong? Just because she constantly bitches about how her boyfriend never takes her out or treats her like a bag of dirt doesn’t mean that’s what’s really going on. Give her a little credit—she knows how to take care of herself and has the capability of leaving him whenever she wants. Just because you don’t like him gives you no reason to treat her in any detrimental way.
But if you are right (and if you seek truth, then you’ll know it) and her boyfriend is a douche, say it to her face. No running around the issue; she will appreciate your opinion in the end.
“She talks shit about me, too.”
Don’t justify. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The toxic shit-talking should be brought to attention between you two. Bring up those things that really does bother you about her to her—something that if she would try to change would make it better for her and her relationship . Have an open discussion about it. Invite her over and drink some wine (it’ll help). And refrain from complaining about her with other friends about her ugly outfit or bad decision to move to the suburbs; it’s not cool, yo.
“But she wronged me!”
There’s this thing that they invented thousands of years ago—it’s called forgiveness. It’s one thing if she did something behind your back and has never sought forgiveness from you, and for all she knows you don’t even know that she did anything. Another matter completely. But if she acknowledges it openly to you, and it’s something you could honestly live with, then you might want to think about moving on.
“I don’t like how she (insert something that pisses you off here).”
There are a couple of things you could do to deal with this. The first is to ignore whatever it is that she does. I know someone who values monetary gain and the things that come with it, and it drives me crazy. I hate how she is all about how much money she makes and how she goes on extravagant vacations and how she brags about the shopping sprees that she goes on. But what does this have to do with me, really? Maybe when she brags, I start to feel inadequate because I haven’t bought a new pair of jeans in two years, but that’s really all. I choose to ignore how much it pisses me off and try to roll that one off my back because it’s not worth my time.
The other thing is, maybe you should say something. If all of your friends don’t like how she doesn’t contribute to the dinner tab, you might want to bring it up. Of course, it might be uncomfortable, but really, you must do your friend a favor and say something.
The moral of this post is, talk to your friend about your issues. People are not used to working on making a friendship stronger. We’re used to talking to our mom about this, or our boyfriends … but not really with friends. It may be hard, but in the end, it will pay off.