Frenemy: Signs of a Toxic Friendship and How to Deal with it

In this faced paced, dog-eat-dog world that we live in, where everybody is looking out for number one; it’s great to have good friends. We all need friends, right? They’re with you in the good times and the bad. They always have your back. They’re there when things are great, there when you want to celebrate. They’re there when things go downhill, there when you need support. Friends are always there through thick or thin.

However there are a certain group of people who masquerade as friends but behave like enemies, I call them frenemies

So what are frenemies? Frenemies are people who we assume or consider are our friends but on many occasions behave like our enemy. They are horrible people to have in your life. You really don’t want to have a frenemy in your life, because it’s confusing (is she against me or for me this time, where do I stand in this relationship??!!). As far as I’m concerned I want to know that I have a friend that I can trust and not a frenemy who I’m not sure of. Identifying and dealing with them is very important for your own peace of mind.

Here are five ways to identify a frenemy:

Envious of your Success

They are never truly happy for your success and are glad when you fail. Whenever anything good happens to you, instead of sincerely rejoicing with you, they always have something derogatory to say or undermine your achievements. They will make backhanded comments that seem ok on the surface but are really quite negative. It always seems like when you tell them something good it always leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, so to speak. A true friend should be happy for you when you do well, and want to celebrate your success, no matter what.

Unsupportive and Uncaring

Frenemies are never there when you need them. They make all sorts of promises that they do not keep, they say they’ll be there for you through thick and thin, support you in everything and every way but when you’re in a crisis or a difficult situation or you just need help they’ll make all sorts of excuses as to why they’re not available. When you’re in trouble, you can’t get hold of them and when the crisis is over, hey presto, they suddenly appear! A real friend will drop everything just to be by your side in times of trouble because they truly love and care for you (A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity, Proverbs 17:17).

Betray Confidences

Frenemies will betray your trust at any opportunity. They will gain your confidence and then stab you in the back. They will gossip about you behind your back and side with your enemies and when you confront them they will deny it (Psalm 41:9. Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me).

They also cannot keep a secret, but will reveal something you told them about someone else at the slightest opportunity. They cannot be trusted.

No Respect for Boundaries

They have no regard for boundaries and do not respect your boundaries either. They’ll appear at your house without warning at any time of the day. They’ll impose themselves on you, at the most inconvenient time (when you have guests for dinner etc) for something that is quite trivial and can be handled at any other time. They expect you to be at their beck and call at all times. I know I just said that friends should be there in good and bad times, but these frenemies want you to be there all the time! They don’t realise you have a job, you have a family, (you have a life!)you cannot just drop everything when they call all the time.

Spiritual Vampires

Frenemies take everything they can from you and give nothing positive in return, they suck you dry. Frenemies always bring something negative in your life with their unnecessary drama; when you’re around them, you feel low and down. It is so tiring being with them, their toxic attitude and behaviour wear you out. They’re jealous of the attention you give your other friends and will try to bring division and conflict between you and them.They never seem to have anything positive to report about anything or anybody. They always seem to have ‘beef’ with someone and eager to involve you (Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character. 1 Corinthians 15:33 (AMP))

They are just busy bodies, gossips, in everybody’s business, but never minding their own. Frenemies are always complaining or moaning about one thing or the other, they never let things go, they hold on to grievances and never let you forget about them either. They wear you out and wear you down. You’re compelled in the spirit to pray when they leave to uplift your spirit and clear the atmosphere of their negative presence.

Now if you have such people in your life, here are a few ways you can deal with them. I don’t believe in cutting everyone from your life unless they are so toxic that it’s is damaging you emotionally and psychologically. If that is the case, then you need to cut them out of your life completely. If not, then you can keep them in, what I would call the outer court zone of your life. There are inner and outer court relationships.

Sort out your Inner and Outer Court Relationships

For example in the Old Testament, the temple had an inner court, outer court and the Holy of Holies. Access to either of these places depended on the level of relationship with God. The outer court was reserved for the general public (Israelites) and those who wanted to offer sacrifices to God. The inner court was limited to the Levites who served God in the Temple. Then there was the Holy of Holies, which only the High Priest was allowed to enter once a year. Not everyone, could go into the inner court, not everyone could go into the Holy of Holies. That should also be the same with your friendships.

Are they trustworthy, dependable, reliable, how long have you known them, do they really care about you, your family? These are the questions you should ask yourself before you allow anyone into the inner court of your life. Do they value you, lift you up, support, encourage, counsel, edify you? Do they add to you? Those in the inner court are the people you keep close to you.They are the people that you share your deepest secrets, your confidence, thoughts. They’re the people you can rely on. Anyone else that does not fit the above, you need to keep them in the outer court of your life.

People you keep in the outer court are acquaintances, people you’ve just met, people you don’t know very well and frenemies.

Give them a heart to heart.

Just have some time with them and find out what is going on with them. Maybe they don’t know that they’re behaving in such a toxic manner, maybe if you put it to them, they might change their behaviour. Now this is a big maybe, because from experience, such people rarely ever change their behaviour; however you can give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe you might be the one to help them to change.

Limit personal contact/communication

Separate yourself from them and if they keep calling to find out why, just tell them you are taking some time off from the relationship ( you might have to tell them the truth). If they ask why, you can tell them how you feel about them, give them a chance to respond. If they make excuses, or blame you for their behaviour, then you’ve made the right decision. It’s difficult for people like that to change. By that time, you can gradually ween yourself off them. They’ll probably not bother you any more, they’ll get the picture. Just love them from a distance.

Cut them off completely.

Re-evaluate your relationship with them. Do you really need such people in your life right now? If not, just cut them off and don’t respond to any phone calls. I know it seems harsh, but sometimes you have to be hard. Such harsh measures might help them to realise that they need to change if they are going to have and keep any friends, most especially you.