Thursday, March 3, 2011

Frenemies --- When Friendships Become Unhealthy

Sometimes we are so focused on our romantic relationships that we don't take stock of how healthy our other relationships are. This seems to be especially true in our friendships in which the people we count on for support are often times the people who are trying to sabotage us. This type of love/hate relationship has been dubbed having a frenemy and has gained a type of coolness factor in popular culture. But it it really alright to have toxic people in your life? Dr. Irene S. Levine, Professor of Psychology at NYU Langone School of Medicine, defines a frenemy as “someone with whom you have an ambivalent friendship.” According to Levine, who has been called “The Friendship Doctor” by the Huffington Post and, “the person seems to be a friend, but then has periodic or frequent lapses in behavior that are antagonistic or undermining.”

Frenemies make themselves known if you really pay attention to them. We’ve all heard their catty remarks:
You’re going to eat all of that?”
“You just started studying for the History exam? I started three weeks ago.”
“I thought you said you were working out!”
“I mean, I don’t think he’s attractive but I guess you like guys like that.”

We come across these types of friendships throughout their lives: In pre-school, it’s the girl/boy who befriends you just so he/she can play with your brand new toy. In middle school, he/she slips love letters in your crush’s locker. In high school, he/she was secretly pleased when you didn’t get into the college of your dreams.

“I think we live in a very competitive culture in which (we) are expected to excel and achieve in multiple areas of life. We’re supposed to be extremely attractive, successful in our careers and our personal lives,” says Lucinda Rosenfeld author of  I’m So Happy for You: A Novel About Best Friends on frenemies and the love/hate relationships that we create with our female friends.  “It creates a lot of pressure and I think some of that pressure ends up getting passed on to our friends and especially those friends with whom we’ve never felt entirely secure.”

So what do you do when a friend reveals herself to be a frenemy? 

  • Let go gradually --- "If your frenemy is bringing you down, you don’t deserve it. It’s time to get rid of him/her. If he/she keeps making mistakes and you see that the friendship has no redeeming qualities, you have to break it off,” says Lavinthal.“(But) before you dump someone or try to mutually end a friendship, you need to do so cautiously because there’s no going back,” says Levine. "Downgrade the friendship so you become more of a casual aquantiance."
  • Evaluate the situation ---  Was this a one-time thing or has this person let you down on numerous occasions? Have you been communicating clearly? How will this break-up affect your mutual friends?
 What if I Am the Frenemy?
  • Take a step back and examine the situation. Remember that this is an important time in our lives to make lasting friendships. It’s not too late to change.
  • Consider why you’ve been acting like a frenemy, and whether this is someone whom you would like to be a real friend to instead.
So, appreciate the good friends you have and put your time into those that create a positive energy in your life. Remember, you can always make new friends.

Based on Frenemies: When Friendships Become Toxic By Cassie Potler for Her Campus

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this Article on "frenemies" it's something that seems new but goes way back to your very first friendships. Some people live with good intentions and only see the good in others that they don't realize that there are a lot of two faced people that are maybe jealous of you and want to hurt you.