The “F” Word

Yes, the “F” word. That is what we are talking about today. That awful, dreadful word that leaves a bad taste in your mouth…FRENEMIES. Frenemies are people who seem to be your friends, but at the same time act in ways that are mean, controlling, and manipulative. These behaviors are forms of bullying, and they make frenemies difficult people to deal with. But before we talk about how to deal with the frenemies in your life, we must first talk about how to identify them.

There are many ways to spot frenemies. Here are a few big ones:

1) They never seem to be happy about your good fortune or achievements. If something good happens to you, frenemies tend to downplay it by not making it a big deal, sneering, or not wanting to hear about it at all. When you make efforts to improve yourself, such as studying harder or practicing a lot for a game or performance, these people may attempt to do things that will harm your progress.

2) They are masters of backhanded compliments. You know, the ones that seem like compliments, but are also rude or belittling. For example, frenemies may say things like, “I like your hair when you wash it. It’s so pretty!” In other words, they’re saying your hair is ugly when it isn’t washed. These “compliments” may seem authentic, but usually they’re not.

Regina does not think it’s really interesting. Just FYI.

3) They gossip about you. They spread rumors about you with other people, and when the rumors get back to you they try to deny them or blame others–frenemies love to stir up new drama in your life.

4) They always need to be on top. They cannot stand the fact that you may be better than them at something, and they want to make sure they are always seen as better than you, no matter what the circumstance.

So, now that we know some of the ways to spot frenemies, the next step is to take some actions.

1) Listen to your own instincts.

Pay attention to how you feel after interacting with your peers. If these people make you feel happy, encouraged, and good about yourself, they are probably true friends. But if they leave you feeling unsupported, sad, or manipulated, they are not being good friends. You deserve to be treated with care and respect, so trust these feelings and take them seriously.

2) Talk to an adult or trusted friend about how you’re feeling.

If you’re not sure if you’re dealing with a frenemy, talk to people you trust. Parents, teachers, mentors, school counselors, and close friends should be willing to listen to you, offer new perspectives, and provide encouragement. They can help you evaluate your relationship with the frenemy and make changes. It’s important that these people are trustworthy; you don’t want peers spreading rumors and creating drama.

television animated GIF

3) Talk with the frenemy kindly and directly.

Instead of continuing to endure rude remarks and behaviors, confront your frenemy. Make sure to do so in a way that is kind, respectful, and sticks to the facts. Focus on explaining how you feel, using “I” messages instead of “you” messages. For example, instead of saying, “You were so mean when you made fun of my outfit,” try saying, “I was hurt by your comments about my outfit. I know you were probably trying to be funny, but I felt like the comments were at my expense.”

4) Pay attention to the frenemy’s response.

Even if you are as respectful and considerate as possible, your frenemy may still be defensive, in denial, or unwilling to discuss the issue. If this is the case, it may be time to let go of this so-called friendship and focus on other friendships.

mad animated GIF

5) Examine your own thoughts and behaviors.

It is possible that hanging out with your frenemy has caused you to pick up on some of your frenemy’s habits. For example, do you use wit or humor to put down others and make yourself look better? If so, it’s important to be honest with yourself and do everything you can to change your attitudes and behaviors immediately.

6) If necessary, make the break.

If your frenemy is still unwilling to make changes, it is probably time to let go of the friendship. This is not rude or mean; you deserve to be treated with respect and care. Ending the friendship puts and end to many toxic interactions, and it’s good for both you and your frenemy.

bye animated GIF

7) Still be polite and kind.

Although creating distance is good and healthy, it is not good to stir up drama or put your frenemy down. Remember that your frenemy may also have been treated poorly by others at some time. Although this isn’t an excuse for your frenemy’s behavior, it may help you develop empathy and understand where your frenemy is coming from. Even when you end the friendship, it’s important to be respectful and considerate.

8) If you’re still being bullied, talk with a trustworthy adult.

The bottom line is you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. If your frenemy continues bullying you after your attempts to better the situation, tell and adult you trust.

~Natalie

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