Shopping With the Enemy: 7 Signs You Might Have a “Frenemy” in Your Circle

February 9, 2012  |  
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You’ve heard the saying before: “Keep you friends close and your enemies closer!” And while you might hope that you only have people that love you and want the best for you in your circle, sometimes we can ignore the signs that we’ve got a friend who likes to bring negative energy or drama into our  lives. They’re not outright trifling, instead, they just do a few things that make you scratch your head–like the following on this list. A frenemy doesn’t immediately need to be expunged from your life, but I would definitely keep an eye on them–or better yet, confront them about their sometimes shady behavior and see where you go from there.

Stingy with the “hookup”

And we’re not talking money (that is unless you loan them money all the time and they can’t do the same). The frenemy is actually stingy with resources and help that most friends wouldn’t mind offering. For instance, you have a colleague who is looking for an assistant, and you know that your friend, recently laid off or unhappy, is looking for a new opportunity. While it might not be your first thought, it should be a thought to hook your girl up with the contact, right? Well, the frenemy has all of that in her Barney bag but doesn’t feel like sharing. Sharing is caring! But a frenemy doesn’t want you to find yourself doing more or better than them. If you even have to ask if they can slide you someone’s email or to talk to someone who could help you get where you hope to be, then that should send off some warning signals and flares in your mind.

They need to know everything about you and only you…

The frenemy seems to be a private individual. When you find out things are going on in their life, you hear it from a third party or they tell you later than they tell everyone else and might even give an excuse as to why they did so in such a tardy manner. But the craziest thing of it is that they seem to feel the need to know everything that’s going on with you. Your success, your failure, who you’re “talking to,” and what you’re up to. What’s that about? Maybe it’s done to be critical, maybe they’re just nosey, or maybe, just maybe… they’re looking to one up you.

Mimic or try very hard to do better than you

Ever have that friend who seems to have an unspoken beef with everything you accomplish or do and wants to do the same or better? Yeah, girl, that’s probably a frenemy. Your “girlfriend” is on a some Single White Female doing-the-absolute-most-stuff and is trying to get the style you’ve got, the friends you made outside of her, and can’t seem to let you be happy basking in the realm of a major feat, relationship, or whatever, without trying to compare her success to your own. Seems like ‘ol girl isn’t trying to see you on top of the world, even if only for a few moments.

Lack of support emotionally

You know when you tell someone something that is really eating at you, and instead of seeming compassionate or having some deep, clutch advice for you when you need it, they have a random reaction you didn’t see coming? Whether it’s making you look irrational about your worries, blaming you for drama you didn’t think you caused or just being indifferent, the way they come at you is often puzzling. They don’t always have to sing “Lean on me” or something like that when you’re feeling down, but if they don’t seem to care for real (and you’re not one who complains all the time about everything), or they find some sort of entertainment or amusement out of your issues…I think we all know that’s not right.

Bad communication of course

You might have a frenemy on your hands if small disagreements turn into huge issues with her. I’m talking so huge in her mind that she stops talking to you for an extended period of time and starts talking bad about you to other people, possibly even to some of the friends in your circle. I think a strong friendship, like most relationships, thrives on good communication. And while you might have your ups and downs, you shouldn’t feel like a friend will throw you under the bus everytime they don’t get their way and talk about you behind your back whenever there’s a misunderstanding.

You realize the need to keep them at an arm’s length

While you have your friends that you confide in, call during dreary moments and check up on often, you might have a frenemy on your hands if she’s the one you like to hang out with just occasionally. In simple terms, you like to deal with her in small doses. She’s great to party with or shop with–you know, the fun surface stuff. But when it comes to trusting her with all the ins and outs of your issues, that’s not happening. She hasn’t proven herself to be the most down-to-ride girlfriend, but she’s cool in other ways. It’s like your party friends versus your real friends. You know who to call for a good time, but you also know who to call when you need someone to stand by you–NOT her.

They like to play with your feelings, but want to play sensitive too…

Think of the Sheree and Marlo Hampton fight on Real Housewives of Atlanta in a way (although we know they didn’t get along at all). A frenemy is good at leaving you out of the loop or not inviting you to certain things in the hope of being the center of attention with no problems.  However, when they’re not the first person you think to call to go out for dinner or to come to an event with you, their feelings get hurt! Talk about dramatic. How can you be picky in inviting a person to things and then have a conniption fit when they so something similar, but don’t do it out of spite like some folks? Yeah girl, keep an eye on that one. She’s crazy.

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  • Back stabbers and trolls keep at arms length.

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  • Newlywed

    another sign of a frenemy: hypocrisy.

    i had a frenemy who had no problems calling out other people and would never leave the issue alone unless you agree with her.  but the moment you call her out on her foolishness, she would try to rationalize the behavior and brush it off.  even worse- insisting that it’s not a big deal and insist that you’re the one overreacting to the situation.

    a classic example: while i was planning my wedding, she insisting that marriage was a piece of paper. but, had no problem talking about her dream wedding and how she couldn’t wait to get married to her boyfriend.

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  • NSimonefan

    I’ve had former frenemies that met each of these categories.  Here’s some red flags to look to avoid getting a frenemy:

    1) Someone who asks for your phone number, but says they rarely talk on the phone.  If you call them, they are always busy and will tell you that they can only talk for a short period of time.  You’re the one who is always doing the calling.  They will call you only when they want a favor from you.

    2) Someone who says that they don’t have friends or none of their friendships work out.  If that is the case, that means that this particular person is the culprit.  Even jerks have friends!  If someone is an adult and they don’t know how to maintain a friendship, it is because they are self-centered and do not invest time and energy into the relationship.  Therefore, they “may” want a friend, but they don’t know how to be a friend.

  • NSimonefan

    This is a good article.  As a matter of fact I just recently kicked my frenemy to the curb.  I knew something was up when I would get excited about returning my friends calls, but would dread returning my frenemy’s calls.  People like frenemies can be draining.  

  • Gmarie

    I don’t agree with number 1. Just because they’re your friend doesn’t mean they are a good fit for an open position. You know your friends better than most, so when it comes to putting your rep and neck on the line you know who is worthy. Being a good friend should never trump playing it smart

  • ValdaDeDieu

    A frenemy is actually “taking up the space” of a good friend whom you might have–or have the time for–if not for her/him.  So ditch them STAT. Having them around is too emotionally draining.

    Is it so hard to cultivate and nurture real friends, showing gratitude & appreciation for their presence in your life, while being a good friend too? 

  • Orangestar616

    Glad so many of you realize that keeping someone like that around you, is toxic.
    Even with relatives, you still should love folk and pray for them dont; return evil for evil, but some people have no active place in your life and yes I have had a few when I was younger but relaized at a young age what real friends are and what they aren’t.

  • guest

    I have cousinenemies!

  • Nefijones1

    I recently checked my “frenemy” after dealing with her wishy washy crap for 20+ years.  I would never speak up for fear that I might make her upset when she was treating me rudely and expecting for me to put up with it. 

     Now that I have finally checked her she acts as if she has hurt feelings and is treading lightly.  I feel so much better that she is pretty much out of my life.  I don’t need anyone who is always draining me and expecting me to give and give.

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  • SoTrue

    Great article, these ‘friends’ need to be dropped ASAP!!

    I had a friend like this who would always try to steal my friends from me; she’d always get me to introduce my friends to her and then she would plan nights out with them and not invite me… wtf??!!

  • Sheryl

    and sisteremy too…lol

    • Ms. Candy

       That I have one of those… I have an older sister who is def my enemy on many levels. I don’t trust her at all

  • Slamy85

    What about someone who likes to take jabs at you? for no apparent reason. just cuz they feel like it.

    • Love_Sexy

      I had one of those so-call type of Frenemy making the little snide remarks………..Told her one day if people like her would take the energy they use making negative remarks and place it on positive ones maybe the world would have a better attitude…….People who do the jabs are usually miserable inside no matter how they come across as being happy.

  • Sugar_Spice

    I had a friend who did all of these especially tried to do everything I did but better.  Long story short I dropped her like a bad habit about 9 months ago & she called me recently because “she needed someone to talk to”. Not trying to be heartless but these type of people are like succubus & feed off of negativity,  I have no time for that. 

    • Love_Sexy


  • Love_Sexy

    Oh yes MN you did an excellent job with writing this article ………I have experienced each and every last one of those so-call “Frenemies”  on your list……I eventually took action of eliminating them from my life for good……..No one is pefect and we all have flaws however friends are suppose to lift each other up and inspire you…….People should not make you feel like they are bringing you down nor feel like they are not serving any real purpose in your life.

    • Love_Sexy

      No one cares about your D@mn friend…..Go away!

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  • Purrfit22

    Omg i sound like my cousinemy !

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