The 3 Types of Frenemies

Suggestions for coping with the three types of frenemies.

Posted Apr 12, 2013

1. The Ambivalent Relationship

The first type of frenemy is someone you have an ambivalent relationship with. You get some positives out of the relationship but there are also negatives.

For example,

- you feel competitive with your friend, or

- your friend has hurt you in the past and you've lost trust.

What to do:

- Evaluate whether the competitiveness between you could be a positive thing (for example, if it's about actual achievement rather than just keeping up the Joneses). It might be possible to shift your perception of the competitive aspect of your relationship so that you no longer see it as negative/threatening.

- Speak up (at the time) when your frenemy says something that hurts your feelings. You can't control their behavior but you can control whether you stick up for yourself.

- Limit the frenemy's access to information about new projects you're working on. Don't get sucked in to disclosing more than you intended.

2. The Involuntary Relationship

The second type of frenemy is someone who is part of a circle of friends, a group, a team you belong to, or is a workmate.

If you could break off the relationship you would, but that would impact other relationships or your participation in a group.

What to do:

- Any of the suggestions for Type 1,

- You could try being winning over this individual. Perhaps they’ve gotten it into their head that you don’t like them and are behaving badly because of that.

- Don't gossip about others with this person. It could come back to bite you.

- If this frenemy is someone who is strategically important, consider whether "keep your friends close and your enemies closer” might be a useful/workable strategy.

3. The Long Term Frenemy

This third type of frenemy is someone you've known for a long time. What keeps you friends with this person is the sheer length of history you've got together. Conversations with this person may involve them talking almost exclusively about themselves, except when they say “Enough about me, what do you think about me?”

What to do:

- Consider giving this person "the fade." For example, select the option on Facebook to not show their updates in your news feed and stop inviting them to group dinners. When friendships end, over two-thirds of the time it’s via  “the fade” rather than a big bust up.

- Consider saying no when this person asks you for favors that are never repaid.

- Don't give them access to personal information that they could use against you in the future.

- An alternative is to bring up your complaints directly. Stick to making "complaints" (about their behavior) and not "criticism" (about their personality).

- Any of the other suggestions.

How to Deal with Any Type the Frenemy

The main principle is you need to recognize strategies that aren't working for you. In dealing with frenemies there is no one-size-its-all solution but it's important to recognize strategies that aren't working and to not keep trying those strategies.

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