Nicole McCance is a Psychologist and Relationship Expert and I spoke with her on the Dating and Relationship show about having Frenemies, why they’re toxic and how to cut them off.
Love/Hate Relationship: Having Frenemies
Throughout our lives we meet many different people, expand our social circles and gain new friends along the way. But gaining more friends doesn’t always mean sunshine and rainbows. In most instances as we meet new people, there will be some that have the characteristics of a friend, but spark a feeling of dislike or rivalry between us: this is what we call a frenemy. A Frenemy is a toxic friend. Someone who drains you and will often make you question why you even bother with them. It is a relationship that started out perfectly normal but eventually starts to feel like a chore to be around this person.
Frenemies differ from bullies since a bully will be outright mean to you right off the bat. A frenemy will often be friends to your face and when you leave you realize you feel insecure or pissed off. So I asked Nicole, why do we keep these people in our lives? Well, some of these people we keep around simply because they have always been there, like a friend from high school or college. But like most people, we change throughout our lives and gain different values and responsibilities. Therefore, some of the people we surrounded ourselves with before don’t exactly fit into the life we want to live now. So instead of just keeping someone in your life because that’s the way its always been, Nicole suggests we ask ourselves: “would I be this person’s friend if I met them now?” This is a great reflective question to determine what is important to you now and reflect on how and why this person may not be a friend you want anymore. Nicole thinks this question is so important since life is too short for toxic relationships, especially ones that exist out of habit. We can’t choose our family, our in-laws, or our boss, but we can choose our friends!
Keeping toxic relationships like frenemies in our lives can affect us in so many negative ways. A toxic friend is no good for our mental and emotional health since we are naturally social creatures. That means whomever we surround ourselves with will likely influence our thoughts, actions and emotions! If we are around people that constantly judge us, we will start to judge ourselves and internalize that behavior and those thoughts – which is not healthy! These thoughts start to create confidence issues and even start to manifest physically through sleep issues, social anxiety etc. there are also friends that put you in an awkward spot while you do spend time with them – like friends who seem to be constantly competing with you. After speaking with them you may often feel down that they are having all of this success with enough confidence to brag about it and you feel lacking in comparison or upset that they don’t care about your life. However Nicole tells us that this behavior from a friend is a sign of their insecurity and loneliness. They are trying to use talking with you to validate themselves. But in reality, this is not a true friend. True friends share both wins and losses with each other, and give each other equal amounts of opportunity to share feelings and experiences. So if you feel you have a friend that is constantly calling you to brag about everything they have done and all of the success they are seeing without checking in with you or letting you share stories – this may be a sign to let this friend go.
Unfortunately sometimes we let a toxic relationship with a friend go on for too long. So in order to know when it is time to cut ties with a frenemy, it is important to be able to identify the turning point in the relationship. Most often frenemies stem from two people growing apart. Ultimately, if you are not growing together, you are growing apart. So trying to hang onto this relationship when you are at different point in your lives, compared to when you initially became friends, can create tension. Like that friend you had in college who was always game to have a night out on the town and drink till 3am. You love her for the fun and carefree person she is an had so much fun back then, but you might grow apart when you get into a committed relationship and start to save your money for a wedding and house. You love hearing her wild stories, but she makes you feel lame for not wanting to party all night with her as often. This is a sign of a classic frenemy. This is a sign that two people are not in the same stage in their lives anymore and it may be time to reassess the friendship you have with this person and if it is going to be one that can last. Nicole’s suggestion of asking yourself “would I be this persons friend if I met them now?” is important in this situation.
This is not to say that when one person is in a committed relationship and another is not these people shouldn’t be friends anymore. But if one friend wants to live a certain way and the other is not supportive, it can be time to reassess the relationship. Just like in a romantic relationship when there are differences in values and lifestyle, it causes you to reconsider if this person is right for you. It is important to identify this turning point since if you continue to keep a frenemy in your life it can create problems in your other relationships too – such as romantic partners and other friendships. The stress of a frenemy can cause you to take it out on your partner and create even more issues in your life. And constantly complaining to your other friends about this person will put a damper on hanging out with you and affect your friendships with them in return.
Having a frenemy is like any other toxic relationship in your life – it is usually doing more harm than good. I was happy to have Nicole sit down with Sandra and I to discuss exactly what it feels and looks like to have frenemies and how to reassess the relationship to know how to move forward. To listen to more of our discussion on this topic visit www.640toronto.com or subscribe to the “Dating and Relationship Show” on Apple Podcasts.