It’s pretty easy to categorise your personal relationships. Apart from family, you have your close friends, casual friends, acquaintances, and people you don’t particularly like but have to put up with because they are classmates or share mutual friends with you. However, your social circle can also include another category, one that’s more of a grey area: the “frenemy.”

Frenemies act as though they are your friends, but they cause trouble and try to sabotage you. A frenemy might gain your trust and then share something you’ve told them in confidence with other people. Essentially, they prey upon your trust and exploit it for their own gain – or simply because they enjoy causing trouble.

Some adults may try to dismiss this issue as one that isn’t really that widespread, or one that only affects girls and young women. However, frenemies are a growing problem, one that goes beyond adolescence. You can face them while at high school, later at university and in the workplace.

It’s important to learn how to deal with these toxic friendships and, if necessary, how to end them.


So, how do you evaluate whether someone is truly your friend, or if they are a frenemy?

It can be a delicate subject, especially if you are only just becoming acquainted with them; you don’t want to assume the worst of anyone without good reason, or you’ll damage your existing relationships and ruin your chances of creating new ones.

So, start by asking yourself something simple: How do they make you feel?

Frenemies can seem like interesting people that you want to be around, but, often, your instincts will tell you what you need to know. If you have a ‘gut feeling’ that this person has ulterior motives, or that they don’t truly care about you, it may not mean their friendship is definitely toxic, but it is reason enough to be somewhat on your guard.

This is especially true if you feel they are pressuring you to do things you know are wrong, or simply that you don’t want to do, to “prove” your friendship to them. After all, real friends should make you feel better, and, if you feel worse when you’re around someone, it may be a sign that you do not need them in your life.

Think about your potential frenemy: Are they happy about your accomplishments and relationships, or do they seem to resent them, diminish their importance, or try to sabotage them? When they compliment you, is it genuine or backhanded?

Also, the way your potential frenemy treats others can speak volumes. If they lie, betray others, or demonstrate their lack of trustworthiness in some other ways, it’s likely that they would treat you just as poorly. 

Backhanded compliments aren’t the only ways a frenemy can mistreat you, especially if they’re very committed to making trouble.

They may break their promises, spread rumours about you, or share your secrets with others. If you’re already concerned about their intentions, watch what you tell them. They may try to make you feel comfortable by sharing a small secret of their own so you disclose private information to them, then use it against you.


Now that you can identify a frenemy, what can you do about one? 

First of all, especially if you only have a feeling this person is toxic, you can talk to someone you truly trust. Tell them what your concerns are and why you feel this person may be a frenemy; listen to their thoughts and advice. An outside opinion may help illuminate the situation and give you needed perspective.

If you have doubts about what your frenemy has been doing or saying, confront them directly. They’re used to operating secretly, so they may be jarred by your directness and come clean. However, be prepared for a variety of responses. They may get angry, deny it, or worse.

If your frenemy does come clean and apologise, it’s up to you to decide whether to cut off contact with them. If there is truly a possibility of developing a true friendship with this person and turning them into an asset in your life, set ground rules for your new friendship and move forward.

However, if maintaining the friendship is not going to be a healthy choice, make the break and end it. You’ll be much happier without their damaging presence in your life.


This guest post was written by Jeff Bearden, AKA “The Get Back on Your Feet Guy”.

Jeff inspires today’s youth to stand up to bullying, battle depression and live lives free of alcohol and drugs through his motivational speaking. As a professional wrestler for over 25 years, working under the names “Giant Warrior” and “Tiger Steele”, Bearden entertained audiences all over the world, including audiences of over 75,000. Through his wrestling career, he had experiences both positive and negative that he brings to his speeches. The topics that Bearden speaks on are those that have personally affected him and people he knew from his life on the road, providing his audience with a judgment-free and relatable message. His message is as powerful as his seven-foot stature: No matter where you are in your life and no matter what cards life has dealt you, you can get back on your feet and thrive.