Imagine this scene: you’ve been dumped by your beau and there’s nothing you need more than the embrace and sympathy of a friend. But what if the friend is actually one of your frienemies who is more interested in making your life worse as opposed to making you happy? Sounds frightful, right? Studies have shown that human females tend to use indirect aggression, which is typically directed at other females, especially attractive and sexually available females they feel competitive with. So it’s normal for most of us to have at least one friend who is really an enemy in disguise, aka a frenemy. In her book The Essentials Of Being Fabulous (Because Whatever Doesn’t Work Here Anymore), Ellen Lubin-Sherman offers a few warning signs that your best friend might actually be an enemy.
For starters, be careful if when you tell your friend about a new project you’re working on, her first response is to change the subject. If you continue trying and she completely bails on listening, this could be a sign of competitiveness. Another example is when you get a new hairstyle and your friend asks you ‘did you get a haircut?’ but never comments whether she thinks it’s nice or not. This means she is condescending and wants to see you squirm a bit. A frenemy also ignores your needs. Lubin Sherman sets up the situation in her book: “You’ve been invited to Frienemy’s house for dinner. Frienemy knows you’re a vegetarian. Alas, there are no vegetables on the menu. Frienemy tells you, ‘I have a good friend who became a vegetarian and her complexion has gone completely gray.’” She is not thinking about you, my friend, only in herself.
Friendships are about helping another build their confidence and feel good about themselves. For instance, if you express to your friend that you are about to celebrate a birthday that ends in zero and it is making you feel old, and she in turn tells you sometime afterwards, that you are in fact beginning to look old, call it quits with your frenemy. Whether you’re going through a break-up or lost your job, a person who is a true friend is sensitive to what you are going through and shapes her conversation in order to be sure that you are receiving positive reinforcements about the situation you are facing. So that if this friend in questions knows that you just lost your job and keeps on citing examples of other friends who are highly successful in their jobs or their relationships, then she is being insensitive.
Great friends are there when you need them and usually get back to you as soon as they can. They always make you look good in a crowd full of people (this includes social media), and if you are worried about something, they assuage your fears by advising you not to worry or sweat the small stuff. If your supposed friend is always posting terrible photos of you online with your eyes closed and in awkward situations, beware. And if you tell her you are worried that your husband’s new job, which requires traveling, worries you, and she tells you a million and one stories about men who cheat on their wives on business trips, then consider her one of the ultimate frienemies and say goodbye. There are plenty of good friends in the sea.