Frenemy Alert! 4 Ways To Deal With Toxic Friendships

friend or enemy?
Heartbreak, Family

The betrayal stings. Here's how to manage it and move on.

Have you ever had a friend for a year, ten years or even more and then, out of nowhere, she turned on you? You had her back, supported her and cared about her. You were there for her in her down times and always available when she needed to talk. Maybe you told her your dreams and desires or perhaps she was more of a surface friend where your conversations didn't necessarily reach deep levels but there was a true camaraderie there—or so it seemed. Then, all of a sudden, she throws you under the bus, makes up lies about you, accuses you of things you didn't do, tells you people said nasty things about you when they didn't. Suddenly you've gone from friends to frenemies and you're left feeling floored, confused, defensive and hurt.

Her low self-esteem finally got the best of her.
She began to see you as a clear threat to her job, her man, another friend, whatever. The fact is, the explosion of her ego has left you reeling. Or maybe there wasn't an explosion; maybe it was more subtle—you heard she was talking behind your back or saw her doing something you never imagined a friend doing. Maybe she simply stopped acknowledging your existence, ignoring you completely.

Your friend just turned into a frenemy. How could this happen? Why? It doesn't make any sense — or does it? Someone else's low self-esteem can impact your whole world, but you don't have to let it. Our self-esteem isn't dictated by other people, but until we learn how to manage difficult situations like this with a healthy level of self-confidence, other people's behavior can throw us for one heck of a loop and leave us upside down rather than on our feet.

Although the initial shock of the situation may rock your world, instead, look at it as if it were a science experiment. Find a new perspective by looking down on the matter from up high in the stands. This makes the painful part look small (and even unimportant) compared to the huge field of your life, great memories and more time for new, healthier friends. She turned into a frenemy but that just means it's time to move on and doesn't have to taint the whole relationship. "Does this mean I have to constantly be on-guard in my friendships?” you ask. No. Allowing yourself to feel what's happening along the way and how you're being impacted by the friendship as it evolves is what your intuition (gut feeling) is for. It's too valuable of a tool to ignore. Trusting it also brings bigger and better connections and adventures to your life.

Regarding your friend who became a frenemy, there’s no excuse for treating someone badly, but there are reasons why it happens. In a frenemy situation, there is a feeling of not being good enough to have what you have and a fear of it being taken away. If you don’t feel good enough to begin with (99.9% of us have been there) and you see that someone as a possible threat to what you currently have, the attacker mindset kicks in and you lash out. It makes sense but is still completely unacceptable, even more unacceptable between friends as they are supposed to protect each other.

As crazy as it sounds, people don't do things to us. They do things for themselves to get their needs met. If someone helps you, they did so because it makes them feel good to help. If they attack you, it makes them feel big and strong for the moment. If we take everything personally, we won't have any self-confidence at all, which results in low self-esteem, which creates a lack of healthy boundaries to protect us mentally, emotionally and physically. That leaves us where most of us are today—feeling uncomfortably vulnerable with our emotions flapping in the breeze of other peoples' words and actions. Let's take a look at your friendship and find out if it is beneficial, headed for a fall, already toxic or fixable.

How To Determine The Health Of Your Friendship:

  • Do I look forward to the time we spend together?
  • How do I feel about myself when I'm with her?
  • How do I feel about myself after our conversations or get-togethers?
  • Do I feel empowered or drained by this friendship?

How did your friendship score? Is this relationship clearly a benefit in your life? If so, congratulations! If not, is there a way to adjust it to be more positive, fun, empowering or healthy? Perhaps you two need to have an honest talk, new healthy boundaries can be set, less or more time can be spent together, or perhaps ban certain negative topics of discussion.

If you decide the friendship needs to end, here's how to let the relationship go while still supporting your self-confidence and protecting your self-esteem.

Step 1. Lessons Learned: Recognize what you learned from the friendship. Did you stay in integrity, having your friend’s back even though she turned on you in the end? Were you there to comfort her when she needed to talk or was having a melt-down? This means you know how to be a good friend. Maybe you weren't as good of friend as you could be and now you know what to do differently in your next friendship. Also recall great times you had together. Those memories don't need to be tainted just because you won't be friends forever. Most friendships have a shelf life and very few last forever.

Step 2. Letting Go: Determine if you want to keep your schedule full so you can honestly have a good reason to be unavailable or would you prefer to simply walk away and not communicate anymore? You can also have a grownup conversation letting her know that the friendship isn't a good fit anymore (of course, frenemies aren't exactly in their most mature state to be receptive and this could get ugly). Trust your gut feelings and intuition, they will always guide you in the right direction.

Step 3. Grieving Loss: Understand that even when something toxic like a frenemy is eliminated from your life, there may still be a grieving period. Allow yourself to feel it rather than stuffing your emotions. (Stuffed feelings cause physical disease either now or later.) The reason you're moving on is to stay healthy mentally and emotionally, so if you feel hurt, anger or betrayal write it down. Journaling is clarifying. Note your feelings, reasons for them, lessons learned, what you can do (if anything) to soothe them, what you did right, what you will do differently with a new friend and, finally, what characteristics your future friends should have—being sure you possess those same traits first.

Step 4. Future Friendship Focus: Each time you find yourself thinking about how you were betrayed by your frenemy, switch your focus to what you want in future friendships. Imagine fun activities, meaningful conversations and the comfort of good friends. Keep this positive vision because if you continue thinking about the frenemy, your energy is going to attract more just like her. It's the Universal Law Of Vibration and is proven by science. We get what we focus on. Practice switching your focus to positive things you want to create more of in your life.

You are now on your way! Enjoy your time to yourself and be open to new, healthy friendships. Become best friends with your intuition. It's there to guide you in the right direction, always.

Kelly Rudolph is a Certified Life Coach, Hypnotherapist and Founder of Are you tired of stress, lack of confidence and fear about your future? Kelly can help. Begin getting her free Life Strategies now.


Explore YourTango