When Frenemies Attack
Consider this: a woman you consider to be a friend is feeling bad about herself or insecure one day. She sees that you are a good target because she has earned your trust and knows what's important to you. Better yet… she knows what upsets you and which buttons to push. Let's say you have been unhappy with your weight and are sensitive about how you look in your clothes lately. You expect a friend to support and encourage you but this one says, "Wow, did you gain a few pounds? I thought you were on that new diet; must not be working, huh?" Or maybe she says, "Go ahead; have fries instead of a salad. That new meal plan you're on doesn't seem to be working anyway. Why torture yourself?"
In this situation, the frenemy has delivered a verbal, mental and emotional attack all at once. Here's what happens: you feel bad about yourself, she has company in her misery since she already felt bad about herself, and by pushing your pain button, she has now controlled you by causing you to feel bad and doubt yourself and your ability to weigh what you want or feel good about your appearance.
Mission accomplished! She used you as her target to get her power-fix. She feels more in control because she controlled you — although she is still out of control of her own life and will need another power-fix when she starts to feel bad again. It could be days or weeks, but can often happen again in just minutes or hours. She may even attempt to console you by saying she was just kidding or something that doesn't even register with you, now that you're in your negative, vulnerable state of mind and emotion. This action is made to confuse you, so you remain her friend. You may be thinking you must have misunderstood her, because someone who cares about you wouldn't be so mean. That feeds right into her plan to target you again in the future for another power-fix. She probably doesn't have true friends because she's too insecure to treat them well, although if they, too, are insecure, she may be the best friend they have. Then, the attacks may even go both ways.
Now that we know WHY a frenemy is so toxic, it's understandable why we feel uncomfortable around them. If you feel unusually vulnerable after telling a friend your true feelings about something of importance to you, pay attention to if she may be feeling out of control of one or more areas of her life. Although we all go through this, the uncomfortable feeling you have is important to pay attention to. Not all friends who feel out of control or insecure will attack. If they are emotionally healthy, they will strive to better themselves instead.
Frenemies can be drama queens. They create a dramatic play, requiring actors and an audience so they draw more people in, often embarrassing or insulting you (their friend) in the process. A frenemy needs attention and validation, and her constant need for approval is exhausting. She is toxic and may either guilt you into hanging around by saying you're her only friend or telling you how many other friends she has (she doesn't, really) so you feel that if you don't like her, maybe there's something wrong with you.
The bright side of this behavior she exhibits is this: when you stop participating, watching or allowing her to drag you into her drama, she'll move on to someone else who will provide that power-fix. Although it's unfortunate that another target is chosen, the most you may be able to do is bring some awareness to her about what she does. But a woman in attacker mode is not likely to snap into authenticity and ask for help changing. And if she does, be careful not to get sucked into another of her ploys to mistreat you.
The Bright Side - Benefits Of Frenemies
The benefits of having had frenemies are many. You now know how to identify a toxic friend and understand why they attack. You know how it feels to have your values trampled on, and can catch it earlier in the future to stand strong in what you want and believe is appropriate for you. In addition to getting very clear on what you look for in a friend, you are in a more positive state, and will attract more positive-minded people into your life and love life. Your family ties may improve as you no longer put up with the attacker mindset, and you catch yourself on your vulnerable days before you plot an attack of your own — however small and seemingly unconscious it may appear. You'll be sure not to be a frenemy yourself.
Characteristics Of Frenemies
Here's what to watch for: blaming (victim mindset), accusations, withdrawing, sulking, constantly being unsettled, procrastination, pretending they don't understand or remember requests or important dates or events, behaving below common standards, gossiping, delivering the silent treatment, poor me attitude (martyr mindset), unhappy in their life, work or relationships, overly and often publicly critical, never satisfied, condescending... the list goes on.
How To Release Frenemies
Releasing frenemies can be easier than you may have thought — but now you have learned what makes them tick. Now that you realize they are not your friend, you can either make yourself unavailable to them by having other plans or telling them you feel the need to move on to more positive-minded friends. Keeping in mind that they see you as an easy, already primed target for their power-fixes and they may attempt to talk you out of it or pacify you with promises and excuses for their bad behavior. Stick to your guns and refuse to play their game. You are no longer an actor in their dramatic play. You can quit and open up space for a new more appropriate, true friend to enter your life.
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