Frenemies: Real Relation or False Fiction?

The term frenemy was coined by a sister of journalist and author Jessica Mitford - a well-known journalist and author -  but only gained attention twenty years later when it was introduced in an episode of the hit TV series “Sex and the City”. A combination of the words ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’, it is used to describe a relationship which is not exactly a friendship, but a combination of rivalry and geniality. It may also be used to describe an enemy pretending to be a friend. There are two kinds of frenemies: the mild and the severe. The mild are in fact alright, and are mostly okay. The severe cases, however, may be damaging for both parties.

Frenemies appear often in popular culture from literature to tv shows to comic books. Interesting and complex, it provides variety and engages the audience by displaying a relationship that is almost perpetually on the brink of shattering. Examples include Sue and Will from the show “Glee” and Derek and Stiles from “Teen Wolf”. This is not restricted to shows however: Katniss and Finnick from “The Hunger Games” is yet another notable example. People are often amused by such a relationship, so authors often make a conscious choice to include them in their creative works.

Even so, does this mean that you can encounter frenemies in real life? Apparently, you can because they do exist. In fact, the term itself has now been included in the Oxford Dictionary. Do you have a particular friend that exhibits the traits listed above? Most people would agree. However, it is not easy to identify a frenemy unless you take a long hard look at the relationships you have. If you feel hurt on multiple occasions when you spend time in the company of a particular person, they may be a frenemy. A prominent example in celebrity culture is the relationship between Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.

Relationships such as these are not healthy. A particular giveaway that someone in your life may in fact be a frenemy is that they may pretend to support you, but are actually rooting for your downfall. They will somehow manage to include hurtful comments, and often this can be confusing, as well as lead you to question the true nature of the relationship. Jealousy is a prevalent factor. Real friends feel happy for you, but frenemies are unable to due to their envy. Research has shown that frenemies may actually have a negative impact on both physical and emotional health, causing stress and even raising blood pressure.

There are ways to stop someone from becoming a bad frenemy. You could confront them and tell them exactly what you find negative about them, or you could let the relationship go altogether. Confrontations are often more difficult, but the fact that you are trying to preserve the relationship will have an positive impact on both parties. However, if the other end does not care to listen and continues to carry on with their bad behaviour towards you, it is time to let go of an unhealthy relationship, as such things can only cause harm overall.

We must also remember to look to ourselves. Make an active effort to stop yourself from taking on the traits of a bad frenemy, as you may be hurting one of your relationships. Do not talk behind others’ backs, always be polite no matter whom you are talking to and always have their best interests at heart. Even when dealing with a former frenemy, remain nice and do unto them in such a way as you might deal with an acquaintance. 

Therefore, frenemies are in fact real relations - but always remember that any relationships you care to have should be healthy ones.


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