• Keeping Friends

When A Friend Becomes A Frenemy

Published: December 20, 2011 | Last Updated: November 25, 2021 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
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Even when a friend becomes a frenemy, it can be hard to know when it’s time to let go. Some of the potential losses: You give up a shared history and risk damaging some of the friendships you have in common.


Good Morning,

My friend “S” and I have been friends since high school but we took a break from our friendship for a year several years ago. She was dating someone and either was continuously canceling on me, or when she did have time, wanted me to go
out and spend a lot of money (at that time my finances were limited). After some time, we reconciled and she was there for me during the death of my grandmother. For a good year or so there weren’t any strains in our relationship.

Fast forward to now: My friend started going out of her way to spend time with people who had hurt me (one person had harassed me online to the point I had to block her on Facebook; another threatened my family and me; and yet another, stood by and laughed while it was happening).

When I confronted “S,” she replied, “You’ve already told your side of the story. These people are adults and have the right to make their own choices.” When I tried to explain my feelings further, she just blew me off.

During this time I told my friend about my plans to throw a home party to save myself some money but I had to wait until spring because of my busy work schedule. My friend stole my idea and invited everyone I had intended to invite. When I confronted her, she said, “You didn’t tell me your intentions, we are both at fault.” When I reminded her that I had, she
chose not to reply.

She seems to constantly want to “one-up” anything I am doing. In reply to my Facebook statuses, she talks about herself and what she is doing. It’s gotten to the point where I now hide most status updates from her. When I posted that I was
going to Quebec with my family in May, she posted about how she needed to plan a trip and asked who wanted to go with her. Last summer I was supposed to attend a performance of Wicked with a friend of mine. When “S” found out she began to make plans to see the show herself but once she found out my plans fell through, she sold off her tickets.

She expects me to get together with her X times per month although I have a very busy work schedule. She doesn’t seem to get this and gets jealous when I spend time with anyone else. However, when she moved at the end of October, she
told me at the last minute and has yet to invite me over.

Just yesterday, she texted me and asked to get together. I explained to her that December will be busy but I would get back to her. She continued to text me telling me how much she missed me, etc.

When I confronted her on how she seemed to have time for people who hurt me and to have people over to her new apartment, she then started throwing out times she would be available. I could not take it anymore and confronted her (via text) on the fact she continuously stole my ideas and hung out with people who hurt me. I received no response from her– just dead air. It feels like when I am being my own person and asserting myself then she has no time for me.

This friendship causes me a lot of anxiety and does not make me feel good or supported. If there weren’t history (and a lot of mutual friends) I would end it right here and now. I consider her more of a frenemy than a friend. I don’t want to affect my relationships with mutual friends but I can’t take much more of this. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks much!

Signed, Paperchick


Dear Paperchick,

When a friend becomes a frenemy, it can be hard to let go. Yet it sounds like this once-close high school friend is acting selfish, competitive, possessive, and insensitive to your feelings.

There are two distinct possibilities: 1) She was always that way, and either you didn’t realize it or overlooked it, or 2) She’s changed over time. It could be that as you matured, grew stronger, and became more assertive, it diminished your friend’s ability to control the friendship.

Whatever the reason, your friendship seems to have morphed into an ambivalent relationship between frenemies; you are friends on the surface but the foundations of the friendship are very weak in terms of loyalty and mutual support. As you describe it, the relationship has been creating more grief for you than pleasure. Additionally, the two of you aren’t able to communicate in a productive way. These all suggest that it’s probably for you to let go of the friendship.

When friendships end, there are always losses. You mention two that concern you: losing your shared history and the
effect of the breakup on your mutual friendships. Since you’ve accumulated a string of memorable disappointments over the last year or two, the loss of your shared history is somewhat of a mixed bag.

In terms of your mutual friends, you can minimize any fallout if you guard against involving them directly in the dissolution of the friendship. Try not to badmouth “S” or explain to others in any great detail why you have become distant. If asked, just say that you and “S” don’t feel as close as you once did. As you create more distance between you and your friend, “S” will have less ammunition to use against you. True friends won’t take sides in something that doesn’t involve them.

Whether you want to explicitly tell your friend you need more distance from her is up to you. She may find distance a welcome relief as well and step back. On the other hand, it’s more likely that she’ll act as if nothing is wrong unless you directly tell her that you need a break.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

Some prior posts on The Friendship Blog about frenemies:

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Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    relation between two friend is very sensitive relationship. it’s depend on both friend mind. its very sad that man now can’t believe in relationship. its very bad for our social environment.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have lost a couple of friendships that mattered to me. recently my son was nostalgic as we hit Christmas time and passed their house while looking at the lights. He remembered all the times we shared when he was young and the closeness of the family. I confess to feeling very sad myself. The truth is tho’ that there was good reason for walking away from the friendship and when I did, a lot of the stress left my life. Those good times were great, but the bad times outweighed those good. So be sure before you do walk away and once you do, don’t look back. It will never work to re-enter, no matter how attractive that may look at times…..

  3. Anonymous says:

    Once a friend turns into a frenemy there’s no going back. Sad but true. Save yourself a lot of heartache and find new friends.

    All the best!

  4. Anonymous says:

    It’s time for the writer to cut the cord. When a friendship goes sour, no amount of sugar (or sacrifice) is worth the effort. Move on. Find new friends who ARE supportive; volunteer.

  5. abiral812 says:

    KeEping a FRIEND is As Difficult AS losing one. U sacrifice A lot To keep them. I may not have sacrificed enuf 4 u… but in my HEART I swear I’m keeping U..

  6. Anonymous says:

    Losing shared history is really tough. I lost a good friend recently due to her wishes (she distanced and even though we talked about it due to my urging, not much was resolved). I find myself looking back at our shared history (seven years) with bittersweetness. It’s sweet because of the good times we had. It’s bitter because now we no longer have them. What I’m learning is that as time passes, and my friend is no longer in my life, a new history develops for me. Ultimately, the shared history I had with my ex-friend will only be one of many parts of my entire history.

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