The blog for editorial consideration of topics from "a" to "z" to stimulate your further investigation and to draw your comments.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Got Any Frenemies?
And yes, important news broke today about something we men have known forever, but have been afraid of discussing for fear of being accused of being sexist. Author Lucinda Rosenfeld's latest book is called I'm So Happy For You: A Novel About Best Friends and is about the love/hate relationship that exists among some female friends. A frenemy is an enemy disguised as a girlfriend or to a partner who is simultaneously a competitor.
The love-hate, friend-enemy relationships are examples of the "frenemy" phenomenon. Jocelyn Voo, CNN.com columnist says according to Terri Apter, co-author of "Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendships,"Females are more competitive with their friends than men due to cultural circumstance." Apter theorizes, "They (women) sometimes idealize their friendships -- they should only be loving and supportive -- whereas the wider culture allows men to enact the inevitable competitive feelings openly, without feeling ashamed or guilty," she says.
For whatever reason, however, frenemies have a toxic relationship. To the public, frenemies can appear to be friends when in actuality, they are enemies. This occurs for several reasons, mostly psychological. The phrase "keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer" definitely applies in this situation. Other times, frenemies appear to be enemies but they are actually friends. This scenario usually occurs when one or more of the friends wants to keep the friendship secret for some sort of personal gain.
While promoting her book, Roesenfeld wrote an essay for The New York Post called "Why Women Are Frenemies" in which she implies that the root of most female frenemy relationships is jealousy. She writes, "For girls in their early 20s, rivalries tend to revolve around beauty and the attention of men. Later, it becomes easy to measure your lot in life (against that of your best friends) by the size of your wedding ring, the square footage of your apartment, the number of zeros in your or your husband or partner's salary, and whether or not your kids got into a gifted-and-talented program." (CNN.com, August 24 2009)
Watch Out For These Frenemy Behaviors
1. Frenemies may act the way they do with their girlfriends because they feel the need to keep up appearances, or because they do not want to lose mutual friends. Often both people know they are in a "frenemy" style relationship, while sometimes, only one party feels that way.
2. Frenemies may lace conversations with their girlfriends with undermining comments about a person's career because the frenemy feels threatened and feels she has to do little things to prove she has a little more power than her girlfriend.
3. Frenemies may be overly competitive with girlfriends about everything from who gets better grades to who gets better guys. The frenemy may often like the same guy as her acquaintance. To prove it, the frenemy may make out or sleep with her girlfriend's boyfriends and never tell, just to prove that she can.
4. Frenemies may introduce their boyfriends to a girlfriend because the frenemy has a nasty way of bringing up really embarrassing/unflattering/inappropriate stories about the girlfriend and keeps going on and on.
5. Frenemies may clearly be in love with their girlfriend's boyfriend at the time and go out of their way to act sweet to her in front of him; then, they talk super nasty about the boy when he isn't around. This, of course, makes the frenemy's girlfriend look like the irrational, jealous one.
6. Frenemies often feel a need to demean girlfriends so they compliment them with statements that have a demeaning subtext (backhanded compliments) such as “Those boots look pretty good for someone with your build.” or “He seems much better than the guys you normally attract.”
7. Frenemies may enjoy harassing their girlfriend rivals so they constantly encourage girlfriends to date guys or gals who are really wrong for them or whom their girlfriends may not even find attractive or interesting.
So why do women put up with fair-weather friends? The reason may be simple: If a woman has invested a lot in the relationship, she is likely to work to salvage the relationship, despite the rocky moments, says Jan Yager, a relationship coach in Stamford, Connecticut, and author of "When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal with Friends Who Betray, Abandon, or Wound You."