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Frenemies: 15 Ways to Know if a Friend You Trust is in Fact a Frenemy

The definition of frenemies is that they act like your friend but are secretly out to get you. These are the types of people you should be wary of.


Let’s be honest, we have all had a frenemy at some point. Frenemies are supposed to be a friend, but they are a covert enemy. Typically, you keep the peace because it is easier than being honest about how you feel. Since when has confrontation been easy anyway?

Frenemies are the definition of fake friends, but they’re not always as easy to spot. Some frenemies are so sly and subtle that they genuinely feel like a real friend, which is why you need to spot the concrete signs to know for sure.

After all, friends can break your heart too, and this goes especially for someone just pretending to be your friend. [Read: How to spot a fake friend: 13 Signs they can fake but can’t hide]

Who are your frenemies?

Your frenemies act like your friend, but they will stab you in the back, be fake to you, and even take advantage of your kindness. Based on the name itself, it’s someone who pretends to be your friend and is secretly your enemy.

They’re practically out to get you, and don’t care a single bit about your wellbeing or happiness. While the lines can easily be crossed, they’re incapable of providing you with true friendship.

They’re being fake to you because they don’t want to confront you with their true feelings, and this works both ways. So you end up being frenemies, just tolerating with one another and pretending to call it friendship. [Read: 25 mean signs of a fake friend who doesn’t care about you at all]

15 signs to beware of frenemies hidden in friend’s clothing

The problem with frenemies is that if you get sucked in and forget your place, you end up getting really hurt. The lines between friends and enemies is one that blurs pretty frequently.

If you don’t notice, you wake up with your heart broken, your secrets stolen, and feeling robbed. If you have a frenemy, don’t allow yourself to be attached or ever forget what the real relationship is. [Read: 15 Signs of a bad friend to always be on the lookout for]

1. They are way too self-disclosed up front

Someone who tells you everything about them instantly is probably doing so to capture you and get a leg up. They do it to gain control over you and to get you, in turn, to give them your secretive information. Once they know all your secrets, they’ve got you. They own you.

You might be thinking that it’s incredibly sweet how they trusted you with all that information about them. It means they’re worth trusting, right? Wrong. It’s a manipulation tactic from someone who isn’t a real friend to you. [Read: How to tell if someone is jealous of you]

2. They want all of your attention

A frenemy wants all of your time and all of your attention because they don’t want any competition from other people in your life. Isolation and making sure you have no one to turn to is your frenemy’s best friend.

If they get you to blow off your other friends and focus solely on them, then who are you going to turn to when they start to push you around?

They’re pretty sly like that, so watch out if they’re trying to isolate you from your other friends or worse, turn you against them. This is a classic move of a frenemy. [Read: Superficial person alert: 36 shallow traits they just can’t hide]

3. Frenemies love to play devil’s advocate

If you have a friend who can’t seem to ever agree with you or be on your side, but rather takes the “devil’s advocate” side, they intentionally try to sabotage your feelings and any initiative that you would have to succeed. Real friends should be supportive, but a frenemy will never provide you with this.

Like popping your balloon, they never show you praise. Instead, they present to you all the reasons why things never work to keep you reliant and subordinate to them. It’s not a friend just being blunt and honest with you – it’s a frenemy within your reach.

4. They almost always have an ulterior motive

Frenemies aren’t really your friend. They seek to gain something from you. You are a means to some end. If you feel taken advantage of, guess what? That feeling is probably real. Never ignore what your gut instinct is trying to tell you.

If they’re telling you not to trust a friend, believe them. Listen to that internal feeling telling you something isn’t right. Otherwise, you’ll end up regretting not listening to it. [Read: How to manipulate a manipulator and escape their manipulative grasp]

5. They love drama

A frenemy likes to create conflict and drama by always digging up dirt or starting shit. They always have to be mad at someone to unite you to them. Always asking for allegiance, they create fake scenarios to pit you against other people – just because. [Read: Bad friends: 25 types of friends you MUST unfriend from your life]

6. They love to know all the ugly

A frenemy loves to get the dirt on everyone to use later for their own purposes. It’s almost like taking stock of everyone’s faults, failures, and what they can ultimately use to embarrass them or make them miserable.

When with a frenemy, they constantly pump you for gossip and information on everyone else. In fact, you shouldn’t even be surprised about how they know things before anyone else does. They just thrive on getting all the dirt first. [Read: Why some people go searching for drama]

7. They use humor to cut you down

You know those people who pass off their insult as humor? A frenemy is one of them. When you ask them to stop, they might even tell you that you’re too sensitive or to chill out.

Often making you the butt of their entertainment efforts, everyone else thinks they are just being funny. But deep down you know that there is nothing funny about it. [Read: Toxic friends – 10 types of friends to avoid]

8. They make you question what you say and do

A real friend is someone you can genuinely trust and someone you can be yourself around wholeheartedly. With a frenemy, it’s like you’re walking on eggshells all the time. A frenemy works best by keeping you on your guard.

Since they pretend to be your friend while at the same time showing the hostility of being unfriendly, it leaves you asking if it is you or what you have done. That isn’t much fun, and that certainly isn’t friendship behavior. You doubt yourself in the process, and you don’t need that in a friend. [Read: 20 signs of a toxic friend to instantly recognize the rotten ones]

9. They hate to be challenged

At the heart of any frenemy is someone insecure and probably jealous. It’s easier to have you around than to be at odds. They don’t like it when you question their superiority over you or challenge them. So if you stand up to them or fight against them, they won’t like it.

Frenemies just expect you to go along with whatever they say. Because, well, most people do. If you do call them out, they completely overreact and make sure you feel so stupid and insecure that you might think twice about ever doing it again.

So if you want to win against a frenemy, don’t back down. Or, you can just cut them off entirely android all that drama. [Read: 10 types of toxic friends you need to ditch immediately]

10. They couldn’t care less

A frenemy’s signature move is they couldn’t care less about you. They aren’t ever going to be your emergency contact. In fact, if something is serious in your world and you really need them, they are either going to be out to lunch or staring at their phone while you pour your heart out.

They really couldn’t care less about your problems or issues, primarily if it doesn’t concern them. A frenemy really is this self-absorbed, and you shouldn’t expect anything more.

The only people that frenemies care about are themselves. Insensitive is an understatement when it comes to someone who is your frenemy, so try not to make the mistake of thinking that they care. They just don’t. [Read: How to deal with negative people and stop them sapping your energy]

11. They backstab you

A frenemy is the opposite of a real friend. They will backstab you shamelessly to others and tell them about your worst traits and problems. They might even gossip about you! A true friend would never do this.

As we said, they thrive on drama and gossip, which is why they love spreading rumors about you. They don’t care about your wellbeing as a friend. [Read: Be careful who you trust: 15 ways to recognize the backstabbers]

12. They always ask for favors

A true friendship goes both ways and if not, they’re not your real friend. So if they constantly ask for favors and use your generosity against you, they’re most likely your frenemy.

They don’t care about returning the favor or making things mutual. All they care about is their selfish gain, which helps you see how they’re not your real friend. A true friend would meet you halfway, but a frenemy wouldn’t even bother. [Read: One-sided friendship: 15 clear signs it’s time to cut them loose]

13. They don’t celebrate your achievements

One of the evident signs of a frenemy is that they’re clearly jealous of your achievements. When you tell them about something positive you’ve done, they will put you down shamelessly. Their jealousy and envy are so through the roof that they never even bother giving you a compliment about your accomplishments.

While true friends will celebrate your successes with you and tell you they’re proud of you, frenemies won’t waste their energy or time. They want it to be them succeeding, and not you. [Read: How to recognize and end toxic relationships]

14. They’re passive-aggressive

Passive-aggressiveness is such an ugly trait, especially with friendships. They’ll sabotage you and insult you through their passive-aggressive comments.

Maybe it’s saying, “You could be so pretty if you only learned how to dress up better.” It’s an insult hidden in a compliment, which just goes to show they’re incapable of giving you heartfelt and genuine compliments. [Read: How to deal with passive aggressive behavior calmly & with class]

15. They bring out your worst

A real friend will support you no matter what, but a frenemy will bring out your worst. They make you feel bad 24/7, and there isn’t a day you feel their genuine love or friendship.

You can’t help but be at your worst when they’re around. You might even have been tempted to blame it on yourself before you realized they were a fake friend all along. [Read: Selfish friends: they take so much and give nothing in return]

Do you have a frenemy?

If you have a friend who you feel doesn’t really give a shit about you, uses you as a scapegoat, and makes you the bud of their comedic routine every time you are out, then they aren’t your friend.

They keep you close because they envy you and know that it is better for them to pretend to be your friend than to make you their enemy.

[Read: 15 signs you have shitty friends and need to get some new ones]

Just be careful of a friend in frenemy clothes. Frenemies are a road to heartache. If you can relate to most of the things above, they might not be a true friend to you, but a fake one!

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Julie Keating
A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined in...
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