10 Warning Signs Of A “Frenemy”

10 Warning Signs Of A “Frenemy”



What if our friend, somebody we liked and confided in, really didn’t like us so much?

A frenemy is somebody who pretends to be a friend but is really a rival.  Of course we might not know it since they are friendly and attentive whenever we are around, but underneath it all, they have feelings of resentment, bitterness and maybe even hatred.

We all want to be liked, and it is especially difficult to find out someone you like and trust is secretly talking about you behind your back. The betrayal is one that is felt deep.


Unknowingly, a frenemy could become something of a relational vampire, depleting energy by triggering emotions, aggressive behavior or undermining what we believe.

So how can tell the difference between a true friend and a frenemy?

Here are ten warning signs of a frenemy:

1. A Frenemy Wants Instant Attention.

Frenemies usually want close relationships and wish to be the bestie almost immediately after you meet. They schedule “dates,” friend and possible even stalk us on Facebook, and begin texting all at the same day. When our “friend” needs us, they will be all over us, but the moment we need something in return, they suddenly disappear. Friends know that building a committed relationship takes time. Frenemies wish to be too close too early.


2. A Frenemy Over-Shares.

Frenemies will tell their life story, with highly personal information, over a first coffee. They offer to do personal tasks immediately, like picking up our kids at school, running errands or offering do something to make your day a bit easier. If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

In hindsight, we discover there’s an imbalance in such a relationship, and while seemingly doing tasks to help us, our frenemy is probably up to something. They often expect to be repaid, with excitement and with interest.

Friends always keep things about their own life private and enable us to do the same. Frenemies survive on relational entanglement.

3. A Frenemy Intentionally Sabotages.

A frenemy’s aim is never to help one to be more successful than them but to make sure that we fail, or perhaps feel unhappy about the situation. A frenemy often exhibits passive-aggressive behaviors and sometimes they display a clear intent of sabotage.


She will not be happy when everything is going well but would seem nearly gleeful when everything is going terribly. When something great happens like a new career, a raise, a fresh love, the frenemy downplays it or causes it to seem like a fluke.

4. A Frenemy Elicits That Nagging Feeling.

If there is the continual feeling that somebody is not being dependable or has an ulterior motive in seeking our friendship, pay attention – it is probably right. We need to listen to and trust our gut.

5. A Frenemy Frequently Insults Others.

Most of her social networking updates include veiled insults about us or other friends. A frenemy does not celebrate our wins but will gleefully, albeit secretly, remind us of our failings. She often finds reasons to make fun of us or challenge our competence.

6. A Frenemy Likes to Dig up Dirt.

Frenemies feed upon negative info and usually look to get more. Whenever we say we are feeling a little bit down, they would like to know why. Was it an argument with one’s spouse? Are we depressed? The next day, they will move further and ask something different. They love to revel in our misery while pretending to be interested in our well-being.

7. A Frenemy Disguises Complaints as Humor.

Frenemies like to put people down, even in front of others. When questioned, they usually claim it was meant to be light-hearted, opening up the door for another slam. This might sound familiar, “I was just kidding. Many people just cannot take a joke.”

Inspiration to your Inbox


Frenemies like sarcasm and they’re masters of the “Who, me?” game.

Friends might take part in good-natured ribbing. However, they respect our feelings. Frenemies utilize humor as a cover up for dealing hurtful blows.

8. Frenemies Make Us Feel as If We Are Wrong.

Frenemies rarely give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Instead of assuming the best of intentions, they take everything personally, even if it is unrelated and make us feel we are to blame.


9. Frenemies Overreact When Challenged.

Unreasonable and often over-reactions can occur when we challenge a frenemy about their behavior.  They are surprised and angered by the lack of faith when we question something the frenemy is doing or requesting. They refuse to discuss it and expect our complete and blind agreement with their plans.


10. Frenemies are Insensitive.

Lastly, they are insensitive. They are quick to offer advice when we are experiencing trying times but can’t see the value in the advice we give them.

Frenemies are usually unaware of their real motive, which might stem from feelings of jealousy, inferiority, or resentment. However, it’s best to discover these harmful relationships and tackle them quickly.


3 thoughts on “10 Warning Signs Of A “Frenemy”

  1. A couple of thoughts:
    1. Who are your allies at the office? Does your boss’s boss notice what’s going on? You might choose to inform him/her indirectly, to avoid backlash; I would strongly consider an anonymous letter/email to someone sympathetic in higher management. But not HR, ironically; at my former job, when HR got an employee complaint, the first thing they did was rat them out to their management. But someone in higher management might be sympathetic, ESPECIALLY if you can show financial harm done to your department as a result of these office politics. At the very least, you can argue that she is creating a hostile work environment and destroying morale.
    2. If you think her harassment might lead to a demotion or firing, be proactive from a legal standpoint. Start documenting everything in as much detail as you can, including past events. You may want to get a free consult from an attorney to find out if your coworker is crossing the line legally. Your documentation can be used to show a pattern of harassment in case you are fired and wish to seek damages.
    Good luck!

  2. I have a colleague at work who acts like this. I have no idea how to handle the situation. She repeats and distorts conversations, ‘teases’ (in other words, laughs ‘at’ rather than ‘with’), acts like she’s the team manager, and has got the team manager’s ear – he thinks she’s the best thing since sliced bread, seems to feed on drama. Since realising how she operates, I have put up and maintained some clear professional boundaries, but feel that with this lady, if you are not clearly in her pocket, you are perceived as a personal threat to her, and I am concerned that I am about to become her target. I am not a natural politician, and would welcome any advice on how best to handle the situation

  3. Just a note, a couple of these can also apply to someone who has social anxiety, or general anxiety. It might not be a sign of a frenemy, but of someone who is very socially awkward and may not have many friends!

Leave a Reply

Our passion is to serve and bring the best possible positive information, news, expertise and opinions to this page. We want to help our community find and shine their inner light - the truth of love, light, and positivity that is within us all! Read more about Power of Positivity...

Follow Me: