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The College Student Vs. The Frenemy

Any friendship can have its ups and downs.  Some friendships are significantly more stable than others where both friends reciprocate the shoulder-to-cry-on, taking turns paying for nights out, sitting around with that blessed cup of coffee while exchanging pleasantries.  But then you have that one friend, or perhaps a few friends who seem more like enemies than they do friends.  You constantly butt heads, are constantly consumed by their drama and you often find yourself arguing with them more than you are laughing.  Those lovely individuals are known as Frenemies

I have had more than my fair share of friends who I constantly bicker with.  There were times that I even wondered why I even called them a friend.  Sometimes it was like I was drawn to their personality despite how different we are and how opposing our outlooks on life were.  There was one friend of mine who I found myself resenting a lot.  We lived together for about two years and despite how much fun we had sometimes, it seemed she would do things to purposefully aggravate me.  What her intentions were or the reasoning behind her actions remained a mystery to me even to this day. 

For instance: I would work constantly and didn’t really have much of a social life as a result.  I hadn’t enrolled into classes yet, had wanted to take a year off after I had transferred universities.  She and I shared the same mutual friends and she would often hang out with them on campus.   I would often ask what the new gossip was, what was going on with them, and request that she relay a universal ‘Hey, how are you’ to them for me.  Perhaps ask them if they’d call me just to chat and catch up.  She would shrug it off most of the time and tell me that they were too busy.  At one point she informed me that a number of them didn’t care for me too much anymore and were simply my friend because I at the time was dating one of their friends.  Since we had broken up they didn’t see the need to continue the friendship with me.  After hearing this, I became quite discouraged.  The only friend I seemed to have was a coworker of mine who seemed only to want me around when she needed something or when it was convenient.  She was a friend though, other than my roommate so I couldn’t really complain. 

When the time came when I finally enrolled at NMU-about six to nine months after my breakup with my boyfriend, I was nervous to find my old group of friends huddled together in an area of one of the commons areas.  I saw my roommate with them and wanted to go say hello, since at that point, I didn’t really have any friends.  Or so I thought.  When I came upon the group I was surprised to find that they were all rather happy to see me, and they greeted me with genuine enthusiasm. 

“Where have you been?” 

“What have you been up to?”

“Your roomie says that you’ve been working a lot, you don’t have time for us anymore, what’s up with that?”

It seems my darling roommate wanted to isolate me from the rest of the group.  Jealousy?  Perhaps.  Manipulative?  Certainly.  After that I fell into my once normal routine with them, talked to them regularly, and told them what my roommate had said about them and their feelings toward me which they greeted with a rolling of their eyes.  She had sabotaged my social life by manipulating me out of it and socially exiling me with malicious lies to both them and to me.  I never could quite grasp why she did what she did because on a day-to-day basis we tolerated each other quite well, I remained cordial to her and had never given her any reason that I am aware of to isolate me. 

Besides the isolation, she ate all my food while I was at work, hosting large gaming parties so by the time I had a day off, I had nothing but Ramen to eat.  I kept a mini fridge in my room, locked my room, kept canned food in my closet as spare so I’d have something to eat then found that she had picked the lock while I was at work and rifled through my belongings.  I let it slide, but when something really bothered me I voiced my concern.  This was always met with contempt and entries in her livejournal account which I would later hear about when I finally rekindled the friendships with my old group.

Later on down the line, she moved out and got her own apartment, while trying to hide some of my belongings in with the garbage elemental that had taken control of her room.  After ‘finding’ a few of my belongings stashed within her stuff, things that were obviously hidden with the intent to abscond with them, I had taken it upon myself to help her pack while she was staying with a friend one night.  I took back what was rightfully mine and packed the rest and drove it out to her new apartment much to her surprise. 


Much to my ex-husband’s dismay, I still maintained a distant friendship with her despite her many manipulations.  I’m not entirely sure as to why either.  Could be that at some points she showed actual caring and made me laugh.  Or it could be that I’m just entirely too forgiving.  Even now I still have a number of friends that could constitute as enemies as a result of their selfishness.  A few are long-distance friendships and only seemed to call when they wanted to drag me head first kicking and screaming into their dramas or if they’re actually close by-only contact me when they want something of me, a favor or request of sorts.  Otherwise I don’t hear from them unless it’s convenient.  Perhaps I’m entirely too nice and give one too many chances.  Or perhaps I crave that feeling that I get when I am around them and the infrequent happy times while I ignore the bleak reality that the friendship is toxic. 

How do you then, get out from underneath the thumb of the Frenemy?  One option is that you can talk it out with them.  Tell them how you truly feel and perhaps find a way to rectify the situation.  Sometimes these friends don’t realize that they’re causing harm and don’t have intent to harm you.  Sometimes people’s stress and drama are all that they see and they neglect to take into consideration the feelings of those around them.   In these cases, if they’re genuine, they’ll apologize and find ways to alter their behavior so as to not be so offensive.  In other instances this could cause another argument.  If this is the case then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the importance of this individual-especially if they’re actions are vicious, intentional, and malicious.  There are many people out there in this world and we all have to face those people we love to hate but can’t seem to get enough of.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s a slight case of self-sabotage and other times I wonder if it’s a masochistic need to want to make them into people we thought they were.  Perception has a lot to do with friendships and sometimes our perceptions of individuals are horribly flawed.  As soon as we open our eyes and minds to the toxicity of certain individuals, we are able to extract them from our lives and live much healthier and happier without being weighed down by the negative influence of the Frenemy. 


Jay Pineda's picture

  Sometimes I also wonder why


Sometimes I also wonder why do we even have friends who are not on the same wavelength as us. I really don't know why we even make friends with them. Or perhaps, based on my experience, they became your friend(frenemy) because another friends introduced him or her to the group.

Frenemies are annoying. Like what you said, I have my own share of having a frenemy, though this is not worse than your situation. They are only org mates or classmates. There are really persons who you find annoying even though they do nothing. And when they finally talk or do something, you find them really annoying. There are persons who I usually argue with, for many reasons. Being bossy, tweetums, thinks they are always right, parasites to the group etc.

I believe you(or we) should get rid of frenemies. I already had this situation where as a group, my friends are okay but when it comes to personal relationships with each other, some does not really match. This happened to my freshmen circle of friends. We would usually eat lunch together, hang out and go to the malls. But there is these 2 guys who never really liked with each other. and it came to a point that they argued too much and the whole group was affected. The result? You know it, the group was divided into two, and then after a few months, the group was totally dissolved. So get rid of frenemies now! RUN!

Mercer Smith's picture

re: frenemies

I think that a lot of this tendency really has something to do with the female sex. It is, quite honestly, for that reason that I just don't bother spending time with women any more. In College I had a great deal of experiences that were shockingly similar to this one, and I think it just discouraged me from trying to get close to people, particularly women in my age group.


This girl sounds like a piece of work though, holy cow. I'm really happy that you got everything figured out with your friends and that you weren't isolated for the remainder of your college career because that probably would have been awful. I know that going through college without any friends is incredibly difficult and can actually even lead people to dropping out! I think that it was probably better that the larger group dissolved, though, because it most likely showed you who were real people and who were fake.

I noticed that you said you had made contact with her again, and although you already know this I would just double encourage you to not get involved with that again. Women, especially ones like her, are perpetually going to be miserable and unhappy and will probably make you feel the same.


java602's picture

Unfortunately, most college

Unfortunately, most college students will experience a frenemy relationship at some point.  This is mainly due to the extra competitive nature of the college environment.  During their time at college, many people realize that this is their chance to give their careers and subsequently their futures.  In order to do this, there are some students that may see it fit and beneficial to take advantage of their peers.  These people may not be purposefully trying to make things difficult for others, but the end result is the same.  If you think that someone is just using you, but that they do not realize it, talk with them, as it is most likely that he or she is just wrapped up in being as successful as possible in college and trying to gain the biggest advantage that he or she can before he or she graduates.  Not every person classified as a frenemy is necessarily a bad person, but maybe just a little self centered and unaware of the way that their actions and behavior are affecting the people that surround them.  Just have a talk with him or her, and through that, it should be pretty clear what his or her intentions are. 

pianodude701's picture


Sometimes what are already good friends can quickly become frenemies over time.  This could be because you grow apart from them, an event completely changes your perspective of them, or a number of other things.  But one thing that creates more frenemies than anything else I know is being roommates with a good friend.  Sometimes seeing all of the sides of a person, many friends realize things about each other they never knew when they become roommates.  Some friends perservere through the struggles of everyday life living together, get through it, and become stronger friends for it.  But many learn personality traits about each other that they never knew and grow to resent each other.

This can be prevented by simply being out in the open with any issues you may have.  I know confrontation is hard, but talking behind backs and passive aggression will quickly create a frenemy.  Don't do it.  Just be honest.  As much as that seems like just common sense, staying honest will solve so so many problems about friendships.  Unfortunately, not all frenemy relationships can be saved.  Especially if they are not your roommate, sometimes you need to know when to let go of a relationship with a frenemy.  Because there is nothing that can drag you down faster than someone you feel you can love and trust acting that way towards you.  Don't let it.  If the friendship cannot be salvaged with honesty and understanding, it is time to move on with your life.

ShadaeDillard's picture


I've dealt with this a lot in high school and my first year, that is another reason I do not make friends with a lot of people, I keep my boundaries and I do not over step them, I don't over use the friend lines and I make sure that the things I say around them are not over the top, or something that they could use against me. 

A lot of people are just friends with you so they can use something against you, something that they can take advantage of during test time, or to get food when they want. No don't make those type of friends. 

I honestly don't see how those type of people actually go to class fi they are just going to use it to gossip you. It's best jut being honest letting the person know that hey there are some things we just can't talk about everything, respect me and I will respect you, cross the line and we just won't be able to be friends or talk because if I can't trust you why make the front that I can. Some people do have the nerve to do that and think it's okay when it's really not, and if you allow them to keep doing that, that will just allow them to do it more and more, and you have to draw the line somewhere right?

NickRajotte's picture

I think this is a problem

I think this is a problem that affect mainly women lol, no offense but guys for th emost part dont deal with bullshit, granted we have debates about shit when were drinking or whatever the case.  But we for the most part dont deal with people that we dont like unless its work than you just have to deal with it and its a crappy co worker and not a frenemy lol.  But when i was younger I had my share of people you could consider frenimes, but for me those days are over, you dont have to have the exact same views as i do on every situtation but if we constantly butt heads on every subject and its always just arguing and bickering Im not going to hang out with you plain and simple lol.  

ShadaeDillard's picture

Disagree'd Nick

I disagree Nick, i think it's just no females, I've seen a lot of males deal with it, a lot of guys do BS and put up with it, I still think it's about 50/50 because you don't know every man in the world, you don't know how they act to things, so you can't speak for them all. That's just like saying all women put up with BS, not all women, most, just like most men. so it's wrong to speak for a whole gender.

TBanton's picture


I also disagree with Nick. As long as people talk to one another, there is always going to be one or two people you talk to, whether it's out of convenience or because you simply don't know how to stop talking. I just saw a guy friend of mine deal with something that was seriously just petty and unfortunately, behavior you'd expect from women. It sounds sexist, but we associate catty or underhanded behavior with women, but men are just as capable.

That aside, I didn't realize what a frenemy really was until about a year ago. I try to treat everyone with the level of respect and honesty I'd expect of them. And yes, more than once has someone said I was being "too honest," but I don't see a need to be dishonest. Unless I know it will be intentionally harmful emotionally or mentally, I say what's on my mind. I started noticing that a friend of mine, whom I'd known for about five years then, was starting to act and treat me differently. She wouldn't answer my calls/texts and when she invited me out, it was only after someone else had bailed on her. But she didn't and still doesn't know that I was aware of her using me for a backup friend. I've even thought about trying to talk it out with her, but I don't really care. While she was becoming cold and distant, I gained another better friend.

shamie21's picture

Student frenemy

Some people that you will meet in college can be your friends. Some will become your enemies. And now, even some will become your frenemies. Frenemies are people who are disguised as your friend, but secretly don’t like you much.

In my case, I think I know some people who consider me as their frenemy. I know that because they are trying to befriend my friends too. When we are talking, it seems like they are happy and they show you that they like you. However, I’m the silent-observant type of person. I know if a person is hiding something from me, or if someone is not being true to me. However, I still treat them nicely. I talk to them, and sometimes, I even joke with them, but I don’t get too involved with their matters. I believe that they are hard to be dealt with, and whatever nice thing that you are trying to do, in their eyes, you’re doing it to impress other people. I also believe that it’s quite scary to let them enter your life.

Worst thing is that they will try to enter your circle of friends. At first, they will be nice to you and to your friends. But once you are not there, they will try to get information about you, try to gather information about your weaknesses, and tell them to other people. Sometimes they will even badmouth you to your friends.

What to do if by chance, you encounter your frenemies? Well, nothing. Just stay as you are. Make as many true friends as you can. You shouldn’t waste your time thinking about other people who can only see your flaws.

Hearty Marial's picture

The Best FRENEMY of mine

I do have that so-called FRENEMY too. Maybe everyone has one, or 2. They add spice and thrill into our lives. I really love this frenemy of mine though he had really ruined my life for I think a hundred times already. He once almost killed me for pushing me down the stairs, for consuming the remaining cup supplies of food in my apartment, for consuming my pre-paid phone load and many more. But still, he is the only person who makes me feel really comfortable whenever I feel so down and lonely. But there was this instance when I really couldn’t imagine what I might do to him if ever I’d see him somewhere in the city or anywhere else. What happened was quite the same as what happened to you JV. One day, I asked him to send a bouquet of flowers to my girlfriend’s apartment since she doesn’t want to see me that day; we had an argument, that’s the reason why. I told him I would just wait for his return in a coffee shop and when he came back, he told me that my girlfriend threw away the flowers and said she doesn’t want to see me again. I really felt bad, so I called my girlfriend and asked her why, she said she didn’t do that and she didn’t even received any flowers from my friend. I got mad at him and asked him why? He didn’t responded and just smiled at me saying he did that for good. That made me believe others saying that he wanted my girlfriend for himself that’s why he did that. For 1 year we never talked to each other, I never responded whenever he tried to approach me. My college life was affected, I felt really sad the entire year. Until one day, a mutual friend of ours approached me and asked me how was I and my friend and I told her everything, she was shocked and told me that my friend shared to her what really happened that day and the reason why my friend didn’t tell me. Tears came running down my face. Our friend told me that he saw my girlfriend kissing someone else that time and all he wanted was to let me figure out myself the reason why my girlfriend would always argue with me, he only wanted to help me learn.