Frenemies (and a Friendship Give Away)

A heart-felt welcome to those of you who have clicked over from the Encouragement for Today devotion I have running at Proverbs 31 and on Crosswalk.com. If you haven’t yet read the devotion, catch up with the rest of us by clicking here.

“Frenemy” (alternately spelled “frienemy”) is a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” which can refer to either an enemy disguised as a friend or to a partner who is simultaneously a competitor. The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical, and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions. The word has appeared in print as early as 1953, but did not gain popularity until 2000.

Frenemy.

Funny word.

Not so funny results.

It seems humans of the female kind have an innate, cruel way of hurting with their words; of causing pain by exclusion; of being two-faced; of ultimately ruining relationships. 

Boys? Oh they may punch and push and hurt by body slam. (I know, I have boys ages 11 and 14 who are, as we speak, body slamming each other in the basement family room in an argument over a stupid Xbox 360 Major League Baseball game!!) But usually, they don’t concoct false stories designed to hurt and harm; they don’t leave others out in order to emotionally wound them and they rarely gossip. And not too many act like they consider someone one of their ‘home boys’, when in reality they can’t stand the sight of them. 

Why is it that we females have a bent toward hurtful relationships? And why do we sometimes feign friendship when, in reality, we actually dislike someone? Why do we act as a frenemy?

Wouldn’t it be better to just steer clear of someone rather than to pretend to be their friend or acquaintance and then, turn on them?

The recent phenomena that is the Internet has taken this entire frenemy dilemma to a whole new and awful level. Rather than women gossiping over a picket fence or at the water cooler at work about someone they pretend to like in person, now they can take a jab at them on their blog or make a back-handed, cruel comment on their status. They can ‘tweet’ a hurtful statement that is instantly posted in Cyber-space for all the watching world to see.

Oh, but sometimes, it is cleverly disguised. You know……..in a ‘Christian sort of way’.

Shame on us.

Our words are potent.

They can sting.

They can spoil.

And, worst of all, they stick.

Even the cleverly cloaked comments we may make about a generic “someone”. We know that not everyone will know who we are talking about.

Just the “someone”.

Ouch.

We must learn to deal with our friendships and our words about others in a way that would make Jesus proud.

Even though Wikepedia, the online encyclopedia, claims  the word frenemy wasn’t invented until recently, a quick read through the Psalms seems to hint that frenemies have been around for centuries:

“If an enemy were insulting me, 
       I could endure it; 
       if a foe were raising himself against me, 
       I could hide from him.

 But it is you, a man like myself, 
       my companion, my close friend,

 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship 
       as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” Psalm 55:12-14

“Even my close friend, whom I trusted, 
       he who shared my bread, 
       has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:9

Hmmm….pretending to be a friend when in reality you are an enemy is as old as the hills.

Throwing insults at someone you once called a close companion is not new either.

While the Psalms may speak of frenemies, they also instruct us what to do if we ourselves have acted as one:

“…if you have been trapped by what you said, 
       ensnared by the words of your mouth,

  then do this, my son, to free yourself, 
       since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: 
       Go and humble yourself; 
       press your plea with your neighbor!

 Allow no sleep to your eyes, 
       no slumber to your eyelids.

  Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, 
       like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” Proverbs 6:2-5

Go to them.

Apologize.

Mean it.

Then, …….don’t do it again!

The same process we often tell our children to follow.

Now, in the future, let’s take further cues from the Psalms as to how our speech should be: 

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, 
       sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, 
       but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

Good advice.

Now, what about those people in your life whom you truly feel you should avoid and not be friends with due to one legitimate reason or another? Is it ever wrong to not be friends with someone?

I have had to deal with this a few times in my life and in the life of my daughter. My answer is ‘yes’, sometimes it is okay to distance yourself from someone; to be polite, but choose not to be close friends with another woman.

And, if you find yourself the intended victim of a frenemy or have a strained, hurtful relationship with another (let’s say someone whom you are ‘friends’ with on Facebook, but they leave posts that are intended to make you feel left out or they just seem to ruffle your feathers when you read their status updates) then, by all means, use the ‘hide’ button. While it may be awkward to ‘unfriend’ them or whatever the proper term is, it certainly is okay to not have a steady stream of their life popping up in your newsfeed.

But, in the mean time, ……..while others are being mean….

You be Christ-like.

Pray for them.

Wish them well.

Go out of your way to speak pleasant words in their presence.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18

And, make a vow that you will never be a fenemy.

Instead, be like Jesus.

He was a truth teller, but he spoke the truth in love.

He knew who to hang with and who to avoid.

He was always respectful when dealing with both friend and foe.

Be as wise a a serpent but as harmless as a dove. (Matthew 10:16)

And surround yourself with true friends.

Their worth is incalculable.

And, today, let us know…….how do you handle strained and false friendships? Ever had, or been, a frenemy? How about your pre-teen and teenage daughters, have they had an experience with a frenemy situation?

Do tell….

We all have a lot to learn in this area…

And one  person who leaves a comment will be chosen to win a $10 Starbucks gift card to use to treat a friend to coffee. Dare I say maybe even a friend with whom you have a strained relationship? Perhaps God is nudging  you to make amends.

I’m jiss sayin’……..

Friendly Blessings,

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61 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post. I may be an atypical male because I have experienced this sort of thing fist hand. I am a successful currency trader and I met a fellow Christian who was an employee of a local bank and did a large bank wire for me. He pretended to be a friend to me as long as I was showing him how to trade. Then when he didn’t need me, he would go for long periods of not answering my e-mails. He would often wait a couple weeks then write something totally insincere like ” I miss you, we need to get together sometime.” Whenever I replied “sure, when?” he would not answer for days or weeks. Then he would start it all over again. After I explained to him how much that behavior bothered me, he did it even more. It was insane. I told him very plainly that I would not even treat an enemy as badly as he treated me and he suggested that I was just listening to a demon. Until his account dropped and then he came back and said he missed me and wanted to get together so I could give him some more pointers on currency trading. It was actually a lot worse than I am describing, and it was embarrassing to me that it hurt me so deeply. It was easier to dismiss before I clearly explained to him why what he was doing was hurtful and wrong. I tried to talk with him in person recently and I told him I was glad to see him, but I really wasn’t. Chosing to forgive him is pretty easy when I think about how much Jesus has forgiven me, but I absolutely hate the thought of this guy ever being in my life or even being someone I occasionally have to talk with.

  2. This is especially true in a working environment where the gender is primarily women. I have dealt with the frenemy situation many times. You just have to pray, give it to God, and treat others the way you like to be treated.

  3. I have dealt with difficult friendships as recently as this weekend. I have difficulty knowing what is a healthy attitude to have in the particular situation in which I find myself, but I am distancing myself emotionally from the friendships. Female friendships are hard… harder that I’d like. I wish I could just go back to the days of my best friends being guys… but being married, I can’t allow that. Blech.

  4. I started reading this yesterday but just felt that I wasn’t absorbing it the way I should. I came back to it today and I’m SO glad that I did. I have had a frenemy–a neighbor and a person that I attend church with. I thought she was a friend but a confrontation in our cul-de-sac led me to believe different. She accused me of non-Christian behavior and then twisted my words as she retold our encounter to her children. I was hurt, angry and then I realized that I had to give it over to God. He led me to realize that the only person she is hurting is herself and that only He can take care of her. I gave it over to Him–although it was and is still hard.
    Thank you for your devotion and blog. It is a reminder to be like Him.

  5. I love a paraphrase of Lysa Terkeurst words in her chapter “Cross my heart and close my mouth” – A friend is one who refuses to gossip, chooses not to judge, and who is secure enough in their own calling not to hold you back in yours.

    One of my deepest needs it to be understood by others. So, I do not care if you disagree with me, but first I want you to give me affirmation that you understand my perspective.

    Working as a nurse I entered a world I had never known before. My inner circle of support was my husband, family, and community group. So, I did not elicit advice or list out my woes while at work…I had already done that at home or over the phone to my mom. =)

    At work I felt bullied, talked about, and an outsider. I wanted difference in myself to be discussed with my coworkers who did not like them instead of the behind the back talking. One day I was needing assistance from a coworker and she was frustrated that I wanted to repeat a task. So, when I opened the door to have her help me with it again she was telling the whole staff at the desk about me and how ridiculous I was being about it. She was shocked to see me standing there and I was shocked to hear what I heard. So, I knew I needed to address the perception of the situation and be personal with her. The majority of my experiences with frenemies have been in the church youth group or working on a hospital unit.

    Have I ever been a frenemy – at first thought I would have said no, but yes, when I think back to a particular person in high school I have. I’m a shoot from the hip, call it like I see, do not “suck up” to anyone type of person. This individual drove me nuts because I always felt she was deceitful about who she was because she was different depending on the crowd or person she was around – these were subtle things that I observed. Instead of dealing with my issues with her and my heart in the matter. I definitely did my share of talking about her. I definitely would have grown in the process if I would have been able to pull myself out of the situation and evaluate it for what it really was.

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your faithfulness in giving us your Godly inspired devotion and blog on Frenemies. This was sooooo timely for ME (always a God thing for sure). The previous night, prior to receiving your devotion, I was sharing with a dear sister-in-Christ my pain over a an on-going situation that mirrored your writings in many ways. The Holy Spirit convicted me as well. Praise God. The next day I forwarded your devotion to my friend with the following note …
    “God is so good to me. Look at what He sent me today (inlight of our conversation yesterday). The bottom line is PRAY.” Her response: “thought this is powerful. He is always there to encourage us and show us what He wants us to do.” AMEN
    I love the Proverbs 31 Ministry and how it reaches us, teaches us, ministers to us, and grows us to be more like Him everyday and everyway. We just have to yield and be obiedient to Him.
    Linda <

  7. Even before I read I could win I was going to ask a question. This is such a super to me post. It has recently happened in my life that an aquantance that runs in my same circle of friends, who I have never liked and consider a phoney; but I have always been pleasant, helpful and a listening ear, has just asked me to come over for tea. I have about 10 other ladies I would like to make time for and have not been able to get to their home for a visit, yet this is the one who is seeking my immediate company. I have no desire to fellowship with her outside of our common commitments. How honest to I be to turn down her offer, or do I put away my selfish endevors and seek a friendship that maybe the Lord is prompting? Oh one small side note; her husband has been very rude to me in the past and I know of times when this woman has been a “frenemy” behind my back. He daugheters have also disrespected my daughter and spread lies. It is so odd that she is even inviting me. Is it her way of bridging a gap?
    Wow, how far should I go to be honest and loving, yet not a frenemy of any sort.
    Thanks for your time. Excellent post.

  8. Frenemy?? This sounds like a word Bill O’Reilly would use on his show. It is really a word to ponder. And yes! I agree – Satan is definitely a frenemy (among other things). He will use whatever he can to try to derail us from God’s way for us. May we all be mindful that our frenemy is alive and well – but we do not have to be overcome by his tactics. Thanks for your devotion – it brought real encouragement to my soul. I was already going to post – but with 2 giveaways – I’m glad i did!

  9. Frenemy….the perfect word to describe a relationship that I have had for some time. Thanks for the timely words of wisdom. I have much to think about.

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