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 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.


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…… 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”.


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.


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,


  1. Praying for all of you who have left comments on this delicate subject. Thanks for sharing your hearts with me today. I feel honored to have so many sweet, godly blogging friends!!!

  2. Your P31 devotion today and your blog post were so meaningful…you told it exactly how it is…thanks for shining a light on a painful topic and for challenging me to be a true friend to those I know.

  3. I love that you traced this word back to the Bible. I’m sure most of us have either been a “frenemy” or been on the receiving end of this behavior. This was a great post to get me thinking about how I treat others and how I want to be treated.

  4. I met you at SheSpeaks this past Spring – your message on “Messages” was AWESOME and so helpful!

    And again, your Proverbs 31 “Frenemies” Devotion was AWESOME and so helpful…particularly the perspective of not only who has hurt me – but who I have hurt in the past.

    God bless you sister!

  5. Loved your devotion today and the thing that stuck with me was, “while our profile pictures were smiling at each other”. Ugh. Stinging. Thanks for the reminder that friendships are important and REAL- even the internet ones! :-)

  6. Thank you for your P31 devotion this morning. We women need to be reminded that we are to love one another and build each other up. Thank you for reminding us that even when we are being hurt we need to pray for the person who has hurt us.

  7. You outlined an issue that seems to be prevalent among the fairer sex. We have for years befriended and torn apart our relationships with each other. From Haggai and Sarah to the women of our current generation who sleep with our husbands and destroy our homes. We need to keep each other uplifted and not tear down.

    I too have struggled with frenemies. One of my relationships I severed after almost 25 years of friendship. This was not easy for me. First I distanced myself after I noticed my friend actions toward me. She would call and we would discuss her problems at length. I noticed when my problems were discussed they were pushed aside and not troubleshooted to the same extent. As a matter of fact, my concerns seem to become more of an annoyance than anything else. After dealing with it for more than 6 years I made up my mind in April to put an end to the relationship. I wrote her a letter explaining myself and ended by saying how grateful I was that she had been a part of my life. I do miss her sometimes, but realized also that the toxicity level in the relationship was too high and I required a mutually respectful relationship.

    Be Blessed everyone

  8. “Toxic friends” is my term for “frenemeny”. I have attemtped to weed out the toxic friends in my life. Sometimes you just have to get out of the sinking ship, no sense going down with it. The truth is the same for those who drag you down, why keep them around. Girls can be mean and very mean to each other. However, as a young attorney working in private practice in a large firm, I discovered the men were far worse with their gossip then women. It seemed a partner was always trying to pump an associate of information about another associate. Male, female, we are all human and extremely flawed. Praise God for Jesus, the hope that is in the cross, and the neverending patience of the Potter as He shapes us into His image.

  9. Karen you always seem to have the best way of describing things so well. You are a sweetie and your words are so encouraging. Thanks for the reminder.
    I miss seeing you live!

  10. Karen…
    you are speaking to my heart here, girlfriend! :) Your devo and this post. God has been speaking to me over the last few weeks through scripture and friends. Now your devo and post. I cringe at the thought that I have enemies (some posing as friends), but I am reminded of the many, many, many scriptures God has given us on how to respond to our enemies. He knew we’d have them.

    And it challenges my heart to get before Him and ask Him to search my heart. I want to be a pure-hearted friend. I don’t want to be an enemy or even a frenemy.

    Thank you Karen!

  11. Thank you so much for addressing difficult relationships between friends. I work in a very busy and stress-filled health office. I slowly realized over the past few years that a close office friend was becoming increasingly unhappy and negative, draining precious energy from me. She used me for a sounding board for discontent, to affirm and agree with her complaints. I even suggested she consider counseling, which she opposed.

    In the same time frame, I had initiated my own spiritual challenge to consciously seek more joy in my work as a nurse, and to raise the level of energy and sorely-needed optimism in our office. I tried so hard to steer our relationship to a higher level, but my friend couldn’t move out of her negative thought pattern, and I didn’t want to go back there. It became a parting of attitudes.

    She sensed my distance, eventually got angry, said cruel things to me about how I had changed, demanding answers. I could only tell her that we were different people and that I just needed time and space and more positive energy. I didn’t have any words to explain without hurting her more.

    She has not been able to accept the fact that I stepped away from her. I think we became frenemies because I wanted to stop the manipulation but she wasn’t ready to let me be myself. How can one be honest about this in such a close work environment? I don’t know the answer.

    It has been almost a year, and now I feel such freedom to feel the joy around me and to openly verbalize gratitude for my co-workers and job without oppression! The working relationship with my friend has respectable boundaries now, we are not as close anymore, but I pray that time and acceptance will eventually help us have a more authentic and honest relationship.

  12. I’m in a circle with a frenemy….so hard when a close friend is in the otherwise I wouldn’t be in it…it’s a daily battle….

  13. Just read your devotion from today, and it is so true. I enjoy reading all of the p31 girls blogs and devotions. Always an on-time word. Thanks so much for all you guys do.

    Much Love & Blessings
    Renea H

  14. Awesome! Just what I needed to hear. Iam a little gunshy in my friendships as I relied to heavely on them and soon to my disappointment I found out they were just as human as I was,darn! and yes i was very hurt and discouraged. Thru the Lord’s healind over the years I’ve come to realize(the Lord has shown me) That ONLY HE can be that sort of friend to me. He loves me unconditionally. He alone IS all I need and I cant get from a human being what only the Lord can fill.He is FAITHFUL!! dont get me wrong I desire friendships , and do indeed have friends but I dont expect them to meet that need inside me that only the Lord can fill. and yes Im on Facebook and I have had to “defriend some people (and I wondered if that was the right thing to do),and the Lord has confirmed it over that its ok, because it was causing me to feel and act in ways that I know were not of God….its so easy to sit behind the computer screen and be ugly and judgemental…. so now i mostly just keep facebook to gkeep in touch with my dauhhter and pics of grandkids. and its ok. and by the way I LOVE STARBUCKS!!!!!:)

  15. Thanks Karen for a great devotion. I think I will share it with my daughter who has had many experiences with these types of girls, while growing up. Really appreciate all you had to share today.

  16. I can relate, like most women I think. It saddens me to think of the times I have been a “frenemy” because I just didn’t want to confront someone. More often I experienced someone being mine. I didn’t grow up in the church, or maybe I’d be more used to that (wink wink) but having the ability to recall life BC (before Christ) from about age 25 and under, I can say in honesty that not since middleschool can I say I have experienced such “two-faced” women as in the church. It’s the “christian thing” to be nice, right? But some folks (and that has been me, too!) take that as being nice face-to-face only.
    Thanks for a great post. I’ll remember that one!

  17. Frenemy–actually a very cool-sounding word, isn’t it?! Sorta rolls nicely off your tongue, almost lilting or pretty–BUT–oh it’s not so cool, and definitely not pretty! As my mama used to say, “pretty is as pretty does”… and frenemies don’t do pretty! I must confess that i have been a frenemy, and have had some in my life… BOTH HURT!!! I’m ashamed that I have knowingly and intentionally hurt other women w/ words, w/ actions… what makes us women so bad to do that?? Those strong emtions we have that carry so much power–to hurt, or to heal! Well, i want to use mine for healing, helping others… thanks to your wise words this morning, and learning this new word “frenemy”, i hope to have a new awareness about being a friend, and not an enemy… for i don’t want to be an enemy for CHRIST, and that’s the real end result!!!

  18. Great devotion, Karen! I had never heard of the word frenemy before either; I’ve known the concept unfortunately, but never knew there was a word for it.

    I pray your day is GREAT!

    Prayers and blessings,

  19. Thanks for your devotion today, I so many times end up with friend who stab me in the back…I really need to learn to pick better friends.!

  20. Ugh, I fell victim really hard a year ago. The sad thing is, I was warned by a mentor in love. I regret not listening. For 2 years I ignored the signs. Resisting gossip is exhausting. But because I wanted a friendship with her, I thought limiting contact would help. Funny how the ways you try to protect yourself are used against you. I should have known the lies I’d been hearing, that were slowly being revealed in light, would also be used against me & my character. But praise God for friends that know my character & hers.
    And almost every day reading Proverbs, I read confirmation that to be in a relationship with a fool would lead to death. I believe it would have ultimately been the death of my character.

  21. What a fantabulous post!!!

    My hubby and I were just talking about people needing to be more “honest” when dealing with others. Sometimes we’ve let a person say things that we disagree with out of niceness but that has lead to more difficult situations later on. We have agreed to let our feelings be known too.

    Please post about another new word. I loooove this. :D

    Blessings! Nancy J Locke

  22. I think ever girl in the world can relate to this post. Thanks for your honesty on the subject. Most of us would not like to admit that we spend so much of our precious time trying to fit in (and probably in the wrong places anyway) or just trying to keep up with with someone whose life we envy. When in reality it is Jesus that we should be striving to become more like. Thanks again for sharing!

  23. This is a great devotional that spoke to my heart. I’m dealing with a frenemie and it is very painful.
    I will also pass this along to my teenage daughter and close friends.
    Thank you for your words of encouragement.

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