No. It is not a French or Spanish word. It is an abomination masked as an English word!
Of all the terms ever coined in the Urban Dictionary, perhaps one of the top 10 dangerous words, is ‘frenemy’. Frenemy (ˈfrɛnəmi/) is an informal noun used to denote a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. If you are wondering how this is possible, congratulations, you belong to the minority set of uncomplicated people with direct friendships where there are no power games being played.
If you are unlucky enough to know what this means, though, this post might be for you! Even better, if some actual name popped into your head when you saw the title or the definition, comrade, my heart beats for you. *solemn two minutes’ silence*
Life is already complicated without us making it additionally so. But in the day and age of quick friendships and even quicker break ups, frenemies are more common than we ever had any idea they were. There was a time when I was too polite to tell people if they made me uncomfortable, preferring to maintain a stony silence and going into a shell instead of offending them and marking them outright as ‘enemies’. Somehow, the ‘enemy’ tag seems much more ominous.
It took me the last five years to realise that being ‘enemies’ was much preferable than being the much more diverse, complicated and mindboggling ‘frenemies’. At least the former left the way free for us to express our dislike in the open and stay away. Being ‘frenemies’ requires special talent, a tolerance for the high level of drama and the subtle power games that shake the very foundation of the base we’d built for ourselves – a quality many people lack.
Meaningful friendships are rare and beautiful, often beginning with ‘I think we resonate well on so and so topic’ and progressing to the much more beautiful ‘I saw this and thought of you – no one else even came to my mind’ stages, when nights turn pleasant with chats that are a condensed, concentrated nucleus of everything under the sun. I have been blessed with such rare people in my life. And I celebrate the bond we share every day.
A random midday whatsapp ping that says ‘I think you should have looked at that this way’ where only the two people involved understand what the ‘that’ and the ‘this’ refer to, the conversations that begin without preambles, the random messages that can be just shared memes and quotes with the helpful ‘laughing with tears’ emoji – these are the things that will brighten up our days and keep our life grounded.
This is where the ‘frenemies’ come into play. Nothing matches the terror of watching someone who you connect with thinking your ‘frenemy’ is your ‘friend’ and warming up to them. The innate need of the ‘frenemy’ to dominate the friendship and drive a wedge between the existing mutual friendship might mean that patience runs low, temper runs high and words are exchanged, often breaking a meaningful friendship or relationship beyond repair.
There is a constant need to be desired, to be accepted, to have the connection that one person shares with another. Little do some people realise that no amount of effort or time spent together might be able to beat the single moment of instant understanding that might mean a much more potent bond. Playing complicated relationship games in friendships and diverting the attention of mutual friends and other common tactics might just about twist the whole set of events into an uncontrollable avalanche that no one can fathom.
It is easier to openly dislike or hate someone than use all your energy to pretend to be normal friends despite a strong, underlying dislike that burns the essence of who you are. Diverting your time and energy into working out why no one else can see the person for what they actually are is not only emotionally tiring, but also prone to earn you the tags of being possessive and jealous. Some relationships need to be handled like oil on water, careful enough to be separated and kept aside before one ruins the true nature of the other.
The best response to a frenemy who likes to lay a claim over a deeper bond you enjoy is to perhaps realise that nothing can shake the bond, and put all your energies into maintaining the actual relationships or friendships you care about – easier said than done, but effective in the long run!
Life is too short to waste time on complicated relationship games, and surrounding oneself with the happy people, those who do not understand the concept of ‘frenemies’, nor entertain power games is what the modern generation needs. Your frenemy might be someone else’s best friend. But that does not mean they can ever be friends with you. Why waste time trying to make it work while you can happily spend it on people who actually work? As the saying goes, it is far easier to love the people who love you than waste time dislike people who hate you.