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What is a Frienemy or Frenemy?

Updated on February 29, 2020

You might know what a BFF is, you know what a GF or BF is, but what the heck is a frienemy?

A frienemy, or frenemy, is a complex kind of relationship that is negative for both parties involved. The relationship can be described in many ways. A frienemy/frenemy could be a person who behaves as if they are your friend, but is not. Whether this lack of actual friendship is based on your side or theirs, the reasons a person falls into this category between love and hate, friend and foe could be numerous.

Frienemies (credit to for the photo)
Frienemies (credit to for the photo)

How to spot a frenemy

Sometimes, figuring out if a person is truly your friend can be difficult.  Society and our disconnected modern times provide varying levels of friendship.  Be cautious of labeling, for example, a Facebook friend as a frenemy based solely on the hard line definition of the term.

The general rule of thumb in discovering a frenemy or frienemy in your midst is to consider the interactions between you and your friend.  The following behaviors are all signs of a frenemy:

  • Malicious gossip behind your back
  • Admitted dislike of you
  • Behavior in person/public which is contrary to the above

A frienemy can also be termed as a person who is using your good will toward them to serve their own means, a person who is having a negative effect on your life while maintaining the bonds of friendship, or a person who you behave in these manners towards.

Do you have a frenemy?

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Getting rid of a frenemy

The best way to get rid of a frienemy is to separate yourself from them socially, physically and emotionally.  If you are plagued with a "friend" of this type, cut contact with them and give yourself space to recover.  This may lead to the discovery of other frenemies, so be aware that ditching one toxic individual may expand to a few random disappearances in your social circle.

Stop compromising your morals, integrity and common courtesy for the shoddy behavior of others.  By acting out in a malicious, harmful manner, frienemies can damage relationships with your truer, more steadfast companions.

Prepare yourself for the backlash.  The last thing that a frenemy wants is to lose their foothold in your life.  This backlash could range from guilty feelings on your end, to raging from their side.  Stick to your guns, remain civil and mature in any limited dealings you may have with the person, and realize that you will never be friends with everybody.

Turning a Frienemy into a Friend

If you decide you want to make that person in your life who falls into the previously described categories into a friend, there are a few things to consider.  Answer these questions about your relationship with them as guidelines for determining whether the effort is worth it:

  1. Does this person bring qualities to your life that you agree with?
  2. To what degree does this person qualify as an "enemy?"
  3. Are the negative behaviors they have displayed ones that you can forgive?
  4. Can you trust this person?

If a favorable response is had from the above questions, then start by dealing with the things they do or say that you do not approve of or like.  Be honest with the individual, and really open yourself up to listening to what - and HOW - they react to your honesty.  Speak out about the things that upset you or that you do not agree with, and work from there.

Taking the time to identify the frenemies in your life can alleviate a lot of social stress and anxiety for you, and if you manage to turn a frenemy into a real friend, the situation between you becomes a lot more satisfying and rewarding.

Tell us about your frenemies and how you dealt with them!

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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      A have a frenemy and a can't sepperate from them. My best friend is great friends with her and who doesn't like hanging out with their BFF.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks very much for this hub...I thought that the "Turning a Frenemy Into a Friend" section really made it worth reading, because sometimes the situation is not so simple as just ditching them completely. I myself have at least one frenemy, but I don't really see cutting her off as a viable solution to my problem, both for the good of our many mutual friends and for the good of our relationship, which I would like to try to cultivate so it may grow to be a healthy and back-stabbing-free friendship. I'll keep your advice in mind!

    • Bitingtruths profile image


      9 years ago from Mumbai

      Great Post. I liked it. I will watch out for frenemy. Keep writing.

    • profile image

      shire smith 

      9 years ago

      i used to have a bff but for some reason that i cant understand is,she wants me to cut off some friends of mine.and whatever reason i make,she just dont listen.she listen only to doesnt mean that if she's angry with them,i should do the i am not spiteful like her my only remedy is to break up my friendship with her and be silent.I thought she's a dear friend,but just because i dont agree with her,she does something to prove that she's not really a friend...and i'm sorry for her..for being a spiteful..resentful person that she is now.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      My best friend for the last 3 yrs has become a frenemy. She just confessed to me yesterday that apparently people gossip about me. Personally I think she was just being a bitch. Anyway, I just wanted to say that frenemies usually stem from jealousy.

    • ii3rittles profile image


      10 years ago

      How true! I had 2 big time frienemies in my life at one point. One was a girl I knew since I was 4 and the other was my own cousin! Both of them talked behind my back, used me, lead me to believe they cared when all they wanted was someone who they can down to make themselves feel better.

    • truthfornow profile image

      Marie Hurt 

      10 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Nice hub. We all have them frienemies in our lives.

    • FOREX NINJA profile image


      10 years ago

      Awesome hub which is well described and presented.

    • funmontrealgirl profile image


      10 years ago from Montreal

      Oh yes katiem2, we don't have a choice but we have to have them one way or another.

    • katiem2 profile image

      Katie McMurray 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Great description of a freinemy, oh don't we all have em? :)

    • Rastamermaid profile image


      10 years ago from Universe

      Awesome hub!

      I found out I had a few frenemies,masquerading as friends so I cut them off. Some knew the deal and others asked what's wrong.

      Of course I was honest and let them know they really were not friends to begin with.I tell them the actions that showed me they didn't want the best for me,that they constantly spoke badly of me to others.

      Sometimes it's best to vacate some friendships. I had a friendship where so called friend's mother was jealous of our friendship.Needless to say I vacated that friedship and since then I've heard lies and untrues about me.

      Some people can't handle the truth so they manifest their own.

      I have afew good friends and have eliminated the frenemies and life is good.

      Thanx for sharing!

    • killrats profile image


      10 years ago from Cape town South Africa

      We have a saying, your friends you can choose but family not.I beleive that when you meet someone new, they are your friend until they prove you wrong and if the do prove you wrong, don't try and keep them as a friend, they will do what ever again. Just cut them off.

      Like what you say, will follow

    • Sa`ge profile image


      10 years ago from Barefoot Island

      Malicious gossip behind your back: why would I want a friend like this! this kind of person would not be a friend to be a frienemy in the first place.

      Admitted dislike of you: why would someone who says they dont like me, be my friend, again, this is no friend to become an frienemy!

      Behavior in person/public which is contrary to the above: this kind of person one should not be hanging out with anyways! So again, why would they end up being a frienemy to begin with?

      If one just does not make friends with these types of people to begin with, one would not have to worry about getting rid of one or even getting one to begin with.

      And if they are weeded into families, you do not have to have the same friends your family has. so just do not befriend those who are like this even if other members of your family do. Not all my families friends are my friends!

      just because someone wants to be your friend does not mean you should let them be right of the bat. it takes time to be a friend, only when someone proves friendship do I call them a friend and I expect no less from others with me!

      Great hub you brought out some great points here! I vote this one up for sure! thanks for a great hub! ~aloha~

    • Paradise7 profile image


      10 years ago from Upstate New York

      We have some "frienemies" in our extended family!! That's even worse, because we can't ditch them.

      I think that "frienemy" is sort of something girls/women do more than men. Men are less hesitant to get in the faces of people they don't like.


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