For about half a night, my eyes followed a dapper blonde gentleman around the bar. I was inexplicably attracted to him, but he seemed pretty set in his little mind game which included not buying me drinks, not talking to me, and not acknowledging my presence. I jokingly referred to him as “my boyfriend” for the night anyway, and everyone laughed. When he touched my waist, essentially to move me out of the way so he could walk by, I had no choice but to tell my friends that his next step was to propose.
“I have to tell you about my boyfriend!” I squealed to the girl who’d just walked in, clutching her actual boyfriend’s arm on girl’s night.
“What? That he doesn’t exist?”
Shocked, hurt, and disgusted, I gave her the dirtiest look I could muster and just walked away.
That, ladies, is what a frenemy looks like. She makes bitchy comments under the guise of “just kidding,” insults you under the guise of constructive criticism, and ultimately puts herself first no matter what. Frankly, she sucks. She sucks, and her suckage occupies so much space in your brain that she is single-handedly fueling your amygdala. And you let her.
“You bitch about her constantly, but I don’t feel bad for you, because you are willingly choosing to keep hanging out with her.” Our fathers, brothers, male friends, and boyfriends have all said the same thing in regard to our frenemies. And for just a moment, we succumb to the idea that maybe these
idiots men whom we adore could be right. They’re not, of course, but they present a point so obvious that it makes us seriously wonder why we keep these girls, these miserable, bitchy, suck-the-fun-right-out-of-life girls around if they make us so. damn. angry.
Having a frenemy is exhausting, after all. I don’t consider myself a passive aggressive person, yet I find my frenemies bringing me — no, forcing me — to buy them gifts a size too small, just so they’ll have that “Shit, it doesn’t fit” moment. It’s brilliant, but it’s evil. I know.
That’s the thing about our frenemies — they turn us into ugly people. Logically, it would make more sense to cut them from our lives and move on. Our mothers tell us to, our therapists tell us to, and heaven knows every 40-year-old blogger preaching about what she wish she knew when she was 20 tells us to. But we can’t do it. We can’t make the cut. “You, person with much more life experience than I have, YOU couldn’t possibly understand,” we say, “I have to keep her around. I simply cannot end this friendship.”
Why? What is so categorically wrong with telling a person “I don’t want to be friends with you any more”? See how you felt when I just said that? That’s what’s wrong with it. You had the immediate inclination to object, right? Girlfriend, you thought, I was following you until here, but I just can’t see how you can possibly bring this around and make that statement okay. It just feels wrong. And you’re right. I can’t make that okay. It’s not okay. Perhaps some wisdom will fall upon me when I bare a child, as all wisdom seems to do, and I’ll come back with the secret formula of cutting the bitches out, but somehow, right now, doing so would just be downright mean.
Every time in history a girl ends a story with “And out of nowhere, she just told me she didn’t want to be my friend anymore, and we never spoke again,” she’s met with a chorus of “THAT’S SO FUCKED.” Because it is! In order to feel passionately enough about someone to be true frenemies, you have to have first been really great friends. At one point in your life, you had to have thought she’d be your bridesmaid.
If you didn’t have these best friendship expectations of her, you wouldn’t care when she didn’t meet them. You wouldn’t care that she blew you off two (billion) times for her boyfriend. You wouldn’t care that she’s
totally fucking boring doesn’t like to do the things you like to do. You wouldn’t care that when you have a lunch date, she doesn’t ask you a single question for two and a half hours. She’d just be your average, run-of-the-mill shitty human, and that’d be a-okay. But when you’re expecting that she’s a diamond in the rough, a good gal out of the thousands of bitches out there, it really pisses you off to be disappointed. You misjudged her, you called her “bestie,” and now you’re stuck. And that really sucks.
The problem is, she didn’t do anything wrong. She didn’t forget your birthday, she didn’t spread rumors about you, and she didn’t screw your boyfriend. She has a shitty personality, and you had the misfortune of realizing it when it was too late. If you try to phase her out, she’ll realize it, and try to come to a resolution of sorts — at which point, you’re the bad guy for not wanting to fix it. But the fact of the matter is that you feel so much resentment — it’s built up over time — that you don’t want to fix it. Every little thing, too insignificant to bring up on its own, has piled up, and now there’s nothing she can do to atone for it.
So you do nothing. And you do nothing, and you do nothing, and you do nothing. And your boyfriend thinks you’re catty, and your mother thinks you’re bitchy, and you think you’re crazy, and yet you continue to do nothing. Because somehow in this fucked up frenemiship, you still don’t want to hurt her feelings in this horribly final way. That would be the worst thing you could do. Worse than the passive aggressive comments, worse than the feelings of hatred, worse than the shit-talking, worse than picking apart and focusing on all the little things she does because every single one of them makes you mad. Ending the friendship would be worse than all that. Of course it would. You’d be doing something concrete that would hurt another person’s feelings, and that’s just not okay.
But sometimes you still can’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, your boyfriend, and your father, and your therapist, and your brother, and your mother, and your male friends, and the 40-year-old blogger telling you what she wish she knew back then might possibly be right.