Frenemies: 5 tips to deal

This post contains adult language. Reader discretion is advised.

Frenemy (noun): A person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry

Frenemy: such a made up term. And to the ordinary person, seemingly something that only happens in Hollywood. Taylor and Katy, Lauren and Heidi, Beyonce and Kim — the Hollywood classics. Something that doesn’t happen to normal people with real lives. Or so I thought, until it happened to me.

I still remember the day I learned I had a frenemy. It was about 2 years ago, and was a sunny summer day, like any other summer day. The birds were chirping, I had eaten a delicious lunch, and that afternoon, I found out that someone I liked, respected even, was actively trying to sabotage me. WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! I’m not naive. Even though I like to think I’m immensely likable, not everyone likes me. And I’m 100% ok with that. I don’t even care if people talk shit behind my back – that’s just a part of life. But sabotage? Now that’s a completely different story. Two years later, I still have this frenemy, but I’m two years wiser, and so I’m going to offer you some tips to deal, should you ever find yourself in a similar predicament.

Step 1: Admit you have a frenemy

When I first found out about my frenemy, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. How could this even happen? Was it even real? Surely it couldn’t be. But the more I heard about how my frenemy was trying to put major wrinkles in my otherwise mostly perfect life, it dawned on me that this was a real thing, and I was going to have to deal with it. The basis of my relationship with this person had fundamentally changed, and whether I liked it or not, there was a new reality emerging.


Step 2: Feel your feelings

This is a critical part of the process. Feel your feelings. All of them. I was hurt, angry, confused. I released a torrent of expletives. I was enraged. I was outraged. I was disappointed. If you find yourself with a frenemy, just remember that you will feel the same, maybe even more. It is all normal. You have to let yourself go through the process of grieving (which is frankly what it is) to be able to tackle steps 3, 4 and 5.



I repeat, DO NOT ENGAGE. When you first find out about your frenemy, you may be tempted to strike back or confront them. DO NOT DO THIS. For one, your frenemy will either immediately go on the defensive, or become passive aggressive, or react in some other negative manner. It will not end well. And if you’re trying to seek revenge, then perhaps you deserve to have this frenemy. As Michelle Obama says “when they go low, we go high”– listen to FLOTUS. Go high, and do not engage. And besides, no one needs that kind of negativity.


Step 4: Develop a strategy

If your situation is similar to mine, you will have to encounter this person, even if you don’t want to. The best way to deal with this is to develop a strategy. Mine is to kill them with kindness, but generally keep my distance. I’m polite but not overtly friendly. I may laugh at their jokes, and even compliment them, but I keep the conversations short. I will not go out of my way to avoid them though– my thought process here is that if I treat them politely, then it will be that much harder for anyone to believe any sort of negativity this person is trying to spread about me. Once you’ve done Step 2, come up with your own strategy when you are of calm and logical mind, and then stick to it.


Step 5: Lean on your inner circle

Truly, this will save you from a lot of heartache. I cannot even count the number of times my inner circle has heard me rage and cuss, but they are true friends and they let me vent, and they give me advice. And most important, they keep their ear to the ground and let me know of anything that may be coming my way so I’m not blindsided. They also make sure I don’t do anything stupid like vague Facebook posts or subtweets, because no one has sympathy for that. They help me keep my head and my wits about me, for which I am eternally grateful.


So there you have it. Before I end, I want to leave you with something one of my spin instructors, Jenn Sommers, used to say  “Things will happen to you. You can’t control them, but you CAN control how you react to them.” Don’t fall victim to your frenemy’s ways. You are better than that.

About author View all posts Author website

Shibani Faehnle

Shibani is a banker by day, and an entrepreneur, lifestyle blogger, spin instructor, wife, and mom to three rescue pups by night. She started her online jewelry boutique in 2015. She has a weakness for ice cream, loud pop music, 90s hip hop, and texting in ALL CAPS. She secretly wants Andy Cohen and Bravo to hire her to be on Real Housewives of Cleveland.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • That was insightful. Thank you for writing about it.

    I would also like to add to the discussion about when you might encounter this at work. I learned a bit late in my career that this is a common experience in the corporate world.

    Frenemies come in the form of both men and women but there are some unique circumstances that encourage it to happen among women. Since many companies still practice tokenism, meaning they only promote a few women to top positions in order to appear as though they are not discriminating against women, women find themselves not in competition with everyone in the company but with each other. This has the tendency to pit women against each other. Another thing that causes this phenomenon to intensify between women is a difference in human nature between the way women and men organize themselves. Men work in hierarchies but women work in teams. Women have hierarchies but they de-emphasize titles and positions and work together more. The corporate world was built by men and it is a hierarchy. It tends to intensify competition in general in a way that is a bit unnatural for women.

    The strategy for dealing with all of this is the same as Shibani outlines above but with a strong emphasis on #5, lean on your inner circle. To do this you must first create relationships with important people at your company. I can not emphasize enough how important this is to your career. From the first day you get into your new job, you must start working on figuring out all of the various networks that exist in your new company both formal and informal. I emphasize the informal networks in the company because they are typically more important than the formal networks. Figure out who key people are and make friends with them any way you can. They will be the only thing that can protect you from people in your company who will set out to sabotage you and I can assure you, you will encounter them.

    I hope that helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *