An age old saying claims that company is stronger than willpower.
When it comes to people we call friends, this is the truth. The closeness of our friends influence our perceptions, attitudes, beliefs. Therefore, our actions and choices in life may be changed.
We may shift from what is healthy for us to what is pleasing, normal or healthy for a friend. Such friends may not be truly enemies. If their influence causes us to stray from love, fullness of life, and discovery of our true nature, then label I label them a ‘frenemy.’
A recent study reported that modern adults feel lucky if they have one friend to count on. In a society that has hundreds or thousands of friends through Facebook and social circles, one has to wonder what the qualities of true friends are.
As one who has learned through experience, I’ve discovered some common traits of frenemies.
1. Frenemies gossip; friends keep trust sacred.
The few friends I have never speak about me or what I have shared with them, to anybody. Yet a frenemy is glad to share what is going on in the lives of the people around them. While gossip is unfortunately a common thing, its damages range from simple to enormous.
Even talking about ‘good’ things can cause destruction. Why? Language and perceptions are very tenuous. The words that one person says benevolently could be construed as harmful by another.
Friendships are sacred, intimate, and private. Real friends keep the trust and faith alive. The best of friends will defend you, even in the face of adversity and ridicule.
2. Frenemies give us the should or should not’s’; friends offer advice and perspective.
A frenemy will take what you share with them in trust, then communicate to what your choices are. What they are saying is that if they were in your shoes, or if they were you, they would do these things.
Most people do not have the savvy to communicate like this. The other aspect of telling a friend what they should or should not do is pride. Who is anybody to tell another person how to live their life and what is appropriate for them ?
The best of people will inspire you to believe in yourself. They will share their perspective of life, from where they stand. They may offer advice. If it is not received or taken, true friends feel no ill-will towards you. They will love you. They will believe in you and your path. They will see the potential and light of your soul and being.
3. Frenemies feel that they have to teach you something; friends believe in you.
No two humans are equal in understanding. Everything one person knows is different than what another knows. Even in the same field of knowledge, subtleties and perspectives can still be different. Experience includes great vast sublets of comprehension.
A frenemy will feel obligated to teach you something to make you learn a lesson. What they are doing is first assuming they know better for you; they have judged you as lacking in knowledge or experience that, if you simply understood, would make you a better person.
It is arrogant. It does not communicate trust or security. The violence of forcing somebody to learn something that may be right for them, is wrong for you.
A friend may see our failings in life and courageously communicate to us their perspective without being asked. Yet they will not force their viewpoint or feelings upon us. They will certainly not act in a way to make us learn, or help us see, things in a different light.
4. Frenemies use humor to hide insults and do not accept they can cause harm; friends listen and try to understand.
Words are powerful. Many friendships begin and end with words. Direct insults and putdowns make it easy to identify a frenemy. Subtle innuendos and putdowns, though, can be confusing.
Most people react defensively when strong language is used. Frenemies are experts at passive-aggressive defensiveness. They will turn things back on you, speak hatefully, hide behind humor, or brush it off as your hypersensitivity.
A real friend may be uncomfortable with what is being expressed and may respond defensively. Yet will always come around to humility and relinquish their viewpoint for a greater understanding.
A friend will nourish the relationship and allow themselves to see things your way. This does not mean they will agree. Just that they will agree to see.
5. Frenemies harbor attraction and will make sexual advances and innuendos.
It is true that friends can become companions. However, I refer to those people who aggressively come onto people that they know are unavailable. If the person is in a relationship, or simply not interested, to make any sexual overture is a betrayal of trust.
Friendship transcends attraction, and recognizes the timeless qualities of who a person is.
6. Frenemies have no compassion; friends are sensitive.
Every person goes through the seasons of life. When hard winter hits a frenemy will have nothing supportive to offer. They will either put you down for being weak, or deny that you are in dire straights.
Frenemies may judge you or blame you for your emotions and problems.
A friend may recognize that you are or are not the source of your own problems. They won’t pour salt on an already open wound. Instead, they give you the space you need or listen with patient attentiveness. A friend will offer other ways to console and help you heal.
A friend helps you remember who you are, sustain you in your life, and enrich your existence with their presence, love, experience, wisdom, compassion and joy. They will endure through the hard cycles of death, grief and depression, and are able to see the beauty of who you are even when you are cloaked in emotional midnight.
When we recognize a frenemy for who they are, choices must be made.
Everybody falters in life. Most frenemies are well meaning people. When it comes to nourishing our soul and enriching our personal and family life, care must be taken.
A person who once in a while offers the above traits may be forgiven, and be a true friend. If a person is persistent with frenemy traits, one must take action to support, protect and sustain what one really values in their own life.
In such cases, we must consult our soul or true friends for a course of action. Then take it. The frenemy will often feel hurt or slighted, or they may not notice.
The result will be the same: liberation.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Rheba Estante/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Mathias Klang from Goteborg/Wikipedia Commons