Beware of Frenemies: Six Relationship Tips
Beware of Frenemies: These So-Called Friends Might Be Your Biggest Roadblocks to a Lasting Love Relationship.
In the Sex & the City movie, Miranda functions as a friend-turned-Frenemy and helps derail her friend’s dream wedding. At a strategic point in the upcoming nuptials she opens her mouth and actually puts down the idea of marriage to the commitment-phobic groom! In this one act, Miranda puts a nail in the coffin of her best friend’s dream. But there are love lessons learned from this scene.
First of all, finding the One is a challenge and, unfortunately, friends and family members can sometimes make it even tougher. When people in your inner circle become negative, pessimistic, competitive, jealous, or don’t show you appreciation and/or encouragement, it inflames your own doubts and fears. If you are in a new love relationship, these reactions can come on suddenly, or they may be familiar and ingrained parts of lifetime relationships that are so subtle you may not even be fully aware of them. In either case, your frenemies’ reactions toward you and/or your boyfriend can pull you both back into being hopeless. In extreme cases, they can sabotage a growing love relationship, as Miranda did in the Sex & the City movie! Negative reactions from people close to you can even stop you from getting out there and dating altogether.
How Do Frenemies Behave?
I call people who interfere with your love life Frenemies. Ask yourself, do any of these descriptions sound familiar?
- A “best friend” who takes an instant dislike to a guy you really like
- A friend who insists that all the “good ones” are taken
- A sister/brother who reminds you of your past failures or the duds you’ve fallen for
- A dad who criticizes any guy you bring around
- A mom who clucks about how men would find you more attractive if you only lost those 10 pounds
- Your two closest friends are no-shows at the first holiday party you are hosting with your number one guy
These are typical reactions of friends-turned-Frenemies. Here are six relationship tips to use in handling Frenemies and protecting your love relationship:
Relationship Tip 1: Uncover Frenemies
Who do you spend the most time with socially? For each person journal about the following:
a) Are they single? Are they in a relationship? If so, do they generally describe it as loving or not?
b) Do you feel good hanging around them? How do you feel right after being with them?
c) Are they supportive of your self esteem and attractiveness?
d) What are their attitudes towards love, men or relationships in general?
e) How do they react when you are in a relationship?
Relationship Tip 2: Understand where they’re coming from:
My work over many years, including significant numbers of interviews with Frenemies, indicates that their behavior is influenced by a potent combination of three factors: negative programming, jealousy, and envy. Negative programming can be overt or subtle. They are carrying around their own “stuff.” It’s not about you!
Relationship Tip 3: Stop Your Whining
Often you are unconsciously encouraging your Frenemies to be negative by complaining to them about what is wrong with your boyfriend. For three days, make a note of every time you complain to anyone. For the next three days complain to no one. Journal about how this feels.
Relationship Tip 4: Journal your reactions to family and frenemies:
Begin to examine the quality of your relationships with your closest friends and family. Journal about their reactions to you after you’ve shared your excitement about a date, a particular guy or the experiences you’re having on your journey to love. Have their attitudes toward you changed? Are they less encouraging or supportive than before? Are they picky or hostile about the guys you see? Journal about your feelings, reactions and moods after interacting with each of them. Keep careful notes after each interaction, especially observing whether your best friend, sister, etc., left you feeling inspired or deflated. If you notice there is a pattern developing or that you’ve uncovered a long-standing habitual way they relate to you, you’re going to have to deal with them directly.
Relationship Tip 5: Show Frenemies how to support you:
Next, begin shaping your Frenemies’ behavior so that they become more optimistic, attentive, supportive and uplifting. You will feel better—and, after they get the hang of it, they will too! To accomplish this goal, you will use what I call Positive Shaping Talk: clearly and lovingly ask for exactly what you want and need.
Positive Shaping Talk works best when it comes from what I call Positive Paranoia. Here’s what I mean: You know that the people in your posse love you and mean well but don’t always know how to show it. Often we do not focus on the love that is truly there for us but are distracted instead by surface interactions. We dwell on what a family member or friend is doing and saying in the moment, which can be quite dim-witted, unloving, or even unconsciously cruel. This puts us in a state of paranoia, where we suspect that the person may not care for us all that much. Focus instead on how much the person at their core really does love you, and you will get more of their caring. Refocusing on the love that might not be evident in the moment is Positive Paranoia.
Look on your Frenemies from a place of Positive Paranoia and practice Positive Shaping Talk with them. You will come right out and ask for attention, validation, nurturance or encouragement for your vision. You can be talking to your distant father and say things like, “I would love for you to pay attention and show me how much you appreciate (my singing, my gifts, my creativity, my success).” “Give me a kiss.” “I’m ready for applause for my (performance, etc.).” One sentence that really works is, “I’d really love it if you would say (or do)________.”
Relationship Tip 6: Build a boundary around toxic people and frenemies
When close friends or family undermine your love life and fail to come through for you, even though you have acted more upbeat and used Positive Paranoia and Positive Shaping Talk, it is time to put some distance between you. Move to a more cordial relationship where you do not discuss personal matters. If they are too negative or abusive you may temporarily need to break off the relationship so that your energy is freely devoted to creating love. As hard as this is, remember you get to choose who your spend time with.
Anyone can make a mistake and can turn Frenemy on you, just like Miranda did in the SATC movie. But if this does happen, follow these steps and you will find that you can turn things around so that you have a truly supportive posse. To learn more about overcoming obstacles to finding the one, go to the finding the one blog.
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Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is a relationship advice expert, frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show and the creator of a globally available dating coach and Love Mentor® program. Dr. Diana is also the best-selling author of the acclaimed best-selling relationship and dating book, “Love in 90 Days”. Love in 90 Days was the basis of her PBS Special on love. Connect with Dr. Diana through her Dating Tips & Relationship Advice Newsletter.
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