* Do you have a frenemy? I have more about dealing with adult gossip in this post.
There is someone in my life that I have a very competitive relationship with. We see each other around because we run in similar crowds. Although our conversations are usually fun and lighthearted, we inevitably end up in a words – swordfight.
This person is not my “friend” and not my “enemy.” They are definitely. My. Frenemy.
Here’s the thing: I’ve always, 100% believed that TRULY “intelligent” people do not need to brag about being “intelligent.” Intelligent people don’t need to advertise the awards they’ve won, degrees they’ve earned, or how they got a new patent for a toilet that wipes your ass for you. Intelligent people can handle contradicting opinions and challenges, because disagreement is part of intellectual banter. Intelligent people are not threatened by being wrong. Intelligent people are not threatened by someone else’s success or good grades.
I believe this. I swear. I do.
Back to my frenemy. Here’s a sample from a recent conversation:
Me: “This morning, I felt so frustrated after talking with so-and-so….. they said–”
Frenemy: “Well, she was really nice to ME.”
Me: “Yeah… um……so, I agree, she IS nice. And she was nice to me, too…. At the same time, she complained about the way that I did things. I felt really frustrated when she assumed that I –”
Frenemy: “She didn’t say anything to ME about that. It’s probably because I’m so good at everything. Everyone thinks highly of me.”
Okay. That last part was a slight paraphrasing. But you get the point.
It’s probably my fault. Okay: I shouldn’t be complaining about others to someone I don’t trust. I shouldn’t complain about others. Period. And yet, I let myself get swept up in these talks, common to one circle I run in.
It’s around this point that I start throwing in my own jabs:
“Hmm, why do you think that you’re really good at what you’re doing? That’s not what I’ve been overhearing…”
“Well gee, I wish that people could stop taking me so seriously, kind of like how they think of you….”
Mature, I know.
I’ve thought over my frenemy-relationship for awhile. Stepping back, I recognize that this person struggles with a lot of self-doubt, which is why I think they need to assert themselves and their “accomplishments” a lot.
What I can’t figure out is why I channel my OWN self-doubt in this way. Yes, sure. So I know this. These conversations spark my own insecurity. AND…. this self-awareness doesn’t save me from entering these competitive conversations.
Why do I feel the need to point out that my frenemy’s “accomplishments” are sometimes just their own inflated invention? Why can’t I just nod, smile, and say, “that’s nice”? Why can’t I just leave this whole thing alone?
On one hand, I hear my frenemy saying, “I have an easier life than you because I am doing a better job and I am better than you.” This message (albeit in my imagination) fundamentally goes against everything I believe: that circumstance / luck affects our lives just as much as our individual efforts. And yes, I admit to jealousy because I do think my frenemy’s gotten a “better stacked deck” in life: money, privilege, all that.
On the other hand, I let my frenemy bring out my own competitive need for validation. My mind knows better: I don’t need my frenemy to “validate me” — I can validate my own damn self. But my blood boils, nonetheless.
Finally, there is also the reality that I get annoyed easily. I’ve known this to be true, too. That aside, this frenemy is a real highlight of annoyance in my life.
I’m trying my hardest to back off these conversations. It’s not the person I want to be. Since we run into each other pretty frequently, when we do talk, I have been trying to listen more and speak less to this person. I try to nod and smile sometimes.
If I post again about this in a few days, you’ll know I’ve failed.
What about other people?
Do other grown adults have frenemies? (I thought I’d left this drama behind in middle school!)