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"Frenemy" (also spelled "frienemy") is an oxymoron and a portmanteau of "friend" and "enemy" that refers to "a person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry" or "a person who combines the characteristics of a friend and an enemy". The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions. This term also describes a competitive friendship.
The word originates from the aristocratic Mitford sisters, of literary and social fame. The American-based author and activist Jessica Mitford who circulated it, stated it was: "an incredibly useful word...coined by one of my sisters when she was a small child to describe a rather dull little girl who lived near us. My sister and the frenemy played together constantly...all the time disliking each other heartily."
"Frenemy" has appeared in print as early as 1953 in an article titled "Howz [sic] about calling the Russians our Frienemies?" by the American gossip columnist Walter Winchell in the Nevada State Journal From the mid-1990s it underwent a massive hike in usage.
A Businessweek article stated that frenemies in the workplace are common, even in business to business partnerships. Due to increasingly informal environments and the "abundance of very close, intertwined relationships that bridge people's professional and personal lives ... [while] it certainly wasn't unheard of for people to socialize with colleagues in the past, the sheer amount of time that people spend at work now has left a lot of people with less time and inclination to develop friendships outside of the office." Professional relationships are successful when two or more business partners come together and benefit from one another, but personal relationships require more common interests outside of business. Relationships in the workplace, in a sports club, or any place that involves performance comparing, form because of the commonalities between persons. Due to the intense environment, competitiveness can evolve into envy and strain a relationship. Frenemy type relationships become routine and common because of the shared interest of business dealings or competition.
Sigmund Freud said of himself that "an intimate friend and a hated enemy have always been indispensable to my emotional life...not infrequently...friend and enemy have coincided in the same person".
Types of frenemies
Frenemies can be divided into different categories based on their behaviors:
One-sided frenemy: When one person reaches out or meets another person only when they need help or a favor, they can be considered a one-sided frenemy to the latter person. This person doesn't care about the life of the other person and doesn't have any interest in what is going on with them. Also, they do not show up in time to meet the other's need, so it is a one-sided relationship.
Unfiltered/Undermining frenemy: This type of frenemy insults their friend, makes fun of them, and cracks sarcastic jokes about them so frequently that it gets hard for them to tolerate. They disclose their secrets in public. So, that person will eventually start to hate this frenemy.
Over-involved frenemy: This kind of frenemy gets involved in their friend's life in ways that they might not approve. They reach out to their family, friends or significant others in inappropriate ways without their permission to find something out. Their over-involvement bothers and irritates the friend.
Competitive work frenemy: This kind of frenemy is basically a competitor to one person. Since they work in the same place or area, they behave well, make compliments and act as a well-wisher, but in reality, they never want something good to happen to the other. They never want the other to become more successful than them.
Ambivalent frenemy: This kind of frenemy has both positive and negative qualities. Sometimes they can be helpful and polite but sometimes they also act in a selfish or competitive way.
Jealous frenemy: Jealousy can turn friends into frenemies A person may become jealous of their friends because of their raise, success, beauty, personality, humor, or social status.
Unsure frenemy: When one does not know exactly the status or closeness of their friendship. For example, they are not sure if the other person likes them or not, if they are real friends or just business friends, or if they will consider inviting them to family programs.
Passive-aggressive frenemy: They make mean remarks and give backhand compliments, but never directly to one's face. They can leave a person feeling confused about whether they have done something wrong.