Dear Friends and Pep Pals:
This was supposed to have posted yesterday…not sure why it didn’t. Sorry for the delay!
I will not let anyone with dirty feet walk through my mind. ~Mahatma Gandhi
Toxic people are hurtful. Even if their venom isn’t aimed at us but rather is in the form of always complaining, always seeing the negative side, and always focusing on the bad “stuff” in life; it still harms us.
The good news is that these people are generally easy to spot. They’re the ones that don’t have much of a sense of humor; usually they’re the people with the dour look on their faces and are unpleasant to be around. Even though we may not be able to eliminate them from our lives (they may be a family member, part of our team at work, or a member of the same club or organization we belong to), it isn’t too hard for us to move them to the periphery.
But what about those people who are toxic to us but in a very subtle way–you know, frenemies?
These are people who seem pleasant and welcoming on the surface but that’s where their friendliness ends. This is definitely a case of a metaphor being true-to-life: These people are icebergs. Their type of “friendship”–if you even call it that–is cold-hearted and just below the surface lurk deadly, razor-sharp edges that will rip you to shreds.
I’ve found that these people are the toughest to deal with. They are masters of subtlety and oftentimes others in the group don’t notice what’s going on, especially since your frenemy is usually a loyal friend to the others.
When this has happened to me in the past, I’ve made excuses for their treatment of me or–worse–thought maybe I was being to sensitive or reading into the situation things that just weren’t there. And I’ve justified staying in the group because the others were nice and I enjoyed their friendship.
It can take a while for it to sink in that the one friend is actually a lethal frenemy. Once you recognize this, thought, then leave as fast as you can.
I’ve found that I’ve had to leave the whole group of friends, even though a few were very nice people with whom I had wanted to stay in touch (I had tried to remain in touch but I couldn’t because they kept including my frenemy).
The realization that made me finally take a stand and move the whole group–frenemy as well as the nice people–out of my life was when I realized that the frenemy could indulge in her behavior because no one in the group called her on it.
The tipping point for me came when my frenemy made a callous, untrue comment about me when we were all at lunch together. One of the others spoke to me privately and told me she was mortified that my frenemy had been so heartless. This wasn’t the first time that she and a few of the others had privately said that my frenemy’s comments to me were uncalled for.
But later on when I thought about it, I clearly understood that as long as my frenemy would go unchallenged, she would be as disrespectful of me as she pleased. Because of the dynamics of the group, my choices were to put up with my frenemy or leave the group entirely.
In that moment I knew I deserved better.
I want people who won’t remain quiet when somebody is talking about a friend.
The others in the group weren’t willing, even in a gentle or friendly way, to call my frenemy on her behavior, then they were just as guilty of tromping through my mind with dirty feet as my frenemy was.
I’m no longer willing to let that happen so I’ve left the group.
Naturally I sometimes miss my nice friends and when I see on Facebook an activity they’ve done together I feel the pang of missing out. But I also remember the painful price I had to pay to “belong”.
I’ve discovered that because I am no longer spending time with this group, I now have time to spend with people who are true friends to me.
And that’s a very nice payoff!
Have you had similar experiences with frenemies? What did you do about them? Let me know in the comments below!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,
3 thoughts on “Frenemies = People with Dirty Feet”
I appreciate the strength and clarity and wisdom within this post regarding friends who are not really true friends. You also bring up the important subject of being able to stand up for our friends, and that requires courage. Thank you for this reminder.
Thank you for your kind comments.
Yes, when a group of people are speaking poorly of a friend, it requires quite a bit of courage to stand up on a friend’s behalf. You want to protect the friend but you don’t want to create a knock-down drag-out confrontation. In cases like that, a technique I’ve found helpful is to talk about the friend’s good qualities and strengths instead of directly confronting the slander. In most cases, people get the message and it’s usually enough to turn the conversation in a different direction.
Do you have any techniques that you’ve found helpful in these types of situations?
Thanks again for your comments!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,