Thought this was an important article.


In the worlds of dating, personal success and self-esteem, our close friends are our bedrock. They give us a foundation of acceptance and advice, a solid base from which we can build ourselves into the people we want to become. But if we choose our friends poorly, their bad intentions can nibble away at our self-esteem like termites on a floorboard. Look around you – is that friend who’s hanging out at your house using you emotionally to make herself feel better? Is she a true friend or a “frenemy”?

Is she Complimenting you or Keeping you in your Place?

The hard thing about spotting frenemies is that they usually don’t intend to hurt you. They just want to boost their own egos and feel superior. And the best way to do that is to make someone else, namely you, toe the line just behind where they want to be standing. A frenemy, therefore, uses compliments that have a demeaning subtext. Be wary if your friend gives you backhanded compliments like these:

“Those boots look pretty good for someone with your build.”

“He seems much better than the guys you normally attract.”

“If I were you, I’d be very happy to get flowers!”

These so-called compliments are a frenemy’s way of letting you know that she has lower standards for you than she has for herself. And that can be worse for your self-esteem than any putdown from a known enemy.

A frenemy will make constant suggestions that seem helpful, but she really only makes them to buttress her sense of self-superiority. When it comes to clothes, she may suggest that you wear something, and then smirk and say that she’d never wear something like that herself. When it comes to dating, a frenemy may constantly encourage you to date guys or gals who are really wrong for you or whom you may not even find attractive or interesting. Your frenemy may hint that the person you have the hots for would never stoop to dating someone like you. Whatever they say, frenemies tend to talk to you in ways that chip away at your self-esteem.

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Those "compliments" are what I would refer to as the "left-handed" variety - compliments but only on the surface.  Look hard enough and what they amount to are cheap shots, saying that you're overreaching or getting something you don't deserve or variations on that theme.  People with poor self-esteem or related issues will take them at the superficial level, and the "complimenter" will get away with it.  Call them on it and they may be surprised or taken aback that their "compliment" was rudely rebuffed.

"Look, pal, this is ME you're talking to.  If you don't like my taste in clothes or wo/men or whatever, Deal Yourself Out.  I'm the one who lives in my skin and makes my decisions regarding my life.  You don't get that privilege, GOT IT???"

Hello Loren.

So glad to have your input. I value it.

Yes, those are backhanded compliments. I've heard back handed compliments before. They are hurtful. They damage your self-esteem and you don't need people like that in your life. With friends like that - who needs enemies?

There are many types of frenemies too. I've seen it where people just annoy the shit out of each other but they're in the same proximity and social circle so they still end up stuck with each other. I've seen "constructive criticism" used to tear each other apart, conflicts that should be between two people made into group meetings where everyone gangs up on one person. It is also a fine line because people do annoy each other, and people do have problems with each other, and have to decide whether it's worth it to bring them up. I was very frustrated with my old friends but it can be difficult to figure out the larger picture sometimes, when you have good days and think maybe your friendship isn't so bad...that's why people stay in bad relationships a long time I think.


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