How to Spot Frenemies and Fair-weather Friends

I met Ivan when we were 3 years old and we have been best friends ever since. He was my friend when I was an angry, untrusting little girl, a nerdy tween, and very uncool brainiac teenager. He offered to beat up a guy that broke my heart and to open up his home to my daughters and I before I found where to go when I became a single mom. He sends me funny jokes when I’m depressed and reminds me to let him know if I ever need anything.

Martin was everyone’s go-to guy at work. He always had a smile and a pun and would solve all your computer software problems. He was the only man outside of my brother and father whom I trusted after the terrible trauma. I’ve always looked up to him and, after 22 years, I can always count on him to say something that will make my day. 

When I signed up to learn Italian, I didn’t know I would meet Carolina and gain a friend for life. Soon after, I was in a coma for 8 days and she was one of the few people that came to see me at the hospital. We’ve been inseparable for 20 years, amidst the highs and lows of life, and she made sure to come see me in the USA after I moved away from home and my family couldn’t visit. 

I’m very grateful and happy to have loving, trusting, caring friends in my life. The downside is that I don’t see them as often as I’d like to because we live thousands of miles apart from one another. My friends bless my life and I know that our friendship transcends time and distance.

Ulysses S. Grant talked about those friends who are there in the storms of life: “The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”

Ulysses S. Grant quote about frenemies and fair-weather friends: "The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”

The latter type of friends are what many call “fair-weather” friends. She’s not really your friend, because according to Proverbs “a friend loveth at all times.” Fair-weather friends are fun to be around, but they are never there when you need them. Sometimes they don’t even know you need them because they only show up when they need you or it’s convenient for them.  

Are you wondering whether a certain someone is a fair-weather friend? You’ll notice that she’s often unreliable, inconsistent, and unavailable. Your friendship is all about her and her convenience. She flakes on you at the last minute (something always comes up). She’s the master of excuses – or so she thinks – because you know you want to believe her but you really don’t. How to spot frenemies and fair-weather friends - Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM Though most fair-weather friends may be just clueless, busy, or have relational issues that have nothing to do with you, there’s a particular group we all need to watch out for: your frenemies.  

The word frenemy was made popular on the third season of Sex and The City (2000). Disney also has a really cool movie by that name. A frenemy is an enemy who is disguised as a friend, like the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. (aff links)

A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17

There’s a particular story in the Bible that turns out to be quite enlightening about how frenemies operate and very helpful to spot a frenemy. In summary, Paul found himself in the island of Melita, where the residents were extremely hospitable and “kindled a fire” to make sure they were not too cold. Paul is then bit by a venomous viper. These “kind” people stood back, murmuring how he probably deserved it. When Paul was unharmed, then they assumed he was “a god.” (Acts 28: 1-6)

7 Signs To Spot A Frenemy

To be absolutely transparent, realizing that someone you thought was your friend is really a frenemy is not an easy task. Often, the only way to spot a frenemy is through disappointment, disillusion, and discouragement. Here are 7 signs that will help you spot a frenemy sooner rather than later.

Your Frenemy is extremely nice to you

The people of Melita went out of their way to show Paul just how hospitable they were. If someone is being unusually nice to you and you get a funny feeling, it may be your intuition telling you that something’s not right.

If something feels off, it is! Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

You know I always say “if something feels off, it is.” In my country, they have a saying that goes “Ese huevo quiere sal,” which means “that egg wants salt,” and signifies that there’s an ulterior motive underneath all that “kindness.”

Your frenemies is quick to judge you

We’ve all been metaphorically bitten and burned. And there will always be a group that will show no mercy for you because they will quickly jump to the conclusion that you must have “asked for it.” Just how did the people of Melita got the idea that Paul was a murderer simply because he was going through hardship? Whoa! And of course, they talked “among themselves,” and not directly to him – that’s what a frenemy does: she judges your character based on your condition and uses her judgment as an argument to talk behind your back. Gossip is so toxic!

You may be wondering how this is really a sign, since you probably cannot hear or see this happening, but your frenemy can’t help herself and will sure drop some hints you can watch for. Instead of flat out telling you you probably deserved what’s going on, she will either say “I told you so,” or ask you questions in such a way that you end up feeling guilty, ashamed, and even more hurt than you were to begin with. She can pretend to be your BFF all she wants, but she can’t fake her energy. The stress of feeling so uncomfortable around her is your best clue!

Your frenemy stands back and just watches you struggle

Some people are so consumed in their own lives that they don’t ever notice your pain, and some others will notice but will wait for you to bring it up (and if you have expectations that they would ask if they cared, this is going nowhere). However, there are others who see you struggle and just stand there. I’m sure this sounds familiar: You pour your heart and soul out to her and she says nothing, does nothing, and changes the subject.

And you and I are probably the same… We make excuses for her: “she didn’t catch it,” “she didn’t get it,” “she has too much on her plate…” and other blatant lies. But it happens over, over, and OVER again, and when it’s she who is going through an issue, she expects you to listen, help, give advice, and turn the compassion up. 

The people in Melita were were just expecting Paul to swell up and drop dead, so they were incapable of saying words of hope or encouragement, because they just didn’t mean it.

Your frenemy doesn’t celebrate your success

The interesting thing about this deal is that the reason you have frenemies is probably because you are stronger and more amazing than you give yourself credit for. It irritates your frenemies whenever they see you do all you do, survive everything that comes your way and look awesome doing it.

You would never believe someone would ever envy you or be jealous of you, but everyone experiences these emotions at some point or another, and anyone could be a target. It seems unreasonable, since they judge you so much, but hey, look at these people in Melita that went from believing Paul was the worst person in the planet to believing he was a god. Are you shaking your head yet?

Your frenemies idolize you so much that they almost hate you, and that’s why they can’t bring themselves to being happy for the good that happens to you. You will give them the benefit of the doubt, because “not everyone is as expressive as you” but then you see them give genuine (and public!) compliments to everyone else and realize that when it comes to you, it’s either backhanded compliments when it’s just the two of you or it’s all crickets in there. 

Your frenemy ignores your needs

This may be the most important sign yet, and though it is not obvious in the Acts 28 passage, it is definitely implicit. Your frenemy will flatter you and shower you with undue attention, but when you need something, she will ignore it. She will not only bail on you and take without giving back, she will also push your boundaries.

You will make requests and she will dismiss them, and she will show you time and time again that she doesn’t respect your time nor your standards. In fact, she will try to make you feel guilty and treat you condescendingly when you stand up for yourself and for your limits. Don’t fall for it!

Choose yourself - Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

Raise your hand if you’re ready to stop giving priority to people who just show up when they want something! Both my hands are up! Frenemies and fair-weather friends will sneak up on you as you make new friends and old friendships shift, but you can choose yourself!

I’m grateful for my true friends, who taught me the meaning of friendship, because they make it so much easier for me to see the contrast. It’s healthier to focus my time, energy, and resources on these friends who love me without comparison, competition, or contempt. 

Who are your true friends? Tell us how you met and what you most appreciate about them in the comments below. And share how you spot the frenemies in your life!

Elayna Fernandez - Author - 
Speaker - Success Guide to Moms and Mompreneurs
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM

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17 thoughts on “How to Spot Frenemies and Fair-weather Friends

  1. You are my friend, and even though we don’t speak as often as i would like, I treasure your friendship very much.

    I have been a magnet all my life for those fair weathered friends and those friendships sucked the life out of me, but since Blogher I have been focusing on ending those negative things from my life.

  2. Frenemies and fair-weather friends are always surrounding us and I´ve learned to deal with them the hard way too. I don´t like to set anyone apart of my life as a definitive form, yet I don´t give them the same treatment I use with my real close friends. It means I don´t dedicate so much of my energy neither my time with them.

  3. This has really got me thinking. Everything you said is so true. I definitely notice there are some people in my life that are frenemies. But at the end of the day, without a reason, there’s not much I can do about it. If they’re trying to be super nice to me, I can’t exactly tell them to stop :/
    Interesting article though.

  4. I can relate to this and I think that as I’ve got older I have become more selective in the relationships I give time and energy to. Also, make a point to dedicate time to those who have been there for the long run. People who aren’t genuine just take energy from you and left you feeling depleted. Great advice, thanks!

  5. omg! i used this article as a check list to check a “friend” of mine that I’ve had for many years. she met all the categories of a frenemy. I’m sad that it turned out this way, but happy to have identified it, and can now move on, maybe not put so much emphasis and thought around our relationship and focus of other more positive things and people in my life! Gracias!

  6. In the spirit of honesty and transparency, I’ve been both. I’m not proud that I’ve been a frenemy but sometimes I did let the ugliness of jealousy and selfishness win. The good news is that I’m aware of my actions and can do better … I have been doing better.

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