If you think a fair-weather friend is bad, just wait until you experience a frenemy.
Frenemies, you know, those people who claim to be your friend but secretly enjoy seeing you hurt, embarrassed, and/or stagnant. Folks who speak and let the chips fall where they may. Recently, I saw this very thing at play while watching some mindless television programming. TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” provides a stress-free combination of fantastic dresses and drama. The drama that ensues stems from the brides and the folks she brings along to assist her in selecting her dream gown. During one segment of the show a twenty-something Black bride-to-be arrived at the boutique with her entourage of “keep it real” girlfriends.
Keep it real girlfriends are the ones who are supposed to tell you when something is stuck in your teeth, encourage you to “woman-up” and achieve your goals, and have your back during life’s low points. Other male or female terms for such friends include your “boy”/your “girl,” partner in crime, padre, road dog, play cousin….you get the point. But I digress. Let’s get back to the show. Very quickly, it became clear that these so-called friends were easily earning the title “frenemies.”In the name of “I’m just saying” or “you know me, I keeps it real”, they unleashed unabashed criticism upon their “friend.” The beautiful bride to be was criticized about nearly everything about her from her dress selections to her figure. The raucous laughter made it undeniable that they simply intended to steal her joy. These friends looked jealous and bitter, which brings me to point one of being a good friend:
Point 1: A good friend is happy for you, even when things aren’t going well in their world.
This can be hard to do. What makes it possible is two-fold. First, being a friend requires love and self-sacrifice. Love without sacrifice is shallow and empty. Even on a good day this love is (at best) only like but it is certainly not love. Secondly, a good friend sees your successes communally. This doesn’t mean they are now excited to mooch off your new job but rather they find personal joy in knowing they have helped in encourage and pray for the outcome that’s now happening to you.
Point 2: A good friend does not intentionally cut you with their words.
In the name of keeping it real, people have assaulted friends and family with their words. Just because we know someone well and for a long time does not mean we remove grace from our lips. Many failing marriages demonstrate this damaging behavior. When we to talk to our spouse, children and friends without considering their feelings, we are being hurtful and taking a relationship that can terminate for granted. Never forget, you are not guaranteed any human relationship and even the ones that seem to come easy must be maintained.
Some friendships are a union around a common enemy. The minute you break away from self-pity and hatred, the friendship deteriorates until a new foe is found. Let’s have friendships that are based on uplifting each other instead of an organized pity party. There should be no person that we get to talk to any kind of way including ourselves. Some of us have self-talk that is so degrading that we make others uncomfortable when they are around us.
Point 3: A good friend does not consume all the space of the friendship.
Seasons of life bring about highs and lows for everyone. However, if your friendship is dominated by the issues, needs, and mishaps of one person, it can become draining and over-extending. While the gracious thing to do includes continuing to walk with your struggling friend. At some, point you will find that you need another friend just to recuperate.
Be honest, are you a frenemy or is there a frenemy you need to distance yourself from? If you are a flat-out “hater” that cannot stand to see even your friend reach his or her goal, I would encourage you to
- Apologize to your friend before you are friendless
- Seek help for your issues of hurt that make your needs consume all the space of your relationships.
Feel free to leave comments including shouts outs to that outstanding friend in your life!