Do you have a friend that can be identified as a frenemy? That one who is your friend but secretly hates on you? Your friend that seems to be competing with you? Or reminding you of your shortcomings to make themselves feel better? I feel many of us have that one friend at some point in our lives. Friends play an important part of our journey as we progress through life. From a young age, we try to make friends with ‘our’ type of people. Someone we can connect with and share parts of ourselves with. We place our trust in them and hope for a lifelong friendship. Sometimes that works. Sometimes, two friends remain friends forever, because they have a mutual understanding. You trust each other whole-heartedly, they can respect your boundaries and you theirs, you celebrate each other and your successes, and know how and when to give each other space. This is the definition of friendship for me. But I feel that sometimes, friends can secretly envy you.
At the age of eleven, I made friends with a girl at school. We are born one day apart, both the same star sign, from the same culture, yet we were different because she was skinny, and I was fat. That automatically makes her better, right? Well, according to her, it does. We spoke to each other all day, every day. But from a young age, there was some bullying that was a ‘joke’ in her eyes, all because she made fun of me being fat. See, my thoughts are that if someone is insecure about something, and you do everything to make them feel more insecure, then you are deliberately being malicious. You should not use people’s insecurities against them. Friendship is about trust and trusting your friends enough, to not do something like that because if they do, then that is intentional. They are making a choice to make you feel that way. Growing up, I wanted to be skinny because that is what was classed as beautiful. Anything other than that, would resort to being taunted about things such as not being good enough or not being desirable. So, my alleged best friend thought it was a great idea to nickname me ‘Fatz’, to remind me of my insecurity constantly. Despite having the conversation about how it made me feel, she paid no mind to, especially when she would say it in front of other people in an attempt to belittle and embarrass me. She had no intention of acknowledging how it made me feel because she was used to calling me that.
We got through our GCSE’s and schooling was all coming to an end where we started deciding what our next steps would be. This would be the starting point of where our differences became more prominent. I have always been an advocate of education because for me personally, academic growth is important. Academia is a personal choice. For me, it was important to have views on things happening around the world at a young age and it still is. I never dreamed of going to the sixth form attached to my school. It wasn’t the place for me as I have always been too much of a free spirit. But my friend wanted me to stay because it would mean that she would be lonely without me, and I was selfish for wanting something different that didn’t necessarily involve her.
Although there was some tension, it was fine because we had a weekend job together at the same place. Here she met a man who was a good ten years older than her and was our manager. Now, being in a new relationship at the age of seventeen with an older man was the best thing that could have happened to her, until it was the worst thing that happened to her. Over a short period of time, our friendship started deteriorating. Namely because she broke the best friend code by talking about all the bad things about her beloved boyfriend to me, and then repeating to him, everything I was advising her, which wasn’t necessarily what he wanted to hear. I ended up becoming the problem in their relationship and he hated me. She was in love so that was the end of our friendship for a year. We eventually reconnected because he was out of her life and she realised that she had made a mistake by sharing everything with him. However, our lives were very different at this point as she had taken on the working world and I had chosen the student life at university, completing my undergraduate degree.
After finishing university and moving back home, we started to spend more time together. Now at the age of twenty-two, we were in different places in life. She had a stable job, and I was searching for one. I worked as a customer service advisor because it was something temporary until I figured out my next move. However, things started to change once again. There was this constant need to reiterate how she was beautiful because she was skinny and the snapchat pictures of a flat stomach were constant. Every time she headed to the gym, it needed to be known. It was almost like she felt the need to continue using my insecurity to validate herself. She had to constantly remind me that she was something I was not. It even went as far as her telling me that ‘all men want something pretty to look at’ when I trusted her with the experiences I was having with men. I mean how rude! She obviously needed my glasses to recognise that I am more than pretty. I am f****** beautiful!
However, after some time, she reunited with her psychotic long lost lover, and married him for reasons that are still beyond me. Whatever reason, low and behold, it didn’t work out. He was the same aggressive and psychologically abusive man he had always been. They got divorced and a year later she met someone else. Now this man is lovely. He really does love her. But since then, there has been this silent competition that she is in with me, but only by herself. Namely because I don’t compete. I am a firm believer that people’s fate is always different so there is no competition. We get what is in our destiny and depends on how hard we are willing to work. It was a silent competition because everything became about how wonderful her life was, how much money she was earning and how much her things cost. See, the difference between her and I is that I don’t ever talk about money. It makes me uncomfortable. I feel that people who constantly need to reiterate the price of material possessions to have an interesting conversation are coming from a place of insecurity, almost like they are trying to compensate for something. There is something missing in their lives which is why they must give themselves self-worth and importance by making it a point to tell you how much they earn or what material possessions they have. I appreciate that sometimes we share these things with those who are close to us, but then there is excessively talking about it which is a red flag in my humble opinion.
Whilst all of this was going on, I had decided to further my own education by studying for a master’s and working full time. However, because I was constantly busy, it was a problem as it meant I didn’t value our friendship. Yet, it was always me that was accommodating her needs for what she needed in this friendship. It was always me listening to her problems because they were bigger than anyone else’s. All the important things were happening in her life. She was getting married, she had bought a house, she was having a baby. The things in my life were not as important such as furthering my education and looking after my sick mum. She had a problem if I would make the effort to call her on my drive home from the library and say she didn’t appreciate that I was doing something else at the same time. It felt like she wanted me to make her a priority in my life, instead of me making myself a priority in my life.
Now, the problem is we’re still ‘friends’ because you can’t prove someone is a frenemy. Instead, you get told that it is in your head and you’re the jealous friend. You become the problem! But the reason that we are so different is because we took different paths. However, she was never able to appreciate mine because it wasn’t the typical, wanting a fairy-tale ‘happily ever after’, whilst I did everything to appreciate hers. From when we were at school, I always said that I wanted a professional career whereas she was concerned about getting married. We grew up in different environments. My parents were strict but not as strict as hers which made sense as to why she wanted to get married young. She wanted the freedom her family wouldn’t give her and the only way to get that was to have a husband. It’s a cultural thing.
At the age of thirty, again we are in different places. I work and live abroad; she is married with two children and a husband. We have very different lifestyles. I am grateful for mine. I cherish memories and precious moments with special people. But I feel there is this still this subliminal competition despite me living halfway across the world. I feel that maybe there is something missing in her life which is why material possessions have become a priority in her life. My successes have never really been celebrated in this friendship. Her successes are always extraordinary, and no one gets opportunities like she does which is why her successes are always more important. Everything is about all the job opportunities she has been receiving amidst a pandemic and the amount of money she can earn on a temporary role. I wonder though, is it because she has this need to overly glamourise her working skills because she didn’t pursue higher education and is trying to prove that she is better than me with all that comes her way despite not being as educated?
As time has gone on, our conversations have become more and more about her life and I find it boring. I want to discuss things that don’t involve money, material things or the refurbishments to her house. Everything is about constantly shopping online and showcasing it on social media, and the minute you raise something about this not being healthy, the jealousy projections begin. She feels the need to be concerned that I am single because I should really get a move on with starting a family. Why is that associated with success? I am trying to understand what the real issue is here because I don’t think having a family is associated with success. Having a family like a partner or children, is a choice we make. And I respect people who make that choice. But I also need people to understand that for those of us that don’t, we also need to be respected just as much, without being labelled as ‘getting on a bit.’
Why can people we think are our friends, be like this towards us? I am genuinely trying to work out whether this is all in my head. I am trying to make sense of it because if I am the issue here, I want to work on this. Is it that she constantly needed to make me feel like I was inadequate to make herself feel adequate? Or am I just experiencing this in a negative way, and she may be coming from a place of love? I’m uncertain. It’s just that the difference is, I have never spoken about her insecurities or used them against her. It’s not the person I am because I believe that unless you are perfect yourself, you have no right to do that. To anyone. Ever! So, in my mind, I am trying to comprehend why she would need to remind me of mine. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Tell me if you have, or have had a frenemy, how you knew and how you dealt with this.
Until next time.
The Unveiled Reflector x