Although I didn’t first hear the term “frenemies” until the Sex and the City episode of the same name in 2000, according to the ever-popular Wikipedia, “the word has appeared in print as early as 1953.”
Back then it wasn’t about those “friends” we kinda, sorta, pretty much loathe, but more specifically, about Russia, which, I guess, is a “friend” we also kinda, sorta, pretty much loathe. I mean, does Putin have any redeeming qualities?
But moving on.
Anyone who’s ever had a frenemy can attest to the fact that they’re the worst type of relationship. Just when you think you can’t possibly hate them anymore, they do something wonderful that makes you love them, and just when your love is about to explode through the roof, you’re daydreaming about them being hit by a bus.
It’s a volatile rollercoaster to be in a relationship with a frenemy, and, scarily, according to experts, these evil entities make up half of our social networks.
While it’s easy to laugh off the frenemy thing, because, let’s be honest, how absurd is it to be an adult who can’t kick a bad “friend” to the curb? It’s these types of ambivalent relationships that are actually really bad for our health, both mentally and physically.
A 2007 study by Brigham Young University gave participants a blood pressure monitor and asked them to take a reading of their blood pressure with every interaction they had with the people around them. Blood pressure of these participants “spiked,” whenever they interacted with their frenemy or if that frenemy was nearby (because of the potential of an interaction).
Yes! Frenemies are just so bad for us that even the awareness of their close proximity forces our blood pressure to skyrocket! Our poor hearts! Our poor arteries!
So what can we do? Find a happy medium, naturally. As a public health researcher at the University of Copenhagen, Rikke Lund, points out, not all relationships are equal, and social isolation isn’t doing anyone any favors either.
If we focus on the positive aspects that our frenemies bring to our lives and not let ourselves get caught up in the drama of it all, we can learn to live happily, or at the very least, deal with our frenemies.
Besides, sometimes we like the drama they bring, and if you subtract all the frenemies from your life, then things could get really boring. Drama is the spice of life, you guys.
Amanda Chatel is an essayist and intimacy health writer for Yourtango, Shape Magazine, Hello Giggles, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar.