This is not the post I meant to write

I’m about 700 words into a different post and I realized that wasn’t really what I wanted to talk about. In fact, I realized I don’t want to talk, because I feel like all I do is talk, and the people I have a habit of talking at/to are tuning me out. IMAGINE.

So: I would like YOU to talk, please. LET’S SAY a certain kid is nearing the end of high school and a frenemy situation has reached Maximum Suckitude, where a former friend has extended the expected nastiness and friend-poaching and whispering to maligning this kid’s genuine achievements in addition to just plain being an asshole. LET’S SAY that all of the usual advice—ignore it, smile and be so sickly sweet that the aggressor wonders what you’re up to, align yourself with those who don’t listen to that nasty crap, know that all of this stems from jealousy and low self-esteem and your best karmic move at this point is genuine pity, etc.—is falling on deaf ears. Let’s say this has been going on for years and the latest straw or three is straining the camel’s back to capacity and promises that “this year will fly by and then you’ll never have to deal with this person again” are being met with skepticism.

What do you say to make it more bearable, other than “Yes, this sucks, and it’s unfair, and it will get better very soon but not soon enough”? My tales of high school suckitude giving way to a much improved life in college are being met with “I KNOW” and eye-rolling.

Hit me with your frenemy stories (preferably ones which end with your happiness and their sad, meaningless existences OR heartfelt apologies once they grew up a little) so that I may demonstrate this is a universal experience and somehow, we survive and thrive anyway. Please and thank you.


  1. Heather Atton Cook

    I recently found my junior high and high school diary … one girl was the main character and apparently she was a frenemy… not a page goes by where I’m not saying “Becky is being such a b!tch” and I detail our fight. In fact, I would be willing to send you the Worst, Meanest Note, EVER in the mail that I received … it’s hurtful.


    We are friends on facebook and she’s a mom of 3 and I’m a mom of 2 and she’s a very wise, kind person.

    We went a decade or more without talking … and surely we needed to because we were not good for each other… but I changed, she changed … and people can go from being large hulking jerks to being good peeps.

    Come to think of it …

    I wonder what her diary says about me…

  2. Mary K. in Rockport

    Cut that person out of her life. Act like she’s just someone she kind of recognizes but doesn’t know and doesn’t want to know. A clean excision.

    • Mir

      Said kid is in several shared, beloved activities and working very hard to make it unpleasant for my kid. Hard to cut out someone you’re on a shared team with, y’know?

  3. Melissa D

    1. This will never not hurt. This behavior is meant to hurt, because it’s awful behavior. But other things and other friends and other memories will make this particular hurt take its rightful place in your past.

    2. This says nothing about you. (But coming back for more, time and again, may mean you aren’t clear on what you really do deserve — which is a friend who is being an *actual friend*.)

    3. People can change. But you don’t have to stick around through every single phase of their growing self-awareness.

    • Aimee

      Melissa, your #3 is SUCH a good point. I have not reconnected with any real frenemies, although I had them. One girl I thought was a really good friend flat-out stopped talking to me because I got into Harvard and she didn’t get into her top-choice school. It crushed me at the time, and I kept trying to reconcile. I felt as though I had to, when clearly that was not the case.

  4. Jen_A

    When I was in 9th grade, my closest friend was a girl who I became friends with in 7th grade. I will call her Ellen. We were in band together, were both smart and kind of weird in the best way and enjoyed being silly together. A new girl moved to town – I will call her Amelia. She played the same instrument as me (Ellen did not), and because of that and because band kids are tight-knit (which you surely know), Ellen and I drew Amelia into our circle of friends. There was another new girl as well – we shall call her Lynn – who was a year older than us, but she was in my math class and she was also in band, and she joined our circle of friends as well. There were about 20 of us over the course of maybe 18 months who hung out all the time, had parties all the time, called ourselves the Associates (after the associative property in math, because have you guessed yet that we were nerds?), and we also shared a notebook that we would pass around, mostly among the girls, where we wrote sort of group notes to one another. There were also individual notes passed, but the group notebook was sort of like our version of Facebook before the internet was widely available – we shared our thoughts and feelings with the “list” of our friends who also got to read and write in the notebook. And lo, it was good.

    About 3 months before the end of 10th grade, I became aware that a 2nd notebook was circulating that I did not know about. I was not included in the passing of that notebook. And Ellen and Amelia spent all of their time together whispering and snickering and not including me. And I was sad. I leaned on Lynn during that time, and she became my very best friend because she shared with me what she heard from the other side, but she did not participate in their nonsense and was publicly aligned with me. Over the summer between 10th and 11th grade, I called Ellen when I knew she wasn’t with Amelia, and I just asked her why she had stopped talking to me. I told her that I thought we were better friends than that, and she had hurt my feelings, and I didn’t understand what I did wrong. And she cried. Ellen told me that she felt really bad for hurting me, but she wanted to be friends with Amelia and didn’t know what to do. She didn’t even know why Amelia seemed to suddenly want to oust me from the group or why she went along with it other than it just sort of seemed OK at the time. Ellen and I made up over the summer. When school started again, Amelia went along with the changing winds and was nice to me again, but I never trusted her again. The next school year, the Associates kind of dissolved though we were all still sort of friends and all still in band together, but people were dating other people seriously by then and had more divergent interests.

    Today, I am 37. Lynn? Still my very best friend. Ellen? My other closest friend. Amelia? We’re friends on Facebook, and she seems to be a genuinely caring person and a good mom to both her biological and her two adopted children. But we’re not close. I haven’t seen her in person for at least 15 years, maybe longer. I just saw both Lynn and Ellen last month, even though I live 3 hours away from both of them (and they live 6 hours from each other). And I still don’t know why Amelia suddenly had it out for me all those years ago. I think about it sometimes, and wonder, but really I don’t care anymore. And I haven’t cared for a really long time – since about the time college started, in fact.

  5. Jeanne

    Tell ‘Certain Kid’ that a reaction is exactly what this @sshole is looking for, so don’t give it her. Being the adult is never the wrong thing to do when dealing with mean girls. Keep repeating the other advice, and eventually it will sink in. And tell her the obvious, Karma is a witch, and when CK is getting her Masters, AH will still be working at Target.

  6. Cindy

    I had a frenemy in elementary school (which extended to 7th grade in my backwoods corner of the world) who seemed to fluctuate wildly between “you’re my BFF!” and “do I know you?” depending on who else was around. I remember being mainly confused by her wishy washy, nice-mean, friendship but also hurt. She seemed to delight in the confusion and wanted to keep me off balance. Funny story about her (if you weren’t there actually living it) is that in an attempt to be considered “cooler”, I inadvertently created total havoc with my social life. My dad was house-sitting quite a bit and one weekend visit, I found a huge box of condoms while exploring yet another house. I thought it would up my popularity factor (I guess, not really sure what the world I was thinking) if I distributed these around my “friends” and explained the usage. My frenemy took one home with her and started blowing it up, like a balloon, on the bus home. Needless to say, it was a huge awful mess with everyone’s parents called and freakouts commenced on all sides, particularly her Bible-thumping, church going, fundamentalist parents. So that kind of put a damper on our friendship, with her parents believing I was Satan incarnate and all. Prior to this, I think they considered me their little pet project as I grew up agnostic and they were all about having me over to preach some sense into me and get me signed, sealed, delivered and saved. (I was in my 30s before that happened….witnessing a parent attempt to literally beat Jesus into a child was not an effective evangelical tool. Imagine that.)

    Sooo, by the time high school rolled around the next year, I was quite happy to fade out of the life of every single person in my elementary school. As I developed real friendships, I began to realize that the frenemy thing was not “normal”. I started to see past the confusion and hurt and realized that she had many, many issues that had absolutely nothing to do with me. I see her every now and again working at Walmart. Her parents went on to be foster parents and I see them more often. I always say a prayer for those kids in their care though.

  7. Becky

    I am embarrassed to say I was the mean girl in this instance. It was 12th grade, and due to living where we did, I was one of 4 seniors to still ride the bus (I had mean parents who wouldn’t buy me a car – I had to earn the right to borrow one of theirs if I wanted to drive somewhere). Anyway, one girl – I will call her Kristen – for some reason annoyed me. We went to a really large school; she and I did not share any classes or mutual friends. Looking back, I am sure she was a nice girl and we probably could have been friends, but anyway…. Another girl, I will call her Ashley, and I would often sit together on the bus. I can’t tell you why I picked on Kristen. Or why I whispered to Ashley about things Kristen said or did, basically calling Kristen a liar and a wanna-be (of what, I have no idea). I was mean. Not physical or loud or spreading rumors around the school, just mean about Kristen to Ashley on the bus. I think I laughed about her hair and clothes. I honestly can’t remember. Ashley got tired of my comments and started sitting with Kristen and befriended her. I became the odd man out. I was embarrassed by what Ashley may have told Kristen what I said (I am sure she did, they would give me ugly looks sometime) and so, angry at myself, turned it on the two of them by totally ignoring them and pretending they didn’t exist. Looking back 20+ years ago, I am glad Ashley did that. I still feel bad about being so mean and wish I could tell Kristen I am sorry. I am not proud of myself – just an insecure teen trying to make herself feel better at the expense of another. I have been on the receiving end as well – example: my best friend in high school was planning a party while her parents were out of town. I helped her plan the entire thing. The morning of the party, she called me and said not to come – I wouldn’t enjoy myself as there would be drinking and all. (Child of the 80s, that was about the worst at a party our group did) Since I didn’t drink, I would be a downer – so don’t come. Anyway, yes – it does get better, but will still happen as you get older. Just disassociate with those who are mean and align yourself with friends who support you. Eventually, while still painful, it is more understandable…..

  8. Lucinda

    I don’t have any frenemy stories but my daughter does. She amazes me at 13 but she’s 13 so I don’t know if this will help. She went go right up to the person and ask them why they didn’t like her. Turns out the person really didn’t know. She said my daughter was overly sarcastic and weird. My daughter came home and laughed her butt off saying, Mom, she doesn’t like me for who I am but I like who I am. She then went on to say hello to the girl every single day just to watch her reaction. My point is she turned it into a game. She took control.

    When someone really makes her crazy, she comes home and tells me and we start to joke about all the things she could have said. By the time we are done, we have a list of responses from realistic to absolutely outlandish, all the time imagining the person’s response.

    That’s the best I can give you. I don’t know if it will help. I don’t know if I could have done what my daughter does but she did have a time where it was really hard. Her best friend moved away and she felt very alone. So it’s not like it was always easy. But we tried our best to acknowledge when it sucked, listen without offering advice, insert humor whenever possible and tell her to just own who she was because no one could touch her if she did. It seems to have worked out ok so far.

  9. Hally

    Well, I am the absolute WORST example. Because I confronted said frenemy whose biggest goal to date (sophomore year of HS) was telling everyone how ‘hilarious’ it was that my mom married our 8th grade history teacher. Because HS isn’t hard enough, my mother was making her own super awesome life choices. (read with heavy sarcasm) Regardless, frenemy made sure I was close enough nearby to overhear her comments. When I tried to walk away she was accidentally on purpose in my physical way, so I accidentally on purpose hit her. Then spent the morning in the office talking with the Dean of Discipline who was my father’s PE teacher/track coach. Yay for small towns?
    But Chickie – it is miserable when people are horrid to you…but it gets better. Not now, and it will seem like forever before it’s over, but it does get better. Hang in there. The best revenge is being happy and content without her.

  10. Betsy

    Well, I sorta have to disagree that this will never not hurt. I remember having a frenemy in high school that I agonized over. Friend this week, enemy next week. I even remember sitting in the bathtub and crying to my mother about her (i know that sounds a little strange but, hey, that’s what I remember). Anyway, try as I might, I cannot even recall her name. How’s that for not giving her space in my head. (Also, this was 40+ years ago, so there’s that.)

  11. Brandi

    I got married young – 21. When the wedding planning started I had two “best friends” as you were. As time went on I was less and less close to one of them – nothing major, really. She just wasn’t available for wedding planning, she never visited me at university, didn’t come around when I was home, was never at home herself to visit, etc. Nothing major. I’d already asked her to be a bridesmaid and I didn’t feel it was right or fair to cut her out.

    Cue the rehearsal for the wedding. I had only arranged it last minute and forgot to invite several important people (like my parents, whoops!) and this bridesmaid. She wanted nothing to do with prewedding activities – staying in a hotel for a few days before for final stuff, last night out at the arcade (her and my maid-of-honour were both 19), etc. My mom found out in the end – not sure how! – and so did she so both were there. No sweat.

    The day before my wedding she came up and hugged me and then whispered “I hate you.”

    Um. What? After the wedding I cut her off.

    I now live in a foreign country, still happily married (many years later!), college graduated, husband has a PhD, etc. She’s never made it to college, works in the same job she did in high school, etc.

    I don’t wish her harm. I just don’t want her in my life.

  12. Grace

    I’m so sad when I read about these things. I guess it must be more prevalent these days. There maybe were girls who did the frenemy thing in my day but they never really mattered to me. I always liked everyone and didn’t participate, so maybe not having the desired effect truly made it less of a weapon. My parents taught me from very early on not to worry about what anyone else (outside of THEM of course!) thought or said. They also always taught me that people who did mean things were insecure and trying to make themselves look better. And that the way to look better was to achieve, and be kind, and not put anyone down.

    Sorry it’s not helpful. Sounds like you already do all this. The advice above sounds really good. Hugs to you.

  13. Kate

    I had someone in my life like this when I was in grade/middle school. Looking back, I realize this girl was really unhappy and insecure herself, and maybe she felt the only way to feel better/in control was to be an on-again/off-again jerk to the people she called ‘friends’. She used to call to invite me over, and then lock the doors and laugh from the bedroom window with her other friends while I stood confused on the front lawn. She said nasty things about me to our soccer teammates and sometimes lied to adults about things I had done (though she was rarely believed). She was the worst on the bus (we went to different schools, but out district shared bussing between the public and Catholic schools).
    My mother told me the best way to shut her down was to call her out on it–publicly. She seemed to thrive on embarrassing me, was her reasoning, so maybe this girl needed a taste of her own medicine (looking back, I also think my mother was spitting mad at this kid and didn’t know how to stop it herself. I’m not sure I would have given the same advice in her position XD)
    “Does it make you feel better to be nasty to me?” I asked her that–REALLY LOUDLY so everyone in our vicinity could hear–one day when she was especially awful at the bus stop. She made some comment about how I was being ‘too sensitive’, and I replied (again, loudly): “you just said X. That was mean. Do you like being mean? Does it make you feel like a better person?” By now everyone was staring at us, and she looked mortified. “Stop talking to me,” was the last thing I said. “I’m not interested in talking to a mean person.”
    We went from frenemies to actual not-friends at that point, but she never bothered me again. I don’t know what happened to her (we both moved before either of us entered high school) but I hope she figured out whatever made her so unhappy.

  14. Sassy Apple

    This. This is why ‘Mean Girls’ hit a nerve with almost every woman everywhere.

    Don’t know if this will help or not, but Chickie….what are ALL your options? List every possible action…from the absurd to misdemeanor :) Then do pros/cons for each one. It may not change a thing, but sometimes it helps to know you have LOTS of options in reality, but YOU’RE in control by choosing the ones that benefit you the most in a sucky situation.

    Good luck and know I’m sending snarky thoughts to your nemesis on your behalf.

  15. Carla Hinkle

    No advice but lots of sympathy. In 11th grade I made varsity cheer & several other girls (who had been in JV cheer with me) did not. The Frenemy-ness was EPIC. Nasty notes written, kids taking sides, looping in people’s MOMS, FFS. I just had to … ride it out, unfortunately. 12th some of the girls made cheer again, others didn’t, eventually things calmed down. Then I went to college and shook the petty, small-town dust of that place off my feet FOREVER, which I totally recommend, two big thumbs up. Sorry Chickie!! That kind of stuff really sucks.

  16. Sarah

    My high school frenemy is now a widowed (he died of a drug overdose) mother of two who works (when she can stumble in) at a hog farm. Her kids have been in and out of foster care for years. In short, her life is a mess and there is very little chance of it getting better anytime in the foreseeable future.
    I don’t know that if you had told me the future when I was 16 if it would have made me feel better, but now all I can feel is pity for the child she was and the woman she is. I can see now how sad and lost she was as a teenager, and I’m no longer angry about how mean she was to me.

  17. Aileen

    Long time reader but never left a comment. I agree with Kate (#13). I have experienced bullying like this a lifetime ago. The mean girl managed to alienate me from the female members of my class. It was that bad. I couldn’t do anything other than try and survive the storm. A male classmate told a teacher and she started a discussion in class. I was humiliated and very upset and blurted between tears that I don’t understand why the girls could all be so cruel over nothing. I also said something along the lines of realizing who my true friends are. Surprisingly, the girls were shamed and my life got better. I did not stay friends with the ‘frenemy’ but it didn’t matter in the end. What I realized is that calling someone out for cruelty is far better than ‘taking the high road’. This happened during my first year of high school and life somehow got better after. I found new friends and actively participated in after school activities. I did well. After calling the mean girl ‘cruel’ it got easier for everyone else to use the same label when she stepped out of line. Bottom line, it sucks and is just one of those life experience things we all must go through. Nobody wins really. You just get over it.

  18. diane2

    I have a particularly spectacular example of one such frenemy. She was a backyard neighbor and close friend until high school when something just..shifted. She became very nasty and vengeful–spreading lies about me and even stealing some of my personal belongings (and then lying about that too), including my clarinet from the band room! She was our class valedictorian and voted most likely to succeed.
    I have not seen or spoken to her since graduation, but I know through the grapevine she went to a mediocre college, changed majors about four times, married a man significantly older than her (like, creepy older) and I think just ended up being a piano teacher and raising four kids.
    I went to a top school, moved to a big city, and have worked my way up the ladder in my field. I am wildly happy and laugh at most things from high school as having any merit.
    Still, I remember how much her behavior sickened me. She lived behind me and we were in a lot of activities, so same thing, I had to deal until we graduated. I just did my very best and tried to take the high road. I was civil to her but generally avoided her as much as possible.
    On a related note–I was quite unpopular with the boys in high school, mostly because I was a smarticle like you and Chickie. My Dad kept telling me when I got to college the boys would actually LIKE me for being smart, and lo and behold he was 100% correct. But I don’t think I could have time travelled with my very handsome and very smart beau of the present and convince high school me of anything. ;)

  19. RL Julia

    It is hard to be the picked upon. It’s no fair, no fun and it sucks. As a person who grew up around a lot stressed out and underdiagnosed people I learned early not to take other people’s bad behavior personally – even if they are practically in your face trying to make it your problem. Maybe the frenemy is going through her own trauma/drama and she’s picking on you because she suspects you see through her? Maybe your being secure in yourself is threatening because she is just feeling so bad about herself… regardless of the reason you decide -whether it be real or made up – you must understand that the frenemy’s bad behavior towards you isn’t about you at all. It’s about her. You are allowed to ask for better treatment or point out that you don’t get along or other factual data but you aren’t allowed to think that for one hot minute this rejection/persecution has anything to do with you at all. It’s just their bad trip that you are being dragged along for. It’s hard to act compassionately in the face of being treated poorly for no reason but try. Twenty years from now when maybe you might know why this person treated you this way, you will perhaps take comfort in the fact that you didn’t make this person’s life worse -even if it was tempting to and a reaction would have been well-deserved. Just because someone asks for it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are the person who gets to give it.

  20. suburbancorrespondent

    I think that, if given the chance, in public, she should skip the smiling and acting as though nothing is wrong and just say, “Why are you being so cruel to me? I never did anything to you.” The “friend” might make fun of her for saying that, but other people will hear. It might help to dampen the “friend’s” enthusiasm for being mean.

    Is there a grown woman alive who isn’t cringing inside just reading all these stories? So painful.

  21. Susan B

    Oh Chickie! I went through a very similar thing my senior year of HS. I had a very small group of very close (or so I thought) friends. We went to a very small high school and I was extremely introverted. Shyness can sometimes an inadvertently come off as unfriendly, and so I was never part of the “popular crowd”. Anyway, senior year a girl who had never been part of our group decided she wanted to be friends with my friends. That would have been fine, but she did not like me and set about methodically turning my small group of friends against me. To say it was miserable would be an understatement. I didn’t really have anyone else to turn to and spent much of that year feeling very lonely.

    After graduation, my family moved to another state and I went to college on the other side of the country. That was a terrifying experience on its own, but it enabled me to have a completly fresh start. I met loads of new people and along the way learned what a great friend really is. I realized that those girls from HS were truly not good friends, or they never would have let what happened to happen. I kept in touch with one of them for a year or two, but eventually realized that it wasn’t worth the energy. I stopped writing back (this was 20 years ago), stopped thinking about it and have never regretted it. I made friends with some amazing girls, some of whom I am still close to today. We can go for months without actually talking or seeing each other, but I know they would be there for me in a heartbeat if I needed them.

    I’d like to say the instigator from HS went on to live a sad meaningless existence, but I have no idea what happened to her nor do I care. I have a wonderful family, a great circle of friends, and my HS experience taught me not to waste my time or energy on people like that. I still think about the experience occasionally, but usually more in the context of my own daughter, and how to prepare her to deal with that kind of person. (And also to instill enough empathy in her that she will never treat anyone else like that.)

    I’m so sorry that Chickie is going through this. It will be over soon, and then she can start fresh and not have to deal with that person any more. High school is such a small, insular world and I know it’s hard to believe that it will be better, but she has to believe that it will get better. Because it will, it really will.

  22. Paige

    If you haven’t already read it, check out Queen Bees and Wannabes, by Rosalind Wiseman. I read it as a girl scout leader for 6-8th graders, and it really helped me to be a better mentor for them. Well worth checking out for advice other than “just ignore it.” If you think she might be interested, offer it to her to read as well. I personally found it fascinating to understand group dynamics among teenage girls, which I never really understood.

    I mean, I’ve been a teenage girl, but what with the undiagnosed aspergers and a side of paranoia, I basically sat out socialization until about 9th grade. That year, I started at a large high school (2000+ kids), and my “best friend” from Girl Scouts started school there, too. She drew me into her circle of friends, and lo, I knew people who I could call friends. She and I never did treat each other very well, though. I have no idea what I would do to annoy her (totally unable to read people, at that point), but it was clear early on that my very presence was highly annoying. She was mean, angry, rude, used gossip and the silent treatment at random times, etc. I had no idea what to do about all of this, and usually reacted by getting very physical. I kicked her in the shin once, hard enough to raise a bump that lasted months. My reaction did not help our friendship in any way.

    In my junior year, I got involved with a boy who I was very taken with. By the end of junior year, we were “going out,” and I basically switched to eating lunch with him and his friends. I didn’t have a ton in common with them – I was a total nerd and cared deeply about getting into a particular college, and they mostly cared about musical groups I didn’t know, Magic the Gathering and video games – but they were *nice* to me in a way I had never known before. I think it was the first time in my life I was able to trust my peers.

    I still saw my frenemy on a daily basis. We took the same math classes, were both in chess club, of which she was the president, were in the same Girl Scout troop, played the same instrument, and so on. The meannesses continued – once I came to chess club to find that she had moved me down to the bottom of the tournament rankings, because “you’re actually really crappy at this.” Since it took me only two weeks to once again get to first place, I just let that one go. It helped a lot that I knew I had a group to fall back on that didn’t contain this person, and that there were people who wouldn’t be jerks just to be jerks.

    I have no idea what happened to her after our final summer together, when we were camp counselors at the same camp. Once we both left for college, I never heard from her again. I can’t say I’m terribly sorry about that. I have kept in touch with a few friends from both groups via Facebook, but the only friend I really still have from either high school or college is the boy… we just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, and have two kids.

    Maybe make some other friends, some that are nicer. They don’t even need to be school friends. is a thing now! (I know, another activity. Make it a super fun one that doesn’t require any work at all.) And knowing that you’re going to see actual nice people once a week without the toxic friend makes the times when you *do* have to see the awful person bearable.

  23. Michelle

    My kid is little enough to not have dealt with this yet – but I taught high school for six years. I’m sad to say that, while everything you are telling her is true and good and right, it is nearly impossible to believe without the benefit of time and perspective. That’s why they call it maturity, you know. ;) Not saying said child is immature compared to her peers, just that you kind of have to be done with the petty drama to laugh about it.

  24. Karen

    Since said kid shares many experiences with yours…unless it’s addressed in some productive way I don’t know that it won’t get worse. So I’m just thinking out loud here… how about this approach. Seriously. How about just walking right up to said person and saying.. “Listen… we used to be great friends. I’m not sure I fully understand how it got to this place, but it’s stupid to continue making each other miserable for no real reason at all. How about we call a truce and just get through this year without terrorizing each other. I regret any part I had in the antagonism and I bet it’s not awesome for you either. Deal? ….

    Now maybe that’s a pipe dream and you’re spitting tea out of your nose reading that, but you know.. that approach just might work. And here’s how I know why….

    When I was in school BACK IN THE DAY… there was quite a bit of racial tension in my NY public HS. I ran track. Mostly, the track team was black. They didn’t like fast white girls meddling with their team. At least not me. At first they made it uncomfortable. They wouldn’t talk to me, they wouldn’t walk with me, they slammed the baton in my hand real hard during relays, and I was ON THEIR TEAM. One day I just walked up to the leader of the team and said… Listen, I know you don’t like me but I don’t know why. I am not racist, we’re all equal here, except you’re faster than I am and get better grades in biology class. I’d like to keep running with the team, and I’d like us to get along. We’re all decent people here and we’re only stuck with each other till the end of the year. Can we give it a try?

    They laughed. Hard. And that day wasn’t perfect. However, the next day? It was better. The next week after that? Even better. By the end of the year, we had swapped Double Mint Gum ( in the wrapper not yet used!) so often she taped a piece in my yearbook when we graduated. Really. (in the wrapper, not yet used!)

  25. Becky

    I had totally forgotten this, but there was this one girl at summer camp who was basically The Worst. The camp ran all summer, but campers could go for any number of weeks. I started a few in and made friends pretty much immediately with another girl (Girl A), who was very kind since I was pretty shy. It then turned out that another girl (Girl B) had considered Girl A her best friend and was majorly pissed that I had infringed on that friendship. Girl B proceeded to be cruel to me whenever there was an opportunity…which was pretty confusing until I figured out what in the world I had evidently done to wrong her. Girl A was even less inclined to be Girl B’s friend after she noticed the treatment. So, Girl B was just mean to both of us.

    The kicker was how the next week, Girl A left, and Girl B continued to bully me when she could for the rest of the summer. I remember a counselor figured out if you hit the vending machine the right way, it’d give you two sodas instead of one. And my most favorite counselor accused me of being greedy for not wanting to give me second free Coke to Girl B (who’d grabbed it out of the machine).

    Later on, I made friends with a new girl who had a much younger little brother and sister attending with her. (They were adorable, and I’d help her watch out for them.) Girl B went out of her way to attempt to torment this new girl and her siblings for daring to befriend me to the point where she attacked one of them in the pool. That was a whole bunch of NOPE. (Actually, I vaguely recall that she scratched me at the pool before giving up and moving onto LITTLE KIDS since targeting me directly wasn’t working.)

    And…I guess, eventually, everyone else picked up on how Girl B wasn’t a really likable person, so she ended up pretty much friendless for the rest of camp. When someone is constantly unkind to others, then it doesn’t exactly instill much goodwill in the group as a whole. After all, how can you trust someone like that?

  26. Issa

    Senior year of high school and my “best friend” for three years decides that me making new friends is me telling her I hate her. Was actually you know, me just making a few new friends at work. Anyway, she goes full on bat crap crazy. Calls my house non-stop in the middle of the night. Eggs my car a few times. Tells insane stories about me to teachers. Starts spreading rumors about me at prom. Tells everyone how I mistreat her. Cries to anyone who will listen about how we were such great friends and I dropped her for cooler people. All a hug pity party for her, I’m so evil sort of thing. Granted it’s the last week of HS for me (she was a year behind me) so I’m all okay fine, I’m moving on anyway. Maybe these people weren’t supposed to be my friends for life.

    Here I sit years and years later (OMG now I feel old) and those new friends? Some of my closest friends even now, some 16 years later. That girl I was friends with went on to do the same thing to another girl the year later and eventually people caught on that it was actually her who was the crazy one.

    I will say I’ve never looked her up on Facebook or anything. In fact, I’ve chosen to not look anyone up who I knew back then. I know who my true friends are. They’re the ones who stick with you and love you for who you are.

    • Issa

      Oh shit. 17 years. It’s been 17 years.

  27. Sheila

    Have you or Chickie read “Odd Girl Out” by Rachel Simmons? I would have that woman raise my daughters if I could. She goes beyond “it gets better” advice to detailing why girls do this, and perhaps Chickadee would connect on an intellectual level that what this frenemy is doing is really about the frenemy, not about Chickadee. It may not make her situation easier day by day, but knowing the social science might be empowering.

  28. pharmgirl


    Lot’s of this (unfortunately). And, if you’ll forgive me for going all Oprah-esque here’s the bottom line.

    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

    I know we want them to be someone worthy of us. But some folks just AREN’T. (or aren’t yet)

    In order for someone’s opinion to matter, you have to respect them. And frenemy behavior is not worthy of respect.

    My frenemy was actually a guy. It took awhile, but I now say with as much grace as I can muster that I knew the boy, but not the man.

    Thankfully, maturity has a way of tempering out those insecurities that taint adolescence.

  29. missMaegan

    My frenimy was my best friends other bedt friend. Akward absolutely. She spread rumors. She threatened to beat me up and pretty much loved being mean to me. Fast forward10 years. My best friend is getting married and mean girl and i are both trying to be “the better best friend” silly i know. So we rent a party bus for the bachellorette and i try just to avoid her. The night goes great bit at the end and a few cocktails in i got up the nerve to say something. I tell her that what she did was wrong and the pain is long gone but never fully forgotten. She rolls her eyes and says thats stupid because it was so long ago. She is married at this point and has 3 daughters. So the one thing i said that i think got thru to her was “i hope ur daughters never have to deal with some one like you in school. That pretty mu h ended the conversation. I dont wish any ill will towards her kids but bullies tend to not realize the impact bullying can have. I hope things get better. And karma is a bitch.

  30. kazari

    I don’t think there’s any way to make a frenemy like that back down or tone it down.

    However. There may be ways to give the subject more power – or the feeling of more power, anyway (which is effectively the same thing.)
    Some of these are a little petty.
    Some of them I still use in my grown up work situation where I have to work with diverse people with diverse agendas and people are not always nice.

    Subject: Oh wow – did you realise you just said that out loud? (Turn to another friend) Hey did you see what happened on Grimm/ are you going to that thing on the week end?

    Friend: Frenemy just said x about you! Aren’t you devastated?
    Subject: Oh wow. That really hurt my feelings. I guess she’s just really in a mood to hurt people. (Turn to another friend) Hey did you see what happened on Grimm/ are you going to that thing on the week end?

    The point is to allow the frenemy as little of your emotional energy as possible. And give her as little satisfaction as possible.
    Also, the Captain Awkward blog has a lot of really good scripts for times like these.

  31. Wendy

    I wish I had the stories to back up all the wonderful stories these ladies have, but I guess I don’t. I had frenemies, and I had enemies, and in all reality, they mean nothing now. I couldn’t even tell you where they ended up. Oh wait, one is a meth head whose parents are raising her kids, but the others, I have no idea, and don’t care to know. Chickie, it hurts like hell now, and these ladies have some great advice, but it does get better.

  32. Aska

    There was a guy in my high school who was so clueless that he attacked me with a knife. Many years later I realized that he must’ve been trying to approach me somehow – I was very unapproachable. I sat alone, read my books, and wasn’t interested in anything others were doing. And I was content that way. So he came from behind and stuck a knife under my throat.

    At the time it felt horrible, especially as everyone else seemed to treat it as some inconsequential joke. I felt like I didn’t deserve it, and I already had enough on my plate.

    After many years, I understand that we were all just dumb kids. We had all these feelings, problems and traumas, and no idea how to handle them. That’s high school for you.

    There’s no justifying what he did, but now it feels like it was appropriately stupid of him.

  33. StephLove

    Well, this may work differently in high school than in elementary school, but my rising 4th grader has had an off and on frenemy since 2nd grade and what worked during the last flare up was for her to ask the go-betweens to stop telling her what this girl was saying. Since she didn’t want to say it to her face, it fizzled out pretty quickly. We followed up with the parents of the go-betweens, too, which might not work at her age.

  34. Lily Starlight

    It’s amazing what body language can do to diffuse a situation. She might want to try giving her frenemy the “Oh honey” look when she does something Chickie doesn’t like. Like a benevolent adult that is just so disappointed in your behaviour.

  35. Alice

    Sadly, it’s a pretty universal thing. I avoided a fair bit of it by being clueless, but there was a bad period for a few years where formerly close friends excluded me in a pretty hurtful way. I asked to the person I was closest to if I’d done anything, and to her credit, she did tell me one of my more annoying habits was getting on her nerves (long series of anecdotes =/= real conversation. It didn’t *cause* the meanness, but it helped me to understand the cracks that the meanness had exploited). I stayed in activities with that group, but branched out and hung out with new people for lunch for a while.

    I think that one of the best pieces of advice I got at the time was to think about what I wanted from the situation and focus on that. Feeling the shitty feelings was important, but there’s nowhere to go if that was all I was looking at. I wanted a lot (and mostly for it to just go away!), but I realized that I cared about having good, trustworthy friends first, avoiding meanness second, and avoiding loneliness last.

    Realizing that made it easier to *actually* not care about what the unkind people were doing (I was never a good enough actor to convincingly fake it), and to focus on the things I could control. I could greed snideness with an “Oh – OK” and then leave it to die of neglect, and then focus on hanging out with friends who actually liked me, or on reading.

    20+ years later, I’m still close with the friend I talked to about it all, and I luxuriate in the freedom that comes from having a lot of different social circles – the miserable people don’t have nearly the same reach now as they did then.

  36. Dianna

    I can only share some things I’ve learned..
    We can’t control how others behave only our reactions to their behavior. People only have as much power of you as you allow them to have
    Whether 17 or 40 these types of people NEVER go away.
    People like that are insecure and jealous and cover what you have and if they can’t find true fault they make it up
    The most important thing you can ever do in this life is at the end of everyday day know you can look yourself in the mirror and know you did the best you could
    A reaction from you is what this person craves.
    It’s hard and it takes work on your part but you have to re-arrange your mind and how you look at her. The reality is she’s a sad pathetic person and is only worth pity
    Good Luck

  37. Nancy

    When I was in school, Ms. Bully told all the girls not to talk to me – AND they listened to her! I had no friends for two years. It was miserable. Fast forward to after college graduation when I took time off work at my corporate job to go to a summer concert, and there she was…directing me where to park my car.

  38. Kar

    I had a friend who’s son was being bullied at school. After much “what can we do about this” the family decided to help him start a student run anti-bullying campaign at the school. They were lucky that the administration was totally on board. With the help of the school they did a survey asking who was being bullied (social studies!). The students then stratified the answers by grade, and by gender (math!), and published the (rather alarming) results for everyone in the district to see. The school board, and admin, then became really pro-active about anti-bullying and, let’s face it, who wants to be on the wrong side of that issue? My friend’s son was on chatty terms with teachers and faculty, knew the school board, and was interviewed for TV and the paper. No one bothered him much after that.

    Obviously it was a fair amount of work for everyone. I’m not telling you so that you’ll do it, just so that it might give you other ideas or spark some conversations in directions you might not have considered.

    Like when you got all the personal grooming items for the girls at the hospital, maybe you can come at it from a different direction?

    Ignoring them never worked especially well for me, but as I got older and realized what had been happening in some of their lives (pregnancy, abuse, hunger, joblessness) I ended up feeling very lucky that I wasn’t them.

    Personally, I got a job in the summers and worked with some really awesome people. Working doing something interesting made high school look so utterly ridiculous, that I hardly cared what anyone there thought.

  39. Pip

    Oh God, there was enough of this backwards and forwards frenemy stuff when I was at school to write a book about. The occasion that all comes to mind is when one of my group of friends got into a ball of outrage about a bunch of minor annoying stuff another friend did, and we all kind of wound each other up, so we went to find the friend, and then we found her, and one of the group said ‘Put your hand up if you don’t like [name]’….and I froze with horror for a moment, I don’t know what I thought we were doing but I knew right away this was really wrong, so instead of putting my hand up I sat down on the floor with my arms folded and staring at the ground. One of my best friends joined me, but the other 6 all put their hands up.

    I went to find her later and apologised, and said I didn’t know what I was doing, going along with it as far as I did, and it was a horrible thing to do, but it still upsets me (and probably her) 14 years on.

  40. whatyouwant

    I don’t think I’d go so far as to ever call her a friend OR an enemy. But she was my freshman college roommate many years ago. Like…decades. Anyway, after suffering through that year, I got a letter a few months later from one of the people we both used to hang out with, I guess as sort of an explanation of why my frenemy had treated me so badly. She never owned up to just letting it happen and not defending me, but just said, “You’re pretty cool…don’t let the bastards get you down, etc.”

    I have found both of them on Facebook. Yes, my detective skills are the best! I would like to call both of them out, even though it’s really only my former roommate who still pisses me off. But she’s really not even approachable. And I know she had issues not related to me…I was just an easy target. Her friend, though…I think she would get it. I think she’d be pretty shocked that I found her, since she’s married and her last name has changed.

    I’m going to let it go. I’ve had a pretty good life without the hard stuff a lot of people go through and they’re quite simply not worth it.

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