The Real Reason You Can't Seem To Let Your Frenemy Go

"Do you ever feel like you're not even friends with some of your friends?"—Karen Salmansohn

What About Your Friends?

I've been writing, pretty consistently, for xoNecole for about a year now. And if there's one thing that I know is you, our readers, really appreciate, it's sex and friendship content (which I think is really dope, by the way). My theory is it's because those are two topics, especially within the Black female community, that don't get explored, from various angles, nearly as much as we'd like for them to. Because of that, some of us remain curious, confused, stagnant or dissatisfied, in those two lanes, far longer than we should.

Take the topic of frenemies, for instance. As much as I can, I like to give credit where credit is due, and I think that term came from—or has at least became super popular because of—an episode of Sex & the City. If you've never seen it or want a quick refresher course, a frenemy is someone who is part friend/part enemy (although it's usually more like a 60/40 split, in the enemy's favor). You have enough in common with the frenemy to keep them around, but they also irritate you to the point where you're not sure if your connection is enough to keep them in your world anymore. They're basically like an unhealthy relationship with a guy where, maybe the sex is good, but there isn't much more to keep him in your life beyond than that. Still, you stay—even though, deep down, you know that you shouldn't.

If you just read all of that and was like, "Right!" let this be the moment when you decide to make some changes, as far as your own frenemy (or frenemies) is concerned. Life is too short and too precious for you to be involved with folks who are only kinda-sorta your friend; especially if you can clearly pinpoint some things about them that can also classify them as being an enemy.

Keeping all of this in mind, just why do so many of us keep frenemies around? Personally, I think it's because we don't do enough pondering over the following five points.

FRENEMY POINT #1: There’s a Difference Between Liking Someone and Being Used to Them


If any of y'all caught "What If You Love Your Friend...But Don't Like Her Anymore?" I'm sure you can totally relate to this particular point. I can't tell you how many friendships—or "friendships"—that I remained in, way past their expiration date, and it was all because I confused actually liking someone for simply being used to them being around me. Shoot, there's absolutely no tellin' how many captives could be freed if they took the time to ask themselves, "Is this person good for me? Or are they just a habit?"

There's one person, in particular, who I released last year, mostly because I found myself complaining about them to other people more and more. One day, it got to the point where I was tired of hearing my own self go on and on about how I felt taken for granted and doing most of the work. Then I realized that the only real reason why I was keeping them in my life is because they had been around for so long. When I couldn't really find one redeeming quality beyond that, I knew it was time for a major shift.

Frenemies are interesting because, more times than not, they are fully aware of the fact that they aren't being a good friend to you. But, like a wack-ass boyfriend, they figure that since you are willing to settle, they're not going to change anything; especially since they typically are still benefiting from having you in their own life (I know, right)? So yeah, if you sense that you've got a frenemy, the first thing I think you should do is ask yourself what, if anything, you still like about them. If all you hear is Jeopardy music playing in your head, follow that question up with, "Or is it that I'm just used to them?" The clarity you get just might surprise you.

FRENEMY POINT #2: Have You Considered That You’re Possibly Drawn to Drama?


Even if the frenemy isn't a drama queen or king (which, they probably are to some extent), when a relationship consists of a part-friend/part-enemy dynamic, there is usually some drama somewhere around. Think about it. Frenemies typically push triggers or are master gas lighters. Frenemies often display low-key (or not-so-low-key) signs of envy. Frenemies tend to take more than they give. Frenemies are wishy-washy AF. Frenemies are good for being passive aggressive, including when it comes to giving backhanded compliments or saying slick stuff that causes you to doubt yourself. Frenemies like to throw shade—both in and out of your presence. And, even if they are a lot of fun, you can never feel totally safe around frenemies.

Once I started to remove frenemies from my space, I found myself focusing more on why I stayed than why they acted the way that they did. I had to own that some of it was because I was more codependent than I realized. Another part of the issue is that I was my own freakin' frenemy.

Meaning, since I didn't love myself well, I attracted people into my space who basically mirrored my own self-perception. The warring within caused so much turmoil that the drama they brought into my life was pretty much par for the course. But baby, once I started to make peace with myself and began to set some real boundaries, the less I wanted anything that even closely resembled drama or instability around.

If you've got frenemies in your life, ask yourself if you have some sort of odd affinity for drama—if you seem to take some odd sense of pleasure in partaking in a real-life reality show that you're actually a producer of. I'm telling you—the more you like harmony, the less you'll want to deal with confusion, upsets and upheaval, the easier it will be to let all frenemies go.

FRENEMY POINT #3: Like It or Not, There Is Some Sort of Payoff in the So-Called Friendship


I've shared what I am about to say, many times, before. That's because it's one of the best things that I've ever heard Dr. Phil say. One time, while interviewing a prostitute who was going on and on about how much she hated her life, he looked at her with some major side-eye and said (a bit paraphrased), "C'mon. If you really wanted to quit, you'd quit. No matter how dysfunctional something is, we wouldn't stay in it if there wasn't some sort of payoff attached to it."

Some of y'all might automatically want to give pushback on his point, but just think about it. Some of us stay in unhealthy relationships because the sex is good. Some of us remain at a job where our boss treats us like total crap because we don't wanna lose that nice paycheck. And yes, some of us stay in connection with our frenemies because we see some "benefits" to keeping them in our lives. Maybe we've got a lot in common with them. Perhaps they make us feel needed (and we like feeling that way). The possibilities are endless. Here's the thing, though. No person is perfect and every relationship comes with its challenges. But if you want to be in something that is truly beneficial for you, the "pros" must definitely need to outweigh the "cons".

When it comes to your frenemy, is the so-called good that they bring to your life so good that it makes sense to keep tolerating the bad? If you can't honestly say so…it really is time to let them go.

FRENEMY POINT #4: Could It Be That You Don’t Have Enough Healthy Friends?


If you like to check out independent Black films, one that depicts a frenemy extremely well is Love Trap. The chick Angel that's in it? Whew. Evil. Still, she would come at her childhood friend like she only had the best of intentions. I believe there is a scene in the movie where Michelle addresses the fact that a part of what made her put up with all of Angel's hater-rade is the fact that she had been in her life for so long. But since Michelle also shared some of the issues that caused her to struggle with vulnerability and trusting new people, I think that she never really had enough healthy friends to realize just how toxic Angel really and truly was.

If you just read that and found yourself triggered, please make the time to read "10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect From Your Friendships". Then think long and hard about if your frenemy even checks off half of the things on the list. Also ask yourself if you've currently got people in your life who do. One of the tricky things about a frenemy is they don't totally suck; there are usually a few things that make them cool enough to keep around. But I promise you, the moment that I got some truly healthy friendships into my life, I realized that there was nothing that my frenemies were bringing to the table that my true friends couldn't.

FRENEMY POINT #5: Ask Yourself this—“What’s Your Line?”


Whenever I'm talking to someone about a situation that they're in where they are unhappy, I try and avoid going down the rabbit hole of what I would do. Instead, I simply ask them one question—what's your line? What I mean by that is "What's your boundary that, if that person crosses it, you're done?"

Truth is, a lot of us remain in all sorts of situations that we shouldn't, not because we want to, but because we've never thought about what our breaking point is (or should be). The reason why you should is because healthy relationships consist of mutual respect. So, once you share your "line" and your frenemy intentionally crosses it, they are basically conveying to you that they don't esteem your boundaries, needs or feelings. And once someone expresses that—sorry. They've basically teetered off of the friend mark and over onto the enemy side.

Releasing someone you care about can be difficult. Trust me, I know. But here's what you need to never forget—you need to be your own friend, even if it's at the expense of losing a frenemy. It might take a little time, but you'll both be OK without each other. You can free up some space for real friends and they can move on to being wishy-washy towards someone else. And chile, they most definitely will.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Allow These Things To Happen Before Calling Someone "Friend"

Pettiness, Moodiness & Other "Friendship Irritants" To Work Through

10 Questions To Ask Your Close Friends Before The New Year Begins

Is It Time To Initiate A 'Friend Divorce'?

Feature image by Giphy

Did you know that xoNecole has a podcast? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to join us for weekly convos over cocktails (without the early morning hangover.)

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

If there's one thing Historically Black Universities are known, it's fostering a sense of interconnectedness for collaborative genius to thrive. Of all campuses, it was on the soil of The Mecca, Howard University, where She'Neil Johnson-Spencer and Nicolette Graves rooted their friendship and aligned their passion for beauty and natural brains. Today, the two have founded a skincare brand of their own, Base Butter, that has not only carved out their niche space in the market but rallied a community of women to glow from the inside out.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is Maya's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

I know this may come to a surprise so many, but here we are. Yes, I got a BBL. If you aren't aware, a BBL is a Brazilian Butt Lift, a cosmetic surgery process where the doctor uses a combination of liposuction and fat-grafting, transfers the fat into the butt, resulting in added volume, defined curves, and a lift. It is technically lipo and a fat transfer. But yeah girl, this has been on my to-do list for a while. And now that I am able to afford it, I went for it.

Keep reading... Show less

As an extension of my monthly self-care routines, facials have become top priority when it comes to maintaining healthy skin. For months I've noticed excess oil, stubborn breakouts and dry cracked lips forcing me to seek an alternative to my everyday skincare routine. Unable to solve my skincare troubles, I decided it was time to seek the help of a professional to help revive my dull skin.

Keep reading... Show less

I will never make an apology for the fact that I adore the Scriptures. There is something very, remarkable is the word that comes to mind, about the fact that even all of these years later (thousands and thousands of years later), there is so much wisdom within the Bible that is still relevant and — if you want to live a content life — even necessary. Matter of fact, some of the people in my world who aren't Bible followers or even believers in God will admit to me that Proverbs (King Solomon's book of wisdom) has some real gems in it.

Keep reading... Show less

August invites you to shine bright like the sun which requires you to leave behind the sob stories of being the underdog. Recognize your power as a reflection of the Divine and watch how far you can go. Be mindful of that inner critic when Mercury enters Virgo. For every negative thought, counteract it with three compliments about yourself. When Venus enters her home sign, relationship matters get a whole lot sweeter after the wild ride that was Mercury Retrograde.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Find Confidence With This Summer Workout Created By A Black Woman For Black Women

Tone & Sculpt trainer Danyele Wilson makes fitness goals attainable.

Latest Posts