Contributing writer Kimberly Couzens submitted this post as a Reader Submission for Gurl. We love hearing your stories! If you’d like to submit your writing to Gurl, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can’t remember which came first: when I decided that I hated Sage (not her real name) or when she was mean to me. Sage and I were the same age and from the same town. We had gone to the same school since kindergarten, played on the same sports teams, went to the same birthday parties and spent a lot of time together in groups, but had never been close friends. I initially didn’t like her because she wore a permanent scowl and was (unjustifiably, in my opinion) full of herself. We had several mutual friends. I’m not sure what they saw in her that I didn’t.
She hated me back. I could feel it. It was obvious to me from the dirty looks she gave me and the way she was only friendly towards me when other people were around.
One day at recess, Sage knocked me face down into the dirt and claimed it was an accident. Our friends believed her, but I had had it. I opened my mouth to scream at her and tell her off, but all I could come up with was, “You are so! STUPID! I hate you!” After our little fight, I felt like everyone who witnessed it took her side. One girl asked if I was okay afterwards, but I got the impression they felt my outburst came out of nowhere.
One day at school, a large group of girls were gathering for a picture before class, and I ran to join in on the end. “Ugh, nooo,” Sage groaned aloud, disapproving of my presence in her photo. I ran out of the room, my eyes stinging with tears, feeling like I had been slapped.
Since I had put my dislike of Sage out in the open, it was only fair for her to do the same. The next year, she threw a giant party and invited what felt like our whole grade except for me and that hurt. I wished I could make myself like her, but I just couldn’t – not for one party. Being around Sage for the rest of high school was awkward and tense, but it passed without incident. We occasionally exchanged dirty looks, but we tolerated each other. It was just implied that if one of us was invited somewhere, the other wasn’t and that someone was usually me. Sage and I played on the same sports teams and participated in the same activities, but I couldn’t wait to graduate and finally not have to deal with her anymore.
If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t tell Sage I hated her. Not only was it immature of me, but telling a girl you hate her almost always backfires. First, because she can play the “OMG, why do you hate me so much?” card and play the victim (even if she pushed you in the dirt!). Second, because your friends will be forced to choose sides. You find yourself left out of the lunch table group and off the birthday party invitation list and the latest gossip. Proclaiming your hatred leaves no room for improving the state of your relationship, or even peaceful coexistence, with your frenemy.
I’ve found that the best way to deal with a frenemy is to be polite, but not fake. My close friend Meg is friends with a girl named Bree. Bree is one of those girls who doesn’t understand that people can have more than one close friend. She makes subtle “I-know-Meg-better-than-you-do” comments when we’re together and constantly brags about their friendship on social media and it bothers me.
Bree isn’t someone I would have picked as a friend, but I know that if I tell her off, I’ll lose Meg’s friendship. I’m not sure if she knows I don’t care for her. Can she tell that by writing “Happy Birthday” on her wall that I really meant, “I would only be mildly upset if you fell off a cliff?”
I’m polite to Bree, but not fake. Maybe we’ll become friends, maybe we won’t, but at least that door is open since I haven’t told her I hate her.
Unfortunately, I’ve realized that I will always have to deal with girls who, like Sage, I don’t like and who don’t like me. Most life situations – school, work, social settings – can present us with someone equally insufferable and unavoidable and dealing with that person can be a real energy drain. Showing kindness to a frenemy isn’t always easy, but it’s better than the alternative of burning your bridges socially. You never know when you might need a favor from the person or run into them again.
Thankfully for me, the only place I’ve encountered Sage is Facebook. She popped up a few weeks ago in the corner of my screen, leering at me like an evil Disney sorceress from the “People You May Know” section. I politely hid her from view.
Do you have a frenemy you really don’t like? Have you ever told someone you hated them? How do you deal with frenemies? Tell me in the comments.