Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Frenemies or Enemends (ugh, the latter sounds like a candy version of an enema – same thing really, a total pain in the ass.)

We all have those frenemies – folks that aren’t really friends but we must maintain a friendly façade for any one of a million reasons. You may work together, be neighbors or God forbid, be related.  Regardless, you must at the very least be civil when what you really want to do is trip them when they walk by or cough “dumb ass” when in conversation.

There is that old saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”  I’ve heard it. I’ve said it. Hard time putting it into practice.  For me, the few frenemies that I have (or at least know about) started as friends. At least I thought they were but I suppose there is a real possibility that I was completely oblivious to their true evil nature.  For a long time, I gave them the benefit of the doubt – that something was accidental or perhaps I misunderstood.  Now I know I was just being kind.  A tiger doesn’t change it stripes – it just learns a new way to hunt.

As I’ve said before, I’m a tell-it-like-it-is kind of gal.  I certainly know how to play the game but would really prefer to not pretend and waste energy on something like that.  With social frenemies, it’s a wee bit easier.  Drinks are often involved and I can pretend to like just about anything if I have some wine. I can be even friendlier towards my worse enemy if tequila is being poured.  You still have to be careful with social frenemies – you move in the same circles and the risk of putting your foot in your mouth is high. Trust me on this.

Work frenemies are a completely different breed. I try to be nice to everyone at work. , except really dumb people. That said, this is the toughest place to have frenemies. You can’t always have those candid conversations you want to have to get a thorough understanding of the situation or the latest updates.  Generally speaking, there is no wine (much less tequila) to make things easier.  You are not only playing workplace politics but frenemy bingo – it’s anyone’s game and the players may change daily. For me, I smile and play nice in the sandbox that pays me.

Family frenemies are an odd mix. Some may have always been that way and some may change with the seasons (or someone’s mood.)  I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way with this group.  And, for the most part – I either care about this person or someone in their immediately family.  Their frenemy status may be short-term or situational. If long-term, it’s likely mutual and you simply keep your snarkery to a select few (you have to let it out or you will explode.)  This group is really the most tenuous, it’s like a bomb waiting to blow and you must proceed with caution. You simply do not know what will trigger the explosion and it will likely have nothing to do with you (uh, unless you pre-maturely release your snarkery.) Smile, play nice and minimize exposure. Back away slowly. This one can leave debris in its wake and the damage can last a long time.

Keeping my mouth shut is often a challenge for me – I mean, really, if given the chance to lob a snarky comment or three, I will generally take that shot. But, at this point in my life, I’ve learned a lesson or two and in the words of my Big Susan, T – take the high road. It may not be as fun at the moment – but the view is a whole lot better. I hate it when she’s right.

Note that removing a frenemy from your life should not be confused with a frenectomy, which is a real surgical procedure to remove that thingy that connects your lip to the inside of your gum.  Really. Look it up here.

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