Five types of frenemies and the signs that you have one

"Frenemies are enemies that act like friends, we call them frenemies."
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Frenemies come in all shapes, sizes and packages of passive aggression. 

We're probably all no stranger to the "friend" who is pleasant to your face, only to say terrible things about you behind your back, the one who delivers backhanded compliments so smoothly you don't know whether to laugh or cry, and the one who, plainly, makes you feel like crap on a regular basis.  But while some so-called pals are clearly bad news, the reasons why you might perceive someone as a "frenemy" is more nuanced. 

"The assumption is that someone who feels like a frenemy has bad or harmful intentions," said Mio Yokoi, a psychotherapist in Toronto. Yokoi said that while some friends might not have your best interests at heart, in other cases, you may just have different world views or differing values. 

In other words, your "frenemy" isn't inherently "bad"... you two just might not be a good match.

In that case, you should ask yourself questions such as, "Do I trust this person?" and "How much do I value this friendship?" said Yokoi. Then decide if the friendship is worth keeping.

Still, it can be tricky to analyze your own relationships, so we turned to Nicole McCance, a registered psychologist in Toronto, to breaks down five different types of frenemies to be wary of. 

McCance stresses that occasional bad behaviour is just part of life, but friends who routinely exhibit the behaviours below could be entering frenemy territory.

The Controlling Frenemy

Them: They won't let you choose where you want to sit at dinner, let alone choose the restaurant. "It's their way or the highway," said McCance. Other examples of controlling behaviour could include getting angry when you make plans without them, or needing to know where you are at all times, she said.

You feel: Exhausted. You're always being bossed around.

How to deal with it: Confront this person and let them know what you need in the friendship. Controlling people tend to focus only on their own needs.

The Jealous Frenemy

Them: You share exciting news and their response is muted – they might even try to one-up you. "They'll either mention their accomplishment all of a sudden or they just won't praise you," said McCance. "They'll even put you down." This friend could best be described as self-absorbed.

You feel: Insecure. You question your worth. 

How to deal with it: Call them out on negative comments and make it clear you're not going to stand for selfish behaviour. 

The Negative Frenemy

Them: They're the complainer, the person whose attitude routinely drags you down. "It's constant," said McCance. "It's so overwhelmingly draining." While some friends may occasionally exhibit these behaviours, say, if they're going through a breakup, it's not healthy to always feel drained around someone, she said. This is the person who brings every conversation back to them, even when you need support, she said.

You feel: Drained. Helpless.

How to deal with it: Take some space from this person. In some cases, suggest to them that speaking to a therapist might be helpful.

The Difficult Frenemy

Them: They're aggressive, disagreeable and drama follows them everywhere. "They look for things to be upset about," said McCance. "You're either walking on eggshells or you're constantly fighting." You're likely butting heads with this person on a regular basis.

You feel: Anxious. You feel defensive.

How to deal with it: Try not to take their anger personally. It may just be their personality and have nothing to do with you. However, let them know their behaviour is negatively impacting you and the friendship.

The Passive Aggressive Frenemy

Them: They make lots of insidious snide remarks. "They'll usually share their upsets related to other people – but it's very clear that you did it," said McCance. This is a person who will intentionally delete you from Facebook and act like it was a mistake.

You feel: Confused. You always wonder what you've done wrong.

How to deal with it: Be assertive and address the issues you're having. Hopefully, they'll take your lead and open up.

Katrina Clarke is a Toronto-based journalist who writes about relationships, health, technology and social trends. Find her on Twitter at @KatrinaAClarke.