How to Deal with Frenemies!

According to a U.K. study, 45% of people keep friends they don’t even like. But why do we do this? Do we aim to keep our friends close and our enemies closer? Jess dissected the latest research on “ambivalent friends” with Carolyn Mackenzie this morning on Global TV’s The Morning Show. Check out her notes and video below.

What did the study find?

  • According to 2000 Brits, they have an average of 16 friends and acquaintances — three of whom they don’t like/struggle to get along with.

What are our top complaints about these so-called friends?

  • We don’t have anything in common.
  • They’re too bossy/controlling.
  • Our opinions differ significantly.
  • How they behave when they drink.
  • They’re too high maintenance.

Other complaints that made the top 20:

  • The language they use.
  • The way they treat their partner.
  • They flirt with my partner.
  • They don’t get along with my partner.

Why are we hanging out with people we don’t like?

  • Oftentimes, it’s a matter of convenience; we work with them or they’re friends of a friend
  • Sometimes it’s a matter of history; we’ve known each other so long that we don’t want to give up now.
  • Sometimes we don’t even realize that we have “ambivalent friends” because they’re highly supportive in some ways and toxic in others. Do you have a friend who helped you through a tough time, but also shared your private info with others? It can be a challenge to weigh the costs against the benefits.
  • Finally, these friendships can remind us of our relationships with family members, so the feeling of ambivalence is comfortingly familiar even if it’s unhealthy.

If these fair-weather friends are offering support, but also hurting you, how do you decide if you should keep them as friends?

  • If you don’t feel good about yourself when you’re with them or when you think about them, they’re probably not good for your health.
  • It makes sense that blood pressure rises when you’re with an ambivalent friend (versus when you’re with a good friend), but your blood pressure is higher with an ambivalent friend than when you’re around someone you loathe! These frenemies take a greater toll on your health.

If you do find yourself in the presence of a frenemy, how can you minimize the negative impact?

  • Find topics to discuss that you both agree on; you may disagree on politics, but perhaps you share football in common.
  • Bring a buffer; don’t hang out alone.
  • Minimize the gossip and venting, as it only intensifies the negative feelings and stress.

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