We all have one. That person in your life who rubs you the wrong way on the regular, yet you’ll still grab a morning coffee with them (weekdays only) or chat with them over cocktails at happy hour (in group settings, of course). We’re talking about a good old-fashioned frenemy. And while the relationship may seem like a no-win situation, studies have shown that frenemies can actually be a good thing.
Having a love-hate relationship with a close colleague benefits you at work by promoting creative problem solving and more accurate decision making. Plus, when you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone, you’re more likely to put yourself in their shoes and look at the situation in a new light. But let’s not forget — that’s easier said than done. So we caught up with Meredith Silversmith, a licensed marriage and family therapist, as well as the co-founder and clinical director of Nassau Wellness in Garden City, NY, to help us navigate the frenemy waters.
1. Set and maintain boundaries. “While you may spend some positive time together, it’s important not to be lulled into a false sense of security. This is a relationship that, even with its benefits, could become damaging,” warns Meredith. “Set boundaries around topics of conversation, personal information you share and how much time you spend together.” If it’s a work frenemy, consider keeping the friendly chatting in the office so you don’t open up after a few happy hour cocktails.
2. Use the rivalry to your benefit. If you keep the competition healthy, it can be good for your career and personal pursuits. “Don’t get bogged down feeling negative or overwhelmed by feelings of competition — use them to your advantage. Get motivated to work harder and strive to improve. A little challenge is good for you,” Meredith says.
3. Keep your cool. You can bet that sometimes you’ll face challenging or frustrating situations — opposite your frenemy. “Do your best to not react emotionally. Take a deep breath, take a walk or do whatever you need to do to continue to present yourself in a calm, composed way. You don’t want your frenemy to know when they’ve gotten to you,” says Meredith. Your frenemy mantra: Don’t give ’em the satisfaction!
4. Don’t gossip. Meredith advises to stay professional and keep the “enemy” part of your relationship under wraps. “One way to be sure to stir things up (in a not-so-good way) is to talk about your frenemy with colleagues. If you want to thrive in this relationship, hold back. It’s easy to jump into the negative talk, but it won’t help things go smoothly between you two.”
5. Keep your friends and your frenemies separate. “These are two very different types of relationships and it’s tough when they merge. You’re not going to be as open and honest with a frenemy as you are with a friend, so having them in the same place at the same time can be a really sticky situation. Do your best to keep the worlds from colliding.” Amen!
Have you successfully managed a frenemy relationship? We want to hear about it! Tweet us your tips @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)