Frenemies (narcissists) and mutual friends

How to handle the situation when you have mutual friends with a frenemy or narcissist?  That is a question I contemplated for a while before ending my relationship with a female narcissist, Marian (my friend, former co-worker).  I struggled with this question because there are a lot of consequences of ending a friendship with someone when you have mutual friends/acquaintances.  Then, the next question after ending the relationship is how do you deal with questions from the mutual friends.  The last question, what about the social events where everyone is invited…frenemies and all?

The reality of frenemies and narcs is that they will try their hardest to take your mutual friends and turn them against you.  They want the mutual friends on their side for several reasons:

  • mutual friends are a source of info about you and therefore a way to control you
  • it is a competition for them – “I have all the friends on my side!  I won!”
  • they want to punish you for leaving them or not giving them narc supply (stroke their ego)

All of this is daunting, scary…it was for me.  The idea that she would talk behind my back to mutual friends did not sit well with me…especially since we worked for the same company.  Marian has a gift of spinning the smallest piece of info and turning it to her advantage (manipulation of facts).  Then I noticed she was doing this even while we were friends.  She was already talking behind my back (at work to colleagues, managers) and to our mutual friends.  Even though I was her friend she was doing this.  She had been doing this for a while…the only difference is: I found out about it.  So, the consequence of your frenemy or narc talking behind your back is not a consequence anymore because it is already happening (even if you are not aware of it).  So ending your friendship doesn’t change this except that the frenemy or narc will try and take control of the situation: he or she will have to make it clear to the mutual friends that he or she decided to end it…not the other way around.

Then I realized something about myself…why was I concerned about her talking about my back.  She was lying and spinning information about me to everyone.  If our mutual friends believed her then that tells me something – that some of our mutual friends are not true friends of mine.  If I hear someone bad mouthing a friend of mine I don’t believe them especially if I know this friend well enough and that they are a person of integrity.  The same goes for your mutual friends.  If they believe your frenemy or narcissist then this particular mutual friend may not be worth being friends with.

The 2nd question: how do you deal with the mutual friends who have questions about why you are not longer in contact with your frenemy or any discussion about your frenemy?

True friends usually won’t push for any sort of explanation as to why you two are not talking any more.  True friends may initially ask out of concern but once they sense that you don’t want to talk about it then they will drop the subject.  You had your reasons and true friends will accept that fact you made the choice for your reasons.  I had a mutual friend ask in a very casual way if I had had contact with Marian…I simply said ‘I don’t have contact with her.’  That is the only explanation.  The mutual friend has dropped the subject.  A few months went by and our mutual friend brought up Marian’s name again…she told me that Marian was not returning her emails and was not making efforts to stay in contact.  Eventually, the frenemy’s true colors will show to the mutual friends.  Here’s what I’ve done with dealing with our mutual friends:

  • I don’t talk about Marian, ever.  Don’t talk behind your frenemy’s back – that puts you in the same category.
  • If someone asks about our relationship I state: I don’t have contact with her anymore.  It is a neutral response.  If you get pushed for a reason: ‘It is healthier for me not to be in contact with her.’  Make the statement about how you feel, not about her or blaming her.
  • If mutual friends continually pester you then you may have to evaluate your relationship with them.

The dreaded social event.  This is difficult.  After two months of ending my friendship with Marian a shopping trip to the city came up with the 3 of us.  It was awful for me…Marian was a total bTCH.  She sucked the energy out from me…all her insults and attacks.  I told myself I couldn’t do this to myself anymore.  I decided…okay no more outings with everyone.  BUT…there is a BUT…one of our mutual friends mentioned to me yesterday that she wanted to have a party at her house this time for her birthday.  That is the BUT.  Events that are about supporting your friends are important because it is about your friend and NOT about you and your dealings with your frenemy.  I will try to avoid the casual shopping trips with Marian but I will go to my friends birthday party (wedding, baby shower, etc) because those events are about my friends and not about Marian and ME.  I will just have to suck it up and be prepared to deal with her in those situations.

Whatever your dilemma is with your frenemy and your mutual friends I hope you get through it and find a way to surround yourself in Good Company.

T Reddy

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13 thoughts on “Frenemies (narcissists) and mutual friends

  1. Hi,

    I have two mutual friends with my horrid frenemy, and unfortunately she drags them with her to sit with us at break. I want to completely separate myself from her, and my other friends are happy to help me after all she’s done to me, but I don’t want to push my mutual friends too far away. I guess I will if I have to, but I want it to be a last resort. Would you please be able to give me some advice?

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    • Reposting reply here:

      Hello C!

      I am sorry to hear that you going through that. That is a tough dilemma…and finding what is best for you is the answer. Mutual friends were a difficult thing for me as well…I had gotten to the point where my frenemy’s behaviors were too unhealthy for me that I had to take the risk with the mutual friends. That lead me to realize that I should let people be who they are and whatever their true colors I can make a healthier decision for myself. It is not an easy decision to come to and I think we are strong enough to find out what is best for us based on trusting our feelings. I hope this helps. I share what has worked for me in my situation. Stay strong!

      T Reddy

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  2. Hello C!

    I am sorry to hear that you going through that. That is a tough dilemma…and finding what is best for you is the answer. Mutual friends were a difficult thing for me as well…I had gotten to the point where my frenemy’s behaviors were too unhealthy for me that I had to take the risk with the mutual friends. That lead me to realize that I should let people be who they are and whatever their true colors I can make a healthier decision for myself. It is not an easy decision to come to and I think we are strong enough to find out what is best for us based on trusting our feelings. I hope this helps. I share what has worked for me in my situation. Stay strong!

    T Reddy

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  3. I am in the same situation; actually more complicated. My frenemy got involved with a (male) friend of mine. I introduced them to each other (not with the intention of hooking them up) and back than I did not know the real her. But once she got what she wanted her true colors started to show. She planned something (i’m not going to get into details), but it didn’t work out how she planned. Six months later I found out about it and I was horrified and all that time HE kept quiet. I felt betrayed and ashamed of not seeing through her and used. They came to visit me as if nothing had happend (i didn’t know yet), but her plans failed. Het stayed because he was afraid (i think) of losing her and having to start all over again. I picked my self up and shut both of them out of my life. I was sad for him because he not a bad person. A couple of months later I found out they were expecting. I knew than I made the right dicission. Mutual friends started asking questions. I could no longer avoid the question so I told the ONE person I am the closets to ( Only the FACTS and begged him not to get involved). He promissed to stay out of it and told me that he would have made the same dicission. To get HER out of my life I had to let HIM go as well. It is about YOU not about the other person. Hope it helps.

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  4. I’m inspired that you all took the high road. I’v been dealing with this frenemy for years because our split happened at a very immature time in both of our lives. Now I am still dealing with the emotional scars as an adult although it’s not a daily thing I have to deal with. However, from time to time I am reminded I can never get away from her because we share SO MANY mutual friends. Right when she totally slips from my mind, I’ll see her face at a friend’s engagement party, birthday, bbq, etc. I just keep telling myself I’m lucky that some people see her for who she really is and that I don’t have to see her on a daily basis like I used to.

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    • Thank you for sharing your experience! That is nice when others see the ‘enemy’ in the friend; it can help one from going crazy. It is difficult when others think you are the one that is crazy and the other is a saint! The distance has helped me as well. It is nice not to have that daily contact with that person anymore. I still find this situation difficult when dealing with mutual friends. I still am in contact with one mutual friend and often enough she brings up the fact that I am no longer friends with the mutual ‘frenemy’. The mutual friends doesn’t see what I see and so she still brings her up in conversation. I have to change the subject when this happens. Here’s to continued healthy friendships! xoxo TReddy.

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  5. Thank you for your reassuring advice! I recently had a friend dump me because I was not available to do her a favor. It was a shock, as we had been close friends for years and I had helped her out many times before. I truly thought she’d understand why I couldn’t help her this once but she didn’t.I was devastated, and now that I’m finally healing she’s making a very obvious point to monopolize our mutual friend’s time. It’s a new, fresh pain that I’m dealing with and it hurts to be replaced, seemingly by both of them. It’s leading me more and more to evaluate the mutual friendship as well.Perhaps if our mutual friend has that much in common with someone so cruel and unforgiving , it’s a warning sign.I’m not ready to cut ties completely with the mutual friend but I may take a step back and reevaluate the friendship. I would also like to see if she makes an effort to spend time with me despite my frienemy desperately trying to “win” her.

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    • Hi Betty,

      I am sorry for the delay in approving your comment. I was traveling during the holidays and wasn’t able to get online during this time.

      Thank you for sharing your story. It is a difficult situation and mutual friends add another level of complication. I can relate to stepping back and evaluating the friendship. Sometimes it helps to see things about the friendship that were hidden during the frenemy’s presence. I hope it goes well.

      Thank you for reading and your comment.

      xxoo T Reddy

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  6. What a great blog entry. I’m 36 years old and I had never heard of the term “frenemy” until I went out with my my ex (who is a severe narcissist). She and her friends used the term and my ex had tons of frenemies. I am one them today (actually, now I’m really just an enemy). I had never been exposed to that kind of awful drama before. Anyways, the point is that you advice on how to deal with these people is spot on. I wish I had read this article before I had met my ex. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am not sure if this falls into the fr-enemy category but it is making my life an absolute nightmare right now and I feel like this friend is my ultimate enemy right now. I decided to give my best friend the cold shoulder for about three weeks because of a situation that I truly believe she started and could have prevented. I was trying to speak with lack of action or words this time around because she never takes responsibility for her actions, and tells me I react too loudly and stubborn, she tells me I’m the irrational culprit when ever we are in some kind of fight. Funny thing is her boyfriend has said numerous of times that her and I react the same. She is the type to go around to all of our mutual friends and “ask for advise,” giving her RIGHT side only and manipulating the situation. I am the more reserved one and really only consider a couple people out of our tight group of friends to be close with. She of course is everyone’s best friend. Here is where it’s tricky, my mother owns this tiny salon where there is a total of four of us who work there through out the week. It takes SO much energy out of me to be in the same room with her every day. My mother is not firing either one of us. I am also pregnant right now and going through a lot let alone deal with this. As another woman and a best friend I thought she would respect the sensitivity factor here. I called for a meeting, finally, since I had cooled down a bit. We spent three hours mending things. I thought things were fine and she came in the next day to work after my mother and I had both found out that a close family member attempted suicide and is in the hospital, she says “I know your going through a lot but we need to talk about our friendship, I really still firmly think this is all your fault and you need to apologize for not talking to me for three weeks.” I’m sorry but is she emotionally unintelligent? Or just a shitty friend? Now she is going rounding up each and every friend explaining our story and “asking advise.” I want to beat her face in but we all no it’s not a good thing to have pregnant girls beating people at work… I hate looking at her and her boyfriend is now starting crap as well, the only person I have left to talk to it seems is my boyfriend who I live with. I feel extremely trapped and depressed and angry about all of this. It seems like there is no light at the end of tunnel for any of this.

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    • @Raechel, As the original post states, stay out it, stay positive, don’t talk about people negatively except to a partner or close friend who doesn’t know these people. It isn’t worth expanding on the negative.
      Oddly, I came upon this post as I was thinking about a “frenemy” who does her best to monopolize my best friends…a strange and creepy scenario. But the reall kicker: we’re middle-aged! Who knew? Some insecurities take a lifetime to work out. Evaluate the friendships. If this is how it goes, let them go. It’s all temporary.

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  8. Pingback: The Come-back narcissist | In Bad Company

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