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  • Know Your Frenemy: Is Your Best Friend Really an Enenmy in Disguise?

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    5 posts, 5 voices, 1652 views, started Jul 10, 2009

    Posted on Friday, July 10, 2009 by Denise Richardson


    • Diamond

      Know your ‘frenemy‘: Is your best friend really an enemy in disguise?

      By Amanda Platell  

      We run our own companies - some of us run entire countries. We work and raise families, we have fun, we have fabulous frocks. So why is it, after a century of increasing affluence, influence and freedom, women have never loved each other less? Whatever happened to the sisterhood?
      Any historian would have imagined that after a hundred years of fighting side-by-side and winning victory after victory, women would be the new Spartans - fearless, fearsome and, above all, locked shield to shield, Jimmy Choo to Jimmy Choo, totally loyal to our sisters who fought the good fight with us.
      But something very strange happened. As we became more successful, we also grew more suspicious, more envious, more downright nasty to other women.

       Sisterhood: More sinister than it seems? Follow our tips to find out how to spot the scheming buddy waiting to stab you in the back

      A new book examines that gruesome trend of girl-on-girl nastiness. Friend Or Frenemy? by Andrea Lavinthal and Jessica Rozler is billed as a guide to ‘the friends you need and the ones you don’t‘. The ones you don’t being ‘frenemies’ - the friends who are enemies in disguise.
      The authors stress that a loyal and supportive set of friends is far more important for today’s woman than it was for her mother’s generation. Where once friends were a passing phase before marriage and children, now, with a world littered with broken romances and divorce, we need our girlfriends more than ever.  

       Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie have a very public love-hate relationship
      Our mums were tied to the kitchen sink in their 30s with a brood of snotty kids, a nice husband (if they were lucky) who brought home the bacon and neither the desire nor the skills to go out to work.

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      Liz Jones: The credit crunch? In Hollywood, darling, it just doesn’t exist  

      Now we‘re still pursuing our careers at that age, and men are less reliable in the marriage stakes and want to commit later, so girlfriends take on a whole new meaning.
      And yet we’ve got sloppy at female friendship.
      ‘These days nothing is quite the same,’ say Lavinthal and Rozler. ‘You’ve got yourself 1,214 friends on Facebook, five of whom you’ve actually met in person.
      ‘With the click of a mouse, you can befriend and break up, hook up and make up, all without having to leave the warm glow of your computer screen and do something unthinkable like interact with a real, live human being.’
      So the point of their new book is to help us to reconnect with real friendship, not cyber-fakes, and to differentiate between the true girlfriend and the frenemy who half wants you to succeed but mostly loves it when you fail - at men, fashion or career.
      She’s the kind of woman who, while affecting deep concern, is the mistress of undermining. She is fond of saying things along the lines of: ‘You look tired,’ ‘You‘re going to eat all that?’ ‘Your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend is soooooo pretty.’
      Lavinthal and Rozler point out that in a world where we often live miles apart from our real families and start our own at a later age than our parents did, friends are the new ‘framily‘. They conclude: ‘Good friends are like orgasms - you‘re lucky enough to have one and really lucky if you have multiple ones.’
      It is the upside of Sex And The City. We need girlfriends for life and often for dear life, just as Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda needed each other in Sex And The City.

       Sticking together: The Sex and the City girls are good examples of lifelong friends who need each other

      But then there’s the flip side, as revealed in another new book, Player HateHer by Tamara A. Johnson-George and Katrina R. Chambers.
      The title is a pun on the term ‘player hater’ which was used in the Sixties to describe the out-and-out jealousy aimed at people who were successful, who were ‘players‘, whether it was as the grade A student or someone who excelled at sport.
      Johnson-George and Chambers use their term to describe women who hate instead of embracing one another. It is a phenomenon that every working woman will recognise. Women can be fantastic friends outside the office, but put them in the workplace and they become the personification of conceit, deceit and downright nastiness.
      That’s the dark truth behind Sex And The City: The Movie. The only reason it took years to make was that in real life at least two of the four main actresses were so jealous of each other they’d rather not make millions from a sequel than agree to work together.
      And it’s not just at work. The authors give the personal example of being on holiday together and talking about a woman who was sitting near them with her boyfriend.
      ‘We immediately began assessing this woman. We started with her looks - which were, by our standards, average. Then we wondered why she was even here and where she got the nerve to wear that bikini. How could she be on holiday with a man while two beautiful women like ourselves were alone? Who did she think she was, and what did he possibly see in her?’
      Don’t Hate Her:

      Without even realising it, women slip into Player HateHer mode. And I defy anyone reading this to say they have not been guilty of this kind of scrutiny of other women. A Player HateHer is a woman who ‘unnecessarily displays a negative attitude towards another woman for trivial reasons‘. Why? Because they‘re jealous, insecure and intimidated.
      The authors point out that Player HateHers don’t treat men the same way. In the workplace, intelligent, welleducated, successful females behave with all the instincts of cavewomen. Unless you connive and plot to secure the protection, if not affection, of the strongest male (usually the boss), you lose out to a more attractive, more cunning woman.
      But it doesn’t have to be like that. Even with this ghastly recession, there is no need to feel challenged by other women simply because they‘re women.
      ‘On your way up the ladder of success,’ the authors advise, ‘don’t forget to turn around and reach out a helping hand to other women on their way up. There’s room for us all at the top.’
      And there would be more women at the top if other females did not actively put them down and hold them back. We can go on blaming men for the glass ceiling as long as we want, but it’s the stiletto in the back that’s more likely to get you in the end as you try to scale the career ladder.
      But all is not lost. The authors’ tips to stop being a Player HateHer are fairly straightforward.
      First, don’t get over-emotional. If you feel jealous, cool down and ask yourself why you feel this way, and if you could be the one at fault.

       Best of Friends? The girls from the hit U.S. sitcom stuck together, despite the occasional cat-fight

      Secondly, respect works. Nothing is likely to lose other people’s respect more than being disrespectful either to a senior or junior in the workplace.
      Thirdly, don’t be a bitch. Spiteful emotional explosions end up hurting no one but yourself.
      Fourthly, try to consider other people’s feelings and think about how much you’ve hurt them, instead of how much they’ve hurt you.
      Sure it’s not rocket science, but if it were all that obvious, why would we have so many Player HateHers in our midst?
      Likewise, the authors of Friend Or Frenemy? have some sound advice for how to hold on to true friendships.
      The Friend Commandments are:
      1. Thou shalt not covet they friend’s life.
      2. Thou shalt not covet thy friend’s
      boyfriend, even if you think he’s way too hot for her.
      3. Thou shalt give more than thou taketh away from a friendship.
      4. Thou shalt never call thy friend and say: ‘My boyfriend’s away for the weekend. Wanna hang out?’ Put your girlfriends first now and again.
      5. Thou shalt not spread malicious gossip about a friend unless thou wants to be run over by the karma bus.
      6. Thou shalt say: ‘Those jeans make your butt look really good.’ That’s your story and you‘re sticking to it.
      7. Friends don’t make their friends wear seafoam green taffeta bridesmaid dresses. Just be happy for one another for one day. It will probably end in divorce anyway.
      8. Thou shalt compromise. And compromise. And compromise.
      9. Thou shalt not lose touch.
      10. Thou shalt not let thy friend leave the house wearing Crocs, unless said friend is working in a hospital.
      You see, it’s not all hopeless. How hard is all that? With a little selfawareness and a lot of sisterly readjustment, the sisterhood doesn’t have to be dead - just reinvented.
      Friend Or Frenemy? A Guide To The Friends You Need And The Ones You Don’t by Andrea Lavinthal and Jessica Rozler (Harper).

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