Spot the Frenemy in your Squad

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Many college students hear the word “frenemy” and can rattle off a bunch of stories about their dysfunctional high school friendships. But a lot of people don’t realize that this phenomenon of unhealthy friendships actually makes an appearance in college more than we care to think. Whether we trek across campus to hit up exercise classes with them or meet up for meals to endure dining hall food together, a new college BFF might not reveal their true identity until months, or even years, down the line. So, what signs become flashing red lights indicating that your new college bestie might unknowingly be your frenemy?


Whether she always asks you about your GPA or runs for the same position as you in Glee club, you should definitely be wary of someone desperate to place herself in direct competition with you. Think Cady Heron from Mean Girls, but nicer. However, before you label this friend a frenemy, make sure you know if she means her competitive spirit as a personal attack or if she’s just inspired by your life as a #collegegoal. According to The Huffington Post, “students strive to do more extracurriculars and sports than their friends do, to get better grades than their friends get, to win more awards than their friends win, and to be more involved than their friends are.” Just check in with your best gal pal or even bro and try to motivate them in a more uplifting way, one that doesn’t rain on either of your #collegegoal parades.

Emotional Undermining

Classic frenemy moves: not letting you have your own opinion about something or giving you advice only based on what she would do. Sometimes this move comes more out of ignorance or laziness than sheer viciousness, so don’t judge this one too harshly. The real serious signs pop up if your friend demeans something basic about your identity: the way you dress, your religious customs, etc. In this case, that chick (or dude) has got to go. “I just don’t hang out with people I don’t get along with, or I try to talk to them as soon as possible if I notice some underlying tension,” Gonzaga freshman Elizabeth Terry said. In this case, it might be time to break out the old pro versus cons chart and figure out how much you really value your friendship or if you’re ready to just wave your white flag.


Some friends just don’t understand that whole give-and-take aspect that comes with the more valuable relationships in our lives. “I have a friend who always invites me to do stuff with her when she needs it, but if it’s the other way around she always has an excuse for why she can’t make it,” Marquette University sophomore Nica Assana said. Your understanding nature made you become blind to realizing when someone consistently lets you down. Although your friend may genuinely have so much going on that she doesn’t realize how she treats you, you should definitely not tolerate the next level of selfishness: lying to your face. If someone constantly flakes on you, toss that friendship out the door and don’t look back, not even at graduation.

Betraying Your Trust

While you may think that everyone left this behind long ago at high school, can you honestly say you haven’t gossiped once since starting college? Exactly. Your frenemy probably just made more of a secret career out of it than you have. Maybe everyone suddenly seems to know that one mistake you made at a frat party last weekend that you only confided in her, or (and please leave the relationship for good when this happens) she starts going after someone you’re crushing on. But sometimes we don’t even know it’s happening. “If my friends have been gossiping about me, they’ve been doing a pretty good job because I haven’t heard about it,” Marquette senior Colleen Jones said. In this case, it’s best to go with your gut and think about which friends you’ve been telling your secrets to.

Personality Clash

While this one doesn’t scream “vicious” like some of the other characteristics, the constant clash of personalities still means you should drop your friend down to acquaintance level. Maybe you sat together at lunch freshman year and realized you had the same favorite band, deeming yourself besties for life. But when sophomore year arrived she spent all of her time with her boyfriend and you got mega involved with your sorority. What then? This doesn’t mean you got an F in your friendship finals, but maybe you should prioritize your newer and closer friends and just hang out with her when she makes the first effort. “If I don’t like somebody I just don’t hang out with them,” Northwestern sophomore Liz McLaughlin said. Good call.

Now, all of this doesn’t mean you should go deleting your all friends with one measly imperfection. But you might end up having to cut someone out of your life. Even the guys should take some time to figure out which of your bros you should let into your man cave and which should get the axe.

Hi, my name is Meghan and I'm a sophomore at Northwestern University. I've had a passion for creative writing ever since I was creative editor of my high school paper, and now I'm pursuing the creative writing major at the college level. I love writing in my own voice to help other people get through tough times.

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