(A frenemy, by the way, is someone who pretends to be your friend but is actually your enemy.)
I created this self-help quiz for myself to identify destructive relationships, of which I’ve had too many in my life. I have trouble recognizing frenemies when I see them, and I have trouble breaking it off after I realize this relationship isn’t good for me. It’s blown up in my face a lot, most recently in November, when a woman I’d known for ten years, who had called me her “best friend” only a few days before this, wrote a vicious open letter to me on her blog where she violated my privacy by detailing my medical issues and other private things for the whole world to see, posted bits of my writing out of context and without my permission to demonstrate what a “sick person” I was, and said a lot of horrible things about me, a lot of which were not even true, and what was true was very distorted and twisted around to make it look a lot worse than it really was.
There had been warning signs, in retrospect. There are always warning signs. Every time this happens, afterwards I think, “My god, it’s obvious X was psycho and/or treated me like garbage. Why didn’t I notice this sooner?” But then it happens again. I need stop making excuses for people (“yes, he is mean to me, but he’s been under a lot of stress lately and…”) and I need to stop hanging out with people I don’t even like just because I feel sorry for them or because I don’t have anyone else to be with.
It occurs to me that others may benefit from this quiz as well, so here goes:
1. Do you like this person? If yes, please continue. If not, stop the quiz and end the relationship right now; you’re wasting your time and theirs.
2. Does this person sometimes treat you in a hostile or abusive manner without sufficient reason? If yes, two points.
3. Does this person usually treat you in a way that makes you feel liked and respected, and without putting you down? If no, three points.
4. Do you look forward to hanging out with this person, and enjoy spending time with them? If no, one point.
5. Is this person the sort that will never, ever admit they are wrong? If yes, one point.
6. Does this person have a tendency towards irrational behavior and jumping to conclusions? If yes, one point.
7. Have you noticed that this person treats other people badly or harbors bad feelings towards them for no good reason? If yes, one point.
If you scored zero, your relationship is quite safe and healthy.
If you scored one to three points, your friend may be a frenemy or may become one. Consider distancing yourself from this person or ceasing contact with them altogether. How much are you really getting out of this friendship?
If you scored more than three points, you’ve definitely got a frenemy on your hands. You should end the relationship ASAP and don’t look back.
The aforementioned young woman would have scored at least a five on this, maybe higher. But since I never really liked her that much to begin with — she liked me a lot more than I liked her — that alone should have been sufficient reason to break it off with her. I can be a real idiot sometimes.
Any thoughts on this quiz? Any ideas for improvement? I have decided that avoiding destructive relationships is vital for my psychological health.