Earlier this year, I recorded an episode about the 7 Deadly Sins of Money Mindset. One of those deadly sins is listening to cynics, naysayers, and frenemies who put you down and trash-talk any idea you have on bettering your life or business. I received some emails and DMs about that topic and in this episode, I will expound on the question: what even is a frenemy? How would I know if I have one?

✔️ Pay attention to how you feel after you’ve had an interaction with someone. If you felt sunny and happy before, but they sucked all the joy out of you, that’s not a good sign.
✔️ Social media, catfishing, and digital “friendships” have made it difficult to know just how authentic someone new in your life actually is, especially if you haven’t been able to ever connect with them in person.
✔️ Frenemies don’t give it to you straight. They make passive-aggressive comments and snide little remarks, and they gossip about you behind your back.
✔️ If your friend always seems to speak unkindly of other friends and family members and enjoys sh*t-talking them in front of you, here’s your sign. You can safely assume they do that when you are not around.
✔️ True friends who are down for you will be supportive and kind. They will comfort you when you are sad and they will applaud your victories. You won’t have to wonder where you stand with them– you’ll know.

Special intro music: “You Get What You Give” by New Radicals. (“Frenemies, who when you’re down ain’t your friends…”)

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Transcription by Please forgive any typos!


Hello, hello and welcome to today’s episode of the Causey Consulting podcast. I’m your host Sara Causey and I’m also the owner of Causey Consulting, which you can find online anytime at Causey Consulting Hey, I want to talk about frenemies. Earlier this year, I recorded an episode about the Seven Deadly Sins of money mindset. And one of the sins that I talked about was hanging around with cynics naysayers and frenemies, people who smile to your face, but stab you in the back. Or they try to actively discourage you. Anytime that you have an idea. You want to try something new, or just generally better your life. They produce a laundry list of all the reasons why you can’t you shouldn’t you’re going to fail, it never works out. Those types of people are toxic. Now, it may be easier to recognize cynics and naysayers. A lot of people have that flavor are pretty overt and open about who they are. And frankly, in my opinion, if somebody is cynical, and they’re always looking for the cloud, rather than the silver lining, if they’re open about who they are, then I don’t have a big problem with it there. They’re being honest and direct and showing you who they are. It’s the frenemies that are much more dangerous in my opinion. And I’ve had some emails from people that listened to that episode that wanted me to elaborate more. On the frenemy component. What exactly does it mean, to be a frenemy? And in the age of social media and digital friendships? How do we even identify if someone is a frenemy? Are they genuine? Do they really have my back? Or are they up to things that they shouldn’t be? And how would I even know? So first off, what is a frenemy, maybe you’ve heard the term but you’re not completely sure of what it means. frenemy is simply a mash up. Or if you want me to use my English degree and get super fancy, a portmanteau of the word friend and the word enemy. And it’s somebody who may superficially appear to be a friend, or someone with whom you’re on generally friendly terms on the outside of things. But inside, they’re really your enemy, and they’re conspiring against you. They’re not rooting for you, they don’t have your best interests at heart. I’m thinking like of the movie, dangerous liaison. So you know, if you saw the 88 version with Glenn Close, and john malkovich. Or if you saw the 1999 redo of it called Cruel Intentions with like, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Reese Witherspoon, same basic concept. It’s people who are playing games with other people’s emotions. They’re using sex as a weapon, and they’re seducing and they’re wooing and they’re courting. But it’s not because they want to have a real loving, romantic relationship. It’s because it’s all a giant game. As you know, I normally say trust your gut. And I’m going to say that again here in this instance, to listen to your own gut instincts and don’t talk yourself out of it. If somebody gives you a weird vibe, even if you can’t make it an analysis of point a point B, point C, you know, some clinical diagnosis or some legal analysis with precise terms of why the person gives you the creeps or why you feel weird whenever you’re around them. Don’t Don’t try to talk yourself out of it. We have those gut instincts for a reason. But you know, a good manipulator, who is talented at what they do, even when you’re in the same room with them face to face, it can be difficult to assess what’s really going on behind the scenes. But now you add to it social distancing, because of the pandemic, and the rise of social media, digital friendships, catfishing you know, people having an entire supposed relationship with someone they’ve never even met in person. And it becomes even more difficult. I mean, at least when you’re in the same physical space with someone, you can look at their body language and you can just read the energy. I mean, you don’t have to be a believer in any of the spiritual stuff about auras or energy or the Holy Spirit. You can just pay attention to the way that this person is behaving. And if you’re skilled in reading, the body language and the demeanor that someone has when they’re lying to you, or there are many emulating you, you can pick up on it. But when someone is texting you or talking to you through an app or online on social media, you’re at a disadvantage automatically, because you’re not able to assess those cues in person. So I’m still going to tell you to trust your own gut instincts. And I’ll add to it an addendum that I want you to pay attention to the way that you feel, after you’ve had an interaction with this person, especially if you feel depleted, drained. If you feel bad about yourself, or you have a negative point of view about the world, like maybe before you got on the phone with this person, you were feeling upbeat and peppy. And then you talk to them for a while and you just feel like all of the sunshine went away, like all the air left the room and it’s just very heavy. Pay attention to that. You don’t have to believe in the spiritual side of it, that maybe this person is a psychic vampire or they have a negative energy surrounding them. The fact that interacting with them makes you feel lousy about yourself should be indication enough that something is amiss. I’m thinking of a scene in that movie as good as it gets where Helen Hunt’s character says to Jack Nicholson, I don’t think I want to know you anymore. Because all you do is make me feel bad about myself. You know if that’s the type of flavor that is coming away from your interactions with this person, absolutely pay attention to that. The second point that I want to make is very closely related to what I just said about pay attention to the way that you feel when you’re around that person or immediately after you’ve interacted with them. The second thing I want you to look out for is people who try to make snide remarks to you. But they are couching it under the guise of tough love or constructive criticism, helpful feedback. But really, it’s it’s not, it’s just them, taking a jab at you or saying something that’s really snotty and cruel. There’s no tough love to it, it’s just them making a really nasty comment. They don’t want you to retaliate, they don’t want you to stick up for yourself. So they’re disguising it as constructive criticism. Now, just to be clear, in my opinion, you can offer someone constructive criticism. And if you’re coming from a place of love and compassion, like you, you can see that your friend or family member is about to go off a very dangerous Cliff are they’re about to hit a scary downward spiral and you’re trying to intervene to keep them from death, destruction, some terrible outcome. It’s okay to speak up. And to tell that person I’m worried about you, or I’m scared about your behavior, or, you know, the person you’re dating is verbally abusing you like it’s it’s okay to speak up, the way that you deliver the message. And the intent behind it is very, very, very important. So let’s say that your friend has come to you and said, You know, I hate my day job, I just don’t think I can put up with my a whole boss another minute of another day. So I’m just gonna quit, I’m just gonna flip him the bird walk out the door, I don’t have any money saved up. I don’t have a game plan about what I’ll do. But I guess I’ll just go find another job. Or maybe I’ll start my own business. But Screw it. I’m just gonna walk out. It doesn’t make you a bad friend to say, Okay, wait a minute, like, have you thought about this? Have you really considered what the consequences of that action might be? Like, in the moment, it’ll probably feel really good to flip the bird to your asshole boss and tell him off. But like, what are you going to do when your bills show up in the mail? How are you going to put food on the table? Like, do you think maybe you should cool down about this first, like, let’s just let’s think about this for a second. It’s not abusive or frenemy behavior, to look out for your friend’s best interest and just ask the question, Hey, have you considered the consequences of this action? Now, your friend is still their own human being with their own sense of freewill. You don’t get to dictate to them what they do or they don’t do. You can be the voice of reason to say Hey, wait a minute, you know, maybe you don’t need to flip him the bird and fly off the handle, you know, maybe you find another job first, or a temp assignment or something, you know, and then you just resign. You don’t have to do it by flipping the bird and telling your boss What a jerk he was and how you hate his guts. You know, there’s, there’s a way that you can bow out gracefully. That’s not frenemy behavior. frenemies are When when they’re delivering criticism, it’s not constructive criticism and it’s not coming from that place of, hey, you might be about to do something dangerous. You might go into a bear trap and potentially get cut off. And I don’t want to see that happen to you. So one potential frenemy response is to just be like, Wow, you’re so stupid, I cannot believe that you would even consider quitting your job without something else lined up first and no money and savings and you’re going to flip your boss off, they’re going to give you terrible references that’s going to come to haunt you. I mean, what what the hell are you even thinking? So that’s one potential response is they’re going to put you down and tell you what an idiot you are. Another potential frenemy response, though, is that they may go to you into dangerous or unhealthy activities, so that they can laugh about it when it all blows up in your face. frenemies I believe, are marked by a sense of shad and Freud, meaning they take joy from someone else’s suffering, it’s not enough for them to feel that they have succeeded at something in life. They really want to verify that other people have failed there. Their success is not enough to fulfill them. They want to watch somebody else suffer and burned. That’s a very dangerous person to associate yourself with. Yeah, I’m thinking of this scene. I refer a lot to movies I I’m a film buff and a film watcher. I kind of can’t help it music too. But I’m thinking of this scene, in Manaus adaptation of Faust, where Mephistopheles goads Faust into a street fight that results in him murdering his girlfriend’s brother. And after he looks at what he’s done, and he’s utterly horrified by it, Mephistopheles runs through the street, screaming, murder, murder, and he gets all these people out of their homes to come look at the crime scene. And he’s just laughing. He has the most diabolical, demonic gleeful smile on his face. And he is genuinely taking pleasure from the violence and the suffering and the pain that he goaded Faust into doing in the first place. So you want to be very careful that if you are standing at a precipice and you’re trying to make a major life decision, or you’re, you’re angry, you know, something is flared up and you’re in the heat of the moment, a frenemy may goad you into jumping off that cliff or they may goad you into doing something you’ll regret later, like, yeah, hell yeah. Your boss is a jerk. You want to double burden, man, Tell, tell them you’re gonna come back with gasoline and matches. If somebody is telling you advice like that, are they really your friend? Or are they trying to goad you into doing something dangerous, stupid, illegal, unethical, so that they can laugh at your pain, when you’re not around. That segues into the third point I want to make which is a frenemy is not happy about the things that you have accomplished in your life. They may superficially congratulate you, or they may seem to be happy, or maybe at least conciliatory when something goes right in your life. But it’s not the same thing as a genuine support system. A real true friend, somebody that’s down for you, a spouse that cares about you, family members that love you and support you, they will congratulate you and celebrate with you. It’s like having empathy. When something is going right in your life, they can applaud and be happy for you. And likewise, you feel the same way for them. You don’t view life as a zero sum game where somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose. And if I get an advantage, or I make more money or something good happens for me, it automatically means that somebody else has to lose, somebody has to get less so somebody has to be shoved out on the street. They don’t view life in those terms. I will tell you about a frenemy named Sally, obviously not the person’s real name that I have recently parted ways with and it was really because I finally started to understand, Sally isn’t really very happy for me, you know if things aren’t going well, or if I’m complaining and whining and kvetching about things, she’s all about that. But if I’m happy and I really like I’m talking to her because I want to celebrate an accomplishment. I want to talk about what’s going right in the world not just in my life but about the world in general what’s going right in her life with her family and just everything to really have a conversation with any type of Jawad Aviv, Sally’s out. A true friend should be able to walk the high highs and the low lows with you. You know if you’re sad if you’ve got going through A bad breakup and you’re crying, they should be able to comfort you. Or if you just got a promotion and a raise at work and you’re like, man, let’s go have a you know, maybe not now with the pandemic, but you know like, let’s go have a Friday girls night out, I’m drinks are on me I want to go celebrate, like, they should be like hell yeah, of course, if they can go, then they should be there with bells on and be happy to let you buy them the drinks that happy hour and celebrate with you. frenemies are not built that way, they’re not happy for your success. Now they might go to the happy hour and scam some free booze off of you. But they’ll figure out ways to make little snide remarks about your success. And the promotion probably won’t last or, yeah, they’re promoting you, because they’re going to dump a whole lot of work on you that 10% raise that you just got isn’t going to seem like near enough because you’re going to be miserable. Or, you know, I guess we better enjoy this happy hour because we’re not going to be seeing much of you. You’re going to be working so hard, you’re not going to be able to go to happy hour anymore. Or your boss is pretty good looking. I wonder how you got that promotion, haha. Like they make little passive aggressive jabs at you. They’re not going to come right out. They pee, okay, people have that flavor. Don’t have the stones to just come up to you and say, did you get your promotion by screwing your boss there? They’re not gonna do that. They’re just going to drop a lot of hints and insinuations to try to make you feel terrible about yourself. Like I remember a conversation that I had with Sally, that stuck in my craw. I never really said anything confrontational about it. And that’s my bad looking back on it. In hindsight, I should have been like, hey, well, wait a minute, what? What are you saying here? What did you mean by that? Because it sounded snarky, and it hurt my feelings. I should have called her out on it. But I remember when I was working up my courage, I was saving money. And I was working up my courage to try entrepreneurship. Again, I gone back to corporate America, I’d had my dark night of the soul had been through my absurdist Camus phase of trying to imagine Sisyphus happy. You know, and I still love the quote from the myth of Sisyphus, where he says there’s no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn. I think we all have those times in our life where we’re stuck in a job we don’t really like, we’re just trying to slog our way through something because it’s a means to an end. And so getting through that by Okay, I’m going to imagine Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill, and I’m going to surmount this fate with scorn. There’s times in our life where we have to do that. But in my opinion, if if that’s your whole life, if your whole life is just trying to slog your way through something till you get to the pie in the sky, and the sweet mind by, that’s not a very good life. So I was in that point in, in, in, in the process of like, Okay, I’m getting ideas together about entrepreneurship. I know, I’m not a fit for corporate America, I want to work from home, I want to be left alone, I want to be my own boss. Now, how am I going to do it? You know, I’m like stroking, sitting here, stroking my imaginary father time beard going, how am I going to do it. And I was having conversation with Sally over the phone, telling her all of this. And I said, You know, I read this very encouraging statistic that while most small businesses fail, if entrepreneurs are able to work up their nerve, and work up enough financing to try again, even if it’s not the same business, if they’re going in a completely different direction, with their entrepreneurship, if they are able to work up enough money and enough courage to try again, they typically succeed, because they’ve already failed, they’ve already been able to autopsy the mistakes of what went wrong in their first go at entrepreneurship. And they’re coming into the second round with a fresh set of eyes and a whole lot of experience that you’re just not going to get in a classroom. And, Sally, I’ll never forget this. Sally sat there on the other end of the phone, and was kind of like, Huh, okay, well, I guess that’s a good way of looking at it. You know, I’m glad that you read that. And the way that she said it. I don’t feel like my rendering of it is really doing it justice. But the way that she said it was so snide and passive aggressive, like, Oh, good for you. You know, it’s kind of like when your dog does a treat, and you give him a milk bone, or like, you know, you set the milk bone on his nose, and then make him wait for it. Oh, good for you. Good for you for reading that. That’s a great way of looking at it. And I wanted to be like, Well, I was patronizing as hell. Why Why? Why would you say that to me? But I didn’t. I kept my mouth shut. And over the course of time, and my business started to take off. You know, like when I was in that testing and beta testing phase, and I was spending money but not making any yet. Yeah, it was tough. And I really felt like Sally was sort of on the sidelines expecting me to fail and then I didn’t, it was almost a disappointment to her. And I thought I don’t need that kind of energy in my life. You know, keeping somebody around just because we’ve been friends for a while, or we have a lot of mutual friends in common, isn’t gonna cause drama are people gonna want to take sides like, at some point, you have to be selfish, you have to think about your own best interest and your own mental health. And if somebody is dragging you down, and you’re like Helen Hunt’s character, I don’t think I want to know you anymore. Because you make me feel bad about myself. That’s reason enough to walk away and to engage in some good self care and some good self preservation. The fourth and final point that I want to leave you with on this is something that should be pretty overt and obvious, but sometimes isn’t. And that is a frenemy is a back biter. They are someone who will talk about you, especially trash talk about you, behind your back. Again, they tend to be passive aggressive, so we’re not going to come at you face to face and say something insulting, or have a confrontation, in the same way that they make little snide jabs at you. They’re more than happy to trash talk you behind your back. And because of social media, and apps and chats, and all this stuff, it sometimes can be difficult to know that this person is gossiping about you behind your back back in the olden times. But he pre internet like you heard about it through the grapevine. Like I remember being in high school and people would pass notes or you know, somebody come up to you in the cafeteria and be like, Oh, did you know that Bobby was saying, blah, blah, blah, about you during recess? And how are you going to handle that? I mean, you you heard about it more so in face to face communications, than you did with all this social media and what I like to call digital vomit. So if your friend Jane Doe has a text chain going with you, or you guys are messaging back and forth on an app, and then she has a complete other set of text threads going or chats going in some other window with some other group of people, it’s not like you’re necessarily going to know about it. Unless somebody takes screenshots of her trash talking you and says, Hey, you probably ought to know that you’re supposed BFF Jane Doe is saying horrible things about you when you’re not around. However, other than trusting your gut, and having some instinct that tells you how are you possibly going to know? Well pay attention to the way that they act when they’re around you. And want you to remember something, even if it’s painful, if they will do it with you, they will do it to you. So if somebody is all the time trash talking their other friends in front of you, what do you think that they’re doing? when you’re not around? Do you think that you’re the exception to their bad behavior? Do you think you’re the one shining star in their life, like, Oh, they love me, they think I’m great. They never criticize me when I’m not around. They just criticize all of their other Riff Raff friends, I can promise you, that’s not true. If they’re sitting there gossiping and telling you terrible things about all their other idiot friends. They’re doing the same thing with those people about you, when you’re not in the room. I had this friend in college who had two or three other girlfriends that she was really close to or purported to be really close to. And anytime that we would go out all she wanted to do was telling me about all of the foibles and bad behavior of these other girls. And at first I just thought she seems to have bad taste in friends like am I the only person she hangs out with that isn’t doing like high risk, trashy type behaviors. I mean, she To give you an example, unless you think I’m just sounds like I’m being judgmental here. Supposedly, she had this friend who was like doing, she would come time. truth is stranger than fiction, you guys. She had this friend who was supposedly going into like dressing rooms and fitting rooms and clothing stores. And sometimes she would get high, she’d take drugs in there and get high. Sometimes she would sneak a guy in there and they would have you know, like risque sex in a public place. And I would just sit there going, like, why would you like if that’s not the type of element that you want in your life? Why would you continue hanging out with that person? Like, what is the payoff for you going and hanging out with that person? And hearing their lascivious stories and then coming and telling me how terrible it all is? Like, is it a, you know, exhibitionist slash, boy, your thing? Are you living vicariously through this girl that’s doing all this high risk stuff? By the way, as an addendum to the story, that girl is now in jail, just so I’m thinking that probably at least some of the stories that I was told were true. So in case You were wondering Whatever happened to the to the dressing room bandit, that’s that’s what happened to her. She’s in jail now. But I would just wonder like, what, what’s the payoff for you hanging out with people that at least supposedly are your friends, but you appear to hate their guts. And it took me some time again, I was, I don’t know, 2021 years old, it took me some time to figure out like, oh, in the same way, that she’s trash talking these other girls, when she’s around other people, she’s trash talking you and I cut that person out of my life and didn’t look back. Pay attention to the way that they behave, the things that they say the way that they describe other people in their circle of friends, people in their family, you know, have everything that they have to say about other people in their life is unkind, all of their other friends are idiots. All the people in their family are terrible. There’s just nobody that’s worth a damn. Let that be a guidepost for you that it’s highly likely than in the same way that they’re trash talking all of those people in their life, probably trash talking you when you’re not around. As with the dissolution of any type of relationship, make sure that you are putting your own health and well being and your own safety first. If you’re trying to extricate yourself from a situation and you think it might turn dangerous or violent. If you need to go to the police. If you need to get a restraining order. If you need to talk to your attorney or to a therapist or a counselor do it. You are worth fighting for. And it’s worth it always in the long run to look out for your own safety and your own well being. It’s like if you’ve ever watched a crime, a true crime show or anything on like the Discovery Channel. So many times the people will say, you know, I thought I was going to be okay, I had a gut instinct that I should have just left I should have just packed my stuff and left, or I should have extricated myself from the situation sooner than I did, but I talked myself out of it. If your own gut instincts are telling you that you’re around someone who’s toxic or you’re in a situation that’s not safe, make sure that you take the appropriate steps and you get professional help if necessary, in order to stay safe. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it. If you haven’t already, take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review for us on iTunes. Bye for now.

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