Frenemy is a term that is often used to refer to a business colleague that one maintains a friendly relationship with, but who is in fact an opponent. Within a business setting, a frenemy may be a coworker who has a desire to secure your job by discrediting you, while presenting a friendly front at the same time. At the same time, an individual may become a frenemy as a means of keeping tabs on someone he or she thinks is out to get them. By creating an environment where there is easy access to the other party, it is possible to monitor activity more closely, and possibly defuse a negative situation.
The concept of the frenemy has been around for a long time. It is not difficult to find examples in literature of two people who genuinely like one another on one level, but are mortal enemies on another level. The source of the conflict may be love, lust, power, greed, or any other underlying motive that creates a situation where the two parties like each other and at the same time can’t stand one another.
Frenemies can exist among social groups as well as in the workplace. For example, two neighbors may participate in community activities and appear on the surface to get along very well. At the same time, there is competition between the two that may bubble to the surface for any reason at all. Perhaps both wish to be thought of as possessing the most attractive lawn on the street, or wish to be thought of as the most helpful neighbor. The competition may become so intense that the two neighbors begin to look for small ways to discredit one another in the eyes of the rest of the neighborhood, but without using overt antagonism to accomplish the purpose.
The process of frenemy may also function in reverse. That is, two parties may choose to present a public appearance of being opponents, while in fact enjoying a friendly relationship in private. Secret lovers may in fact be frenemies in this manner, or two individuals who are competitors in the business world may actually be weekend buddies.
This unusual mix of friend and enemy can sometimes bewilder outsiders who observe the activity. However, there is usually some reasoning behind the phenomenon that is not readily apparent to other people. As an example of the eclectic nature of human interaction, the idea of the frenemy remains a subject open for a great deal of discussion and conjecture.