How To Coexist With Someone In Your Friend Group Who You Just Don't Get Along With

A solid friend group can lay the foundation for a fun, supportive social life. They might be the people you've known since grade school, the squad you call up for girls' nights out, or the super tight circle you always run to when you need advice. However, you might not always like everyone in your circle.

It happens to almost all of us at some point: Mixed in with your group of friends is a frenemy you just don't get along with. "It's a friend who drives you nuts," Karen Fingerman, a psychologist at Purdue University, explained to Scientific American. "You love them, you don't want to lose them, but they're really a pain." Keeping a frenemy around can be exhausting, but if they're built into your friend group, you may feel like you have no other option but to suck it up and put on a fake smile when they're around. This strategy may not be so great for your health, though. A 2012 study published in Health Psychology found that having negative and ambivalent social ties is associated with markers of poor heart health. So, besides getting under your skin, your frenemy is literally breaking your heart.

Clearly, frenemies must be dealt with, but how can you do so without stirring up drama in your friend group? Follow these tips to coexist in peace.

Identify the real problem

You probably already realize that you won't like everyone in life, nor will everyone you meet like you. But when it comes to a member of your friend group, it can help to dig a little deeper and get to know the real reason for your animosity. On the surface, you may think they're just annoying or self-centered, for example. However, is there another feeling at play, such as jealousy or insecurity? Questioning why their actions or traits rub you the wrong way can help you understand your feelings better.

Also, consider if you may dislike them because they remind you of someone else. It could be that their tendency to interrupt during conversations reminds you of the power dynamic between you and a sibling growing up. Or, perhaps their people-pleaser qualities remind you of your own struggles with being a pushover. According to The Law of Mirroring, people often notice characteristics in others that they don't like in themselves. It's possible that your feelings toward your frenemy actually relate to a part of yourself you've rejected.

Finally, notice how many of your thoughts about this person contain the word "should." Thinking in terms of what people "should" do can lead to anger and resentment, says GoodTherapy. Remind yourself that not everyone lives by the same expectations and rules that you do.

Spot your assumptions

It's a common defense mechanism: Someone doesn't like you, so, naturally, you decide you don't like them either. But what if the other person doesn't actually view you negatively? If you believe the bad blood is mutual between you and another person in your circle, take a step back and assess the facts. If they've directly told you they're not really crazy about you, then it's likely true that they're not your biggest fan. But without this confirmation, your belief might just be an empty assumption.

According to a 2018 study published in Psychological Science, people tend to think that others don't like them as much as they really do. Researchers call this the "liking gap," and it could explain why you assume your frenemy hates you. It's possible that their way of behaving in social settings comes off as rude or even hostile to you, yet they actually mean no ill will. This doesn't give them a pass, especially if their actions are truly disrespectful, but it can help you realize if the conflict was one-sided all along.

Focus on improving yourself

When someone gets under your skin, it can be hard to be the bigger person. You may be tempted to passive-aggressively roll your eyes when your frenemy is around, or you might retaliate with snide remarks. This is especially common when your group is gathered together and toxicity and competitiveness can run rampant. "People in a toxic group are more likely to act in toxic ways, even if that is not consistent with how they would act on their own," Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, author of "Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love," revealed to Health. "In a sense, there is greater toxicity in the group."

Instead of stooping to your frenemy's level, commit to showing up as your best self, no matter how they're behaving. Keep conversations positive, or at least neutral, and disengage if interactions become heated. And remember, you're in your friend group for a reason. Focus on the fun you have together without giving the energy vampire too much attention.

Don't try to break up the group

If your squad means the world to you and they get along with your frenemy just fine, you might have to accept them as a part of the group. Attempts to kick your rival out or turn your friends against them may not end well. In fact, gossiping about your frenemy may even result in you getting booted from the friend squad. As Danielle Jackson, a friendship coach, told Well+Good, complaining about a mutual friend behind their back can make you seem like the drama starter, even if your intention was to draw attention to the other person's bad behavior.

Instead of trying to make your besties pick sides, look at the members of your friend group as one team. There's a good chance your frenemy brings something to the table that benefits your group as a whole, like their unparalleled sense of humor or ability to win over even the toughest club bouncers. Try looking at your frenemy the way your other friends do, and you might just see their good side after all.

Another strategy to try if you feel comfortable enough: communicating with your frenemy directly. Activism organization DoSomething (which works to fight bullying, among other social issues) suggests confronting your frenemy calmly, sticking to only one issue at a time, and using "I" statements to express your feelings.

Know when it's time to distance yourself

There's a fine line between friction and abuse in a friendship. Dr. Fran Walfish, a family and relationship psychotherapist, shared some of the signs of an abusive person with Healthline, including dishonesty, defensiveness, harsh criticism, and a lack of respect for your personal boundaries. If you've realized you're in an unhealthy friendship, it's time to step away, no matter what the rest of your friend group thinks.

"When one friend is toxic, it can influence you, but you also have the ability to take some time away and interact with other friends," Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo told Health. Nurture another social circle in your life or hang out with friends one on one so you don't have to interact with your frenemy.

After leaving a toxic relationship, psychologist Marianne Vicelich suggests choosing who you socialize with carefully going forward. She told Stylist, "Surround yourself with people who will have a bright, positive presence in your life. People that support, care and encourage what is best for you." Even if that means you might have to sacrifice some old friendships, the peace of mind you'll gain will be well worth it.