Humans are very much like wolves. You want to know about human behavior? Watch a TV show about wolves, and you'll learn everything you need to know.
We're social, pack animals who create hierarchies without intending to do so. And in any hierarchical society, there are those who seek to improve their status by undercutting others. Some are open about it, while others are sneaky.
And thus, we have the frenemy.
Most often found in work environments, the frenemy is just what s/he sounds like--an enemy disguised as a friend--think Littlefinger in Game of Thrones. The term was popularized by Sex and the City, but was used as early as the 1950s by, of all people, Walter Winchell, who used it in regard to the Russians.
Whenever I hear someone who is not my family member say, "We're family," I know I'm going to get screwed.
Case in point: in 2009 I worked as a grant writer for an outfit in downtown Sacramento that was in the business of ripping off taxpayers. We were family (of course) according to the ripoff artist who ran the show.
What this business did was apply for and get state contracts for projects that were, for whatever reason, farmed out to unrelated business entities instead of being handled in-house by government workers. I never was able to find out how or why this took place. The state of California employs about 2.5 million people, and you'd think that among that large number, there would be someone who could do whatever it is or was that needed to be done.
This company specialized in project management and computer software system design for various parts of this vast, sprawling monster. As such, it was easy for them to claim that work had been done while actually very little or nothing had taken place.
Here's an example: there's something called a "deliverable" that can be something--or nothing at all. I regret that I didn't keep any--this was a few years ago--but I saw deliverables that were no more than a one vaguely worded paragraph about how someone had written a few lines of software or visited a job site.
I didn't get paid much, and even though I held down two other jobs--one as a Starbucks barista and another as a freelance writer--I couldn't make ends meet. So I left to go overseas to teach English, a gig I'd still be doing if I didn't need to live in SacTown for family reasons.
I left the job owed over $3K but didn't worry about it. We were family, right?
I had to sue those Bozos in Small Claims Court just before I left the country. I won, of course, but had to enforce the judgment from overseas. FROM CHINA, where I was teaching English to toddlers in a backwater called Luoyang. Though about five million people live there, it's primitive by American standards. I had to travel to Shanghai to visit the US Embassy to get papers notarized to enforce the judgment and get my money--including interest, of course. I was angry enough that I wasn't going to let a single penny slip through my grasp. I actually had to put a lien on the asshat's house--the guy who told me I was "family." Ha.
No one but family is family.
I'm not so suspicious that I believe that frenemies are lurking everywhere, but... I have experienced so many betrayals that, deep down, the only person I really trust is the person I see in the mirror when I brush my hair.
And I'm not so sure about her.
We're often our biggest detractors especially women. Brutal self-examination is taught to us from an early age. We undercut ourselves in ways we don't even see because negative self-talk and programming is instilled from Day One. We're compared, often unfavorably, with our siblings, and when we get to school, it's even worse. Instead of being appreciated for whatever our gifts might be, we're taught that we're not so hot.
As we become adults, it's clear that we'll never be thin enough, blonde enough, sexy enough.
The entire world has become our frenemy, our detractor.