With a God Like Ours, Who Needs Frenemies?

I resented him. I didn't want to. My best friend. We were life buddies — same school program, same goals, same views on everything. We were enjoying lunch, laughing about school and work, and then he said it — another moment in a string of increasingly disturbing moments: "We had dinner at his house." Who? Only the wisest and most influential professor on campus. He's going to work for him. With him! What I'm about to say will sound deranged to some, and perfectly rational to others: I was so envious. So defeated. I felt betrayed.

What did I say? With a smile: "Congratulations! Tell me about it!" My heart was, of course, wrong. It seems innocent enough, and rivalry can even be fun, but competitiveness can be toxic in a friendship.

The procedure is quite simple — a sevenfold path from love at first sight to hate at first slight.

1.Meet person. 2.Have everything in common with person. 3.Become best friends with person. 4.Wait. 5.Have too much in common with person. 6.Find an opportunity or relationship that only one of you can have. 7.Become embittered mortal frenemies — arch-rivals, nemeses.

Five Faces of Competitiveness

The distinction between best friend and rival can be semantic. Whether a relationship will be one or another rests on a hair-trigger. And the looming possibility of a flip can corrode intimacy in a split second.

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