Frenemy, or the plural frenemies, combines Friend and Enemy thus making it both a Portmanteau and an oxymoron or "contradiction in terms."
The earliest printed use of the term was from gossip columnist Walter Winchell in the Nevada State Journal article "Howz about calling the Russians our Frienemies?"
In 2000 Sex and the City Season 3, Episode 16 was titled Frenemies. Ironically, the actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall are rumored to be frenemies themselves.
Frenemy is a tricky term because it is a specific type of rival. There are feuds and people who despise one another but frenemies are not quite full on enemies and they are not friends. Often they are close at one point and feuding at another.
Dr Paul Dobransky has an interesting take in the Psychology Today article "How to Spot Friends, Enemies, Frenemies and Bullies." Link to the article is in the show notes.
He describes how to identify and react to the four types of relationships in social media:
Friends are both constructive critics with the competence, concern and knowledge and experience to comment on you, as well as being a clear advocate. "Friend" them.
Enemies are both destructive critics (or incompetent ones) as well as being non-advocates. "Unfriend" or delete them without noticing any harm done really.
Bullies are enemies who have already gotten "under your skin" - your boundary - and even as you delete them you feel the pain inflicted emotionally. It may last awhile. Never, ever accept a reapplication for "Friending" or go anywhere near them in person if possible.
Frenemies can lead to any of the other three, and that is why they are to be given the most attention. You might not want to Unfriend them just yet, because they may sometime soon prove a great new person to know, but if things start to turn south, be hot on the delete button.
A great example of a frenemy relationship could be found with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They worked together at the start with Microsoft building software to run on Apple computers. Then Microsoft released Windows and Steve Jobs accused Bill Gates of theft. Bill Gates famously responded "Well, Steve, I think there's more than one way of looking at it. I think it's more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it." Ultimately Jobs was forced out of Apple and spent some years in the wilderness so to speak. He founded Next, which never became very large but also bought Pixar which ultimately did.
Then in a strange turn of events, Apple was in dire straights and bought Next to get a new operating system bringing Jobs back to the company. Steve Jobs managed to work his way into becoming the "interim CEO", iCEO - another portmanteau - and picked up a 150 million dollar investment as well as the commitment from Microsoft that they would continue making Office for the Macintosh. With the investment and commitment Microsoft and Gates have been credited by many with saving the company.
This early history was covered in the great made-for-television movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley."
Over the next decade and change, fate saw things reverse with Jobs bringing Apple from the brink to creating smash hit product after product to ultimately becoming the largest company in the world by marketshare. During this same Microsoft suffered from an anti-trust lawsuit from 1998-2002 and Gates retired from Microsoft to focus on philanthropy. Their relationship warmed up and at the end, Gates visited with Jobs from time to time until his death.
The most interesting thing about some frenemies is that they often are a reflection of one another and without each other may not have become the legends in time.