Hailey Bieber, Selena Gomez and the theory of frenemies in psychology

The photo of Hailey Bieber and Selena Gomez hugging at the Academy Museum Gala they went around the world, sparking disparate reactions among fans of both, with a single common denominator triumphing in the comments of the two teams: the relief in seeing them close, no longer separated for years of feud, smiling and higher than the gossip that wants them too involved by Justin Biebercurrent husband of the former and former historian of the latter, in order to be, if not friends, at least no longer rivals.

Of water under the bridges, in Bieber-Baldwin-Gomez triangle, but a lot has passed. Not later than a month ago the supermodel, who married Justin Bieber in 2018 privately and in 2019 with a public and sumptuous ceremony, told Alex Cooper, podcaster of Call her Daddy, that the controversy over the alleged theft of Selena Gomez’s boyfriend when she and Justin were still a couple are not true. But the clans that side with the actress and entrepreneur (Selena will soon be on Apple TV with her documentary on her life My Mind & Me) and for the model they have fomented a diatribe that will hardly find peace. The photos, taken to put an end to the incessant gossip and published in favor of the public to kick off a new narrative about the triad, actually turned Hailey and Selena into the perfect frenemiesthat is the enemy-friends who, even if they try their best, will never be able to forget (or make people forget) what it was.

Frenemies forever: because we love to hate certain people

Cinema and seriality are full of references to frenemies which often, for script and happy ending needs, reach a new balance within the credits, often overturned with respect to the initial oppositional terms (and with narrative implications which, as they are called in jargon, are often at the center of the vein from enemies to lovers). But does it work the same in real life? Can we really find a meeting point with someone with whom we are linked by conflicting and not always positive feelings?

Psychology has explained with great accuracy the emotions and motivations that underlie a controversial relationship such as the one that is established, for convenience or for a real spirit of closeness, with a person with whom one potentially has a lot in common but with whom , on balance, we do not take ourselves in any way. According to an in-depth study by Psychology Today exist three types of enemy-friend relationship: that ambivalent, in which one oscillates between the beautiful and the ugly, there are still elements of harmony and friendship but, more often than not, one ends up punctually on both sides of the fence; that involuntaryin which the frenemy he is an acquaintance in common with a group of friends, and appearances are maintained only so as not to ruin the balance of the community; finally, the frenemy long-standing, the person par excellence we love to hate, with whom we have a history and a bond that comes from the past that we cannot question.

In the case of ambivalent relationships, experts suggest evaluating the degree of competition that is created between the parties, focusing only on the positive aspects that this constant confrontation entails: we could say that Hailey and Selena are in this spectrum, in which they have been transported by the wild narrative that the fans of both have carried out in recent years by fomenting the competition between the two.

In the case of involuntary relationships, however, the experts suggest not to feed the gossip within the group, which the frenemy he could use at will to sow discord; finally, in the third type of bond, perhaps the most difficult to eradicate by virtue of the shared emotional background, it is suggested to interrupt the (often toxic) relationship by denying the other access to their social updates and avoiding inviting them to dinners and meetings group, gradually lightening a friendship that is not so virtuous, until the final separation.

Identikit of frenemy

This type of relationship can be found anywhere, from the workplace to the family. They are often bonds that have an advantage, either in terms of balance (just think of a group of friends or relatives in which you do not want to change the emotional dynamics) or in social terms: for this reason we tend not to stray from a frenemy and, indeed, in the end we always gravitate towards it. Having an enemy-friend in the office, if this relationship does not ruin work serenity or affect individual well-being, can help boost productivity, driven by “efficient” competition.

But, at the basis of this type of friendship, in order for it not to be deleterious on an emotional and psychological level, there must be great awareness, as well as strategic ability to draw only what is good from a relationship that, without warning, can become dysfunctional. Life is not like in the movies, where a relationship born under an evil star suddenly becomes the bond of life: in this case, analyzing the dynamics of that friendship with clarity can be a good starting point to understand whether to make it last or put a stone on it forever, with no regrets.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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