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If any of these statements sound like something one of your "friends" would say, watch out.

Frenemies like this aren't just bad for your mental health; according to new research, they can hurt your cardiovascular health too.

Researchers found that just seeing an "ambivalent friend" - defined as someone who upsets you as much as they make you feel good - can raise your heart rate. Talking to an ambivalent pal about a negative event sent the study participants' blood pressure soaring.

Hanging out with friends who make you feel bad could chip away at your health over the long term, warns lead researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad, an assistant psychology professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

"We do have reason to believe these relationships could be detrimental," Dr. Holt-Lunstad said in an interview yesterday, the day after her study was published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Her research argues for limiting contact with frenemies: "If this is something that is happening constantly, several times a day, every day, there's much more reason to be concerned."

The health warning comes as no surprise to Angie Waller, a New York artist who founded myfrienemies.com after deciding that social networking websites such as Myspace and Friendster didn't quite capture the ambiguity of many of her friendships. About 300 people have registered to post tales of their frenemies and to connect with people who share similar dislikes.

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"I'm a very big wimp about cutting ties with people," Ms. Waller says. "I'm sure I've done some cardiovascular damage."

She says she mostly hears stories about needy frenemies, the type who play off their friends' guilt or loyalty in order to sponge off them endlessly. She started the site in hopes of helping people cleanse themselves of such toxic relationships, but she understands why people continue to tolerate them.

"The loss of a friend is still more daunting to people than having a wishy-washy friend," Ms. Waller says.

There's a difference between frenemies and people we just plain don't like, Dr. Holt-Lunstad notes. The latter are easy to ignore; the former have positive qualities that draw us to them even though they make us feel bad sometimes.

Dr. Holt-Lunstad's research runs counter to much of the existing medical literature on the benefits of social connections: More friends equal longer lifespans, less depression, better sleep and less anxiety.

That may be true, Dr. Holt-Lunstad argues, but not all friends are created equal. Her previous research has shown that having mixed feelings about the person you're talking to raises blood pressure even more than talking to people who make you feel downright hostile.

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And she's found that about half the average person's social network consists of ambivalent friends.

One surprise to the study published this week was that it found no difference in the way men and women react. Both experience elevated heart rate and blood pressure when they chat with their ambivalent friends.

The notion of cat-fighting women may have more traction in popular culture, but it seems men get stressed out by frenemies just the same.

"I look every time" for a gender difference, Dr. Holt-Lunstad says. "I keep expecting there to be one, but there's not."

Dr. Holt-Lunstad says she plans to continue her research on social relationships and heart health. Her next project: figuring out why it's so hard for people to dump frenemies.

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