Law 2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies

48 Laws of Power

The Lessons  Law 1   Law 2   Law 3

The Judgment goes thus:

‘Be wary of friends – they will betray you more quickly, for they easily envy you. They become spoiled and tyrannical. Therefore, hire a former enemy, and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have to fear your friends more than your enemies’.

According to Diane de Poitiers, ‘To have a good enemy, you have to choose a friend; because a friend knows where to strike’. Life is a drama, which can play out to be what we want and sometimes what we don’t want. This article describes the relationship between us, our friends and enemies. We truly know that friends are closer to us, while enemies are far away. However, friends and enemies have a role to play in our lives. 

While friends are closer to us, they know our strengths and weaknesses, and therefore, whenever they choose to strike us, they can easily do it. Be wary of close friends. Enemies hardly know our strengths and weaknesses, but when they want to get us or strike us, they use our close friends. So we say, ‘keep friends close, and enemies closer’.

Top Article: How to identify Intelligent People

Louis XIV says, ‘every time I bestow a vacant office, I make a hundred discontented persons and one ingrate’. You may have a ring of friends, once you start getting closer to a particular friend among them all and you start showing him favors, then you start making your friends enemies. They start to get angry for not getting the favors from you. Even if the friend you show love isn’t careful, they can strike him. Always remember as well, friends can betray. Enemies can't betray, because they already know it is difficult to get to you, but friends can easily betray, because you expect much from them. Voltaire says, ‘Lord, protect me from my friend; I can take care of my enemies’.

Download 48 Laws of Power

A Chinese proverb compares friends to the teeth and jaws of a dangerous animal, when you are not careful, they chew you up. When you put your hand in the mouth of a lion, you definitely know it will bite you. You then assume lions are your enemies; what if your friends are the lions, you unknowingly dip your hands in their mouth, and you are gone. A Sufi proverb says, ‘pick up a bee from kindness, and learn the limitations of kindness’.

Top Articles: 

7 Logic to live a Peaceful Life

10 Things you can do with no talent

What God would do, and what Man would do

The 3 Moments of Man; Morning, Afternoon and Night

In life, learn to build bridge rather than burn bridge. You need your enemies to make you successful too. Friends will always say what you want to hear but your enemies will tell you the truth. When you save your enemy from death, he will go to any length for you. Tacitus says, ‘men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure’.

When you are in a problem, it naturally occurs to you to go to your friends and find help. You so much depend on friends, because they can help you out. However, you don’t know your friends as much as you think. When you are in a conversation with friends, they often agree so to avoid argument. Friends cover things not good about them so they don’t offend each other. Friends laugh at each other’s jokes. Since honesty doesn’t make friendship stronger, you may not exactly know how your friends feel.

Always know when to use friends and when to use skillful and competent people. That your friend is close doesn’t mean you should sacrifice some positions or opportunities to them, when they will later fail you. When you need expertise, go for experts. Learn to judge those that have the ability to further your interest in all situations. You can keep friends for friendship, but always work with skilled and competent people.

See also:

How to handle Criticism

Habits of highly successful people

7 ways to attract money into your life

3 Things that should never control you

Anytime there is an opportunity to bury an hatchet with an enemy, please do it; they can be the ones to save you later. It is not all enemies that are destructive, if you looked deeply, some enemies are better than friends. When we don’t have enemies around us, we become lazy. But when we have enemies around us, we are sharp, on the alert, and smarter. We will always be on the lookout and be very careful. 

We become steadily focused. Mao says, ‘without a worthy opponent, a man or group cannot grow stronger’. Always ensure you don’t pick a fight with who you cannot defeat. Once you pick fight with the wrong and more powerful enemies, then you have dug your own pit.

When you have enemies around you, don’t show fear. Don’t be distressed. It is better to know one’s enemies than not knowing who the enemies are. Finally, never loose your guard. Always look out for signs of emotional disturbance like ingratitude and envy. Nothing remains forever. Your closest friends can become your enemies tomorrow.

The Lessons  Law 1  Law 2    Law 3

Credit: Robert Greene

We hope you enjoyed this article; you can follow the articles on the reviews of the 48 Laws of Power as we publish. Please remember to drop a comment and as well share so others can learn.

Post a Comment


  1. Hmmm. A site blessed with timely words that heals wounded souls, and gives light to men.