Do the friends in your life fill you up and inspire you to be your best self?
Do you feel comfortable, authentic, and emotionally safe around these people?
If not, you may have some fake friends in your circle who are draining your energy and making you question what a friend really is.
We all have different types of friends in our lives.
Some of them are long-term connections who we consider our “best” friends.
Others are those who are newer or more on the periphery of our friendship circle.
But whether the friendship is long-term or a newer connection, you want to be sure the person is a quality friend.
And sometimes that’s hard to spot.
- Real Friends vs. Fake Friends
- What are the signs of a fake friend?
- 20 Clear Signs of Fake Friends
- How to deal with fake friends.
- 10 Things Fake Friends Don’t Do
- 1. They are with you in good times and bad.
- 2. They want you to succeed and be happy.
- 3. They are quick to forgive and forget.
- 4. They respect your opinions, even if they don’t share them.
- 5. They listen and show interest in you.
- 6. They make an equal effort to connect.
- 7. They love you in spite of your flaws.
- 8. They are loyal and trustworthy.
- 9. They are non-judgmental.
- 10. They are fun to be around.
- Can a fake friend become a true friend?
- How to Make Friends Who Aren’t Fake
Real Friends vs. Fake Friends
When we’re younger, we may not be as mindful or intentional about friendships.
We focus more on trying to make ourselves fit into the friendship rather than finding friends who are a good match and who have “friendship integrity.”
True friends have your back and want the best for you. They care about you despite your flaws and accept you for who you are.
They make the effort to nurture and maintain the friendship.
Fake friends aren’t genuine in their care and investment in you. They may view you as expendable and convenient when it suits them.
They are inconsistent with their loyalty and spotty in their efforts to cultivate the relationship.
Once you can spot fake friends, you can avoid some painful relationships and learn how to be a better “friend picker.”
Sometimes it’s hard to discern authentic friends from fake friends who are toxic, manipulative, or merely apathetic.
It takes some effort and self-awareness to learn how to spot a fake friend.
If you have struggled with fake friends, here are some things you need to know.
What are the signs of a fake friend?
Learning to spot a toxic friend is not only important for your emotional health. It can also improve your physical health.
Researchers at UCLA report in a landmark study that stressful friendships for women lead to significantly high levels of a protein that causes inflammation in the body.
A friend who is fake initially might be caring and attentive, only to show their true colors once you are engaged in the friendship.
If you are highly sensitive or a people pleaser, you might be vulnerable to the kind of friend who takes advantage of you or manipulates you.
You might confuse their passive-aggressive behaviors as signs that you need to step up and give more.
20 Clear Signs of Fake Friends
1. They tend to disappear when you need their friendship most.
2. They frequently gossip about other friends to you (so they likely gossip about you as well).
3. They try to make you feel guilty or use passive-aggressive behaviors when things don’t go their way.
4. They have a hard time being happy for your successes and achievements.
5. They are disinterested in getting to know you on a deeper level.
6. They put you down for your opinions or beliefs.
7. They judge your flaws and mistakes harshly.
8. They rarely initiate get-togethers or calls to connect.
9. They always turn the conversation back to themselves.
10. They never stand up for you in front of others.
11. They frequently break promises or “forget” commitments.
12. They have a heightened sense of self-importance and entitlement.
13. They use back-handed compliments to confuse and wound you.
14. They say things to embarrass or shame you in front of others.
15. They call you only when it appears they have nothing better to do.
16. They are quick to take offense or get angry with you.
17. They hold your past mistakes over you and won’t let them go.
18. They infect you and everyone else with their bad mood or ill temper.
19. They forget the important things going on in your life.
20. They can easily drop you as a friend when it suits them.
How to deal with fake friends.
Any friendship that consistently shows these negative signs will be emotionally draining for you.
If the fake friend will not listen to your concerns and is defensive when you talk about your needs and boundaries, it is time to let go.
Life is too short to hang onto a fake friendship that can turn into a toxic relationship.
Here are some actions you can take to deal with a fake friend:
Like any good relationship, a solid friendship requires effort and commitment from both people. You deserve the kind of friend you want to be to others.
Sometimes it’s hard to know if a friend is sincere and trustworthy. It’s helpful to know some of the qualities you’ll see in a good friend that you won’t see in a fake one.
10 Things Fake Friends Don’t Do
Look at this list of behaviors you won’t see in a friend who isn’t really a friend:
1. They are with you in good times and bad.
It’s easy to be a friend when things are going well and life is easy.
But it’s during the times when life is hard and things aren’t going so well for you that you really need a friend.
A true friend doesn’t disappear when the going gets rough.
When you are suffering through a divorce or break-up, struggling financially, or dealing with a health challenge, a good friend will be right by your side, offering a listening ear and loving support.
2. They want you to succeed and be happy.
Have you ever had a friend who seems jealous or dismissive of your success or happiness?
Maybe you’ve found a new romantic partner, and you’re wildly happy. But your friend doesn’t share your enthusiasm and finds a way to make passive remarks that are critical and hurtful.
Or you’ve had a recent promotion at work, but your friend diminishes your achievements by ignoring them or putting you down for bragging.
A true friend is authentically happy when you are happy and successful. He or she celebrates with you and is proud of you.
If there is a twinge of jealousy or envy about your good fortune, a good friend makes an effort to keep those feelings from spoiling your joy.
3. They are quick to forgive and forget.
Occasionally we will all say or do things with our friends that can be thoughtless or hurtful.
Maybe we forget to call as promised or make a remark that is less than kind.
Some friends can’t seem to let these things go, even after a sincere apology is offered.
They frequently bring up the offense and use it as a weapon to hurt you or make you feel bad.
Maybe they try to use it as leverage to gain the “upper hand” in the friendship and manipulate you.
A true friend is quick to accept your apology and willing to move on without dousing you with guilt or shaming.
A friend wants to heal the connection, especially when you have apologized sincerely.
4. They respect your opinions, even if they don’t share them.
In the past year, I’ve observed how the political climate has torn apart the friendships of some people around me.
One or both people are so entrenched in their beliefs that they can no longer talk civilly with each other.
You may have had friends yourself who want to impose their beliefs or opinions on you.
If you don’t agree with them, they get angry, frustrated, or critical.
A true friend is able to rise above a difference of opinion in order to preserve the friendship.
They are willing to listen and respond respectfully without making personal judgments or attacks.
5. They listen and show interest in you.
Some friends seem oblivious to your moods or state of mind. If you talk about something that’s bothering you, they deflect the conversation to themselves or something unrelated.
They seem too distracted, disinterested, or self-involved to take the time to listen empathically and really understand you.
A loyal friend wants to go beyond superficial conversation and meaningless chit-chat.
They invest the time to listen attentively and become more engaged in your inner life.
They care about who you are and want to know you on a deeper level.
6. They make an equal effort to connect.
Are you often the one in a friendship who is always initiating?
You always make the call to plan a dinner or outing.
You make yourself available to your friend, but your friend doesn’t prioritize you the same way.
This uneven balance of effort in the friendship is draining and frustrating. Over time, it makes you feel disrespected and unloved by your friend.
A friend who cares invests equal time and energy into maintaining the relationship. He or she initiates plans, reaches out to talk, and shows a similar willingness to prioritize the friendship.
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7. They love you in spite of your flaws.
We all have our little quirks and flaws. Maybe we talk too much, laugh too loudly, or sing off-key.
Some friends latch on to these flaws and try to embarrass or shame us about them. Or they seem irritated or embarrassed, believing our quirks reflect poorly on them.
A friend who truly cares about you can overlook these flaws, knowing that they don’t represent the entirety of who you are. They love and care for the real you and can accept that we all come with baggage and blemishes.
8. They are loyal and trustworthy.
There’s nothing worse than a friend who breaks your trust.
They gossip about you, sharing your personal information or confidences when you’ve asked them not to.
They don’t stand up for you in front of others, or they fail to follow through on promises or commitments.
A friendship must be grounded in trust and loyalty.
You need to have faith that your friend will never betray your trust, talk behind your back, or diminish you in front of others.
9. They are non-judgmental.
We’ve all done stupid things or made poor decisions in life, and the last thing we need during these times are friends who say, “I told you so,” or who remind us how stupid we’ve been.
A caring friend has a way of helping us through these times without shame or judgment.
They will give us a hug, help us get back on solid footing, and laugh with us about it when it’s all over.
They know our true essence and have faith in us that we will get back on track and do better next time.
10. They are fun to be around.
Have you had those friends who are draining to be around?
They complain frequently, never seem excited about anything, and always seem to spoil the good mood of everyone around them.
Some people aren’t happy until they infect everyone else with their sour mood or unpleasant attitude. They enjoy stirring the pot and creating conflict.
A friend lifts you up and wants to enjoy life with you.
This friend generally has a positive attitude, is quick to laugh, and makes you feel good just to be around him or her.
Can a fake friend become a true friend?
Often these fake friends are selfish, immature, or unenlightened people who haven’t learned emotional intelligence and don’t understand what it takes to be a good friend.
Sometimes people grow and become more self-aware with age and maturity, and you may find a fake friend can evolve into a true friend over time.
In the meantime, it’s important that you protect your emotional well-being by creating boundaries around these friendships or by stepping away from them completely.
If you find your friend is causing too much unhappiness and draining your emotional energy, then you may need to take a break and seek out other people who are more like-minded and willing to invest in a solid friendship.
How to Make Friends Who Aren’t Fake
The best way to prevent yourself from falling into the fake friend trap is by being more mindful about who you develop friendships with moving forward.
A little preemptive effort and awareness can help you avoid the heartache and frustration of a toxic friendship. Here are some ideas to help you:
1. Define what a true friend means to you.
You’ve read through the qualities of friendship outlined above. But do you have any other qualities that you feel are essential for a true, blue friend?
Take a few minutes to write down all of the qualities you want in a friend — and those that are unacceptable in a potential friend.
2. Pay attention and ask good questions.
When you meet someone who could be a potential friend, pay attention to how this person talks about his or her other friends.
Does this person gossip and share private information about someone whom they consider a friend?
Are they quick to judge others during your conversation?
Do they seem more interested in talking about themselves than in learning about you?
Without giving a new friend the third degree, ask questions that will reveal more about this person, like:
3. Go to places where you’ll meet like-minded friends.
You can’t stay at home and expect new friends to show up at your doorstep. You have to go find them.
Where do you think the people who are friendship material are most likely to hang out? Some ideas include:
4. Initiate an outing.
If you meet someone who seems promising as a potential friend, invite this person out for coffee or lunch or to take a walk.
Do something together where you’ll be forced to talk and get to know each other.
This new person may have many friends already, and he or she may not be as motivated to initiate, but don’t let that put you off.
Most of us who are interested in healthy friendships are happy to broaden our circles with someone new who is also authentic and seeking a mutually supportive friendship.
5. Don’t give up.
It’s easy to develop “friendly acquaintances” and even friendships that are more superficial or just for fun outings.
But finding and developing true friends can take time.
Don’t give up if you don’t find that special and unique friendship right away.
Keep looking and refining what you are looking for. And try to enjoy meeting new and different people along the way.
Before long, you will encounter that exceptional person who is waiting for a friend like you!
Can you spot fake friends and recognize authentic ones ?
Now that you can better distinguish your true friends from the two-faced ones, what will you do about it?
And how will you protect yourself and others from the toxic influence of fake friends in your life?
By now, you’re no doubt tired of fake friends and need some time to recover from the damage they’ve done.
No one can blame you for that. Fake friends take more than they give.
So, allow yourself to receive the blessings your true friends bring. And make sure they know how much you treasure them.
Be the true friend you know they need, too.
May your courage and compassion guide you as you sort out your relationships, acknowledge the pain caused by fake friends, and forgive them for it.
Only then can you move on and fully benefit from the true friends who remain.