10 Signs Of Real Friends And How To Identify Fake Friends
I deeply value the small circle of women in my life who are my closest friends, and I make a concerted effort to be a good friend to them.
Developing this amazing circle and becoming the kind of friend myself that I would like to have in others has taken a lot of time and energy.
It has taken years to realize exactly what I need in a friendship, how I want to relate to my friends, and how I want to feel when I'm around them.
In the past, I was not as mindful or intentional about my friendships. I focused more on trying to make myself fit into the friendship rather than finding friends who were a good match for me. I spent more effort than was reasonable trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
I sure wish I'd had more insight into myself and my friendship needs earlier in life. Maybe I would have avoided some painful experiences. Age and emotional maturity have helped me learn how to be a better friend and a better “friend picker.”
Even so, I've learned so much from all of my friendships, including those that were difficult or ended badly. I'm grateful for all of them because they have enhanced my life and taught me valuable lessons.
Sometimes it's hard to discern a real friend from a fake friend who is toxic, manipulative, or merely apathetic. It takes some time and life experience with a friend to learn whether or not they share your same friendship values.
If you have struggled with fake friends, here are some things you need to know.
Let's start by looking at ten qualities you will find in a real 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 real 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 real 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 real friend makes an effort to keep those feelings from spoiling your joy.
3. They are quick to forgive and forget.
We all say or do things with our friends from time to time 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 real friend is quick to accept your apology and willing to move on without dousing you with guilt or shaming. A real 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.
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A real 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 real friend 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.
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 real 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 real 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 real 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.
What are the signs of a fake friend?
Sometimes it's hard to know if a new friend is real or fake.
This person 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.
Here are 20 behaviors of a fake friend that you need to be aware of:
1. They tend to disappear when you need them 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.
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 real friendship.
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 the signs of fake friends vs. real friends.