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10 Signs of a Fake Friend: How to Spot One From a Mile Away

It’s important to be able to identify signs of a fake friend to protect yourself from potential emotional harm. In this article, we will delve into key indicators that can help you recognize when someone might not be a genuine friend. Genuine friendship stands as one of the most precious and pure relationships in the world. Often, the bonds we share with those not related by blood but dear to our hearts are the ones we call friends. Heartwarming tales of true friendship saving people from peril are woven into the fabric of our collective consciousness. Conversely, tragic stories have been told of kingdoms crumbling under the weight of deceitful companions.

Meeting someone and feeling an instant connection can lead to friendship. Yet, discerning someone’s true intentions can be a challenging task, particularly when trustworthy individuals don’t always surround us. Hence, the timeless question arises: how do we distinguish between genuine friends and those who are not?

What Constitutes a Fake Friend?

A fake friend can make you feel exhausted because they can’t be real, care about what you want, or show respect. In a good friendship, both people feel positive about each other and admire each other. But when you’re dealing with fake or harmful friends, this positive feeling is missing. Being around them might make you feel like you have to act a certain way to avoid being criticized. When it’s clear that they don’t care about your well-being anymore, it might be a good idea to think about ending the friendship.

What Contributes to Someone Becoming a Fake Friend?

Several factors can lead someone to act like a fake friend:

  1. Self-centeredness: People who are very focused on themselves and their own needs might use others to get what they want without caring about others. Dr. Daramus mentions that some people grow up thinking mostly about themselves.
  2. Insecurity: People with low self-esteem or feelings of not being good enough might engage in fake friendships to make themselves feel better. They seek attention and approval from others to ease their self-doubts.
  3. Narcissism: Individuals with narcissistic traits can easily become fake friends, as noted by Dr. Daramus. Narcissists often think very highly of themselves, lack empathy for others, and use people for their own benefit.
  4. Psychopathy: People showing psychopathic traits might also act like fake friends, as Dr. Daramus points out. Psychopathy means having no empathy, being manipulative, and not caring about others’ rights and feelings.
  5. Childhood Trauma: Difficult experiences during childhood can have a big impact. Dr. Daramus suggests that someone who went through a tough upbringing may still be in a survival-focused mindset.

No matter why someone acts this way, it’s important to understand that it’s not your responsibility to let yourself be used.

Various Categories of Fake Friends

Here are different types of fake friends:

  1. Fair-Weather Friend: They’re around in good times but disappear when you need help.
  2. Opportunist: Always looking to benefit from the friendship. They’re there when they want something but gone when you need support.
  3. Flatterer: They give you compliments, but their intentions are not genuine. They use flattery to get you to do what they want.
  4. Competitor: They see your success as a threat to their self-esteem. They downplay your achievements, undermine your efforts, or try to outshine you to feel superior.
  5. Gossip: They thrive on drama and rumors, spreading lies or personal information about you, which can harm your reputation and relationships.
  6. User: They take advantage of your kindness and generosity, using your resources, like money or favors, without showing real gratitude or returning the favor.
  7. Validation Seeker: They crave your attention and praise to boost their self-esteem, with little concern for your well-being.
  8. Energy Vampire: They drain your energy, leaving you physically and emotionally exhausted.
  9. Drama Magnet: They love chaos and conflict, either causing unnecessary drama in your life or involving you in their issues for their own entertainment.
  10. Manipulator: They use guilt and manipulation to control you and achieve their goals.
  11. Gaslighter: They lie, deny, and confuse, making you question your own reality.

How to Identify a Fake Friend: 10 Indications

Signs of a fake friendship can differ depending on the situation, but when you take a closer look, you’ll see common patterns, traits, and qualities. Often, your “friend” doesn’t show commitment and is mainly concerned about their own feelings, not yours. This kind of relationship often feels like it’s all about them and can be painful. Here are 15 signs of a fake friend:

  1. Recognizing the Fair-Weather Friend

They’re what you’d call a fair-weather friend. Do they tend to appear when there’s a benefit for them, but disappear when you genuinely need their assistance? For example, they might come to a party you’re throwing, especially if it’s a chance for them to network. But when you’re facing a tough situation, they’re noticeably not around. According to Leeds, this behavior is a strong sign of a fake friend.

  1. They’re Absent When You Need Them

Similarly, Nuñez proposes that if a friend is regularly missing when you’re going through difficult times, they’re probably fake friends. It appears that being there for you and offering emotional help doesn’t match their self-interest. Furthermore, any help they do provide in such situations often comes across as shallow and insincere.

  1. Always in Need of Something from You

Fake friends usually only contact you or want to be with you when they need something, as Leeds explained. They might send you a sudden message asking how you’re doing, but then the next day, they reveal that they’ve applied for a job where you work and want you to support them.

  1. The Competitive Streak

Both Leeds and Nuñez point out that fake friends can be overly competitive, often because they’re jealous. They often try to do better than you in conversations, whether you’re talking one-on-one or in a group. They’re always trying to make themselves look superior.

  1. Eroding Your Self-Esteem

A fake friend won’t make you feel better like a real friend can. Leeds says that when you’re with such a person, you might feel insecure, used, or like they’re judging you. Sometimes, you don’t even need them to say it – you can just feel it from their critical looks and disapproval.

  1. They Fail to Share in Your Joy

Fake friends don’t only stay away from sharing your joy when you succeed or achieve something. According to Nuñez, they might even downplay your accomplishments. They can turn your celebrations into a way to make fun of you or belittle you, saying things like, “That’s not a big deal. Anyone could do that.”

  1. They Sap Your Vitality

Be mindful of how you feel when you’re with them and after you’ve spent time together. Do you feel tired or worn out? Leeds says that being with a fake friend is likely to be emotionally exhausting or too much about their own wants. These are clear signs that you need to make some big changes if you want the friendship to continue. (Also, see: people who drain your energy.)

  1. They Engage in Backbiting

This might be harder to spot, depending on how secretive this person is about talking behind your back. But if you hear that a so-called friend is spreading rumors, lies, or talking badly about you, Nuñez says that this person doesn’t qualify as a real friend.

  1. They Maintain a Negative Outlook

Saying mean things about you doesn’t always happen in secret. Some people may make hurtful comments to your face without feeling sorry about it. Nuñez says that if they keep having a negative view of you and can’t say anything nice, you should be concerned. True friends should really like each other and show it.

  1. They exhibit a lack of respect.

Fake friends don’t really care about your well-being. They might be mean to you by not respecting your personal space and limits. Whether they’re just being impolite or completely ignoring your needs, it shows they’re not really concerned about your happiness and health.

Managing Fake Friends: Effective Strategies

Identifying a fake friend can be hard, but here are some simple steps to help you deal with them:

  1. Trust Your Gut: Listen to your feelings. If you have a hunch that something’s not right in the friendship, don’t ignore it.
  2. Share Your Needs: Talk to them about what you need from the friendship. Give them a chance to show they’re committed by both what they say and do.
  3. Address Concerns: If they keep letting you down, talk to them about the things that bother you. Be ready for them to get defensive or deny it.
  4. Set Boundaries: Be clear about what you’re comfortable with in this friendship. Don’t give them help or things unless things change.
  5. Keep Your Distance: If they keep disrespecting you, it’s okay to distance yourself from them. Your happiness and well-being come first.
  6. Get Support: Share your feelings with trusted friends or family. If it’s tough to handle, consider talking to a mental health professional.
  7. Take Care of Yourself: Do things that make you feel good. Focus on things that boost your self-esteem and overall happiness.
  8. Build Real Relationships: Spend time with friends who truly care about you and are always there to support you.

Dealing with insincere friends can be tough on your emotions, but it’s essential to take care of the relationships that truly make you happy. Hang out with friends who genuinely care about you, understand your limits, and always lend a helping hand. These real friendships give you the emotional strength and steadiness you need.

How to Cultivate Authentic Friendships

Here are some strategies to help you foster genuine friendships:

  1. Be Yourself: Authentic friendships thrive on real connections. Embrace your true self and allow others to get to know the genuine you.
  2. Seek Similar Values: Connect with individuals who share your fundamental values and beliefs. This common ground forms a robust foundation for friendship.
  3. Patience Matters: Dr. Daramus suggests that it’s wise to allow friendships to develop gradually. Avoid rushing the process and let the relationship grow organically. Over time, patterns of behavior typically become evident.
  4. Reciprocity Is Key: Authentic friendships are characterized by a balanced give-and-take. Ensure that you’re not the sole contributor to the relationship; it should be mutually beneficial.
  5. Quality Over Quantity: Concentrate on nurturing a select few meaningful friendships founded on trust and mutual support. It’s more rewarding than accumulating a multitude of acquaintances.

Keep an eye out for indicators like excessive flattery, gossiping, manipulation, or a consistent tendency to take advantage of your kindness. These could be red flags in a potential friendship.


Recognizing the signs of a fake friend is essential for maintaining healthy and authentic relationships. By paying attention to these key indicators, you can protect yourself from potentially harmful friendships and focus your energy on those who truly care about your well-being. Remember, genuine friendships are built on trust, respect, and mutual support, and it’s worth investing your time and effort in them.

Figuring out and dealing with untrue friends is a vital part of keeping your relationships healthy and happy. Even though it might be tough to face the fact that you have insincere friends in your life, knowing the signs of a fake friend and taking proactive steps to handle them is an important part of taking care of yourself and your emotions. By listening to your gut feelings, expressing your needs, setting boundaries, getting help from others, and taking care of yourself, you can handle the difficulties caused by untrue friends and build a group of real, supportive, and nurturing friendships that make your life better. Always remember that you deserve relationships that are based on trust, respect, and mutual support, and you have the ability to create such connections.

FAQs related to Signs of a Fake Friend

Q1. What are some key signs of a fake friend?

Answer. Signs of a fake friend can include only showing up when they need something, being unsupportive during difficult times, or constantly putting you down to make themselves feel superior.

Q2. How can I deal with a fake friend once I’ve identified them?

Answer. It’s important to communicate your feelings and concerns with the friend if you believe they are fake. If they are unwilling to change or improve the friendship, it may be best to gradually distance yourself from them.

Q3. Is it possible for a fake friend to change and become a true friend?

Answer. It’s possible, but it often depends on the individual’s willingness to change their behavior and prioritize a genuine friendship. However, don’t be too optimistic, as not all fake friends are willing or capable of making this transformation.

Q4. Are there any positive lessons to learn from dealing with a fake friend?

Answer. Yes, encountering a fake friend can teach you valuable lessons about the importance of setting boundaries, recognizing your self-worth, and choosing friends who genuinely support and care for you. It can help you appreciate and nurture the real friendships in your life.

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