What makes a good friend?
Some would say it’s compatible personalities, while others would argue it’s a good sense of humor, and more still would point to a shared personal history. Some people feel that compassion and loyalty are the most important qualities of a true friend, while some prioritize honesty and dependability.
Whatever your idea of a good friend maybe, many of us can agree on what a good friend is most certainly not.
A bad friend is unreliable. A bad friend is unfair. A bad friend is fake. A bad friend is selfish and only cares about themselves. They’re inconsiderate of your feelings, envious of what you have, and opportunistic of your friendship. And while most of the time we don’t need any help figuring out who we can and cannot trust, sometimes we let our emotions cloud our judgment and fall in with the wrong crowd.
Have you stumbled upon someone who’s been a bad friend to you? Are you starting to wonder if their friendship is as true and genuine as you once thought? Here are 10 early signs to help you spot a fake friend:
1. They Exclude You From Things
Your friend makes plans to hang out with everyone but you and they never invite you to parties or get-togethers even when you have plenty of mutual friends. You feel left out and unwanted, but it’s still the early stages of your friendship so you don’t confront them about it. You’re afraid to be seen as clingy or bossy, and you don’t want to make a big deal out of nothing. But it’s not nothing, because when your so-called friend keeps excluding you from things, it means that they don’t really want you around.
2. They Bail On You A Lot
True friendship is about being there for each other when you need it the most, but your supposed friends never are. Flaky and inconsistent, they cancel on you at the last minute and forget about all the plans you’ve made. They disappear when they find something “more fun” to do or someone “more interesting” to talk to, leaving you behind without so much as a second thought.
3. They Get You in Trouble
When you befriend someone who’s so spontaneous and carefree, it can feel exhilarating just being around them. They’re wild, unpredictable, and always a good time, but sometimes they ask you to break a few rules or do things that don’t make you comfortable. And the moment you stop going along with them, they get upset with you. That’s definitely a sign of a fake friend — someone who pressures you to do things you don’t want to and gets you in trouble.
4. They Try To Downplay Your Success
You and your friend have an unspoken rivalry. They’re incredibly competitive with you and always try to one-up you every chance they get. Sure, they might congratulate you and tell you they’re happy for you, but they always have a back-handed compliment ready to dampen your spirits. They always try to downplay your success and act envious whenever good things happen to you. Given a chance, fake friends like these will probably stab you in the back and sabotage your chances if they’re given the chance, so don’t let them.
5. They Want You To Be A Certain Way
Your relationship with your “friend” feels incredibly fragile, but not because you’re shy or still getting to know each other. It’s because they want to be your friend if and only if you act the way they want you to. They make you feel like you need to be every bit as popular, rich, smart, or attractive as them for you to belong. And the moment you slip up or do something wrong, you just know they’re going to kick you to the curb without a moment’s notice.
6. They Act Differently Around Other People
Your friend is boundlessly funny, caring, thoughtful, and kind — but only when you’re alone. The moment other people show up, they’re quick to give you the cold shoulder or change the way they act around you. Maybe it’s because they’re embarrassed to be your friend, or maybe it’s because they’re afraid their other friends might not approve of you. Whatever the reason may be, you deserve better than being “friends” with someone who won’t stand up for you, who only wants to be friends in secret because they care more about the opinions of others than they do your friendship.
7. They Trash Talk Their Friends
It can feel flattering at first, to know that your friend trusts you enough to tell you their true feelings about the people around them. It can even make you feel special, thinking that they might prefer you over their other friends. But if this person constantly trash talks other people behind their back, then there’s a good chance they’ll do the same to you, too. People who backbite their own friends are disloyal, untrustworthy, and malicious; they’re not a true friend to anybody.
8. They’re Always Asking For Favors
Your so-called friend never hesitates to phone you whenever they need your help or want to ask you for a favor, but you can’t seem to remember a time when you had a conversation just about you and what you’ve been up to. Sound familiar? It might seem obvious to everyone else that this person only wants you around to use you, but it’s hard to accept that some people just want to befriend you to get what they want.
9. They Only Ever Talk About Themselves
When you and your “friend” hang out, they could go on and on for hours talking about themselves. They tell you about all their needless drama but hardly ever check in on you and how you’re doing. They don’t listen to what you have to say, interrupt you when you’re talking, and always steer the conversation back to themselves. Self-absorbed and extremely egocentric, these kinds of people aren’t looking for a friend — they just want a sounding board to listen to them talk all the time.
10. They Break Their Promises
Finally but perhaps most importantly, fake friends break their promises but a true friend will always do their best to keep their word. Fake friends tell you everything you want to hear and make promises they can’t keep just to get on your good side. They make excuses about why they can’t deliver, lie about being too busy (when in truth, they just don’t want to), and cancel plans even when they’re important to you. They’re unreliable and dishonest — the makings of a fake friend.
Did reading these signs make you think of anyone in particular? Do you worry you might have a fake friend in your midst?
A friendship that’s not built on anything real — like connection, trust, and respect — will never be able to stand the test of time. What’s worse is, it could hurt you a lot to let someone get so close to you only for them to betray your trust and mishandle your love for them. So save yourself the emotional exhaustion and learn to recognize the early signs of a fake friend.