12 Signs of Fake Friends: How to Tell the Difference Between a Real Friend and a Two-Faced Faker

Updated on August 25, 2017
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After seeing many friends (or himself) seduced by love, only to crash and burn afterwards, Jorge writes advice based on his observations.

How do you tell a fake friend from a real one?
How do you tell a fake friend from a real one?

The Signs of a Fake Friend Aren't Always Obvious

You wouldn't be here unless you doubted one or more of your friendships.

Maybe everything in the friendship started out okay, but then you heard that your "friend" was talking behind your back. Maybe you always knew that they were kind of manipulative towards other people, but only recently noticed that they were doing it to you. Are they a fake friend?

Unfortunately, we live in the kind of world where sometimes we'll run into these sorts of people. Don't take it too personal. A person who is fake to you is also fake to others. Chances are, this fake person doesn't have any real friends at all, and you're no exception.

Sometimes, in borderline cases, it can be hard to tell if someone is a fake friend, though--especially if they're trying to be fake about the fact that they're fake!

Here are some signs to help you figure it out:

1) Your Friendship is Conditional

The biggest sign that you have a fake friend is that your friendship is extremely conditional.

We all have normal boundaries that we don't want people to cross, but conditions are totally different.

Boundaries are healthy and they're about the kind of respect a person thinks they deserve. For instance, if you cross a boundary by punching your friend in the face, it's perfectly normal that they would want to stop being friends with you.

Conditions, on the other hand, are all about "standards" that they expect you to adhere to, even if it has nothing to do with them.

For example, if someone won't be your friend unless you're wealthy, that's a condition.

A conditional friendship is when your friend expects you to give them certain things, act a certain way, dress in certain clothes, make a certain amount of money, or follow some other superficial standard before they will associate with you.

It has nothing to do with your character and everything to do with appearances.

If someone requires you to be anything besides just yourself in exchange for a friendship, then that's not a real friendship at all.

Does your friend treat you differently when you're around others?
Does your friend treat you differently when you're around others?

2) Your Friend Acts Differently When You're Around Other People

Another obvious sign of a fake friend is if the person treats you differently depending on who is around.

Are they nice to you when you're alone, but give you the cold shoulder when others are around? Do they tell you that they like you in private, but keep you at arm's length in public? Even worse, is your friendship some kind of secret?

If so, not only is this extremely immature, but they're definitely not a real friend. Real friends are not ashamed of treating people with kindness, and they certainly won't be afraid to admit that they get along with you.

3) They Speak Poorly of You When You're Not Around

If someone is your friend, why would they spread rumors and spout BS about you behind your back?

You might say: "Oh, that's just Jessica. She does that to everyone."

Okay, then "Jessica" must have no real friends. This includes you.

When you genuinely care about someone, you sing their praises to others. You don't try to make them look bad in some misguided attempt to make yourself seem better.

4) When You Have a Disagreement, They Stop Talking to You

Human beings will always have differences of opinion. There's no person on this Earth who is exactly like you. Besides, wouldn't it be boring if you agreed with your friends about absolutely everything?

The real test of a friendship happens when you and your friend actually disagree on something. This is especially the case if you disagree about something that one of you passionately believes in. It's times like these when a person shows their true colors.

Does you friend see you like a human being? Or do they see you through the filter of their own opinions only? Do they see you as unworthy or less than human if you disagree with them on X, Y, or Z topic?

If your friend can't handle that you changed religions or political affiliations, they were never a real friend to begin with. They didn't like you for you; they liked you because you agreed with each other about something.

Sometimes the disagreements don't even need to be about anything important like your religion or life philosophy. Sometimes it's simply as stupid as getting into an argument about who owes whom 5 bucks.

If your friend stops talking to you after a disagreement like this, guess what? Yup, that's a fake friend. Real friends are willing to tolerate differences of opinion and don't mind putting in some effort to work things out. Most of all, real friends forgive.

Differences of opinion and even arguments can be normal in friendship. The question is, can your friend let it go or do they stop talking to you?
Differences of opinion and even arguments can be normal in friendship. The question is, can your friend let it go or do they stop talking to you?

5) They Disappear When Someone "More Interesting" Shows Up

Part of being in a conditional friendship is that you never know when that "friend" is going to ditch you for somebody else.

Typical behavior for a fake friend is when they frequently cancel plans at the last minute because someone they like more became available. The problem isn't that they get along with someone else better; the problem is that they have no respect for your time and don't care about disappointing you.

If someone you know doesn't care about your feelings and ditches you as soon as you seem boring, then this is a sign of a fake friend. They are just using you for some company, but will jump ship when something "better" comes along.

6) Your Friend Always Seems to Want Something From You

Can you never shake the feeling that your friend only hangs around because they want something?

This could be anything, really:

  • Money
  • Favors
  • Access to your social circle
  • Sex
  • Career opportunities
  • Free rides to places
  • Free stuff
  • Relief from boredom
  • Relief from loneliness

While these are all things that you can give to a friend simply because you like them, if they are hanging out with you because of these things, then that's a problem.

If someone is "friends" with you for any reason besides the fact that you are who you are, that's a tell-tale sign of a fake friend.

7) If You Say "No" to Them, You Know They Will Stop Hanging Out With You

Of course everyone always wants to get his or her way--but you can't always get exactly what you want every time. When we're friends with people, sometimes we have to "give" a little.

This doesn't mean you have to change your beliefs about life or anything. It just means being generous with the smaller things. For example, if you want to see a movie together, but can't agree on what to watch, real friends are flexible enough to come up with an alternate solution.

If, however, your friend is totally inflexible and is never willing to give up small desires for the sake of the greater friendship, then they are not a very good friend. Fake friends tend to disappear the moment you say "no" or introduce an agenda that doesn't align with theirs.

Does your friend hang around you for no other reason than the fact that they like you for who you are?
Does your friend hang around you for no other reason than the fact that they like you for who you are?

8) They Never Try to Help You Achieve Your Goals

By "goals," I don't necessarily mean some grand desire of making a million dollars or graduating from an Ivy League school.

It really comes down to the everyday stuff. We all have small goals, intentions, and desires every moment of our lives. A goal can be as small and mundane as wanting to go to the store to get some popcorn, or as huge as wanting to travel the world.

Does your friend always nudge you a little in the direction of what you want because they know you'll be happier that way? Do they try to make it easier for you to do the things you want, or do they just stand by the sidelines and watch? Worse, do they drag you away from your goals?

Good friends can keep you on track and will usually try to help you in small ways, even if they can't do much. They turn into problem solvers for the people around them; and they certainly do anything they can to avoid being the source of problems.

In other words, if one of your goals is to find a good romantic partner, does your friend offer you books on relationships, introduce you to new people, or give you advice based on their experience?

Or does your friend ignore what you're doing, change the subject, and even discourage you?

9) They Always Bring You Down

This should go without saying, but if your friend insults you or belittles you on the regular, they're probably not a very good friend.

It's true that sometimes people grow up with the bad habit of relentlessly teasing people about their insecurities, but if they're genuinely abusive, then obviously this is a fake friend.

The same is true if they bring you down by always dumping their negative feelings on you. If all they ever do is vent about their problems when they're around you, you're probably being used as an emotional rag doll.

10) They Never Pay Attention to What You're Saying

One major sign of someone who likes being a fake friend is that they are extremely egocentric. Everything is about them, so naturally they will only be slightly interested in what you're saying.

Do you ever get the feeling that your friend just doesn't listen? You're talking about random stuff, and they only seem half-focused. They tap away on their phone while you're talking, or they change the subject, or they just seem bored until you start talking about them or something directly related to what they like.

Another way that you can tell that someone doesn't care what you have to say is if they never reference something that you said in the past. There's no, "I made these cookies without peanuts because I remember you mentioned you were allergic," or "Let's go see that zombie movie because I remember you said you like horror."

This is different from someone who is just forgetful every once in awhile. A fake friend never absorbs what you said in the first place, so they have no way of remembering. More importantly, they just don't care, so they will rarely if ever mention things that you told them in the past.

A real friend, on the other hand, listens to what you say. They make note of the important stuff without even thinking about it, and they'll naturally bring it up later when it's relevant. It's effortless for them because they actually care. You also won't have to fight to be heard or to keep them from changing the subject constantly.

11) A Fake Friend Sees Your Needs and Wants as a Nuisance

Does your friend guilt trip you or seem hesitant every time you want something?

Do they dismiss your needs and treat them as secondary to their own?

Does it always seem like the things you want are optional and unnecessary, but the things that your friend wants are always justified?

Fake friends don't take your needs seriously. Since your needs are not critical to their agenda, fulfilling them is at most a "payment" that they have to make to get what they want from you. Ideally, they would never address your needs or wants at all, since they are mostly a nuisance.

For a real friend, fulfilling the needs and wants of both people is part of the fun. Giving and receiving are equally important.

Real friends accept you for exactly who you are.
Real friends accept you for exactly who you are.

12) They Don't Accept You For Who You Are

Finally, one of the most obvious signs of a fake friend is if this "friend" treats you differently when you change something about yourself. This really just means that the person doesn't accept you for who you are deep inside--they only accept you if you fit in with what they think you should be to them.

A real friend will stick by you if you get rejected from your first choice of university, if you choose an embarrassing career, if you get married to the wrong person, or if you get divorced after decades (or minutes) of marriage. Real friends will continue to be your friends without judgement, because your path is your own and you need to be who you are.

If you made a major life change and they don't approve to the point that they've started ignoring you, consider it a bullet dodged.

What's the Difference Between a Real Friend and a Fake Friend?

Lots of people who have gone broke or lost their good health tell you that they found out who their "real friends" were after their misfortune. Fake friends don't stick around when you have nothing left except for yourself. It's because they didn't want you; they wanted something you had.

In that sense, whether someone is a real or fake friend has little to do with how well you get along with them or how long you've known the person.

Many times people who you might not even consider to be that close to you can come out of nowhere and help you in times of crisis, while someone who you've known your whole life can abandon you.

This is because what makes a real friend or a fake friend has less to do with your friendship and more to do with the person's character. A person who is fake will be a fake friend to everyone. A person who is kind, generous, and trustworthy will be that way even to strangers.

When someone you know goes on and on about how they won't be nice or respectful to someone unless they've "earned" it, be careful. Be especially suspicious if they expect some kind of "loyalty" simply because they associate with you. This person could easily be a fake friend.

Good friends are good to everyone. When you have character, there's no need for loyalty.

Your Experiences With Fake Friends

Have you ever had a fake friend?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Jorge Vamos

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      • profile image

        1234 9 days ago

        I have a friend that I’ve been friends with for around 3 years now and at first it was fine until about February last year when we started hanging around with this other girl soon enough she was one of her Bestfriends and since then whenever my other friends around the girl that we started talking to about a year ago she’s horrible to me they always joke about stuff that aren’t funny in lessons and act really immature around each other but as soon as I’m by myself With one or the other they act nice to me and like nothing happens but it literally happens every single day and I’m that type of person who’s quite sensitive and my feelings get hurt really easily but I don’t know what to do about it.

      • profile image

        12 days ago

        If my friends tell me i can’t be myself around them are they fake friends?

      • profile image

        marco perez 12 days ago

        my fake as friend jani napier is fake asf she always asks for money and acts different around other people wen im there im putting her on the burn book. xoxo grechithen

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        ryane hardy 3 weeks ago

        i have a coworker thought we were friends into he got girlfriend. or before aways said we are going hang out then change it last min his name matt broudues

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        Nunya 3 weeks ago

        If someone stops being your friend because of your opinions, they aren't a fake friend. That's complete bull. it just means a) you need to check your opinions, or b) they need to check their opinions.

      • profile image

        Unknow 4 weeks ago

        I had this ''friend'' that was rude to me all the time but I'm nice to everyone no matter what they do are how they act until my breaking point.So she hated me for no reason and when I went to a new school I saw her again she acted like she was my friend and I thought she was,I helped her through everything but soon enough she only talk to me when she needed something that I had like food or homework answers and all her other friend started saying she treated them that that to.I was still nice but then she started saying things behind my back and would get people to come say rude things to me.So I reach my breaking point and finally told her how I felt and I didn't want to be her friend and a lot of her friends did the same thing and they became my friends and they are close friends I have till this day and I support them in everything just like they do for me.

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        Anonymous 4 weeks ago

        I have this friends who at first I thought was a nice person, until someone else showed up. She started to act weird and use me and I just let it happen. I guess I just let her use me knowing she doesn't really she doesn't give two cruds about me...I honestly think that I should part from her. I lost a friend because she told me to watch out for her, I didn't listen and I said she was a good person. Most people don't like her because she is really rude and really only uses people she thinks are weak. She has a very powerful group of friends, I threw away my schedule just to be her apart of her clique. But whenever she's with them she just puts me down, and gives me the cold shoulder she makes me feel like a bad person or that I'm weak...I hate it but...I've told her so many things I'm afraid that she might spread rumors. I hate it I really do...she says I'm her friend, but I read Body Language...I know she's lying

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        Some about to beat a B 4 weeks ago

        My so called friend is always saying things about me saying it is a joke. She be acting different around people and she always taking my things. I some times thought she was fake but never was really sure until now.

        Thank you so much ;)

      • profile image

        girl 4 weeks ago

        i have a fake friend that does the exact same things that were said

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        Anonymous 4 weeks ago

        I have a lot of fake friends and my “bestfriend” is fake too

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        Fake Friend 5 weeks ago

        This helps because my so called "friend" always steals my best friend away from me. She is constantly being inappropriate, and I am religious so my mom doesn't like bad language or actions. She is constantly yelling at me and saying "stop, give me it, ew," and stuff like that.

        What I say, "See ya fakie"

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        Anoushka 6 weeks ago

        I just found some friends and I really like them, but I don’t know if they like me because of the things they do. Out of all four of them it’s just one of them that I feel like they hate me sometimes and sometime they don’t. They run away from me and say I’m trying to be someone I’m not. I think they just say it for fun, but idk. I’ve never had a childhood friend that I still talk to now because either they moved or I moved. I feel like she talks behind my back and doesn’t like me because I’m weird or something. I try sooo hard to fit in and I wish that shE wouldn’t make me feel so bad. I don’t say anything because it makes me feel like a wimp. I’ve never had actual good friends. In all honesty no one has ever liked me as a friend, and most of my teachers at school don’t like me either. I keep my grades up, I’m polite and kind but they don’t like me. I feel like they just wait for me to leave. It really sucks because this always happens to me. They do all the same things no matter who my friends are.

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        Why are people so mean? 2 months ago

        I'm in my second year of college and I finally realized that my so called "friends" are fake friends. I always felt like I can't truly be myself around them in first year, because they would always make fun of my likes and interests. It felt like I was walking on eggshells whenever I was around them. I always felt bad about myself whenever we hung out and I feel like they don't respect me because I don't fit in their agenda.

        I don't come from a rich or influencial family, I can't afford all the fancy techno gadgets that they have like, an IPad or a laptop. But they always treat people with these fancy things better than they treat me. I'm never greeted positively. It's always "Ew, it's [my name]", never "Hey! It's [my name]! :)" I'm slowly starting to distance myself from them because I'm tired of feeling inadequate. I'm tired of having to lose myself in order to be on their good side. Why can't they just treat me with respect? Oh well, solitude is a lot better than being surounded by fake friends.

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        Lacey 2 months ago

        I have a fake friend who's trying to make me look dumb or silly in every situation they can get and disagrees with me on almost everything I say

        They can never agree with me on anything its ridiculous they make it seem like my opinion is crazy or doesn't make sense wen really there just being haters and clearly have an issue with me that there trying to hide.

        They even act really different with me even though we known each other for so long their still acting like were not that tight not matter how much time i spend with them there still acting distant . and they even let some new so called friends i made and told them to join the group go against me and make me look stupid again !!

        I'm so done with them there's only like 3 months left of uni and i can finally leave and not see them again!! Thank gosh lool i need a new start there just crazy and trying to have a go at me for nothing i don't need this in my life ff'n hell !!! Legit

        Realised in the end God is the only one who truly has my back and will always be there and that I'm my number 1 supporter !! #SelfLove

        Its time to stop chasing after meaningless friendships and move on and live my life for me and show everyone the amazing brillence and talent within me !!

        #SocialJustice4All

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        S7_MASTER . 2 months ago

        i have a fake friend and need help

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        unknown 2 months ago

        I'm surrounded by fakies

      • profile image

        Delaney Speer 2 months ago

        i have a friend that is a fake

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        Delaney 2 months ago

        i just was a lunch with my friends and they told me to go sit some where else so there boyfriends could sit there. Even though i started the table they want me out. my friend has been there for me but when other people are around shes the queen. i hate her for that then there is another friend i hate her now she called me a bitch because i told her i'm not moving so how should i feel about that

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        The Person who doesn't want to give off their name! =) 3 months ago

        I had a friend and she always was there. But. I don't think she is a real friend! =(

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        A person 3 months ago

        All of my so called friends are all fakes I thought we were real friends but I guess were not

        They act different around me all the time, one day she cares about me the next day she’s ignoring me.

      • profile image

        Unknown 3 months ago

        I have a friend name Madison Jones

        she’s fake and a user she thinks she have friends because she go out with Darien but when they break up no one is going to talk to her she has been ignoring me

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        justin 3 months ago

        i am only 12

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        Damiya 3 months ago

        I have a group of friends we call are selves the 3/3 group but one of the girls in my group does all of these things above to me and im not going into the new year (2018)with those kind of people around me i have to cut her off and find people who lift me up and not try to bring me down .

      • profile image

        jesse 3 months ago

        I have a 'friend' who just seems to use me to do things he is too lazy to do, like cut fire wood and fix his car when it breaks down, he uses the excuse he has a sore back. he also uses me because I have a fishing boat, he will try to tell me where to fish and when to move to another spot and if I don't listen he will get in a sulk, if anything goes wrong or he loses a fish its my fault. he also makes up rumors about me and talks behind my back. he lies about everything and only seems to hang around me if he needs something. I felt sorry for him because he doesn't have many other friends but now I see why. I had a go at him once and he changed for a couple months but went back to the same tricks, I think its time to get rid of him

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        Itai 4 months ago

        I have actually had a fake friend for a while now and still were friends with that person knowing he was fake. (Bad results) he always looks for my bad side. (His thoughts.) he makes fun of me in front of other people=outrageous! And won't listen to my opinion. That is s fake friend.

      • profile image

        Nikkii 4 months ago

        ‘I have a ‘friend’ that does some of these things but it’s hard to tell if she’s fake or not.

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        Author

        Jorge Vamos 6 months ago

        We might be talking about two different kinds of "loyalty" here. Personal, I consider it to be a neutral character trait on its own.

        There's nothing wrong with having some "loyalty" in the sense that we prefer spending time with friends over strangers. Or even in the sense that we help our friends first when they're in trouble. I don't think this is bad or anything.

        However, loyalty in the sense that *you apply different standards to your friends* than you do to other people is the bad kind of "loyalty" that I mean here. And it's what many people mean when they say "loyalty" as well.

        For example, taking someone's side when they were wrong merely because they're your friend. Tolerating rude behavior in a friend that you would never tolerate in a stranger. Bailing your friend out when they hurt other people and get in trouble for it, etc. Doing stuff like this out of loyalty and familiarity is dumb, I think.

        If you genuinely care for people, you don't need duty and "loyalty" to influence people to stick by your side. That's why a sign of a crappy friend is someone who treats people badly by default, and then only treats them well if they are "loyal" friends. What happens when they decide that you haven't done what they wanted and they no longer like you?

        If a friend does something genuinely awful--like they violate your trust--it's not that they were disloyal so much as they don't care about people's feelings. It would be awful if they did that to a stranger, too. Hopefully, you wouldn't need loyalty for them to treat you right.

        So basically that's why I say you don't really need someone to be "loyal" to you in a friendship. If they are loyal instead to compassion, to truth, to common decency--then you don't need them to be loyal to you personally.

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        Milonga 6 months ago

        One part of this article confused me, the part about loyalty. Loyalty (not blind loyalty but a reasonable amount of it) is part of what constitutes good character. So I'm not sure why you'd separate loyalty and character.

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