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14 Ways to Instantly Recognize Fake People and Stay Away

It’s hard to tell when someone is fake until it’s too late. By then, you’re already caught in their web and can’t escape without making it obvious.


I suppose you can’t really blame the phonies for being the way they are. Our society has raised generations of materialistic and seriously messed-up people, the worst being those from the Millennial generation.

As a member of this generation, I can confidently say that we are unlike any other in the history of humankind. Technology, globalization, and the media have tainted us to the point that we are unable to differentiate what’s real and what’s not.

For example, is it even possible to have 2,000 Facebook friends? What’s up with those nonsensical Twitter wars? And don’t even get me started on the heavily filtered pictures plastered on Instagram.

As writer, poet, and novelist Benjamin Alire Sà¡enz said, “Mostly, I think people are fake. Well, what do you expect? The fake world we live in conspires to make us all fakes.”

I’m not saying that you need to give up social media. As much as I love complaining *another horrible Millennial trait*, I sheepishly am not. I’m just saying that it’s time to rid yourself of the phonies, as life is too short for all that jazz.

It’s great if you’re the sort of person who wants to give others the benefit of the doubt, but you have to draw the line somewhere. The last thing you need is one other person in your life walking all over you.

Isn’t life tough enough as it is without having to worry about being taken advantage of?

Fake people and how to tell when someone is faking it

Whether it’s identifying a fake friend or business acquaintance who could screw you over, or trying to prove that your best friend is dating a loser, here are 14 simple ways to tell if the person you have in mind is fake.

#1 It’s all about them. Fake people tend to make everything about them. There’s no denying that there’s just something about them that makes them crave everyone’s approval. They brag loads and exhibit a self-righteous attitude.

The moment you get an it’s-all-about-me vibe, it is only a matter of time before you realize how fake they are. [Read: 16 attention whore signs you need to watch out for]

#2 They pretend to make an effort. Ever run into an acquaintance or friend whom you haven’t see in ages and embrace each other like you’re the best of friends?

Besides the usual “How have you been? I’ve missed you!” pleasantries, has the conversation ever led to something along the lines of “Oh my god, let’s totally catch up for drinks this weekend!” and you never hear from them again?

You may have been the one doing the faking *sadly, even the best of us have done this to get out of an awkward situation*, so you would know exactly what I mean when I say that they don’t mean it.

#3 They’re too busy to help. Phonies are usually only around for the good times. They’re always too busy with something if you need a helping hand.

Whether it’s a shoulder to cry on after a breakup or helping you pack and move apartments, you can never count on fake people to be there when the going gets rough, or when the going doesn’t involve partying.

#4 They ignore you. Fake people only reach out to you when they want something. Whether it’s getting them on the VIP list to the club or asking you to put in a good word for them with their new employer, they usually only reach out to you when they want something.

Look at it this way: You’re just an easy means to an end, and there’s nothing you can do about it. [Read: Why you should never make someone a priority when you’re only an option to them]

#5 They make plenty of promises. Fake people are pros at making promises that they never keep. Way back in the day, I knew someone who promised me that she would introduce me to a manager looking to hire an intern.

She talked the job up so much and convinced me that she had set up an interview. I traveled across town only to find out that she didn’t do anything of the sort. The thing about fake people is that they want to look good in that moment, and when the moment passes, they conveniently forget what they promised you.

#6 They gossip all the time. Fake people are gossip mongers, and this is an indisputable fact. Despite the myriad of topics to discuss, phonies always end up bad-mouthing other people, even those whom they consider their friends.

Beware of these people, because if they can bitch about the people closest to them, imagine the things they say about you behind your back!

#7 They try to please everyone. Fake people have this inexplicable need to please others. Perhaps there’s a psychological explanation behind it, but I’m not going to get into that. Somehow, they are experts at spewing bullshit to entertain those around them.

Whether it’s pretending to be nice or offering to help with something *even though they never do*, being fake almost seems like a skill that they’ve perfected. [Read: 20 giveaways that prove your friend is a people pleaser]

#8 They never initiate contact. Ever realized that you’re always the one initiating contact with this one particular friend? Whether it’s a call to meet up for drinks or a friendly text message, fake people are never the first one to make a move.

#9 They don’t get back to you. You can tell that you’re dealing with a fake person when you notice that they never get back to you. You can send as many contact requests as you want, but there’s a very good chance that you’re not going to get a call back.

It’s probably that they don’t find you important enough to maintain a continuous relationship with.

#10 They can compliment and insult. Fake people have an incredible talent to compliment and insult you at the same time. For example, they would say, “Wow, congratulations on securing that new job! Did your dad help you get it?”

#11 They take advantage of you. Fake people are known for taking advantage of other people’s kindness. For example, I knew someone who visited me for the weekend, and we agreed to rent a car so that we could explore the region.

When she arrived, she moaned about how broke she was, and of course, I felt bad and offered to cover her share of the car rental. The day she left, I came across a post on Instagram displaying the shopping purchases that she had made an hour after she bid me farewell. Looks like we know what she spent the car-rental money on. [Read: 16 discreet signs you’re being taken for granted by the people around you]

#12 They never take responsibility. Fake people never take responsibility for their boo-boos. If anything negative happens to them, it’s never their fault. Somehow, someone else is always to blame for the negative things that happen to them.

They will blame everyone, from their partner to their friends to their landlord to their boss, and won’t admit that they are the ones who suck.

#13 The world revolves around them. Phonies strongly believe that the world revolves around them. They expect everyone to drop everything and come running if they need help, but they will never do the same for others.

Sadly, this is the epitome of selfishness, and fake people are brilliant at this. [Read: 10 signs to recognize selfish people and 5 steps to detach yourself]

#14 They smile too much. As poet, novelist, and playwright Michael Bassey Johnson said, “Incessant smiling is one of the deadly tools used by someone whose intent is to make others cry.”

I have found that fake people always try to hide their true colors by projecting an excessively friendly demeanor. They work hard to make people like them, and then sweep them under the rug if these people are unable to play a role in getting them what they want.

It would be wonderful to expel all the fake people from your life, but sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s legit and who’s not.

[Read: 17 bad friends you need to unfriend from your life]

Categorizing the phonies and the genuine ones is very subjective. I guess it all comes down to whom you want to keep in your life. Hopefully, this list will help you narrow it down. Good luck!

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Gemma Hsieh
Born in Singapore and raised in Canada to multi-racial parents, Gemma is a self-proclaimed travel and food junkie. Having traveled extensively around the world,...
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