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Fake Friends: 42 Signs & Ways to Tell Them Apart from Real Friends Who Care

Genuine friendship is a treasure. It’s hard when you realize someone you thought was your real friend turns out to be a fake one who spreads rumors about you. But, it’s important to spot the signs of a fake friend ASAP. 

fake friends

The unfortunate truth is that fake friends are everywhere. It’s incredibly difficult to figure out who is a real friend and to know the signs of a fake friend.

The fake ones are clever, manipulative, and only out for what they can get. It’s time to turn the tables, spot them and kick them out of your life.

When you’re young, you have a lot of friends. Slowly, they weed themselves out and good ones stick around. However, most people have suffered at the hands of a fake friend once or twice.

It hurts when you think someone is real and they turn out to be a liar, but it all works out in the end. Do you really want these types of people in your life? [Read: What is a true friend? The key characteristics of real friends you should know]

What is a fake friend?

Not all friends are genuine. Sometimes we end up joining forces with someone who turns out to be a trickster, a user, someone who is only out for what they can get. Sure, it hurts, but learning how to deal with fake friends in a positive way means you can spot the fakes more easily next time.

Fake friends are those who pretend to be there for you, or those who pretend to love spending time in your company. But, when you’re not around, they never have your back. They’re fair-weather friends, they’re only around when it suits them.

Perhaps they’re pretending to be friends with you because you’re associated with someone they want to get close to. None of it is fair. None of it makes you feel good, but it’s important to remember that none of this is a reflection on you.

Fake friends make no effort to stick around for long. They’ll take what they can get, or use you for the amount of time they need you around for. Then they’ll leave your life.

They’re easy to spot, and you’ll likely figure out their fakery beforehand, so learning how to deal with fake friends is a useful life skill. [Read: How to be a good friend – 49 traits and friend codes that define a real pal]

Signs of a fake friend you should never overlook

We know it may seem like finding a needle in a haystack, but rest assured, once you learn these signs, it’s more like finding an elephant in a haystack. You’ve got this!

1. They’re often envious of you

Something you usually notice immediately in new friends is their compassion and energy. If they give off envious and jealous vibes, then that should be a red flag.

Chances are, your fake friends would take that jealousy and use it as fuel for their fake friend empire. They are going to take you down any chance they get. Get out while you still can. [Read: How to calmly deal with your jealous friend]

2. They have an air of negativity

If they can’t be happy for you, then kick them out of your social circle. This is a sure-fire sign of a fake friend. Good friends always amp you up.

They should never be making you feel insecure, question your life decisions constantly, or who you are as a person. [Read: Bad friends and deciding when you need to end a friendship]

3. They talk about others behind their backs

If they always seem to be gossiping about another friend to you, the chances of them doing the same behind your back are pretty high. They can’t be trusted.

Sometimes, we need to vent about our friends, but if they make us think that someone always seems to be wronging them, they are probably a fake friend.

4. They cancel plans often and without much thought

We hate to break it to you, but if this becomes a trend, they are constantly choosing other things and people over you. That’s one of the big flaky signs of a fake friend that you probably don’t see.

You aren’t a priority to them, know that you deserve friends who make you their priority. They only want to be your friend when it is convenient for them. To hell with ‘em! [Read: Got flaky friends? Here’s why you should ditch them NOW]

5. They are experts at giving the guilt trip

Sure, they cancel plans all of the time. But as soon as you do the same, World War III erupts. This goes back to them being jealous, and they will be angry because you’ve found other things to do that don’t include them.

This is a major sign that they are a fake friend. Also, they suck.

6. They will always try to be better than you

This is a BIG one. A fake friend will always try to drag you down to make themselves look better. They cannot stand the idea that you’re succeeding at something, no matter what it is.

They will always try to go one better and make it very obvious they’re somehow superior. Of course, they’re not. [Read: Toxic people – 48 warning signs and the best way to deal with them]

7. They make you feel inferior

Fake friends are often very insecure people. They feel the need to be friends with a lot of people at once for the feeling of acceptance and popularity.

They need to be the superior being, so they may choose to make you feel bad about yourself – even though you are clearly fantastic! [Read: These signs will help you see your real friends from your fake friends]

8. They are often passive-aggressive

They’ll never be outright rude to you. They need to cover their butt somehow, right? They will give you backhanded compliments that seem nice at first. But, they are actually dirty and mean, once you dig a little bit deeper and see their true colors.

Don’t trust them for one second.

9. They’re never wrong – or so they think

They will literally never admit that they are in the wrong. Don’t hold your breath for that one. After all, they were made with perfection in mind, right?

They constantly look for other people to blame for their bad behavior or things going awry in their lives, even if it is clearly their own fault. [Read: What types of narcissism should you be on the lookout for?]

10. They love a spot of drama

A fake friend will thrive off drama. It may seem like they are always in some sort of tiff with somebody, and that’s because they are. Fake friends have a way of getting found out – that’s why they need so many friends. [Read: The biggest signs to help you steer clear of toxic friends]

In other words, you are disposable to them, and they’ll just find someone else. They will likely put on a big show about how you’re great friends because that’s what they do.

But at the end of the day, you’ll get to know that you don’t really matter to them. Don’t worry though, you matter to many other people in your life.

12. They are nothing but users

Hello, this is your dignity talking – get out while you still can, because they are USING you. Maybe it’s for your car, your grades, or one of your hot friends. The one thing that fake friends all have in common is that they connect with people that benefit them the most.

You are just another tool in the toolbox for them. It’s also possible that when you’re no longer useful to them, they’ll be nowhere to be found. Don’t wait for them to drain you before you take action! [Read: How to tell if someone is using you – 16 signs a user just can’t hide]

13. They will be short-tempered with you

One of the clearest signs of a fake friend is the obvious manner in which they try to make you feel like garbage, and this is just another way of doing so. They’re trying to control you, and when you don’t adhere to their guidelines, they lash out.

14. They are like Jekyll and Hyde

There’s a good chance that their personality will change depending on who is around. Perhaps they may even begin to disrespect you when other people are around as a means of appearing powerful. It’s sick, isn’t it?

You can never be sure which side of them you’re going to get, but they move between them very regularly. [Read: 15 clear signs it’s time to cut a friend loose]

15. They don’t want you to grow and succeed

As we get older, we grow up, and it’s natural. We move to different cities, countries, jobs, and partners. If they try and stop your growth, it is time for you to stop your friendship with this fake friend.

16. They are never there when you need them

If you want an experiment to see if your friend is true or not, call them late at night and say that you need something.

You could say that your car has a flat, or you’ve locked yourself out.

Nothing major, but something which you may need help with. See what they do. We guarantee if they’re fake, they’ll make an excuse why they can’t help you. Similarly, if they never give you any emotional support and are only there during the good times, it’s a really bad sign that they are fake. [Read: 15 signs you have shitty friends and need to get some new ones]

17. They will try to talk you out of your good ideas

Perhaps you’re thinking about going for a new job or asking out the hottie you’ve had your eye on. No doubt they’ll try and talk you out of it. The reason? They don’t want you to do well or to be happy.

They’re jealous of anything that makes you happy or that makes you look good.

18. They never defend you

A good friend will have your back whether you’re there or not. They’ll never let anyone talk behind your back or upset you in any way. However, a fake friend won’t care.

In fact, they might even get in on the action and spread rumors behind your back. Anything to make you look bad. [Read: How to rebuild trust even after the worst type of betrayal]

19. They rarely answer when you call

This isn’t just about not being there when you need something, it’s about just not being there unless it’s on their terms.

You call, they don’t answer. When send a text, you’re left on read. You send a funny meme. Nothing.

Then, out of the blue, two days later, they call because they want something from you and act like nothing happened. One of the classic signs that will help you know someone is a fake friend. [Read: Why do narcissists ignore texts and do the selfish things they do]

20. They will never commit to anything

They won’t commit to plans because they have no intention of keeping them. Never plan anything with a “friend” you suspect to be fake. You’ll be left hanging, no doubt about it.

They’ll only attend or initiate one if it’s in their best interests or if they have nothing better to do.

21. They chip away at your confidence

A good friend will tell you when you look great. A fake friend will always throw out snide comments that make you think you look bad, even when you don’t.

However, they will tell you that you look great when you look a mess, because then they look good in comparison. Messed up, right? [Read: Am I a bad friend? The bad friendship skills that push people away]

22. They affect your instincts

Always listen to your gut when dealing with a fake friend. If your instincts are telling you that something isn’t right, if you just don’t feel comfortable or secure with this person, they’re not real.

Fake friends might be good at manipulation, but even they can’t fly under the radar when you truly trust your intuition. [Read: How to listen to your gut and give strength to your inner voice]

23. They will monopolize an entire conversation

One hour in, and the entire chat has been about them? Not surprising. Fake friends don’t want to hear about your day or want to know about how well your presentation went at work.

They want to talk about themselves because, remember, they’re far more important. Apparently.

24. They don’t understand the word “sorry”

They never say it, and if they do, it’s done with an air of sarcasm or passive-aggressiveness. Real friends make an effort to apologize and own up to their mistakes. A fake friend doesn’t, because they don’t care. [Read: Should you forgive and forget? 15 guidelines to follow]

25. They are often caught in their lies

In the end, you’ll always catch a fake friend in a lie. They might desperately try to cover it up, and they might even do quite well, but the fact is that you can’t trust a liar.

26. They don’t accept you for you

This is who you are – you are you. But they don’t accept you for who you are. They treat you like there’s something wrong with you, that you need to change parts of yourself, and you may feel that they are right.

A real friend knows your flaws and still loves and accepts you. Your friends aren’t supposed to judge you. They’re supposed to support you on your path. [Read: These are the types of friends you need to let go of in life]

27. They’re so obviously jealous

Okay, everyone has some jealousy in them. But when your friend succeeds in something, you should be happy for them and swallow any jealousy you’re feeling.

You may notice that instead of celebrating with you, they make small, digging comments or tease you for your accomplishments. This isn’t what a real friend does, this is what someone does when they’re jealous.

28. They love offloading their problems onto you

A fake friend will have no problem unloading their issues onto you. In addition, you waste your time giving them advice they ask for to meet their emotional needs as your friend, yet they never seem to listen to you.

They want you to put in all the emotional work but never intend to change. Don’t make friends with people like that.

29. They hate it when you call them out

When a friend is being shitty and you tell them, they may be angry. In time, they realize why you said it and sit down and talk about it with you in a healthy way. This is because they’re upset that you’re hurt and they value your friendship.

But, a fake friend can’t handle being told the truth and when they hear it, they become defensive and lose their shit. [Read: 17 symptoms of narcissism that make someone mean, aloof, and detached]

30. They demand your attention

You could be working or hanging out with other people, but when they call, they expect you to drop all your things and come running to them.

They don’t respect your life, your time, or your boundaries, they simply want it to revolve around them.

31. They’re always looking for gossip

When they’re around you, they’re constantly fishing for information, whether it’s about you or someone else. If they’re doing this in front of you, imagine what they’re doing behind your back. Do you want to be friends with someone like that?

Gossiping is somewhat normal, but there’s a point when it becomes too much.

32. You don’t like who you are when you’re around them

You can’t relax. It’s like, you need to be a new person when you’re around them. It’s likely that if you act like yourself, they make comments or become angry and cut communication with you until you conform to their opinions. If this is the case, ditch them.

If you don’t like the person you are when you’re around them, they’re reflecting their toxicity onto you. [Read: Self loathing – What it is, 25 signs and how to stop hurting yourself]

33. They break promises

They tell you that they’re going to do this and that for you, but at the end of the day, they never keep their promises. Hundreds of excuses probably follow them as to why they had to bail, but the point is, they bailed. They bail over and over.

If someone wants to do something, they do it. It’s as simple as that. [Read: 14 ways to instantly recognize fake people and stay away]

34. You can feel their insincerity

You know they’re a fake friend, but you’re reading this because you want confirmation. Deep down, you know exactly who they are and what you’re dealing with. You may be scared to cut them off or need them for something.

But honestly, this relationship is toxic. So, make a choice.

35. Other people warn you that they talk about you behind your back

As before, a real close friend doesn’t diss you when you’re not around. Instead, they always have your back. If you’ve heard that this particular friend has been throwing shade when you’re not around, it’s one of the biggest signs for how to tell if your friend is fake.

It will hurt, that’s a truth. But it’s better to know now than to waste more time on a friendship that really is only for convenience. [Read: What is a true friend? The key marks of a real friend]

36. You have a nagging feeling you shouldn’t trust them

There’s a lot to be said for gut instinct. If you just have a slight inkling that you really can’t trust this person, listen to it.

In the past, you’ve probably told them secrets and felt a little uneasy about what you said afterward. It’s your gut telling you that there’s something not quite right about this person.

37. Everything is entirely one-sided

A fake friend will be selfish and focus on themselves, rather than the friendship itself.

Fake friendships are often conditional – i.e. they’re happy while they’re getting what they want and the attention they need. But, if you focus on yourself or spend time with someone else, they’ll quickly turn sour.

38. There’s always some drama going on

If you look at the friendships you’ve had over the long-term, they were probably pretty stable and easygoing. That doesn’t mean they’re boring – it means they’re true.

If this particular friendship is always up and down, full of drama, it’s a sign you just can’t trust them to be true to you. Evaluate the “friendship” carefully. [Read: How to recognize emotionally unstable people for less drama in your life]

39. They’re possessive and don’t like you spending time with others

How does your “friend” react when you talk about your other friends or spend time with them? The chances are that they say something negative about them or pull you back toward them.

A fake friend is possessive. When they’re around your other friends, you’ll notice that they’re just not comfortable. This is simply because they’re worried your real friends are going to see them for what they are – fake.

40. You feel pressure to please them

Do you regularly feel under pressure to please this person, to the point where you’re chasing them? For instance, do you text them and they don’t reply for several hours, even though you can see they’re online? This might then make you send more texts.

They do this because it makes them feel needed and wanted, while making you feel undervalued. You do not have to constantly try and please a true friend. [Read: Why do narcissists ignore texts and do the selfish things they do?]

41. They constantly talk about themselves

Is every conversation with your best friend one-sided? Do they love the sound of their own voice? Is talking about ‘number one’ their favorite topic?

A fake best friend wants to talk about themselves all the time. Frankly, this person may not interested in you or what you have to say. Harsh but true.

42. They never let you forget your mistakes

We all make mistakes sometimes. If you happen to mess up a little or maybe say something the wrong way, they’re not likely to let you forget it. A fake best friend is an expert at holding grudges.

Real friendship is about celebrating one another, being a rock, and standing up for the other one whenever they need a little help. It’s not about dragging someone down, making them feel bad about themselves, and it’s certainly not about selfishness.

You’ve spotted the warning signs of fake friends, now what?

We know it’s tough when you come to the realization that someone you thought was a friend is actually fake. However, it’s important to forgive yourself and move on. Don’t beat yourself up for allowing someone like this into your life – fake friends are masters of deception in so many ways.

Understand that fake friends bring no benefit to your life. You might mourn their loss in some way, perhaps because they made you laugh or they introduced you to a circle of people that you’ve also missed out on being around. But do you really want people like that in your life? [Read: Friendship breakup – Why it hurts so much and how to get over it]

A fake friend will never genuinely be present when you need them. They’ll never have your back when you’re not around and defend you against those who are knocking you down. If anything, they’ll join in.

It’s far better to build genuine friendships and learn how to deal with fake friends as they come and go. [Read: How to enrich your life and build real friendships]

Learn how to spot the signs of a fake friend and then take action to free yourself from their clutches. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do.

1. Block all contact

Once you’ve established that this person is indeed a fake, cut them out of your life. You don’t owe them anything, and you certainly don’t owe them an explanation or an apology.

Block them on all your social media platforms. Then, block their number in your phone. [Read: Power trip – Is the psychology of blocking someone about your ego?]

2. Use the experience to pinpoint your real friends

The good news is that by having an experience with a fake friend, you’ll hold your genuine friends closer. This type of experience teaches you what is real and what isn’t.

3. Brush it off

It’s hurtful when you first realize someone isn’t as genuine as you thought, but if you’re trying to learn how to deal with fake friends, you must eventually learn to brush it off. It’s not your fault, it’s theirs.

You don’t deserve to be treated this way, so forgive yourself and move on. [Read: How to forgive yourself and free yourself of the weight of guilt]

4. Don’t allow them the chance to explain

You might think that everyone deserves to be heard out, but in this case, they don’t. If you are certain you have a fake friend in your life, you don’t need to have a conversation about it. They’ll probably attempt to twist it around and make it seem like you’re imagining things anyway.

Just let it go and avoid the argument— don’t waste your time with a fake friend. [Read: The 10 scenarios when ghosting a friend is okay]

5. Don’t be tempted to keep them on the fringes of your life

You might think that they’ll come around in the end and be a genuine friend. They won’t. Real friendships don’t begin this way, just as a relationship never progresses when it starts with a lie.

Block them and move on.

6. Avoid revenge

It’s easy to want revenge. You’ll feel hurt and humiliated and probably angry too. Remember, revenge won’t change anything, nor will it make you feel any better either.

Don’t go around posting cryptic things on your social media posts, clearly aimed at them, and don’t pass messages between mutual friends. Hold your head up high and simply let it go over your head. [Read: When people hurt you – How to respond to them and process the pain]

Fake friends affect everyone at some point

Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed because you allowed a fake friend into your life. Know that this is a problem everyone faces at some point.

You’re an open and friendly person, so it stands to reason that there’s going to be the odd bad apple that slips through the net. But, now you know the signs of a fake friend, you can use that information to stop anyone from affecting you in this way again.

[Read: 15 qualities of a good friend that sets them apart from the fake ones]

A fake friend’s typical signs can be hard to see when you are in a friendship. It’s just like a toxic relationship; we put on our blinkers because ignorance is bliss. Our hope is that these tips will help you to spot fake friends early on.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...