20 ways to tell fake friends from real friends

How do you tell if a friend is fake or not? It’s not easy because nobody is just good or bad. We all got good sides and bad sides.

But in some people or relationships, the bad sides take over. And that’s when you got a fake friend.

Here are 20 signs that will help you tell your fake friends from your real ones.

1. Pay attention to how much they talk about themselves

I once had a “friend” who would call me almost every day to talk about his ideas and problems. I tried to be a good friend by listening to him and giving him my best feedback.

On some days I also had something on my mind I wanted to talk about, but there was never any space for me to talk. And if I did get to talk a little, he soon changed the topic back to him.

He wasn’t really interested in me or my life. After that, I understood he was a kind of bad friend because I never got anything back in that relationship.

I don’t think he was a bad person, but our relationship was bad since it was one-sided.

Fake friends are not interested in you, they’re only interested in themselves. A good sign to tell is that they almost only talk about themselves.

Here’s a guide on what to do if your friends only talk about themselves.

2. How interested are they in you?

Do they ask you a lot of questions about you? Do you get to talk about your problems and get support or help from them?

Real friends are interested in you and what’s going on in your life. Fake friends are not interested in getting to know you on a deeper level.

Some do care about you but just aren’t used to asking questions. But if you tell something important about you or your life – do they listen?

3. What type of people do they hang out with?

I remember when one of my friends started dating a new girl. He told me she was amazing, but she had some troubling behaviors he was worried about.

Then he told me how his girlfriend’s best friend was a super big douche bag. And she also regularly hang out with some sketchy people.

That got me thinking, why would a good person hang out with bad people like that? Sure, we all make bad choices and it’s often hard to know. But when someone’s best friend is a big douche bag and they even hang out with other bad people, that’s a BIG RED WARNING SIGN.

So, if you don’t like the friends of your friend, that’s a warning flag.

4. Do they apologize and owe their mistakes up to you?

My best friend once forgot about our date and I was left alone in the middle of town. I called him and he was extremely embarrassed and apologetic about it. He later made up for it by making a fantastic lunch for me.

A fake friend would probably not really care, maybe they would be a bit annoyed or irritated that you even mentioned it.

Article continues below.

Take this quiz and see how you can make new friends

Take this quiz and get a custom report based on your unique personality and goals. Learn how YOU can be better at connecting and turning people into close friends.

Start the quiz.

Real friends make mistakes, but they own up to them and apologize. Fake friends don’t.

5. Do they lie to you or others?

A white lie is one thing, but if someone regularly lies, that’s a good way to tell they don’t have a good character.

It’s not easy to know if they’re lying to you, but it’s usually easier to see if they’re lying to others or if they’re insincere.

6. How do they make you feel about yourself?

This is a tricky sign. But ask yourself how you feel when you are with your friends? And how do you feel afterward? Did they do or say anything that affected your mood negatively?

If your situation is hard to read, describe it in the comments below and I’ll help you out!

Here’s what bad friends can make you feel like:

  • You feel bad about yourself
  • You feel there’s something wrong with you
  • You feel you’re not good enough
  • You feel you need to change yourself to fit in
  • You feel ashamed about yourself

Real friends lift you up and make you feel good about yourself.

7. Are they critical of your achievements?

Fake friends criticize

Good friends can give constructive criticism when you need it, but mostly they just support you and make sure you know how awesome you are for your achievement.

8. Do they understand your limitations?

Real friends understand when you can’t or don’t want to do something.

Fake friends will expect a lot from you, and get angry or irritated when you disappoint them.

Real friends have reasonable expectations on you, and they are understanding of your mistakes and flaws.

9. Do they respect your boundaries?

Fake friends overstep your boundaries and make you do and accept things you don’t want.

Real friends respect you and your boundaries. And if they accidentally go too far, they apologize when you tell them.

Article continues below.

What type of social overthinker are you?

Take this quiz and get a custom report based on your unique personality and goals. Start improving your confidence, your conversation skills, or your ability to bond - in less than an hour.

Start the quiz.

I’ve written about how to get more respect over here.

10. How do they react when you tell them something you’re proud or happy about?

Fake friends get envious and jealous when you do good and they will probably try to put you down in those situations.

Good friends will be happy for you.

11. Do they stand up for you?

I remember when I was at this house party. Most of us knew each other, but the “leader” of our group never really seemed to like me.

He often gave me backhanded compliments and were always critical of me. And at this party he started making fun of me in front of some girls, it was all disguised as “a joke”.

I even tried to laugh together with them to play along.

I didn’t notice how mean he was until later on when one of my other friends told me how uncomfortable that situation was. He said he didn’t think it was ok to behave as our “leader” did. My friend actually talked to our leader about it after that.

Standing up for me like that really meant a lot for me, even if nobody dared to stand up for me immediately, I could tell by my friend’s reaction that he was a true friend. And that also made me see that our “leader” wasn’t a real friend.

Read more about how to deal with dominating people and bullies here.

12. Is there always some sort of drama going on in their life?

Ever heard someone say “I don’t like drama” even if they seem to constantly be surrounded by drama? That person is usually the one creating a lot of that drama.

Fake friends are often drama queens. They make a big deal of small things and because they can’t own up to their mistakes, the drama just keeps going.

Real friends try to solve your differences and find a nice middle ground where you both agree with each other.

13. Do they help you out when you need it?

Fake friends ask you to do a lot for them and help them out, and their requests are often borderline unreasonable, but you never get anything back.

Nobody can be expected to help you with everything, but real friends are ready to help you when you truly need it.

You can read more here about friends who ask for help but never give back.

14. Do they act differently when around others?

Are they mean when you are one-on-one, but “fake nice” when around others? Or is it the other way around, that they’re nice one-on-one and mean toward you around others?

Article continues below.

A recommendation

If you want to improve your social skills, self-confidence, and ability to connect with someone, you can take our 1-minute quiz.

You’ll get a 100% free custom report with the areas you need to improve. 

Start the quiz

Fake friends act differently when other people are around. This is a manipulative behavior that’s not acceptable.

15. Do they talk bad about you behind your back?

Fake friends talk shit and gossip about others with you. That’s a sign that they might gossip about you behind your back when you can’t hear it.

Real friends mostly say good things about others and good things about you.

16. Do they seem happy to see you?

When I first got to know David (the founder of SocialPro), I remember how he always greeted me with a big smile and a hug. I instantly felt great around him and wanted to be with him more.

When someone makes you feel good around them, that’s a good sign they’re also a good person and a good friend.

Fake friends are often in a bad mood, they’re irritated on you or others and need to vent A LOT. Real friends need to vent too, but there should be a balance so you also get something positive out of the relationship.

17. Can you be yourself around them?

Can you relax and be yourself around your friend? Or do you have to put on a mask and fake it to fit in? If you can’t, it might be time to stop keeping in touch with them.

Real friends allow you to be yourself because they accept you and like you for who you are. Fake friends don’t.

18. Can you trust them to keep a secret?

Fake friends will tell your secrets to others because they don’t really care about you.

Real friends can be trusted with your secrets. It’s not black and white, but if someone has betrayed your trust more than once (and not apologized!), it might be time to rethink your relationship.

19. Do they try to one-up you?

Fake friends will try to one-up you. For example, if you tell them you got a new phone, they will claim their phone is better, or they will criticize your phone.

The reason they act like this is often because they have an inferiority complex and need to prove they’re better than everyone else.

20. “It was just a joke”

Have you ever told someone you got offended/hurt, and they defended themselves with the classic “I was just joking”?

That means they’re not owning they’re bad behavior and they’re not apologizing, both signs of a bad friend. A good friend will not (regularly) brush your feeling off like that and they will try to make amends instead of excuses.

Have you ever had any fake or bad friends? How did you notice? Write it down in the comments below and help others in similar situations as you!

P.S. If you’re still unsure about your friendship, read about the signs of a toxic friendship here.

Join our free training and learn these 5 secrets to making friends

  1. Learn to get past shallow small talk.
  2. Know where to find people who are more like you
  3. Improve socially without doing weird out-of-your-comfort-zone stunts.
  4. Learn why people who "don't try" often are so socially successful.
  5. See how you can go from boring to bonding in less than 7 minutes.

Start my free training.

Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages Socialpro’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

Go to Comments (127)

127 thoughts on “20 ways to tell fake friends from real friends”

Add a Comment
  1. I feel like I’m a fake friend despite only having one friend, I don’t know. I just feel like a bad friend, I tend to vent a lot due to personal problems and they’re the only person I go to. I worry that they might find me bad or something.

    Reply
    • Next time you’re venting, catch yourself and slow it down or stop. Then ask your friend how he or she is doing and actively listen and respond. Maybe when you stop worrying about all your problems, you’ll realize you’re not alone – we all have problems, but yours are no more important than your friend’s or anyone else’s.

      Also, maybe try everytime you talk with them to bring up one positive thing (an experience, thought, idea, or something you two can do together/future plans) so you come off less like a “Debbie downer”. Just an idea. I have friends that act like you and sometimes it’s a drag, TBH.

      Reply
  2. It happened suddenly on me. A “friend” of mine just talking crap out of nowhere against me, claiming that why I didn’t keep in touch with him. It’s only few months passed before our last gathering. The thing is, I only talk real business in my group chat (school stuff), so I don’t always have any topics to chat with him. He’s…….caring too much about how long I had get in touch with him, even mentioned in the chat that adding friends with him in Discord is bulls*** pointless when I didn’t even talked with him once over there. I mean, surely there’s time that others going to be busy and do their own stuff, can’t really frequently get in touch with everyone, am I right? He’s just paying too much attention of how much I had talked with him through social media. I personally didn’t actively use social media too much, because I have my own stuff to do and those are not my priorities. Is this wrong? No I don’t think so. I think he’s still not mature enough to have the thoughts, that to leave others alone with their works, instead of whining how long it has been since the last chatting. Maybe I myself also have to be more actively to start chatting, but like I said, social media is not my priorities, and yet, he have more friends than I do, still whining JUST to me about how poorly we communicated. I’m quite shocked that he typed those words…….one and a half years had we stayed together, didn’t our friendship lasted? Didn’t he realize I’m not talkative in social media? Did he not aware and have the thoughts to provide space to the others? Maybe, he’s want to improve our friendship more by frequent chatting, but damn, life’s hard when I choose to have a quiet life.

    Reply
  3. Hi I’m Debby,
    i have two close friends at school. We always spend time together and laugh a lot at the silly things we do, the friendship feels strong but lately I’ve been feeling a bit out of place like they don’t really value me anymore. At school i’m not really the popular kid i more of a quiet and low-key kind of girl. So because of this it’s easy to have me unnoticed, the problem is that we don’t really talk until one of them have a crisis or there is no body else around for them to talk to. i feel like i’m their back up plan and sadly most of their crisis include boys. When we are together they are so carefree and loose but once someone outside our circle comes it’s like they transform into a whole different person, it’s scary to be honest. When i have my problems that i’ll like to share they have a way of making everything about them. I just don’t know if i’m overreacting but i think i should end the friendship and be free or am i wrong?

    Reply
  4. Thank you so much for this guides….the points here are very helpful. My concern is on the point you made here

    ‘Do they help you out when you need it?
    Fake friends ask you to do a lot for them and help them out, and their requests are often borderline unreasonable, but you never get anything back.

    Nobody can be expected to help you with everything, but real friends are ready to help you when you truly need it.’

    What if they are overly disadvantaged on the area of your problem, like they’re poor and quite handicapped as regarding life generally…How do you rate this kind of friends?

    Reply
  5. I have a friend that I’ve known since I was 5 years old so we’ve been friends for around 11 years now. I feel like she’s a toxic friend but I’m not 100% sure. It’s weird cause we went to middle school together and were in the same class, but she would often ignore me and hang out with other people, but when we saw each other outside of school she would actually talk to me. I don’t mind if she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore, things change over the years, but after we graduated middle school and are in high school now, she talks to me a lot more. We don’t go to the same schools, but I find it strange that she doesn’t ignore me anymore. Also she tells me my outfit isn’t that cute or judges what I wear often when we see each other or hang out. I know friends should be honest but I don’t think they should point it out every time you see each other, and sometimes I don’t think it’s necessary to dress up like if we’re grocery shopping or just studying together at her house. I think she’s just a really straightforward person but I feel like she puts me down or degrades sometimes. I know it seems obvious that she’s kinda toxic, but we also have fun when we hang out sometimes, and we’ve known each other for so long. It’s hard to break a friendship with someone that you’ve known for that long, especially when they’re a family friend too and only live a few minutes away. I wouldn’t mind staying friends with her if she was just less rude, but I feel like at the moment it’s not healthy.

    Reply
    • I think you could read about boundaries In friendships, you would find some useful ideas to work out your kind of friendship

      Reply
    • Telling you about your outfit ain’t a toxic sign honey.
      Maybe she’s degrading or maybe there’s something that she finds good in you and wants to be better than you in every aspect and thus ends up picking up on you but it’s all ok till the age of 18-19 these things are normal because you’re all kids without such strong maturity, but yes I this continues when you’re with someone else or your other friends and she pin points you out in front of them , just let her know in private that you dislike the things she does and that she shouldn’t continue these things or if she’s so straight forward and is willing to put you down in front of other people go ahead and rub it off just say that I feel good and comfortable in my outfit and wouldn’t dress for other people to notice me..just say that people should wear what they’re comfortable in and smile that’ll be alright.
      Don’t worry.
      Take it easy.
      Just remember “smile”.
      Don’t feed fuel where it’s not necessary.
      If she’s downgrading you just smile and say I’m alright but thanks for worrying about me.
      That’s what I think ; if you feel I’m wrong let me knw.
      Have a nice day!
      🙂

      Reply
  6. Hey Viktor. I have a friend who acts like he cares sometimes and the friend ship is solid…we get along great and laugh a lot and smile but then some times, out of the blue, he will make fun of me for being fat or say that I am a fat hick or something. He is much fatter than me and I think hes jealous because I am successful in most areas of my life (because I put in a lot of effort)he doesnt seem to care ab doing… I think hes jealous of me and when he rips on me I go back at him as hard because hes asking for it but honestly its toxic and really stupid but he constantly does it to me? ( and everyone else who will spend time with him voluntarily but He has like zero friends, because people dont like him and can see after one hangout that he is a social burden/ liability—he doesnt seem to understand social interactions or friendships)) I just insult him back bc im not gonna take that shit, fucking, Duh. and Im better at it especially when were in a group bc all i have to do is expose him for what he is, and he cant even take it. but i wont be disrespected in public. like he tries to make me into the bitch but hes so dumb it backfires every time…In social situations with other people he cones across as a a hole and unable to act right. at times he acts worse and begs for attention it seems..he kind if gets pissed because people like me more and think Im funnier than him..( big flippin deal to me I am more of an introvert) …it makes me think he talks shit about me bc of that to ppl when im not there which is gay…the more i analyze it its obvious he is jealous but should i let a friend like that stick around? its really fucking annoying… im not sure why but he acts like were in 8th grade still. we dont know why he cant become mature but he generally pisses me and my friends off or more so makes himself look like a total chode…but the thing is I wouldnt say anything bad about him or to him for any reason cause Im a adult. but the guy talks shit about everybody. yeah its funny but he is visibly uncomfortable when we laugh at him. ( lame, you can dish it out but one little insult and u cower) I feel bad for him because he is kind of dumb and sort of a jack ass to most people but he just doesnt seem to grow out of it. We are good friends but he is clearly jealous of me or disrespectful of me for some reason. I dont need this guy to function. He doesnt affect my standing in life but what the fuck? Should I even bother with someone who refuses to grow up snd gives me shit because I dont need him as a friend…can you explain to me why he does this? Am i being too sensitive…its like, out of the blue Im talking about a normal thing and boom he goes into being a chode. Someone like him reflects badly on ppl in social situations 75% of the time. Will he ever stop being such a chode or is this just his personality and his growth as a person will always be stunted?

    Reply
  7. Asking them for help is a great way to find out what kind of friend they will be. My usual thing in asking for help that if I feel like a burden, I probably am. Some people (and I’ve known quite a few) just are simply unable to offer help in a healthy way – they complain, behave as if they’re put out and it’s an imposition, and use asking for help as an invitation to criticize, offer unsolicited advice or assume they’re being asked to “take over.” (In fact, I’ve found that people who
    consistently offer unsolicited help are looking for opportunities to do all of the above.) When I get a reaction like that, I’ve gotten to where I don’t argue or mention it -they’re doing exactly what they want to do and I can’t change that. I just don’t ask for their help again. Complications do arise if they ask ME for help. I love to help people, but I’ve found that offering them help tends to make me unhappy, as I have already learned they can’t give in return. Sometimes relationships just need to not involve asking OR giving. Maybe it’s just time for them to end. That’s fine. The most important thing about friendships is knowing how to end them and walk away, and just be grateful for whatever WAS good.

    Reply
  8. My name is Frank,
    So I have a friend I have trusted for more than 5 years. And he used to stay at my place. But mid last year I took his phone and to my surprise he was bragging to his cousin how he has fucked 4 of my girls. (I don’t know whether they are my exgirfriends or just my female friends)
    I always feel like like asking him to come come clean but I have never found the courage to.
    Is it wise to ask him to come clean?? Because it keeps bothering me.

    Reply
    • Well Frank if this guy your talking about is really your friend then he wouldn’t have grabbed about something like this but again it hurtful for you to just sit around and assume you should walk up to him and talk to him . That’s the most mature thing to do. I know you might be scared about this but that’s the only way to know if this guy is a real friend. ‘Communication is key’ and if it turns out everything is true then you understand for your sake that may be it’s time you take a break from this friend of yours. With or without him you’ll be alright 🙂

      Reply
    • Well Frank if this guy your talking about is really your friend then he wouldn’t have bragged about something like this but again it hurtful for you to just sit around and assume you should walk up to him and talk to him . That’s the most mature thing to do. I know you might be scared about this but that’s the only way to know if this guy is a real friend. ‘Communication is key’ and if it turns out everything is true then you understand for your sake that may be it’s time you take a break from this friend of yours. With or without him you’ll be alright 🙂

      Reply
  9. We had a very close friend. we had trusted her more than ourselves. on day we got to know that she was in love with one of our class friend and we came to know it after 1 and half year we were not happy that she hid the truth from us but we were happy for her. After our UG me and the friend who loved her got admission in same college of PG and he shared everything about them and we were happy for them for their matter but they didn’t talked to each other for so many days. My friend, she was not aware that we know everything and one day we saw her marriage video with another guy. we were shocked and we told everything to the other friend who was with her on work(she was also our college friend)told what we saw and knew about totally different angle of her. That friend who is a married now have been thinking that we are fake friends just for letting my other friend to know the truth. we were hiding it from everyone from long time and we are even not calling her to talk about the matter because she is married woman now and it may trouble her if we talk about the matter.Its not matter of seconds to call and ruin her happy life but we are still concerned about her and her life but she thinks that we are fake if we don’t explain it to her. I everyday try to forget but we are not able to do that we still remember her fro every matter.so if you have any suggestions let us know.

    Reply
  10. Someone I considered a friend for many years is actually not. I am merely a convenience to her. Most of the time I am doing her favors. When I need her for some support and talk, she will most often say she is busy watching a tv program right now. When out together she interrupts what I say frequently, to start talking about herself.

    While I do have others who I feel are true friends, this one is toxic. What I really think is the problem between us is – we are not at all compatible in interests, hobbies or viewpoints.

    Two people like this struggle to enjoy their time together. No comment interests or values. I’ve always felt this way. She doesn’t accept any of my idiocracies and tends to criticize a lot, as well talks badly about others in her life.

    Does anyone agree it’s a basic incompatibility issue? This person regularly calls me up for favors which means she doesn’t feel compatibility with you either. Yet is happy to use you – if you are willing?

    Reply

Leave a Comment