24 Signs to Tell Fake Friends From Real Friends

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“I seem to attract people who act nice at first but turn out to be unreliable, two-faced, or self-centered. I want to know how to avoid fake friends who don’t respect me.”

How do you tell if a friend is fake or not? It’s not always easy to spot the signs. Some toxic people are so subtle in their behavior that it might be months or even years before you realize that they aren’t genuine. In this guide, you’ll learn the warning signs of a fake friend.

How do you avoid fake friends?

When you get to know someone, pay close attention to what they say, what they do, and how they make you feel. True friends are consistent and honest. Do not ignore warning signs such as lying, constant complaining, and gossiping. If you notice red flags early on, rethink the friendship.

Why do I attract jealous friends?

If this is a repeating pattern in your life, you might be saying or doing things that imply you are superior to those around you. This kind of behavior can trigger competitive feelings or envy in others. When someone needs support, do you offer empathy, or do you mainly talk about your achievements?

When should you stop being friends with someone?

Genuine friendships are based on mutual trust, disclosure, and affection.[1] When a friend takes more than they give or makes you feel bad about yourself, it may be time to end the friendship. You should also consider whether you can respect your friend. If not, it’s probably best to move on.

Here are 24 signs that a friend is fake:

1. How much do 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 feedback.

On some days, I also had something on my mind that 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 and talked about himself again.

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

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

Fake friends are not interested in you. They’re only interested in themselves. They may use you as an audience or therapist.

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 your life, opinions, and feelings? Do you get to talk about your problems? Do they support you when things are rough? These are signs of a real friend.

If you tell them something important about you or your life, do they listen? Do they remember special events and dates that are significant for you?

Some people aren’t very good at asking questions. This doesn’t mean they don’t care. However, you should still get the general impression that they want to know you on a deeper level.

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 her behaviors sometimes troubled him.

Then he told me that his girlfriend’s best friend was a big douche bag and that she regularly hung 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 can take time to figure out what someone is really like. But when someone’s best friend is a big douche bag, and they hang out with other bad people, those are BIG WARNING SIGNS.

So, if you don’t like your friend’s other friends, that’s a red flag.

4. Do they apologize and make up for their mistakes?

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 wouldn’t have cared. They might even have been annoyed or irritated by my reaction. Real friends make mistakes, but they own up to them and apologize.

5. Do they lie to you or others?

An occasional white lie is OK. For example, most of us have said, “Thank you for dinner, it was delicious!” at some point, even when the food wasn’t very good. But if someone lies often or tells big lies, this doesn’t reflect well on their character.

It’s not easy to know if someone is lying to you. However, watching them with other people can give you some clues. If they lie to other people or act insincere, they might do the same to you.

6. How do they make you feel about yourself?

How do you feel when you are with your friends? How do you feel afterward? Do they do or say anything that affects your mood negatively?

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

Here’s how bad friends can make you feel:

  • 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 with the group
  • You feel ashamed of yourself
  • You feel that your friends are taking pity on you by inviting you to spend time with them
  • You feel that you can’t let your real personality shine through

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

7. Are they critical of your achievements?

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 when you achieve something.

8. Do they understand your limitations?

Real friends understand when and why 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 of 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 how you feel.

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

10. Are they supportive?

Fake friends get envious and jealous when you do well, and they will probably try to put you down in those situations or minimize your achievements. Good friends will be happy for you.

11. Do they stand up for you?

I was once at a house party where 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 was always critical of me. At this party, he started making fun of me in front of some girls. He tried to disguise it as a “joke.”

I even tried to play along by laughing with them.

I didn’t notice how mean he was until later, when one of my other friends told me that the situation made him uncomfortable. He said he didn’t think it was OK for the “leader” to behave like that. My friend then talked to our leader about it.

The fact that he stood up for me meant a lot. Even though nobody dared to say anything immediately, I could tell by my friend’s reaction that he was a true friend. It 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,” yet they seem to be surrounded by it? There’s a good chance they are the source of the problem.

If you are losing respect for a friend, this could be why. It’s hard to respect someone who keeps making trouble for themselves.

Fake friends are often dramatic. For example, they may announce that they are breaking up with a friend or partner but then change their mind. They tend to cause arguments and misunderstandings wherever they go. They also make a big deal of small things and don’t own up to their mistakes.

Real friends try to solve your differences and find a middle ground where you both agree with each other. They would rather have a calm discussion than throw a temper tantrum.

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

Fake friends often ask you for help. In time, they might ask you for bigger and bigger favors. 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 alone but act nice to you in front of other people? Or maybe it’s the other way around: they’re nice in a one-on-one conversation but mean toward you when you socialize as part of a group?

Fake friends act differently depending on who is around. This behavior is unacceptable. Real friends are consistent, not two faced.

15. Do they speak badly of 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 aren’t around to 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 spend more time with him.

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

Fake friends are often in a bad mood. They are irritable and like to vent a lot. Real friends need to vent too, but it should be balanced out with positive, fun conversations.

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 or respect your privacy.

Real friends can be trusted with your secrets. 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. Do they say, “It was just a joke”?

Have you ever told someone you got offended or hurt, and they defended themselves with the classic line, “I was just joking” or, “You’re too sensitive, you should learn to take a joke”?

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

21. Have they been gaslighting you?

People who gaslight you are one of the worst types of fake friends because they can make you feel crazy.

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where someone tries to make you question your own judgment. Here’s an example:

One day, Abby is using her boyfriend’s laptop. She sees some flirtatious messages between her boyfriend and her friend Sophie. Abby worries that they might be secretly seeing each other.

She confronts Sophie. Sophie denies that she has been flirting with Abby’s boyfriend. She tells Abby, “How could you possibly think I’d do that to you? You know I’m your best friend!”

This makes Abby confused. After all, why would Sophie lie? Abby starts to think, “Maybe I’m being paranoid here? Am I one of those overprotective girlfriends?”

Gaslighting is unacceptable in any relationship, whether romantic or platonic. It signals a complete lack of respect. Avoid people who manipulate you like this.

22. Do they drop off the radar when they start dating someone new?

Fake friends will ignore you when they meet a new boyfriend or girlfriend. They may suddenly reappear when the relationship goes wrong and they want advice or when it ends and they need someone to give them emotional support. Real friends make time for you even when they are caught up in an exciting new relationship.

23. Are they using you to gain access to other people?

Sometimes, fake friends try to get close to you because they want to take advantage of your connections.

For example, a fake friend might only act nice to you because they want to date one of your other friends or because you know someone who could help them land a new job.

Watch out for a friend who directly asks for introductions when you haven’t known them for very long. It’s normal to network with your friend’s friends, but be on guard if they seem more interested in meeting your social circle than spending time with you.

24. Do they use emotional blackmail?

Fake friends try to get something from you by manipulating your emotions. This is called emotional blackmail.

For example, let’s say your friend wants to borrow your car one weekend. Unfortunately, they are a bad driver who has been in more than one accident. You aren’t comfortable lending them your car, and you politely tell them why. Your friend says, “If you were a real friend, you’d give me a chance.”

In this case, your friend would be emotionally blackmailing you by trying to make you feel guilty for saying “No.” Real friends don’t behave this way. When they hear “No,” they respect it.

25. Consider seeking professional support

Being surrounded by bad friends can be extremely draining and tough to deal with on your own. Just one bad friend can be too much to deal with on your own. A therapist can help you gain more clarity, and also support you through any emotional fallout when dealing with bad, fake friends.

We recommend BetterHelp for online therapy, since they offer unlimited messaging and a weekly session, and is much cheaper than going to an actual therapist's office. They are also cheaper than Talkspace for what you get. You can learn more about BetterHelp here.

Have you ever had any fake or bad friends? What were the signs? Are you getting rid of friends who drag you down? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and help others in a similar situation!

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

Show references +

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

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  1. I have a friend from childhood and we were great still friends or? Since it’s been over 30 years there have been many periods of time we didn’t talk or see each other but we still consider each other as best friends!
    I am seeing now that the times we did talk or hang out was the times he was in trouble or needed help or something I had, I hardly ever hear from him other than those reasons or sometimes gossip, not spreading about me, just telling me about others (red flag). I have noticed he does not respond to my calls or texts until it suits him(red flag), wow thank you for this it has opened my eyes and has gotten me to believe what I knew for a while but didn’t want to believe! A lot of what you said makes much more sense to me now, easier to see! Again Thank You and God Bless !!
    —-Just an endnote: don’t hate your fake friend, pray for them but that does not mean you need to hang around. You need to love yourself enough to not give anyone power over you, so don’t be sad or mad, move on and live your life!

    Reply
  2. I once had a friend that would cancel plans last minute he said he was going to come to my swim meet but then said he couldn’t last minute so yeah he is a flake he never made time for his friends once he started getting serious with his girlfriend I finally got the courage to end the friendship with him after a few months of neglect afterwards he made it really weird tried to talk to me and his girlfriend tried to talk to me too but I had nothing to say then he got engaged so he messed up pretty bad with this one yes his girlfriend was the clingy controlling kind of girl but he would not take off his blinders

    Reply
  3. I don’t know but my when it comes to my friends If I don’t text or see what is up with them they wouldn’t even text back or check up on me, ill always be the one in the group where I have to solve the problems so everything can be cool and normal if something goes up. Sometimes I feel like our friendship is one-sided but I don’t want to think too much into it incase we have drama and I really don’t want to lose them even though things are tough If I have to be ill try be more understanding if that’s the case but….. yeah idk in the end

    Reply
  4. i had i friend and i would tell her stuff i didnt want her to share and she would tell me stuff she didnt want me to share i kept her secrets but a week later i heard from one of my best friends that she was telling people what i had told her i mean it wasnt bad stuff that i told her it was just secrets and stuff but she shared them with people i didnt even know, so i decided to stop being friends with her, then one of my friends got a letter from her that said me and my sister were ignoring her and she also said bad stuff about us, so i felt really bad and decided to give her another chance, but then i heard from my sister and friends that she wasnt being very nice, i dont know what to do i feel really bad she doesnt have any friends.

    Reply
  5. Hi Viktor! Thanks for this article, it helped a lot:)
    I am facing a similar situation but don’t know how to judge if this friendship is toxic / how to implement boundaries. I am quite an introvert, so i need time alone to recharge, and I tend to not be ‘too intense’ (as in texting everyday etc) in friendships since it drains all of my energy. I have a few very selected close friends, but the rest of people that i hang out with are more like acquaintances or distant friends.
    So here’s the problem: I have a friend (I am not that close to her) who is being quite intense with me (texting me frequently, asking to hang out every week…) and I often feel drained after meeting with her. She’s really nice, but I have a feeling we don’t see our friendship the same way. And I actually don’t want to spend so much time with her as I often feel bad afterwards even though I can’t really identify why. How can I improve this situation?
    Thanks Xx

    Reply
  6. There was this one girl in my middle school that was always telling my best friend I was a jerk and that I said stuff about her behind her back but me and that girl weren’t even friend so I just ignored her I feel like I’m done with people anyway😑

    Reply
    • @Anonymous
      Keep your heart and trust open. There are a lot of good people who still exist out there. Follow your ❤️!

      Reply
    • Yeah, I had a friendship end just recently and I’ve had several friendships end over the last couple of years because I was tired of the fake that I seen in each one of them.

      About a year ago, an ex friend told me I don’t ever listen to her despite the fact that I would spend hours on the phone with her talking about your life and how it all has gone wrong. Very rarely did I ever did to talk about what was going on in my life….not a real friendship.

      Another ex friend ended up getting pregnect and didn’t want the baby. She offered for me (me and husband) to adopt baby. I had suspicions that she wasn’t pregnant after a couple of months because she always had excuses to not go to medical appts and didn’t start showing like you would when someone progresses in a pregnancy. After several months of this, an ultrasound was demanded since it’s required to prove pregnancy when adoption takes place. Long story short, she was never pregnant and was trying to get money. Tried to blame me she lost the baby because I put to much stress on her. Lawyer said this was adoption fraud and thank god she was never given money. She never showed proof to the lawyer that she was pregnant as we considered a lawsuit.

      Recent friend decided I wasn’t important anymore because he ended up getting into a relationship with his girlfriend. He told me that the girlfriend would need to understand that we have a good friendship and she would need to understand that(my husband was told everything and was completely comfortable with us being friends). We seen each other as brother and sister. Well, after about 3 months he started spending less time with me and I tried to talk to him about what was going on. The girlfriend didn’t want me around him because she didn’t want another woman around him even though we’ve been friends for years and was completely platonic( married and completely happy being married). I called him a couple of times after that to try to hang out or do something. He made excuses and said we would do something again soon…we never did and he never called me back. Well, I guess he made his choice. Sucks, because I did truly value his friendship. Too bad she couldn’t get past her insecurities and destroyed a good friendship. I will not welcome him back in my life.

      Yeah-I’m pretty much done with people. I’m going to keep to myself and do my own thing. If people come into my life naturally, that’s great. I’m not longer taking applications for new friends and I’m ok with my own company if it doesn’t happen ….much happier with no drama and b.s.

      Reply
      • Don’t worry about not having friends, you are very lucky if you can even find one. people suck!! You don’t know who to trust and it’s not worth all the grief. I just lost a friend of 45 yrs. due to drinking and hooking up with another drinker. Also, I was diagnosed with bipolar and she didn’t understand how anyone could be like that at my age,58, So instead of helping, she put me down and ignored me. it hurts but what can you do? Good luck.

  7. A old friend knew I didn’t finish college but had no knowledge that I tried to commit suicide over it. I had moved back in with my mother and we were fighting a lot because of school. I still tried to be a happy person to whoever I was around but inside I was hurting. One weekend me and my friend decided to go to Los Angeles a city nearby to have some girl time. I hadn’t seen my friend since we both moved back from the college we both attended. While my friend was in my home she began asking me what I have been doing since I came home. I told her I had been working. She replied and said “I bet your mom hates you. “ i let it go but it bothered me because she would always throw jabs at me and I never could understand why. Well another night not long after that she said something hurtful in front of her boyfriend and they both began laughing. I was humiliated and couldn’t escape because I was in the backseat of her boyfriends car. A few days later I asked her about the low blows on Facebook messenger. My message wasn’t aggressive but more concerning. I just wanted to know what I did to make her say such hurtful things. Lately it was becoming more consistent. She replied with something like she was just joking and if I didn’t like it I didn’t need to talk to her. Then a few days later I noticed she blocked me on everything and then went on her boyfriends account and blocked me from his social media’s as well. That was 10 years ago. I think about her everyday.

    Reply
  8. My best friend lied that she is not going to tuition but I saw her going to tuition.She is feeling bad as I got -82% while she go 78% . She wants to get more marks than me. I feel that she is fake. Lying to best friend is like breaking their heart.

    Reply
  9. So since I’ve known my friend, I have gone out of my way to unconditionally be there for them in their times of emotional needs, especially when no one else does. He calls me all the time, and the vast majority of our calls center around him, he talks about himself all the time and requests help from me when he needs it. I almost always, oblige just to try and make sure he is happy and because I truly care about him.

    When he does talk about himself, I noticed he is usually sitting down uninterrupted, and completely focused. But I recently asked him for his undivided attention. They responded and said they “like to be efficient with time and doesn’t like to focus on just one thing”.

    Am I wrong for asking for undivided attention when my feelings are down and need support?

    Reply
  10. One of my friends I’ll call her. friend #1 she is very energetic allways wants to do something, but if I suggest a movie she will say that that is boreing and move on. If ask her if she wants to go for a walk and I close the front door. Then we walk. Half way down the street she runs back when are im not looking and runs to the door to lock it. She lets me in like 3 minutes later but she dose it all the time. But she also calls me fattie and stupid. I tell her about it then she Said “can’t you take a joke. ” Then yesterday I was eating dinner with my family then she said that one of my other Friend #2 was pretending to do drugs! I was shocked and asked her about it and said one of her friends hacked into our computers and spyed on us and told me that me and friend #2 were making fun about her gossiping and what not and we were not. She spam calls me too. What do you think. All of this behavior is repetitive. I’ve known her for a year now.

    Reply
    • Cut her weird azz off. Calling you names is not acceptable. If I were you I’d rip her apart verbally and then move on. If she wants to pick you apart then pick her azz apart and find people who love you even if those people only include yourself. Do you want chaos or peace? With a friend like that you will never have peace. Imagine the mean things she would say about your weight in front of a group of cute guys. Cut that b*tch off. She’s a sick person

      Reply

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