14 Signs Of Fake Friends: How To Spot One A Mile Off

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Life takes us on some rather interesting journeys, and having wonderful friends with us on the long ride can make both the best and worst periods a lot more enjoyable.

That said, having crappy, fake friends can make even the best situation quite horrible, and the worst of life’s trials just… hellish.

Real friends are there for you when you need them, are fun and supportive, and will call you out on your BS or crappy life choices because they love you, not because they want to make you feel bad.

Below are some of the traits exhibited by fake friends: take a look at them and ask yourself if anyone in your social circle embodies these traits.

1. They use you.

“Oh, hey… I haven’t talked to you in forever, how are you doing? Are you free next weekend? See, I’m moving and I’m going to need some help carrying boxes…”

Charming, right?

And more common than you might realize.

The truth is, they are using you.

You might not have heard from this person for six months or more, but funny how you came to mind as soon as they needed manual labor taken care of.

If you’ve proven that you’ll come to this person’s rescue whenever needed, that’s the role they’ve labeled you with: the helper, the fixer, the one they can depend on.

They’ll appreciate you in the moment, sure, and thank you with pizza and beer and what have you, but then you won’t hear from them again for at least six months until something else comes up that they need help tending to.

Extra reading: 22 Clear Signs Someone Is Using You: How To Tell For Sure

2. They put you down.

Subtle digs in the guise of playful teasing, one-upmanship, and backhanded compliments are just a few of the ways that fake friends may try to put you down in order to make themselves feel better.

They usually do so from a place of pain, like having low self-esteem, or projecting their issues with having been mistreated by others in a similar manner, but understanding where their behavior stems from doesn’t make it okay, nor easy to deal with.

A female friend may give an item of clothing to someone else, and when/if the recipient tries it on and expresses joy with it, they might say something akin to: “Yeah, I thought it was really cute, but it was HUGE on me… I figured it would fit you instead.”

Or, when introduced to your new boyfriend/girlfriend, the fake friend might sow seeds of insecurity, saying that the person is way out of your league and will undoubtedly leave you for someone better looking/wealthier/more successful.

They may even hit on your new partner right in front of you to boost their own ego.

3. They dump their emotional load on you and drain your energy.

You know that person who only ever tells you about all the awful crap going on in their life?

Yeah. That one.

Often, they can be labeled as “askholes,” in that they constantly ask your opinion about their choices or situation, but never take your advice.

In fact, they often do the complete opposite of what you advise them to do, and tend to keep repeating the same awful, self-destructive patterns of behavior over and over again, without ever learning from them.

Instead of being introspective and self-aware, and maybe doing some measure of growing as a result of running the same gauntlet a dozen times over, they pour all their frustration and negativity into you.

They force you to do their emotional labor for them, and will likely tell you about how much better they feel after talking to you.

An example may be a person who is being abused by their partner, tells you all the awful things that happen behind closed doors, but stays with that partner out of a misguided sense of “love” and “loyalty.”

So you’re the one who fumes at the table the next time they’re over for dinner because you know what’s been going on, but your so-called friend is as pleased as punch because they’re not stressed at all: they’ve handed all that negativity to you to deal with, so their heart’s lightened.

4. They get angry if you call them out for crossing your boundaries.

If you tell a true friend that they’ve crossed your boundaries by saying or doing something that’s upset you, they’ll apologize and try to make amends.

If you tell a fake friend the same thing, they’ll likely get defensive, lose their cool at you, start fabricating lies to make you feel that you’re the one who’s in the wrong, and then stop talking to you for a while.

Or indefinitely.

See, the thing is, when someone truly cares about you, they’ll do their best to ensure your relationship is symbiotic.

If they care more about themselves, their wants, and their needs, then they stop seeing you as a person who deserves to be respected and cared for: you exist solely for their benefit, and at their convenience.

Calling them out on their BS shatters that illusion, and they’ll rage about it.

5. They disappear when you need them to reciprocate, and they never keep their promises.

Funny how you may always be there for your friend when they need you, but when you need something in turn, they’re nowhere to be found.

Yeah, that’s not a real friend at all.

If they just happen to be busy each and every time you need them, or if they ghost on you and can’t keep a single promise they’ve made you, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re only keeping you around for their own benefit.

This is also a trait common to narcissists, so be careful: if one decides that you’re their favorite person, you may be in for a whole world of ugly.

They’ll be difficult to get rid of, as they’ll guilt trip you and make you feel like the worst person on the planet for not pandering to them when they’re being all fragile and pathetic.

Extra reading: 10 Signs Of A One-Sided Friendship

6. Their actions and behaviors have you walking on eggshells.

Fake friends expect you to be an ever-supportive, nodding, smiling creature who agrees with everything they say, and are quick to pull the trigger and start a huge fight if you have an opinion or idea that differs from theirs.

They might spout off about political or social issues, expecting you to echo their thoughts, and strike you down if you dare disagree.

If you do, they may publicly mock you for doing so, tell you how disappointed they are with you for not seeing “the truth,” and cut off communication with you until you wake up and see the world from their perspective.

Real friends can agree to disagree, and respect one another’s opinions and beliefs. End of.

7. They may fish for information.

Some people will come into your life and try to befriend you solely to suit another’s purpose.

It’s ridiculous and juvenile, but it’s really quite astonishing how many so-called adults actually can’t seem to behave with integrity and maturity.

A new person may enter your life (usually via social media) and is immediately really chatty and eager to get to know you.

In no time flat, they might start asking personal questions about some other people in your circle, and if you do a bit of digging, you’ll find that you have an acquaintance in common – usually someone you’ve had a falling out with.

Have you broken up with someone recently? This new “friend” might be spying on you for them to see what you’re up to so they can report back.

Or perhaps a coworker who dislikes you is trying to dig up dirt on you to get you fired.

You might laugh at these scenarios, but you’d be surprised at how often they occur, despite the fact that they’re utterly ridiculous.

8. They don’t fight your corner.

A fake friend won’t stick their neck out and back you up if there is an argument between you and another person.

They won’t stand up for you and vouch for your character because that would mean they risk being disliked by those you are in disagreement with.

Instead, they will look on silently, letting you fight alone.

As much as they may gain something from having you in their life, it’s not enough for them to take action on your behalf. They would rather lose you than take your side.

9. They seek the most superficial of friendships.

They know your name, where you live, perhaps what sort of food you like, but that’s almost as far as it goes.

They don’t know what really makes you tick. There’s no deeper understanding of you as a unique person, just a superficial level of unimportant detail.

And that’s because they rarely ask the more probing questions that real friends ask. They never initiate the wonderfully interesting conversations about life and beyond.

Nor do they inquire about the big things going on in your life. Had a baby? They barely noticed you were pregnant. Lost a loved one? Don’t expect them to send flowers.

In truth, they don’t care about connecting with you on a meaningful level because they don’t see or value you as an important part of their life.

And that’s mainly because…

10. They are selfish conversationalists and generally bad company.

When it comes to conversation, their favorite topic is themselves.

They are self-absorbed conversational narcissists who spend the majority of their time discussing their lives and, as we mentioned above, their problems.

They regale you with stories about how they once met someone famous or the adventures they have been on. And these are likely to be stories you’ve heard many times before.

But they don’t often ask how you are doing or what’s going on in your life. And if they do, it’s only toward the end of your time together when they have exhausted every topic that involves them.

And even then, when they have run out of things to say about themselves…

11. They spread rumor and gossip, and create drama.

If they have heard a juicy nugget of information, you can be sure that everyone they know will have heard it too by the end of the day.

They love the thrill of hearing and spreading gossip about other people. You hear it all the time as they unload random “facts” they have picked up around the water cooler.

You pretend to be interested, but you barely know half the people they are talking about. They don’t care, though, as long as they can keep hearing the sound of their own voice.

And their fakery as a friend kicks in when they talk about you to other people. They may take one of the few things they have learnt from you during your conversations and use it as social currency to win the attention and favor of others.

Your secrets are never secret with them.

12. They are jealous of your successes, accomplishments, and happiness.

As well as you might be doing in your job or as happy as you might be in your personal relationships, they won’t be happy for you.

This relates to #2 and their habit of putting you down. They don’t like to see other people do well in life because this shines a light on what they see as their own failures.

Some fake friends will even ditch a person whose life is going better than their own because it is too painful for them to admit it.

They won’t congratulate you or cheer you on; they will just go quiet and disappear from your life for a while (or permanently).

But should things ever go wrong for you…

13. They judge your mistakes, failures, and poor judgments harshly.

“I told you so” is something you will probably hear a lot from a fake friend.

They are quick to judge and criticize you and point out all the things you did wrong. They claim to say all of these things in your own best interest… to prevent you from doing the same again in future.

But, in truth, they just enjoy feeling superior to you.

They rarely ever console you or lend an ear for you to talk about your problems. They are quick to offer solutions to everything, though, because they know best after all.

Often, they’ll provide the solutions whether you asked for them or not. They want to be your savior so that you are indebted to them, even if they are being anything but helpful.

14. They hold grudges and never forget (or let you forget)

Should you ever wrong your so-called friend, they will hold it against you for the rest of time.

They might say that they forgive you, but they won’t act like they have.

And they have double standards. So if you are running late to meet them, they’ll scold you for it. But if they are late to meet you, they’ll expect you to go easy on them because “it couldn’t be helped.”

Months or even years later, especially if they want to get you to do something or because they want to hurt you for some reason, they’ll say, “Remember when you…?”

This is code for, “You’re a bad person and I want you to remember that.” Or perhaps, “You owe me big time because of that.”

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About The Author

Catherine Winter is an herbalist, INTJ empath, narcissistic abuse survivor, and PTSD warrior currently based in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. In an informal role as confidant and guide, Catherine has helped countless people work through difficult times in their lives and relationships, including divorce, ageing and death journeys, grief, abuse, and trauma recovery, as they navigate their individual paths towards healing and personal peace.