Friends are important for your mental health and self confidence. When you are surrounded by people who believe in you and make your life more fun, you feel fulfilled. Many people attribute their success and happiness in life to the friends that have been around them.

Unfortunately, there is one category of people that is insidious, and that you have to be wary of: fake friends. Though they have nothing to do with real friends, sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the two.

Today I would like to share ten potential signs of fake friends, so you can learn to identify them faster before they make your life worse. If you don’t have time to read the whole article, feel free to skip to the summary at the end, otherwise keep reading.

Let’s begin.

1. Talking behind your back

This is probably the most obvious sign. Fake friends love gossiping, and will take every chance to talk behind your back. The thing is, some people are pathological, and will do anything they can to criticize others. Sometimes they will even make up stories about other people so they can discredit them.

If you ever notice that one of your friends talks about you in a way that is derogatory, perhaps they are not a friend at all. This is especially true if they talk about your private life, a secret, or any information they are not supposed to share.

This is clearly a red flag because a true friend is someone you can trust 100 percent of the time. Though you may not want to share anything too personal with your friends, you should never have to worry about what they say and how they behave when they talk to other people.

Keep in mind: those who criticize you harshly and talk behind your back do so because they are insecure. They are weak individuals with a poor self-image, and they need to criticize others in order to feel better — which is one more reason you should not be friends with them.

2. Constantly asking for favors

Fake friends may act as if you had an infinite amount of time, energy, money, and patience. They will constantly bombard you with questions and requests, however when you ask them a small favor, they will be too busy, or unable to help you for whatever reason.

Friendship is supposed to be mutual: you should not be friends with someone who expects you to be available and help them all the time, while they do the exact opposite.

There is nothing wrong with helping someone, however if it’s never reciprocal, you may need to think, and wait, before you keep saying yes to their requests. Fake friends love to take advantage of those who are caring and empathetic, so if that’s who you are, pay attention.

If a fake friend asks for favors and you always say yes, chances are they will gradually ask for more, and eventually they will expect you to be available 24/7. Unless you learn to say no, your fake friends will drain all your energy, which leads us to the next potential sign…

3. Draining your energy

When you interact with your friends, how do you feel? And how do you feel after you have met them? If you have more enthusiasm, energy, and vitality, it probably means that those people care about you. If you go home and feel drained and exhausted, that’s a potential sign.

As I’ve explained in this article, energy vampires often pretend to be your friends, only so they can manipulate you. They can be very insidious, because at first they may even compliment you, and tell you you’re the most amazing person they have ever met, so you have to be careful.

When someone drains your energy, you will usually feel drained emotionally, however you may experience physical symptoms as well. Victims of energy vampires often experience fatigue, headaches, stomach pains, and insomnia: the vampires ruin their mental health as well as their physical health.

If you are not sure whether you are feeling tired or anxious directly because of a fake friend, there is a very simple thing you can do to find out: stop seeing them for a while. If you notice that the longer you don’t see them, the more energy you have — that’s a sign.

Fake friends can drain your energy

4. Jealousy

It’s perfectly fine to feel a bit frustrated if one of your friends seems to accomplish more than you and be better than you, effortlessly. However while most people will admire their friends’ positive traits, and perhaps try to model and learn from them, fake friends will be jealous.

Much like backstabbers, jealous people are often insecure. They may have mild or even severe psychological issues which prevent them from being content with who they are and what they have. As a result, they look at other people and envy their lives — while doing absolutely nothing to improve their own.

Jealousy is a potential sign of a fake friendship, so you need to ask yourself: are your friends afraid of your potential? Do they envy your successes and achievements, big or small? Do they tend to belittle anything you do?

Jealousy is never healthy, whether it’s jealousy in friendships or relationships. If the people you interact with envy who you are, and it ruins both your and their mental health, it usually means they are fake friends, and you should probably cut them out of your life.

5. They don’t listen

I get it, being a good listener is a rare trait. But fake friends will never listen to you. Fake friends are very self centered, and don’t really care about what you say, even when it’s clear that you desperately need help or advice.

Again, you have to keep in mind that friendship is supposed to be mutual. If you are happy to listen to your friend and help them out, but your friend ignores you even when you are in trouble, you have to ask yourself whether it’s worth being friends with someone so selfish.

Being a good listener implies being quiet and taking the time to give someone your attention. Fake friends often do the opposite: it’s always about them, their life, their problems, or their greatest achievements. They are usually very selfish, and very immature.

Someone who is predominantly extroverted will always talk more than an introvert, but with fake friends it’s not about their personality, it’s about their attitude and their enormous ego. Do yourself a favor and avoid people who never listen to you.

6. Opportunism

A fake friend will interact with you solely because it helps them get what they want, whether it’s other friends, money, a career promotion, or even just relieving their insecurities. Their relationship with you won’t be genuine, and it will be based on their own needs.

For example, a fake friend will act nice when it’s time to ask for a favor, and completely ignore you after they get what they want. They will pretend to be interested in your life to extract useful information, and stop seeing you, or even replying to your text messages, once they have achieved their goal.

If you’re honest, this kind of behavior is probably inconceivable, yet there’s people out there who will do anything they can to get ahead, regardless of what it takes. They are happy to lie, and even hurt others because all they care about is their objectives.

If one of your friends turns out to be an opportunist, don’t be afraid to ignore them. Focus on what you want rather than helping them get what they want. Friendship should never be based on pure selfishness.

7. They act differently in a group

It’s normal for human beings to change their behavior when they are in a group. We all change according to our environment, so when we are surrounded by other people, we think and act differently. This often happens subconsciously — we don’t realize it with our conscious mind.

While changing according to our environment is a normal process, a fake friend will be a completely different person when they are in a group. Sometimes, when it’s just you and them, they will be the nicest person on the planet; then, as soon as they are in a group, they will act as if you are a complete stranger.

Why does this happen? There’s many reasons, however it’s usually because of insecurity — a common trait of fake friends. Fake friends will feel intimidated when surrounded by other people and, as a result, will do anything they can to feel better, even if it means ignoring or criticizing you.

Another possible reason is that they are simply opportunists. As we’ve just seen, opportunists act nice only when it’s time to get what they want, but in general, they don’t really care about others. When they are in a group, their main goal could be to tell everyone they are the best, and to do so, they may discredit you or make you feel inferior.

8. Bad gut feelings 

If you want to be happy and successful in life, it’s very important that you learn to use your intuition, trust your gut feelings, and listen to your mind and body. These are invaluable skills that will get you far: don’t overlook them.

We’ve already seen how energy vampires drain your energy and make you feel tired all the time, however if you suspect someone you know is a fake friend, you should not only pay attention to how they make you feel, but also what you feel about them.

Fake friends can be insidious, however most of the time you will be able to spot one in a relatively short amount of time. Perhaps your rational mind tells you they are nice people, but your gut feelings disagree. If so, do not ignore your intuition because it’s usually right.

To paraphrase Shakti Gawain: “your intuition will tell you where you need to go, and it will connect you with people you should meet”. Even if you are not aware of it, your subconscious mind may have figured out that one of your friends is actually a fake friend.

9. Lying all the time

Friendship is based on trust and honesty. A pathological liar will almost always end up being a fake friend, and it’s impossible to trust someone who constantly hides or manipulates the truth anyway.

Fake friends lie all the time. When they feel insecure, they will lie about their achievements, personality traits, or possessions; when they don’t want to see you, they will come up with an excuse (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it happens over and over again, it’s a red flag).

Or, they will lie about their feelings toward you. They’ll tell you they love you and care about you, even though their behavior tells you the opposite. This is a common trait of narcissists, and it should not be ignored.

If you know one of your friends is a pathological liar, they probably don’t deserve your time. At best, they will be untrustworthy; at worst, they will ruin your mental health and add unnecessary stress to your life.

10. You can’t be yourself with them

The tenth and final sign of fake friends is if you can’t be yourself with them. When you are surrounded by those who genuinely love you, and want you to succeed, you are spontaneous; you don’t need to pretend you are someone else; you don’t need to hide your personal traits.

Conversely, fake friends can make you feel guarded. You may be afraid that they’ll take advantage of your vulnerabilities. You may fear that they’ll make fun of you if you don’t behave the way they behave. Unless you are simply paranoid, or overly suspicious, this should never happen.

Friends should encourage you and help you be the best version of yourself, spontaneously. They should make you laugh, feel at ease, and enjoy the time you spend with them. If, on the other hand, you feel insecure and can’t be yourself, it probably means you are interacting with fake friends.

Before you count your friends, make sure you can count on them. Some friends are only around when they want something from you but are never there when you need something from them.

— Unknown

Simple tips to deal with fake friends

Alright, now that you have learned to spot and identify a fake friend, how do you deal with them? Should you talk to them, or completely cut them out of your life? The answer very much depends on who they are and the reason why they make you feel upset.

Sometimes “it’s all in your head”: some people make you angry, not because they want to hurt you, but because they don’t understand your values or your feelings. If that’s the case, usually the best thing you can do is talk to your friend and explain to them how their behavior makes you feel upset.

Their response will usually tell you whether they are fake friends or not. Most of the time, they will apologize and say they didn’t even realize you were upset: in this case, it makes sense to believe they are honest, and continue the friendship.

On the other hand, if you know you are dealing with energy vampires, opportunists, fake people, or people who take advantage of your good nature, arguing with them may be a waste of time. You can try and talk to them, and explain why they should change, but what are the chances of them changing?

Lastly, if you have already told them, but they just won’t listen, my advice would be to stop seeing them. Your time and energy are precious; your mental health is at risk. Focus on finding friends that support you and make you happy, and ignore those who are fake.

Signs of fake friends: summary

The main signs of fake friends are that:

  • They talk behind your back
  • They constantly ask for favors
  • They drain your energy
  • They are jealous
  • They don’t listen
  • They are opportunists
  • They act differently in groups
  • They lie all the time
  • You have bad feelings about them
  • You can’t be yourself with them

If a friend makes you feel upset simply because they don’t know you or understand your feelings, it’s usually a good idea to talk to them. On the other hand, if you are certain you are dealing with a fake friend, you must focus your energy on better people.

The world is full of individuals who are truly happy to spend time with you, and help you become the best version of yourself — these are the people you should be friends with.

Have you ever had to deal with a fake friend? Let me know by leaving a comment! 👇