The harsh truth of the world is that not everyone can be trusted. Not everyone is going to want to be our friends; they may even totally dislike us.
They might disagree with our political views; or feel jealous about our professional and personal achievements.
They’ll keep these feelings lowkey, of course, which makes knowing who to trust difficult.
Beneath the fake smiles and the backhanded insults could be someone plotting to see us become miserable.
They might want to see us fail or embarrass ourselves in front of the manager.
They might be secretly planning something nasty for us — in which case, take note of these 12 signs to help you avoid falling for their trap.
1) They’re being extra sweet for no good reason
Have you started noticing that someone has been attending to your needs more than usual?
It’s as if they’re always there for you, buying you special gifts and offering you their food?
While it’s natural for people to show their affection for someone else, this person might be taking it a little too far.
This almost obsession-level behavior could mean one of two things: either they truly are enamored by you, or they’re faking it.
When someone appears too cheery around you, always positive, and smiling, it might be best to keep an arm’s length away from them — they might not be so genuine about it.
2) Your friends start acting strangely around you
After meeting this person, have your friends started acting differently around you? They may have started talking to you less, or even avoid you altogether.
Maybe when they talk to you, it’s in a colder and more monotone voice, as if they can’t wait to leave their conversation with you. Or they won’t even look you in the eye.
People who are plotting against you often don’t try to work alone; they recruit accomplices and influence people close to you.
They might have talked to your friends about you, smearing your name and turning them against you.
3) They gossip about other people to you
These people tend to let you in on secrets about other people to form a bond between you. When they share a piece of gossip, they might ask you to swear not to tell anyone else.
What can be overlooked about this is that this kind of behavior is probably something that they do often — meaning that they could gossip about you too.
When they tell you not to mention it to anyone, you’ve automatically become their accomplice, whether you realize it or not.
They’ve brought you down to their level and they’ll use your willingness to accept such gossip as a way to ruin your reputation in front of your other friends.
4. They give backhanded compliments
In playing nice and trying to hide their deceitful character, they tend to drop hints of their feelings about you in their “compliments”.
They might say something like “Wow, I’m so surprised that you got the job! Good for you!” So do they mean that you seemed incapable and unskilled?
It takes a keen ear to read between the lines.
Once you start noticing that their compliments don’t seem to rub you the right way, that’s when you should start being wary of their other behavior.
Watch how they compliment other people — if the only person they speak to that way is you, they might not like you as much as you thought.
5) They bring up things you know you didn’t do
One of their favorite lines might be, “You have a bad memory.” This is a way for them to augment reality and get you doubting yourself.
You can both reminisce about a trip that you went on and you could’ve sworn that you didn’t say anything mean to them, but they still claim to have been offended.
What you can do is to watch out when you’re both alone; that means there’s no witness to back up what did or didn’t happen between the two of you.
It becomes your word against theirs. They know this and will charm everyone around you into believing that you did something that you swore you never did.
6) They aren’t there when you need them
One of the marks of friendship is being there for each other, especially when someone’s feeling down or they’re in trouble and they need help.
If you consider this person your “friend”, it would be wise to reflect on the favors that you’ve done for them and the ones they’ve done for you.
You can look back at how many times you were there to listen to their rants while they never bothered listening to yours.
They never seem to say, “Thank you” to you; they simply go about their days as if you didn’t help them. When they’re doing this, they may be manipulating and using you.
There’s no genuine friendship there, so it would be wise to build some distance between the two of you.
7) They purposefully intimidate you
When they “joke” around and say demeaning things about you and you get hurt, they’ll say that you’re just being sensitive.
They could even get angry at you when you call them out about their behavior.
They want to make you feel small with their backhanded compliments.
They also want to keep bragging to you about how great their life might be going at the moment, just so that you feel bad about yourself.
They want to subtly discourage you from being motivated to achieve success because you might overtake them.
They plot to keep you feeling demotivated, adding to your self-doubt.
8) They act like a different person when you’re with others
When they’re with you, they could be overly sweet or even a little disrespectful towards you.
But when you see them with their other friends, it’s as if you’re looking at an entirely different person. Suddenly they’re happier and laugh far more.
And you see them change their personality depending on who they’re talking to: their parents, the manager, or their other friends.
This sort of behavior shouldn’t go unnoticed.
When someone is being inconsistent with their personality, it could already send a message that they think about you in a different way — they could either like you or hate you.
It’s difficult to trust someone who’s unpredictable.
While it’s difficult to tell what they’re truly feeling, it’s still important to keep a close eye on that so you won’t get too surprised that they’ve been plotting against you this entire time.
9) They tend to guilt trip you
They want you to feel like you’re the victim and that everything is your fault.
When you decline their invitation to go out, they start saying how good friends are always supportive of one another, and then question whether you want to be a good friend or a bad friend.
They want to make you feel bad about your behavior and your actions simply because they don’t like you.
They manipulate you into always thinking something is your fault.
They bring up things like how your family might feel if they had someone so mean. It’s this emotional and intellectual bullying that you need to protect yourself against.
10) They’re passive aggressive
When you ask them what’s wrong, they tend to tell you that they’re fine — even if they’re bothered about something that you said.
They aren’t upfront to you about their feelings.
One of the reasons why they do this is so that, when the time comes to bring in their other friends, they’ll smear your name and keep blaming you for making them feel bad.
11) They lie by omission
When a work instruction comes along, they aren’t willing to tell you everything.
That way, when you go to present the final product to your boss, you’ll be missing something — something they have that will conveniently resolve the problem.
It makes them look like a hero and you look like an incompetent employee.
So be careful and always ask another source about something that they said — it might be the truth, but it isn’t the whole truth.
12) They pretend they don’t know what they’re doing
When you confront them about their behavior, they’ll play dumb; they’ll say things like, “I don’t understand what you’re saying.” or “You’re not being very clear.” even if you’re being as clear as you can be.
When they plead ignorance, it’s a way for them to wash their hands of their behavior and make themselves look like the victim.
In the long run, it would be wiser to be the better person in the situation.
The very thing that they’re looking for in plotting against you is for you to give in.
As soon as you retaliate, you’ve stooped down to their level.
A possible alternative action would be to simply confront them about it while remaining respectful.
If they still aren’t willing to stop, then it might benefit you to avoid them as much as you can.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.
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