How to spot a fake friend: 10 red flags to watch out for

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Realizing you might have been spending time with someone who doesn’t actually care about you can feel like a punch to the gut. 

But the truth is, someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart won’t come knocking with a big red flag attached to them. It can take years before you see the signs. 

That’s why, if you’ve got doubts about a friend, this article will help you. 

Here’s how to spot a fake friend. Check out the 10 red flags below:

1) They’re constantly negative 

One of the first signs you’re dealing with a fake friend is if they’re always negative, and it’s noticeably bringing down your mood! 

You see, in every friendship, there will be times when one or both of you are going through a tough patch. It’s never always going to be rainbows and smiles. 

But a genuine friend would try to avoid their negativity seeping into your life. 

They wouldn’t overload you with their misery and essentially, suck the energy and joy from you. They’d respect you enough to know when to stop! 

And that leads me to my next point:

2) They don’t respect your boundaries 

Another red flag of a fake friend is constantly crossing the limits of your boundaries. So, what does this actually look like?

Let’s say you’ve had an extremely tiring week at work, and your “friend” asks to come over because they’ve got boyfriend issues (that you’ve been hearing about for months now). 

You say, “I’d love to be there for you right now, but I’m exhausted. Can we meet tomorrow instead?”.

Now, a good friend would understand and respect the fact that you need some downtime. 

A fake friend will make you feel bad, try to convince you, or even turn up at the door and pretend they didn’t see your message! 

3) They don’t support you

When we think of a healthy, genuine friendship, we imagine two people who root for each other and always offer encouragement and support. 

So, if you’ve got a friend who:

  • Never encourages you to better yourself or take new opportunities 
  • Never goes out of their way to support you (i.e, dropping you to your interview because your car broke down)
  • Never shows an interest in your goals and dreams 

Unfortunately, it sounds like you’ve got a fake friend

The truth is, fake friends will happily enjoy your successes, but they won’t contribute to helping you get there. 

4) They gossip behind your back

Another red flag that’ll help you spot a fake friend is if they gossip about you or spread misinformation. 

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

If your friend constantly tells you that other people come to them to chat crap about you, there’s a good chance your friend is partaking in the gossip. 

Because if they were a genuine friend, haters would know not to go to them! 

If they were loyal, they’d stop the gossip in its tracks. 

Be wary of “friends” like this – they’ll act like they were defending you but in reality, they’re playing both sides. 

5) They manipulate you

Going back to the issue of respect, a fake friend will struggle to accept your decisions, so they’ll likely manipulate you into doing what they want. 

For example, you hate Mexican food and they know that. But rather than go for a cuisine you both enjoy, they’ll beg and plead, tell you “You’ll change your mind when you try this place!” and even guilt you into it if needed. 

Put simply:

They’ll do anything to get what they want

A true friend knows the importance of “give and take” in a friendship. 

They’d care enough about your wants and needs to factor that into their decision-making, as well as respect your decisions! 

6) They’re self-centered 

If you want to spot a fake friend, another red flag to watch out for is someone who only thinks of themselves. 

If they:

  • Only talk about themselves 
  • Never show interest in you
  • Think their problems are more important 
  • Turn every conversation back to themselves 

You’ve not only got a fake friend, but they’re also incredibly self-centered

As much as this will hurt to hear, maybe they only want you around to feed their ego. They want someone to listen to them and pass the time with, but they don’t care about you or your life! 

7) They’re jealous 

Now, this one is a major red flag of a fake friend:

Being jealous of you or your accomplishments. 

REAL friends will celebrate your successes. They’ll cry for your loss. 

FAKE friends will cry when you succeed and celebrate when you fail. 

But they won’t do it so obviously in front of your face. You’ll have to look for hidden clues such as:

  • Not making a big deal when you achieve something big in life
  • Downplaying your achievements 
  • Trying to make you feel bad about yourself 
  • Greeting good news with negativity 

The easiest way to tell if a friend is fake and jealous is to pay close attention to their reactions. 

But also pay attention to your gut feeling – your intuition will alert you to the changes in their behavior whenever you’ve got good news. 

And this next red flag will also confirm if they’re jealous of you:

8) They’re overly competitive 

That’s right, if your friend always wants to get one over you or outdo you, it could be another sign that not only are they jealous, but also that they’re FAKE!

The truth is, a little bit of healthy competition isn’t a bad thing. Say you’re training for the marathon and a friend agrees to some friendly races to spur you on – there’s no harm in that. 

But if your so-called friend tries to outdo you on everything? 

They clearly don’t want the best for you. They want the best for themselves. 

The bottom line is:

A fake friend doesn’t want to see you succeed or do better than them in life. They can’t stand to see you “get ahead” so they’ll do whatever possible to either bring you down or get one step in front of you!

9) They’re insincere 

Does your “friend” say one thing but then do something else?

Let’s say it’s your graduation party, and when you give them the invitation, they pretend they’re super happy, and of course, they’ll be there! 

But the day comes, and they make up a petty excuse as to why they can’t make it. 

You know deep down that their excitement at your graduation wasn’t sincere. It was a show. 

The same goes for when they apologize or make promises. If they never stick to them, or their actions don’t align with their words, there’s a good probability you’re dealing with a fake friend

10) They hold grudges 

And the final red flag to look out for when trying to spot a fake friend is if they hold unnecessarily long grudges. 

Look, in most friendships, there will be moments of tension or even falling out. 

But if both genuinely care about each other and enjoy each other’s company, they’ll get over it pretty soon. Or at least attempt to make amends. 

A fake friend will quite happily ignore, gossip, gaslight, and keep the grudge going for as long as possible. 

They may even use falling out as a way to gain sympathy and attention from other people.

But one thing will be clear:

They’re not interested in trying to rectify things or get the friendship back on track. 

Now that you’ve gone through these 10 red flags of a fake friend, are your worst fears confirmed? 

If so, it might be time to reconsider this friendship

Don’t do anything rash, but keep this list in mind and analyze your “friend’s” behavior. 

Don’t be afraid to cut them out if they do tick all the boxes! 

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a freelance writer with a degree in multimedia journalism. She enjoys exploring spirituality, psychology, and love in her writing. As she continues blazing ahead on her journey of self-discovery, she hopes to help her readers do the same. She thrives on building a sense of community and bridging the gaps between people. You can reach out to Kiran on Twitter: @KiranAthar1

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