People who pretend to be nice but actually aren’t usually display these 10 subtle behaviours

It can be tough to spot a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Especially when they’re disguised as a friendly, agreeable person.

Some folks master the art of appearing nice but behind the façade, they harbor different intentions.

But the good news is, there are subtle signs that can reveal their true character.

Understanding these ten subtle behaviors will help you distinguish between genuinely nice people and those who just pretend to be. This is not about being judgmental, but about protecting yourself from potential harm.

Let’s delve into these signs that might indicate someone isn’t as nice as they seem.

1) Consistent inconsistency

Isn’t it puzzling when someone is nice one moment and cold the next?

This is a classic sign of a person who’s pretending to be nice. They often have inconsistencies in their behaviour.

Their kind and friendly act can suddenly switch to indifference or even rudeness, especially when they feel they’ve got what they wanted from you.

This change can leave you feeling confused and questioning your own perceptions. But trust your instincts.

Genuine niceness is consistent. If someone’s demeanour towards you fluctuates drastically, it could be a sign that their niceness isn’t as genuine as it seems.

2) They only show interest when they need something

This is a behaviour that I’ve noted in my personal experiences. There was this one ‘friend’ I had. He’d be all smiles and full of pleasantries when he needed a favour.

But the moment his need was over, it was as if I vanished from his world. No calls, no texts, no invites for a casual coffee – nothing. His interest in me was solely dependent on his needs, not on any genuine friendship or care.

If you notice someone only reaching out when they need something and then disappearing when they don’t, it’s likely they’re pretending to be nice. True friends are there for you, not just for what you can do for them.

3) They’re quick to claim credit but slow to take responsibility

Most of us have encountered someone like this. They’re the first to step forward when there’s applause to be had but vanish into thin air when it’s time to own up to a mistake.

Research in psychology suggests that individuals who pretend to be nice often have a strong need for validation and recognition. This can make them overly eager to claim credit for successes, even when their contribution was minimal.

But when things go wrong, they’re nowhere to be found. They might even go as far as pointing fingers at others, rather than accepting their share of the blame.

This behaviour is not only unfair, it’s a sign that their niceness is merely a façade.

4) They often use flattery to get their way

Flattery can be a wonderful thing when it’s genuine. But there are those who use it as a tool to manipulate and get what they want.

These individuals often shower you with compliments and make you feel special. Their words might make you feel good in the moment, but their ultimate goal is usually self-serving.

When the praise seems excessive or out of place, it can be a sign that they’re not being completely honest with you. Genuine compliments are great, but flattery with an agenda? That’s a different story altogether.

5) They often play the victim

Ever noticed someone who always seems to be trapped in a series of unfortunate events? No matter the situation, they somehow manage to make themselves the victim.

This could be a subtle sign of someone pretending to be nice. By playing the victim, they can gain sympathy and manipulate others into doing what they want.

While it’s true that everyone has their share of troubles, perpetually playing the victim might be an indication that something else is at play. Remember, genuine people own their mistakes and learn from them instead of constantly blaming others or circumstances.

6) They are seldom genuinely happy for others

One of the most beautiful aspects of human connection is the shared joy we experience when someone we care about achieves something great. But for those pretending to be nice, this joy is often absent or, at best, feigned.

Instead of being genuinely happy, they might downplay your achievement or quickly shift the focus back to themselves. It’s as if they find it hard to bear the spotlight on anyone else but them.

This lack of sincere happiness for others can be subtly heartbreaking, especially when you expect shared joy from someone you thought was a friend. Remember, genuine people have the capacity to celebrate others without feeling threatened or overshadowed.

7) They don’t respect your boundaries

I learned this lesson the hard way. I had a ‘friend’ who would consistently disregard any boundaries I set. Whether I asked for some space or expressed discomfort about a particular topic, it was as though my words fell on deaf ears.

Instead of respecting my wishes, they’d often dismiss my feelings or make light of them. It was as if my needs were less important than their desire to have their own way.

Over time, I realized this was a clear sign that their niceness was merely a pretense. Real friends respect your boundaries and value your comfort over their convenience. If someone continually pushes your limits and belittles your feelings, it’s a sign their niceness might not be genuine.

8) They’re overly agreeable

On the surface, someone always agreeing with you might seem like a dream come true. But dig a little deeper and you might find that it’s not as great as it seems.

People who pretend to be nice often avoid disagreements at all costs. They may agree with everything you say, even when it’s clear they have a different viewpoint. This is usually because they want to keep the peace or maintain a certain image.

But healthy relationships thrive on respectful disagreements. It’s through these discussions that we grow and learn from each other. So if someone is perpetually agreeable, it could be a sign that their niceness isn’t as genuine as you thought.

9) They gossip about others

If someone is nice to you but gossips about others behind their back, it’s a clear red flag.

Gossiping not only shows a lack of respect for the people they’re talking about, but it also indicates what they might be saying about you when you’re not around.

Genuine people understand the value of trust and respect in relationships. They don’t indulge in spreading rumours or sharing confidential information about others for their own amusement or advantage.

If they gossip with you, they’ll likely gossip about you. And that’s not a trait of a truly nice person.

10) They’re manipulative

At the end of the day, the most glaring sign of someone pretending to be nice is manipulation. They may use a variety of tactics – guilt-tripping, gaslighting, playing the victim – all to control and influence your behaviour.

Manipulation is a clear violation of trust and respect, two fundamental elements of any healthy relationship. Genuine people don’t resort to such tactics. They communicate openly and honestly, respecting your autonomy and decision-making.

If you feel like you’re constantly being manipulated by someone who appears nice, it’s time to reassess that relationship.

Final thoughts: A call for empathy

Understanding these subtle behaviors is not about creating a world of suspicion but about fostering self-awareness and empathy.

It’s crucial to remember that everyone has their own battles, insecurities, and fears. Sometimes, people pretending to be nice are simply struggling with their own issues. They might be using these tactics as a defense mechanism, not necessarily to harm or manipulate others.

This understanding doesn’t excuse harmful behaviors, but it can help us approach such situations with more compassion.

Ultimately, the goal is to cultivate relationships based on genuine respect, trust, and kindness. Recognizing these signs can help us navigate our interactions more effectively and protect our well-being.

As the renowned poet Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Remember this as you reflect on your interactions and trust your instincts when something doesn’t feel right. Always choose empathy, but also remember to protect your peace.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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