14 signs someone is only pretending to care about you

Most of us are lucky enough to know what it feels like to have people who genuinely care about us.

But what about those rare times when someone is just playing a part? What about those pretenders?

They could be a friend, romantic partner, family member, or coworker, either pretending because they want something from you or because they feel like they have to “be nice”.

Let’s look at the 14 telltale signs that someone’s pretending to care about you so that you can stop wasting your time on fake relationships.

1) Inconsistency

One of the first signs to look out for is inconsistency in someone’s behavior.

For example, if the person you think cares about you is only there when it’s convenient for them or when they need something, but when you need them, they’re too busy.

Like if they don’t want to go to the cinema by themselves, they’ll ask you to come along. But when you wanna do something, they’ve always got an excuse.

Or, you won’t hear from them in months but when they need a favor, suddenly they’re back in your life.

And when you need something from them?

They’re conveniently overwhelmed and “So sorry, but it’s not a good time.”

2) Lack of empathy

You know when you’re going through a hard time and trying to share what you’re going through with a friend but they just don’t get it?

They’ll say, “Oh it will pass” and move the conversation along to something else or they come up with ridiculous solutions to your problem!

Granted, this by itself doesn’t mean they don’t care, they could just have a hard time putting themselves in other people’s shoes.

But combined with some other signs, a lack of understanding and genuineness when you’re going through a difficult time is not a good sign.

3) Minimal effort

All relationships take some effort to maintain, even those with people who aren’t your friends and family, like your coworkers and neighbors. The least you need to do is be respectful and polite, right?

So when it comes to someone who is meant to care about you, you’re going to expect them to put in a little effort, right? Being respectful and polite just doesn’t cut it.

From wanting to hang out with you to texting you funny memes to remembering your birthday and being a shoulder to cry on, these are just some of the things you can expect from people who genuinely care about you.

But if someone is pretending, their efforts to maintain the relationship will be minimal and superficial.

4) Self-centeredness

Turns out that some people are so into themselves that the only reason they have “friends” is so they could have someone to talk to about themselves. I’m serious!

So think about it – if the conversation always revolves around them and they show zero interest in what’s going on with your life, you can be sure that this person doesn’t really care about you. They’re vain and need an audience.

5) Ignoring boundaries

Here’s the thing: When someone truly cares about someone, they respect them and that includes respecting their boundaries.

That means that if this person ignores your boundaries and feelings and only does what’s convenient for them, they’re only pretending to care about you.

A true friend would never make you do anything you’re uncomfortable with.

6) Flakiness

Now, I have to point out that some people were born flaky and their flakiness has nothing to do with how they feel about others.

In fact, I have a few such friends and while I’m sure they care about me, I always get annoyed when they’re late or cancel at the last minute.

Some people however only do this to people they don’t care about.

For example, when you run into them they’ll make a big show of how happy they are to see you and how you have to catch up soon.

And then?

They’ll cancel your plans to catch up without a valid reason.

Why bother making the plans in the first place then?

I have no idea, some people are just fake and I can’t stand them.

7) Hidden agendas

Yup, sometimes people pretend to be our friends and to care about us when actually they have a hidden agenda.

For example, say you’re friends with your boss. A coworker who wants to climb up the corporate ladder may try to exploit the situation by being extremely nice to you. They’ll offer to help you out with your tasks, invite you out to events, and be your best friend.

And then it will start…

“How about asking the boss to join you guys for drinks?”

“Could you put in a good word for them with the boss?”

If you look closely, you’ll see that everything they do is motivated by personal gain.

8) Negative comments

The truth is that when someone really cares about you, they don’t make snide or dismissive comments about your goals, interests, or dreams.

They’re supportive and have your best interests at heart.

So, what if your goals are unrealistic or you have an idea that’s a little out there?

They won’t just dismiss you, they’ll try to give you constructive criticism so that you can understand why they think it’s not a good idea. In other words, they’ll want to help you, not knock you down.

9) They don’t listen

An obvious sign that someone cares about you is that they take an active interest in what you’re saying – in other words, they really listen!

People who just nod their heads and wait for you to finish so that they can talk don’t really care about you.

You’ll notice that they don’t ask follow-up questions, they’ll act surprised when you make a reference to something you already talked about, and they may even nod when you ask them a question!

10) Superficial interactions

While this could be a sign that the person in question has intimacy issues and that their lack of intimate conversations has nothing to do with you, it could also be a sign that they’re not really invested in your relationship.

Ask yourself:

  • Do your conversations ever go beyond small talk?
  • Do they change the subject when you try to get personal?
  • What are their interactions with other people like?

11) Quid pro quo

When someone cares about you, their support is unconditional.

In other words, if they can help you out with something, they’ll do it without expecting something in return.

But if they say, “I’ll do this for you if you do that for me”, then the nature of your relationship is transactional and not built on friendship, trust, or care.

12) Insensitive behavior

Of course, it could happen by accident. I mean, it’s almost inevitable that at some point in our lives, we’ll unintentionally do or say something that hurts another person.

But when someone doesn’t care about you, you’ll notice that their insensitive behavior is a pattern.

They won’t hesitate to make insensitive jokes or comments and will completely brush off your hurt feelings.

13) Comparisons

While they may not do it directly, they’ll find ways to compare you unfavorably to others.

For example, if you’re struggling at work, they’ll go on and on about how a mutual acquaintance got promoted and is buying a house.

Or if you haven’t met “the one” yet, they’ll talk about all your friends that are getting married and having kids.

And the result?

You feel inadequate and pretty sh*tt*!

14) Gaslighting

This is the worst kind of psychological manipulation, I wouldn’t do it to an enemy!

It’s basically when someone works hard to make another person doubt their perception, memory, and even sanity.

What the gaslighter does is go through a series of actions that aim to distort reality and create confusion in the victim. Gaslighting involves denying facts, making contradictory statements, trivializing the victim’s feelings, and even fabricating events to make them question their own reality.

It’s pretty cruel and yup, you guessed it, it’s not something someone who cares about you would do.

Final thoughts

It’s important to be aware when someone is only pretending to care about you so that you can avoid getting hurt as well as getting used.

But recognizing the signs of someone pretending to care is not just about pointing fingers, it’s about equipping yourself with knowledge to foster healthier relationships.

Sometimes, these signs might indeed indicate insincerity, but they could also be a result of personal struggles or misunderstandings – so don’t be quick to jump to conclusions.

Ultimately, if you find yourself constantly feeling undervalued or manipulated, you should really reflect on whether that relationship aligns with your well-being.

Remember, your feelings are valid, and you deserve genuine care and support.

Jelena Dincic

Jelena has a background in photography and film-making and has spent the last few years as a content editor and copywriter. Jelena is a citizen of the world who is passionate about travel and learning about new cultures. She’s a foodie who loves to cook. And, as an art lover, she is always experimenting with new art mediums. When she’s not at her computer, she’s usually out and about in some forest with her dogs.

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