It’s nice to have friends – people you can laugh and hang out with as you navigate through the maze of life. Meaningful relationships are good for your mental and physical well-being. However, not everyone who calls you a friend is actually sincere. Below are five ways to spot a “friend” who is actually a phony.
They’re quick to criticize – but it’s not constructive
A true friend won’t shy away from calling you out when needed – but they’ll do it from a place of love and trust. On the other hand, a toxic friend is often harsh and cruel when they offer criticism – and oftentimes they humiliate you in front of close friends or family members. This sort of friend is quick to find your shortcomings but blind to their own. If you find yourself in this situation – run!
You give, they take
Healthy relationships are built on mutual exchange. At times, one friend will be more capable of offering support than the other but there is an understanding that these roles will shift. If you notice that with a particular friend, you are always the one to sacrifice time and effort – be it a listening ear, help moving, homework or various other favors – while they disappear whenever you have a need, an alarm should go off in the back of your mind. True friends reciprocate and are there for each other – a fake friend only cares about themselves.
The scoreboard is set
Real friends don’t keep score. When a friend constantly reminds you of the one time that they actually helped you out and holds it over your head as a means to guilt you– that person does not have your best interests at heart. This scoreboard mentality also manifests itself when you are constantly being compared to other friends or when your other friends are considered rivals to this person. Friendship is not about being in control, rather it’s about being a support when things happen that are out of our control.
Something feels off
Another good sign that your friendship is not what it seems is that you simply don’t feel comfortable about it. When spending a lot of time with somebody who is negative, pessimistic or weighing us down, we tend to accumulate stress in our bodies. Additionally, if you consistently come away from any encounters with that friend feeling sad, anxious or angry, listen to your feelings. Acknowledge them and realize that your friendships should be enhancing your life, not diminishing it.
They’re only around if they need something
Perhaps the most telling sign of a fair-weather-friend is that they are only ever around when it is convenient for them. A fake friend will come calling only when they have something to gain. You’re always the last person to get a call, and only if no one else was available; you’re always the one to drive and if you need a ride, their car is in the shop; you’re the only one who reaches out on a regular basis… If you feel that you’re being used – chances are that you are.
Ginn, L. (2018). Fake Friends vs. Real Friends – How to Tell the Difference. Retrieved March 2018, from Health Guidance: http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/16459/1/Fake-Friends-vs-Real-Friends–How-to-Tell-the-Difference.html
Goddard, M. (2018). Are You in a Toxic Friendship? The Warning Signs Your Friend Is Ruining Your Life! Retrieved 2018 March, from Health Guidance: http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/17919/1/Are-You-in-a-Toxic-Friendship-The-Warning-Signs-Your-Friend-Is-Ruining-Your-Life.html
Heitler, S. (2016, March 25). 8 Signs of a Toxic Friendship. Retrieved March 2018, from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201603/8-signs-toxic-friendship
McBride, K. (2013, November 04). Can You Tell When a Friend Is No Good for You? Retrieved March 2018, from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201311/can-you-tell-when-friend-is-no-good-you