Fake friends can somehow be quite hard to spot at first. You trust that someone is your true friend, yet they turn out to be really good at manipulation. Fake friendships are so common and can leave you feeling emotionally exhausted by their presence, trying to avoid them, and doubting their intentions.
In fact, they can even make you feel like you’re the bad friend – which can easily make you question your sanity! Being surrounded by fake friends can be truly exhausting, no matter how much effort you put in the friendships, or how honest you are with them. Simply put, their loyalties don’t lie with you.
Read on to learn exactly how you can deal with fake friends so that you don’t get caught in their lies again.
Recognizing the Signs
A fake friend exhibits any or all of these behaviours:
- They’re late for appointments.
- They rarely apologize for any wrong behavior.
- They act like they’re always right or know better than you do.
- They talk behind your back but pretend it’s all rumors when confronted.
- They’re jealous of your success.
- They violate your personal boundaries.
- They stand you up or cancel your plans at the last minute
- They’re inconsistent.
- They lie to you and emotionally manipulate you.
- They cause drama with other people around you.
- They constantly compare themselves or compete with you.
- They make you feel like you always need to do something for them
- They whine and complain about life.
Pay Attention to How They Act
A fake friend may eventually turn into a bully, and you won’t even see it coming. Maybe they already have! Watch for signs of bullying; there’s a fine line between someone being a “frenemy” or being competitive and acting like an outright bully.
How do you spot a bully?
It’s not easy, especially if it’s someone you still love and cherish or someone who’s been in your life for many years. Here are some things to look out for:
- A bully has extremely low self-esteem. They need to dump their frustrations, insecurities and anger on others, no matter who they are. Bullies are critical, rude, temperamental, and would say anything to hurt your feelings or simply provoke a reaction from you.
- Bullies think everyone is against them. As a result, they feel the need to retaliate – usually with words, but they can also be physically or emotionally abusive. They’ll manipulate you, gaslight you, and lie and deceive you – for no other reason than to make themselves feel better.
Pay attention to how they treat you, and whether they keep violating your trust and boundaries over time. Is it all about them and never about you? Friendship is about give and take, and mutual support and encouragement – not about one person serving another.
Limit Your Interactions
One of the tricky things about dealing with a fake friend is setting limits regarding your emotional space. It’s simply not realistic to spend a lot of time and energy with them. You end up in a cycle of giving them another chance each time they fail you.
It’s okay to disengage from a friend if you aren’t feeling any friendship left anymore. Spending time with them in a circle of friends might be the most interaction you do have, but avoid one on one time.
Lower Your Expectations
How likely is it that a fake friend will change their behavior? They’re clearly dealing with a lot, and exhibiting negative behavior towards you and likely others too.
Lower your expectations so that you won’t be continuously disappointed when they keep blowing you off.
It’s important not to bend over backwards to please them. They’ll probably make you feel like you need to do something for them or that you need to change in order for them to be a good friend, but that isn’t realistic. If that’s who they are and how they behave with others too, the best thing might be to keep your distance – and not to expect them to change.
Put Your Own Needs First
If you’ve got a fake friend who just won’t change, remember that you need to put your own emotional needs first. Take stock of their behavior:
- Are you having more negative than positive moments with them?
- Do you remember the last time they were happy about something positive that happened to you?
- Do you feel like you need to make your life seem dull so that they don’t get upset?
Why are they even in your life? It’s okay to disengage temporarily to see if they reach out and apologize. If they’re willing to make amends and admit they’ve been a bad friend, the friendship might be worth saving. But, if not, it’s important to put your needs and feelings before theirs.
Don’t Let Yourself Be Fooled
It can be really hard when one of your oldest friends turns into a fake friend over time, and you feel like it came out of nowhere. You can’t imagine ending your friendship, because they’ve been a part of your life for so long. How can they possibly change so much? Could it just be a stage?
It’s common to look for the fault in yourself and go to extreme lengths to gain their love and trust again. However, little did you know that our oldest friends can easily turn into fake friends. Time changes people, and changes even the best relationships. What you once had might be completely lost because you’re both different people, with different lives.
For example, maybe you got happily married and they’re constantly getting dumped. As a result, they’re constantly jealous of your happiness, always comparing themselves to you, and having to deal with their hurt ego and low self-esteem.
It’s important to remember that someone else’s life and happiness aren’t your responsibility. No matter how close a friend is to you, they shouldn’t expect you to be taking care of them and you shouldn’t be feeling guilty for your success. That’s not how friendships work.
A real friend will always be happy for you, no matter what! They’ll be inspired by your success and will learn from you, not feel threatened.
Don’t Let Them Get to You
A fake friend might be that loud, extraverted friend who thinks they know everything, and that they know better than you. They might be your complete opposite, and as a result make you feel like you aren’t anything special.
They’ll always be trying to outshine you and be in the spotlight, and won’t ever acknowledge your worth. Make sure you remember who you are, without them in your life, and remember that other people value you and see your worth. Don’t let a fake friend get to you psychologically and mentally! And don’t let them use you.
Don’t Stoop to Their Level
At the end of the day, spotting a fake friend can be incredibly easy once you’ve opened your eyes. They’re the ones who constantly feel the need to outshine you, to compete with you, and to make you feel bad for no apparent reason. It says a lot about their mental state, and nothing about who you are as a person, or as a friend.
Don’t choose to get angry and vindictive and respond with rudeness. Instead, respond in a calm manner – and overall just ignore their behavior. Slowly distancing yourself from them will be the best approach in the long-term. Don’t feel like you need to fix them, justify yourself, or turn them into your pity project.
Don’t make the mistake to fall to their low level. It’s not who you are, and it won’t make you feel better. Let them live their life how they choose and surround themselves with real friends instead.
Say Goodbye for Good
Life’s too short to spend it with the wrong people, and you know full well that a fake friend isn’t worth your time or energy. You’ll feel a lot better if you simply find new friends who don’t use you or lie to you.
Real friends are supportive, honest, and most of all they want the best for you. A fake friend has no true place in your life – and will only bring negativity.
One of the ways to “break up” with a fake friend is to write them a letter, explaining what you’re doing and why you are doing it. Meeting them face to face might be too hard, because they’ll try to manipulate you.
Pour your thoughts into a proper letter or email, and send it to them. Give them specific examples of what they’ve done, how it’s made you feel, and why you believe you’re better off without them in your life. Then follow through with actions – and ignore their messages, phone calls or attempts to reconnect.
The Bottom Line
Toxic friendships can only harm you. Put yourself first and end the fake friendship once and for all.
After a few months you won’t even feel their absence – because they haven’t been treating you properly for a while. What you will feel, however, is mostly relief. It’s normal to grieve the end of a friendship, but a fake friendship has no other future than a breakup.