19 Ways to Spot a Fake Friend from a Mile Away

Friendships are vitally important aspects of our lives, ensuring we have the necessary support, companionship, and laughter we need to be well-rounded individuals. Unfortunately, not all friends are what they seem; some are more interested in their own interests than in making a lasting bond. Here are 19 red flags that indicate a ‘friendship’ is less than sincere.


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According to Health Shots, “fake friends only approach you when they want something from you. And when you need support, they won’t take calls or reply to messages.” They might sometimes appear supportive and attentive, but they’re quick to prioritize their own needs. This ‘hot and cold’ approach reveals a lack of genuine interest in being your friend.

Fair-Weather Only

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Do you have a friend who appears whenever you’re celebrating or being generous but disappears at the first hint of challenges or emotional struggles? This individual is only around when things are going well for you because they’re not a true friend, and they lack the commitment to stick around when the going gets tough.

Turn Others Against You

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Your friendship benefits a fake friend because they get something out of it. However, they’re often smart enough to realize that other people (genuine, long-term friends and close loved ones) may see through them. This makes them adept at turning you against such people or driving a wedge between you to ‘keep you for themselves’ while it suits them.


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Choosing Therapy warns that fake friends show you one side of themselves and then spread rumors, lies, and negative information about you behind your back. If you have a friend who treats others like this, they’re likely doing the same to you—you just don’t know it yet! They may also stir up drama, twist the facts, or use manipulation to get their way.

All Take and No Give

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Friendship should be a two-way street, but fake friends can make it a one-way, uphill struggle. Verywell Mind warns that they often hog the conversation or demand your time, support, and resources without reciprocating. Such a one-sided dynamic reveals a self-centered individual who sees your friendship as a way to fulfill their own needs.


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Good friends tell you the truth and can be constructively critical, but a fake friend often criticizes everything you do and belittles your achievements. They might do things like make jokes at your expense but dismiss them as ‘harmless teasing.’ If a so-called friend leaves you feeling hurt, undervalued, and discouraged, consider whether they’re a true friend.

Always Borrowing

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A friend who starts every conversation with a request for a loan of cash or property is only interested in what you can provide them with. Such false friends often make promises about returning or repaying you but constantly ‘forget’ or make excuses. This behavioral pattern signals a selfish person with no intention of being a good friend.

They Tell Secrets

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All friendship requires reciprocity, which also applies to how you handle each other’s personal information and innermost secrets. A fake friend expects you to keep their secrets, even if they are harmful or unethical, yet is often quick to share your secrets, highlighting their hypocrisy and lack of respect for your boundaries. Don’t trust them!


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A friend who seems to keep you around to make themselves feel good isn’t a friend at all. Beware of someone who frequently compares you to themselves and finds you lacking. They might subtly downplay your successes or constantly laud their own achievements, making genuine support and encouragement impossible.

They Make Excuses

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Happier Human lists constant excuse-making as the number one indicator of a fake friend. If someone constantly cancels plans, fails to show up, breaks promises, or refuses to commit to anything that doesn’t serve their own needs, it’s a serious red flag. Constantly blaming their flakiness on other factors shows they don’t respect you enough to follow through.


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We all go through tough times that cause our minds to be ‘elsewhere,’ but a friend who is consistently emotionally absent (even while physically present) may see you as unimportant or unworthy of their attention. If they’re uninterested in you and easily distracted by other people or their phones, they’re likely only using you to fill a gap before someone ‘better’ comes along.

Social Media Focus

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Friends who seem to care more about their online persona, Instagram account, or number of followers than they do about you probably aren’t going to make genuine or reliable companions.

If your offline interactions are minimalistic and infrequent, consider that they may only be interacting with you as part of their social media obsession.

They’re Draining

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Not everyone’s naturally a barrel of sunshine, but a friend shouldn’t leave you feeling pessimistic, depressed, and mentally exhausted after each encounter with them. If they constantly complain without taking advice, vent their anger on you, or stir up drama unnecessarily, try to find a more uplifting and energizing friendship.

They Misunderstand Everything

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Do you have to be especially careful about what and how you speak to a particular friend? This can indicate someone who enjoys creating drama by misinterpreting conversations or playing the victim for their own benefit. This lack of efficient communication can lead to extra stress, grudges, and unnecessary arguments.


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Green isn’t a good color for anyone, especially not a close friend! Friends are supposed to support and encourage each other, and a genuine friend will be your most faithful cheerleader, even if their own life isn’t going as well as they’d hoped. ‘Friends’ that ‘rain on your parade’ or turn your achievements into battlegrounds will only ever offer a toxic brand of friendship.

Disappearing Frequently

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If someone is ‘using’ you to fill their own needs, they’ll quickly go radio silent or disappear without a trace for extended periods, appearing again only when they need something or are lonely again. Expecting to pick up the friendship again without an apology (or even an acknowledgment of their absence) is a surefire sign of a false friend.

Excessive Agreeability

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A genuine companion offers alternative perspectives and has their own preferences, opinions, and beliefs. Beware of anyone who seems to want to emulate you and cannot provide their own view on anything. Although this can be flattering at first, it indicates an underlying lack of equality and that the person is looking for a leader, not a friend.


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A friend who calls you wrong or immoral after every decision you make may be threatened by your successes or personal growth and is attempting to hold you back. Suppose they constantly mock or criticize your goals, achievements, or lifestyle choices. In that case, they aren’t a supportive friend and may make you feel unnecessarily guilty or at fault.

They Make You Doubt Yourself

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Self-doubt is natural, and there’s no harm in having a friend open to discussing your limitations and weaknesses, but beware of someone who focuses on these and constantly questions your ability to achieve your goals. If you feel insecure and doubtful after interacting with them, ask whether they have your best interests at heart.

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