7 Types of False Friends you should Know how to Recognize

7 Types of False Friends you should Know how to Recognize
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

False friends are like the dark side of the moon. At first they dazzle us with their spells and kind attention, but little by little we see that other side where an interesting character hides in the cavities. That barren and desolate emotive side that, almost without realizing it, undermines our spirit. These are personalities that, without a doubt, we should know how to identify as soon as possible. For the sake of our emotional health.

It is often said that friendship is the best ingredient of life. So is love, there is no doubt, but what a good friend does for us sometimes transcends the bonds of romantic and family relationships. Thus, that fabric of friendship built on the basis of complicity, common experiences, and intense trust, is what gives us a source of eternal energy and, above all, quality of life.

“Those who think they are good and helpful are the same ones who, out of envy, wish you all evil.”

Lucca Capiotto

However, it is inevitable that we will cross paths, from time to time, with one of those specimens so common in many social contexts. Where interest and selfishness are camouflaged under the cover of the most luminous friendship. And we fall into their trap, of course we do. Because in our natural innocence, we do not doubt for a moment that the cardinal purpose of any good friendship is to bring happiness, support, and well-being.

Until finally it happens, disappointments appear, small lies, constant disdain and more sibylline manipulations. Whether we want to or not, we must face one of those false friends that we did not see coming, but whom we must let go of as soon as possible for our own health and dignity. . .

two faces

1. Types of false friends – the social climber

One of the first false friends we usually come across in life is the “social climber”. We see them in elementary, high school, college, and, of course, at work.

They are those people who build friendship  ties  with only one purpose in mind – to climb the social ladder. It is common that these people, in their school years, seek proximity to the most popular or outstanding students. Later, and in a work context as well, they will not hesitate to humiliate and manipulate right and left to climb to a higher position.

2. The fair-weather friend

This is a very well known type of false friend. We speak of those people who are always close in the days of calm and well-being. They are ready to be with us at any party or getaway. However, when a problem or situation arises where we need their support and interest, they disappear like the wind when closing a window. . .

3. The nitpicker, one that judges you

The healthiest friendships are those which provide us with well-being at all times. These friends make us feel good with their closeness. We are sure they won’t judge or criticize us and that, by spending a few hours with this person, we will leave feeling better than when we arrived.

However, this does not happen with fake friends. With them, it is common for us to go home feeling worse than before. In fact, one type of false friend that abounds is one whose hobby is to seek out each of our failures, to draw attention to each mistake we make (or not) and judge us time and again. This type of dynamic generates considerable emotional strain.

birds on face

4. The friend who envies you quietly or shamelessly

“You always do stuff perfectly”, “those things don’t happen to me like they do to you”, “you’re always so lucky”. . . This and other types of phrases are the ones this kind of false friend repeats. The friends who, at the innermost of their being, envy us. 

However, their low self-esteem leads to this type of very unhealthy interactions for both parties.

5. They want your life to be good, but not better than theirs

This trait of false friend is both curious and common. It manifests itself as – we have people in our lives who encourage us to overcome obstacles, to succeed. However, when we do succeed, instead of being happy for us they distance themselves or show discomfort.

This situation is caused by, once again, low self-esteem. This type of friend will always feel more comfortable when they are with us while we are at their level and in the same condition. However, any glimpse of success or overcoming an obstacle makes them feel inferior and adds to their contradiction and discomfort.

6. The rival disguised as a best friend

If you buy a mobile phone, one of your friends will look, without hesitation, for a better one. If you join the gym, be careful. He or she will also do so to overcome your achievements. Their goal – to be better than you in whatever you do, in whatever purpose you set yourself or in any achievement you make.

These false friends act as our nemesis, that persecuting and vengeful shadow that will try to do better than us in any area of our life. 

broken image

7. The friend who manipulates you

The manipulative friend is a discreet but implacable specimen of false friendship. Almost without our knowledge, they anchor their threads to us like a puppet so they can manipulate us at will. Sometimes they will use victimization, sometimes emotional blackmail, along with other deceptions and strategies to hold us in the palm of their hand so they get what they want at all times.

For as long as we allow this series of actions to go on, the manipulator will depend on our affection. Perhaps this friend has been with you for a long time, even from childhood. How do you end this emotional bond that has lasted so many years? It may hurt, but few things are as destructive as allowing someone to have influence over our lives when they actually do not love us or love us badly. 

To conclude, as you can already guess, there are many types of false friends – the one who criticizes, the one who betrays, the one who gossips. . .We could go on and on. However, the most important thing of all is that, besides identifying them, we know how to handle them. 

You do not necessarily have to resort to breaking the bond between you both. Sometimes it is enough to leave things clear, put limits on the relationship, or even favor the personal growth and self-esteem of that friend to be able to create healthier relationships.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.