How to Spot a Friend Who’s Not What They Seem

How to Spot a Friend Who’s Not What They Seem

Last update: 02 November, 2015


Oftentimes, it is just plain difficult to differentiate between an authentic purse and an imitation. They have the same shape, the same color, the same needlework, the same measurements. They’ve even gone through the trouble to fancy it up with a brand name on the label. However, there are tiny details that betray the fakes in the long run.

My monogram

The imitation purse fades in an unusual way when it gets wet or is exposed to the sun. Its interior pockets meant to guard your most intimate possessions come undone at the seams and cause discomfort. Even the shoulder strap you use to carry it stops being as comfortable as it was at first.

“Falseness has wings and flies, and the truth follows it at a crawl, such that when people realize the deceit, it is already too late.”

“Miguel de Cervantes”

So what are you going to do? You keep wearing it because it kills you to throw it away and it’s still “cute,” though you’ll never wear it to an important event again.

The same thing happens in our relationships with false friends.

Fake mustache

They seem perfect for you and your current situation, but you can’t understand why over time they keep making you more uncomfortable and giving you more headaches than what you would expect from someone you’ve shared such interesting conversations with. They seem to fade with time.

You fight over silly things and there’s a tension that you can’t put your finger on. Their behavior leaves something to be desired, but you don’t want to fully open your eyes to the truth. Going through life discarding friendships isn’t fun for anybody.

There’s no doubt, though. If your friend displays these behaviors, start putting the purse in the storage room and their number on the list of “undesired” contacts. Or do a total overhaul if they match this to the letter.

Signs your friend might be a “fake”

  • Your friend seems to love talking to you, of course, but they spend most of the conversation badmouthing other people. Curiously, they seem to get along fine with the people they are critiquing when you all go out together.
  • They don’t talk about ideas, they talk about people. They are constantly talking about what is happening to them. It’s impossible to hold a conversation that doesn’t end up analyzing the lives of others in excruciating detail, comparing them to their own.
  • They aren’t honest with their feelings, which is why you don’t understand them. They get themselves all worked up, and you even more so. In the end, they seem to adopt a defensive attitude “because nobody understands them.” It’s exhausting.
  • Your story isn’t that bad. They say they understand you, though they dismiss your problems as “not that bad.”
  • They encourage you to be happy and positive, but they don’t apply this to their own life. That means that by not acknowledging something that is hurting them, they disguise it with false strength that falls apart as soon as you are doing something fun. Either they lose control, or they’re tired, or the place you took them is a drag. Another chance to point out how worthless you are in this friendship.
  • They make inopportune comments like “mine was better,” “I’ve already done that,” “yeah, but that’s happened to me, too,” “it’s not that bad….”
  • They put excessive emphasis on social relationships. They always want to help the whole world, but when they do it, they feel overwhelmed. They don’t know how to say no, and when it is something serious, they seem to hesitate.
Overwhelming springs
  • They tell you that you have many virtues when you are feeling low, they love being around you… but they don’t seem enthusiastic about your accomplishments. They say demotivating things like “that always turns out badly” or “be realistic.” They are with you in bad times, but they don’t seem to enjoy when you are experiencing good times.
  • They have no sense of humor, or at least not yours. You like laughing and if you tell them something funny, they will say, “Well, I don’t see what’s funny about that.” You no longer know what to talk about.
  • They ask you things about other friends and your family, and seemingly with the intention of judging them. Even if you refuse, they are insistent; they like to know about things that don’t concern them.
Swirling water
  • They tell the same stories over and over. As if they had lost all notion of whom they had already told.
  • With many people, you see them saying, “This is a very sensitive subject, but don’t say anything, okay?” Of course, this isn’t a model for good behavior before others. If they weren’t telling, they wouldn’t have to ask for others to keep it secret.
  • There are no political or religious debates. They already have a decisive phrase ready to end the conversation, making you look like the crazy one bringing up prickly problems.
  • They’re unpleasant. They complain, and they’re not very loving. They have great difficulty saying “I love you” or giving you a hug.
  • They say they’re strong and they’ve been through a lot, but that shouldn’t be a reason to underplay your worries, especially when you have listened to them in every imaginable situation, no matter how minor it may have seemed to you.
Angel in the dark

If you have a friend who displays some of these characteristics, it might be time for a talk with them. And sometimes, the only solution to a toxic friend is simply to see less of them and let the friendship fade.

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