7 habits that separate the genuine from the fake

How do you know who is truly your friend? Is there a way to tell if people are genuine or fake?

Watch out for these habits to help you differentiate the good from the phoneys!

1) Their smile is genuine

One of the first ways to tell if someone is being real with you, is to see if their body language matches up to their words.

Look at their eyes when they smile – do the corners of their eyes crinkle or move? If not then they are probably giving you a fake smile, (or it could just be a polite one). True smiles always show in the eyes!

This kind of smile is known as a Duchenne smile, named after Guillaume Duchenne – a 19th century physician and pioneer.

He discovered that we use many facial muscles when truly smiling.

Here’s a detailed guide to fake versus real smiles from psychologist and human lie detector, Paul Ekman.

Caveat: Even Duchenne smiles can be faked, but it’s hard to do for most people!

But wait! There’s more. Other body language clues include:

  • Look where people’s arms and legs are pointing – (towards you or away from you?)
  • Check if their body language is closed or open – (are their arms and legs crossed or not?)

Again a caveat applies: Most people aren’t able to consistently fake their body language. But it’s good to know that certain people such as those with psychopathy are often good at mimicking genuine body language behavior.

2) They are open about their feelings and intentions

Openness in body language gives us a clue to openness in personality

Some people are initially shy about sharing their feelings. However when you get to know them more deeply, it should be pretty easy to understand how they feel and what their intentions towards you are.

This can be especially relevant in a romantic relationship. Ideally, words, body language and actions should line up coherently. 

They should be able to tell you what their feelings and intentions towards you are. Observe the subtle clues of the body and face – you will find it easier to separate the genuine from the fake.

3) They do what they say they will 

The next step is to see if they are consistent in their behavior. 

Do they follow through with their words and professed feelings? Do they really do what they say they will? And do they act in line with their values?

Picture a majestic tree, its branches swaying in the breeze. Genuine souls are like the sturdy trunk that supports these branches. They don’t break and contort with every breeze. 

Naturally, balance is necessary – because being open to changing your mind when appropriate is a character strength. Just like the tree, their branches may sway and bend in the wind or lose some leaves from time to time. But their roots should stay firm and true. 

Their values and character remain steadfast, guiding their actions with a strength of purpose.

You can recognize this by the way they make you feel. Do you feel safe and secure like a tree when they are around? Or flighty as a bird?

4) They tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear

newimagesize 2023 06 16T135223.626 7 habits that separate the genuine from the fake

It’s easy for fakers to flatter people. 

Now don’t get me wrong. 

Compliments are great to give and receive, but if that is all you get from your friend, it may be that they are trying to manipulate you.

A genuine friend will confront you with a difficult truth, if they feel it is really important. 

This could be as big as an intervention if they feel that you have a big life problem such as a drug addiction, or as simple as some caring but challenging feedback about an aspect of your behavior.

They are ready to face your displeasure rather than lie to you, when they know the truth is better for you in the long run.

A small but relevant example comes to mind. My friend was recently dating a guy. After a while his texts became shorter and his manner more reserved. I knew that she wanted me to give her reassurance that he still liked her, but… my spidey senses were tingling. I knew he was pulling away. 

I told her so even though I knew she wouldn’t like it. 

What do you think happened? 

At first she was cross with me for not supporting her dreamy ideal. But afterwards she was grateful that I had told her what I believed to be the truth. In the end, I was (unfortunately) correct and my warning saved her some pain. I did it because I cared enough to do so.

5) They aren’t a ‘fair-weather’ friend

This takes us on to the subject of true friends, particularly in times of adversity. 

A fair-weather friend is easily swayed by the winds of popularity and personal gain. They tend to gravitate towards those who can offer them advantages, seeking connections that boost their own standing. 

But when the winds change, and the path becomes rocky, they quickly abandon ship, leaving you to weather the storm alone.

A poignant example comes from a girl I went to school with. She became pregnant at an early age. Suddenly the majority of her school friends wanted nothing to do with her, preferring to be with people who could go out and party.

Ultimately, a fair-weather friend sticks around when all is good, and then disappears when times get hard. 

A genuine friend will be there through thick and thin.

6) Thinking about the good of others

Just like how a genuine friend behaves as opposed to a fair-weather one, a genuine person truly cares about other people.

They have empathy for others, and do what they can to help and alleviate suffering.

They possess an innate understanding that everyone carries their own invisible battles, and they offer a kind word, a listening ear, or a comforting embrace to those in need.

A genuine person finds joy in uplifting others. They celebrate the successes of their loved ones, cheering them on with genuine enthusiasm and sincere applause. They harbor no jealousy or envy, because what they want is a world where everyone thrives.

In times of difficulty, a genuine person is a pillar of support. They offer their time, their resources, and their presence to those who are struggling. 

They also care about their actions and how they impact the world, perhaps making an effort to be more ecologically friendly, avoiding brands or companies that exploit their workers, and generally considering the plight of people far away from them as well as close.

7) They practice self-development

What does this look like? 

One way is taking responsibility for their own feelings, and recognizing what part they have played in their destiny. This is important because fake people will often blame you for whenever they feel bad and never consider their shortcomings. 

Why? It’s usually because they lack the self-awareness that comes with a commitment to working on themselves. 

That doesn’t mean that those lacking self-awareness are bad people. 

So what does it mean? If they are not able to be authentic with themselves, they are unlikely to be able to be truly authentic with you.




Picture of Louisa Lopez

Louisa Lopez

Louisa is writer, wellbeing coach, and world traveler, with a Masters in Social Anthropology. She is fascinated by people, psychology, spirituality and exploring psychedelics for personal growth and healing. She’s passionate about helping people and has been giving empowering advice professionally for over 10 years using the tarot. Louisa loves magical adventures and can often be found on a remote jungle island with her dogs. You can connect with her on Twitter: @StormJewel

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.