10 phrases fake friends love to use, according to psychology

Unfortunately, I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of fake friends in our time.

In the beginning, they can seem fun to be around. But their unreliability, insincerity, and selfishness tends to reveal itself eventually.

Luckily there are ways to spot it and save ourselves some of the heartache and hassle of giving them our unfounded devotion.

Here are some of their favorite phrases to be on the lookout for…

1) “OMG, Remember when that happened to me?”

Let me set the scene:

You go around to your friends, needing a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear. You start to explain the problem or situation that’s got you so stressed.

But before you know it, the topic of conversation has been subtly steered back onto them.

Yes, our own personal experiences can feel relevant in helping us understand what others are going through.

But that’s not the same as always making everything all about you.

Friends who steer discussions back onto themselves are conversation narcissists.

It’s hard to have genuine friendships with them because they seem oblivious to anyone else’s needs but their own.

2) “Oh no, poor you…anyway…”

Friends who care will offer you the space to talk. They will show you the courtesy of listening.

Someone who lacks empathy may seem quite dismissive of your troubles and pain.

Rather than deep dive into your emotions, they prefer to throw some generalized and insincere sympathy your way and quickly move on.

If their words sound hollow, that’s because they probably are.

3) “Sorry, something came up”

Especially as an introvert, I totally understand the need to cancel plans sometimes.

On occasions, I’ve just felt energetically wiped and so have gone with my tail in between my legs asking for a rain check.

It’s important to be understanding in our friendships. And I’ve always been grateful for these concessions.

But here’s the thing:

I don’t push my luck. I’m still respectful of others’ time and energy.

I know that we have to make an effort if we are to sustain the quality of our connections.

Constantly canceling plans and not giving proper notice can be signs of a fake friend. It suggests they aren’t investing in you in the same way you are with them.

4) “No fair, you have all the luck!”

In one short sentence, this totally disregards all the hard work or positive qualities that play a part in good things happening to you.

It makes it sound as though you were simply in the right place at the right time.

A true friend is not surprised when their awesome pal does well in life. They build you up and celebrate right alongside you.

They are happy for you rather than envious. This phrase smacks of competitiveness and petty jealousy.

5) “Don’t take this the wrong way, but..”

People who blame others for their problems 10 phrases fake friends love to use, according to psychology

Put downs and criticisms are pretty common with fake friends.

Yet they are often masked with passive aggression or wrapped up in the disguise of  “constructive feedback”.

Honesty is important between friends, but so is tact and compassion.

A friend doesn’t have your best interest at heart if they make unkind comments with the suggestion that what they have to say is in your best interest.

Goof communication means being mindful of people’s feelings and not indelicately venting our frustrations in selfish ways.

6) “Trust me!”

It always makes me pause for thought when someone utters these two little words.

In genuine relationships, trust is there because it has been earned and honored. We don’t need to be coaxed into it.

So if someone is trying to encourage you to have faith in them, chances are it’s because you deep down doubt them.

Maybe they’ve done something in the past to make you question them.

This sort of phrase is also often rolled out when someone is inadvertently trying to push your boundaries.

Rather than be about trust, it’s actually about talking you into something you don’t want to do.

And that’s not something genuine friends do to each other.

7) “I could really do with your help”

Part of any good relationship is offering support. That’s in both practical and emotional ways.

So there’s nothing wrng with this phrase. Relying on each other can be a sign of a healthy connection.

But it’s when this becomes an all too regular phrase that it can be the sign of a fake friend.

They only reach out when they need something from you.

Your friendship seems based largely on what you can do for them. As long as you are serving a purpose to them, it’s all good.

But, as we’re about to see next, when the shoe is on the other foot they are nowhere to be found.

8) “I’d love to help but I’m busy”

I remember a few years ago when I was moving a friend of mine offered to come over to help with some of the heavy stuff.

As he donated his Saturday to what was undeniably a boring chore, I asked him why he volunteered.  

He admitted that sure, it’s no fun. But that’s what friends are for and it’s all part of it.

This is the attitude of a real friend. They still do things that don’t have any real benefit for them.

They don’t come up with non-stop excuses in your hour of need to try to get out of helping.

If a friend is happy to ask favors but not keen to return them, the connection isn’t so genuine.

9) “I’m only kidding don’t get so worked up”

This is a way of dismissing your feelings as overly sensitive.

Rather than apologize for upsetting you, they flip it around and make out like you’re the one with the problem.

But repeat after me:

Friends don’t gaslight friends.

10) “I didn’t realize it was a secret”

This phrase can be pulled out in a variety of sneaky and underhand scenarios:

  • When they talk shit about you behind your back
  • When they have betrayed your trust
  • When they have purposely tried to embarrass you

Even though they may try to protest their innocence through ignorance, in reality, they show little respect for your privacy.

They trade details of your life like a social currency to either win favor or impress other people.

Picture of Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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.