10 subtle signs someone is pretending to like you

Some people are very hard to read.

This can make them especially intriguing or attractive.

But it can also make it very hard to tell if this person is for real or not in how they feel about you.

Here are 10 subtle signs someone is pretending to like you

1) They just use you for what they can get

One of the subtle signs someone is pretending to like you is when they just use you for what they can get but disguise it as a two-way street.

What I mean is that they always promise to get you back and then make excuses why they can’t.

Which can seem legit for awhile until you notice the pattern.

“Thanks so much, man, I owe you one!” is their rallying cry.

It’s just that “one” which they owe you never comes around, whether it’s a beer, $20, or a week of looking after their two rowdy dogs while they’re on vacation.

As an added bonus, these freeloading fake friends will often have a charming smile and throw in a compliment here and there to make you feel appreciated.

“House is looking great, bud,” “Good to see you again, girl!” and so on…

This is all fake, and they’re just pretending. If not, why did they only call you as soon as they needed something but went out with other friends for social events the last few months when you were wide open for some fun time out?

You know why, so don’t lie to yourself.

It’s important to be aware of freeloaders and avoid them if possible.

Consultant Fiona Scott puts it well:

“They often start sentences with the phrase – ‘can you just….” – the hidden meaning being that what they are asking you to do is so menial and so easy, you’ll just slot it into your day. They will do this more than once.”

Scott is talking about this in a business context, but it goes just as well for personal life and the exact same principle applies.

These fake friends will try to get things from you and make you feel like it’s unreasonable or strange of you to say no.

After all, they’re “just” asking to borrow your car for one day, or $250 for a week, or…

You get the point.

2) They mainly contact you to vent or whine

Another of the subtle signs someone is pretending to like you is that they rarely ask about you and only seem to contact you to vent and whine.

It’s normal and fine for friends to open up to each other about what they’re dealing with, so this can be hard to spot at first.

The most telltale sign of this is that whenever you open up about what’s bothering you they suddenly seem to lose their voice.

“Uh-huh,” “Really,” “Oh, well that’s too bad,” apparently become the only words they can say. That and clearing their throat waiting to launch into another fucking pity party about their life.

The point I’m making is that this person doesn’t like you, they just want you to be their emotional punching bag and absorb all their vile emotional baggage and frustration for hours on end.

It’s humiliating and immature, and you shouldn’t tolerate it.

As Katherine Winter observes:

“Often, they can be labeled as ‘askholes,’ in that they constantly ask your opinion about their choices or situation, but never take your advice.

“In fact, they often do the complete opposite of what you advise them to do, and tend to keep repeating the same awful, self-destructive patterns of behavior over and over again, without ever learning from them.”

3) They don’t actually care what you say

When someone likes you and values you as a friend or partner they tend to perk up when you talk.

But one of the subtle signs that someone is pretending to like you is that dispute the smiles and nods they just never seem to actually care what you say.

The ways this can manifest are long and upsetting:

They don’t factor your opinion in to decisions;

They forget key information you told them;

They constantly misjudge situations due to ignoring your advice;

They devalue you and those you care about because of ignoring what you say.

The counter-argument here is that even if someone doesn’t care what you say they could love hanging out with you and doing stuff, right?

Honestly, this can be true now and then.

But when someone is pretending to like you they easily might come over to shoot some hoops or go with you on a girl’s night out or whatever the event is.

It doesn’t mean they give a shit with you.

And the proof is in the pudding with their impressive ability to just bypass everything you say and do whatever they want anyway.

4) They’re just fairweather friends

marcus wallis R1qHDAEnCmc unsplash 1 10 subtle signs someone is pretending to like you

Fairweather friends aren’t real friends.

Let me explain…

Even if you have great times with this person or romantic interest, they can fade away like the sun in winter as soon as times get tough…

When the going gets tough they make a run for it after one or two sympathetic words.

It’s not that you should expect a sympathy party:

Like I said earlier, none of us should be leaning on each other like emotional support animals anyway…

But when you’re close with someone and really like them, you don’t just bail on them when times get tough.

You stand by them even if you’re not quite sure what to do at the moment.

You do your best to be there for them through the dark times.

Like Thomas Paine noted during the American Revolution, many people head for the hills when times get tough:

Paine wrote:

“These are the times that try men’s souls.

“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

5) They only hang around you for status and perks

Fake people are status seekers and fame whores.

One of the subtle signs that someone is pretending to like you is when they seem overly attached to your social popularity, wealth, looks, outer labels, or benefits…

If they only hang around if you’re high status or to get things from you due to your position then they’re just faking it.

Unfortunately, this behavior is sometimes not easily noticeable until you lose your job or status.

This fake person suddenly stops wanting to be your friend and becomes much more distant.

That’s when you find out it wasn’t you they liked:

It was your lifestyle, money, free tickets, networking connections, and so on…

As you can imagine this is a real hit to your ego and to your emotions to find out that someone was only pretending to like you for what you have.

But it’s actually a real and growing problem.

And in my opinion, we should have more compassion for millionaires and rich people.

In a fascinating article for BBC, Alina Dizik writes about how being wealthy can go hand-in-hand with being extremely lonely:

“While most people wouldn’t give up longing for financial wealth, those who’ve experienced living the dream say it can be isolating and that their lives often look rosier from the outside.”

If you’ve ever found out someone only liked you for status or money then you know exactly what Dizik is talking about there.

6) Their body language and eye contact isn’t genuine

Some of the more subtle signs someone is pretending to like you come from their off-kilter body language.

You can feel it in your gut for sure, but you can also notice it in small signs and symptoms they have that show they’re not really enjoying or caring about their time for you.

Specific examples include:

Avoiding or unsteady eye contact;

Excessive shrugging or orienting the body away from you;

Playing with jewelry or their hair often while you talk;

Smirking at what you say but then denying it;

Looking past you while you talk to them;

Checking their phone frequently when you’re around;

And similar things to this.

Whatever their motivations might be for pretending to care about you, this individual does not tend to be a “well” person.

There is usually something pretty wrong in their life and inside them that has caused them to become the type to fake a connection with someone.

I mean if you think about it, it’s pretty twisted to pretend to like someone just for your own ulterior agenda.

It’s fucked up and it should never happen. But it does. Because there are a lot of really damaged people in this world who are out of touch with their humanity…

Fake friends are usually pretty unhappy people.

Read Sherri Gordon on this:

“Fake friends are often not secure enough in who they are to be real and authentic. They struggle with selfishness, jealousy, and insecurities that keep them from being a true friend.”

7) They use you to get access to someone else in your life

Another subtle way that a fake friend or fake flame will use you is to actually get close to you only in order to get access to someone else in your life.

This is a classic 1980s teen movie trope, but it does happen.

The guy befriends a girl only to get to her hotter friend, or the head cheerleader pretends to appreciate the school nerd so she can meet his sculpted older brother on the football team.

In real life, it tends to be even stupider.

They show a lot of appreciation and desire to spend time with you and then drop little hints here and there about meeting up with their actual object of desire.

Or they just try to arrange timing so that you all end up together.

“Wow, imagine that! Didn’t realize you were related!”

“Oh I didn’t know you worked here? I heard your boss is like this super successful entrepreneur guy!”

And so on…

It’s all so shallow, and it usually plays out by a very predictable playbook.

This can usually take the form of someone using you to get to a relative or friend of yours they find sexually attractive or using you to get to a person who they believe can get them an amazing career opportunity.

Both are equally shitty.

And both display clearly that they are a super fake friend who’s only pretending to like you.

8) They gaslight you in a million subtle ways

pexels charlotte may 5966011 1 10 subtle signs someone is pretending to like you

When someone is pretending to like you they usually come through on all the “official” things they’re supposed to do for you.

But you begin to notice this weird drone like a colony of bees.

That drone is their little weird gaslighting techniques and ways of undermining you that buzz around you at all hours of the day.

And trust me it’s not just in your head.

Even though they might seem to be a friend or partner, when you take off the rose-colored glasses you’ll begin to see a shitstorm on the horizon.

They say weird stuff about you behind your back.

They blame you for their own mistakes and bad moods.

They expect you to make them happy and if you don’t they rain down hell on you.

Let’s just say it gets pretty old pretty fast, and by the time you realize they’re not really on your side, it’s often too late because by then they’ve built up such a fake connection with you that they’ll act like you just betrayed Caesar when you try to cut things off.

9) They use the same lines on you as anyone else

Another of the more subtle signs someone is pretending to like you is when they use the same lines on you as anyone else.

They have their signature jokes, their signature anecdotes, and all the rest.

And they deploy them on you just like they would for any old Tom, Dick, and Harry.

It’s not exactly flattering, to say the least. Because it means that to them you’re a replaceable cog.

You just don’t mean much – if anything – to this person.

And the sooner you realize that the better.

Unless you want to hear one of their boring-ass stories yet again over a glass of bourbon.

(I could use that glass of bourbon, actually…

Hey… bartender?)

10) They forget what you tell them all the time

Like I was saying where they don’t seem to care what you say, this point is related.

Someone who is pretending to like you isn’t going to be very “switched on.”

Even if they do try to care about what you’re saying or want to listen to see if anything you say can be used for leverage or to get something, they’ll have trouble actually remembering any of it.

Although they may physically hear and process what you’re saying, their absolute lack of giving a damn about you gets in the way of it moving from short to medium-term memory.

In his advice article about how to help someone remember what you say, life coach Shawn Wenner says that it’s important to establish an emotional bond.

“For your information to become imprinted, you need to touch an emotional chord. Not just any emotion. The trick is to bring about something that makes them care about the information.

“Whether you point out injustice, or you lift them with joy, find a way to touch people’s emotions and your information won’t be forgotten.”

The problem with someone who is only pretending to like you is that they don’t care if you say something amazing, sad, funny, or crazy.

Because they’re literally not listening to you.

Do they really like you or not?

If more than a few points on the above list are true then they probably don’t actually like you.

It’s also fully possible to like someone in a kind of affectionate way but not actually care on any deep level about their wellbeing or future.

When someone we enjoy being around or thought was our friend or significant other turns out to have been using us it’s a gut punch.

We feel like shit and we want to fix it.

But sometimes the best solution to someone not liking us is to say: so fucking what…

Sarah Treleaven has great insights on this in an article she wrote about moving to a new place in eastern Canada and having a nasty neighbor who hated her and her partner for no apparent reason.

As Treleaven writes:

“When someone simply doesn’t like you, it’s hard to accept. It’s understandably upsetting when someone you’re fond of fails to reciprocate those feelings…

“But…you have a finite amount of mental and emotional energy with which to try changing minds, so it’s worth thinking critically about which minds are worth that effort.”

Here’s my take:

Unless this person is your family or a longtime romantic partner, you’d be better off cutting ties.

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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.