One of the saddest things you have to learn in this life is that not everyone is what they pretend to be.
To some extent, we all put on a bit of a show for the world. We may play up our positive traits and downplay our more negative ones to get people to like us.
But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about people who cultivate an entire fake persona.
There can be lots of reasons for this. Often, it comes from a deep insecurity about themselves that makes them feel they have to pretend to be someone else.
Whatever the reason, fake people can be a real challenge to be around. After all, if a person can’t be honest with you about who they are, it makes incredibly hard to trust them with anything else.
By definition, fake people are good at hiding their fakeness. But here are some signs that can help you spot someone who isn’t being straight with you.
1) They treat people differently according to what they think they can get from them
Like most traits of a fake person, this one can take a while to spot. But once you do, it’s impossible to ignore.
Fake people are fake for a reason. Like I said above, sometimes it’s because they are insecure and lack the self-esteem to be themselves. But other times, it may be because they are manipulative.
As professor Preston Ni says, manipulators create an imbalance of power between people and exploit their target to get what they want from them.
That could be money, friendship, sex, or business opportunities. And it shows itself in the way the fake person treats the people around them.
They may be much more friendly to people who they think they can get something from, and dismissive or rude to people who they perceive as having nothing to offer.
A genuine person treats everyone with respect. A fake only values people they think they can use.
2) They seek attention
Often, fake people lack a strong sense of self. That often means they are overly concerned with the opinions of others.
Fake people will often engage in attention-seeking behavior, like:
- fishing for compliments
- playing the victim
- exaggerating things that have happened to them
- saying controversial things just to get a reaction
- pretending to be unable to do something to get other people to help them or do things for them
And there’s more.
Sometimes, fake people will create drama between themselves or between other people in their social circle to make themselves the center of attention.
This can make them absolutely exhausting to be around.
3) They lie
This one may seem obvious. But one of the clearest signs of a fake person is that they are not honest.
Fake people lie to maintain the image of themselves they are trying to project. This may mean lying about their accomplishments, lying about their past, making up stories about other people, or even lying about the way they feel.
In fact, just being fake is a kind of living lie all by itself.
4) They are two-faced
Do you know someone who acts differently when they are around different people?
Many of us change our behavior depending on our audience to some extent. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about people who seem to have completely different personalities depending on the company they are in.
They may be upbeat, helpful, and ingratiating around their boss, then act cynical around their friends. Or they may present themselves as fun-loving and outgoing to their partner, and then show you a completely different side in private.
This is a sure sign of a fake person. And the problem is, you never really know which side of them is real.
5) They brag
This trait has to do with the deep insecurity many fake people feel.
Fake people often brag to make their lives seem more interesting and their achievements and abilities seem greater than they really are. They may exaggerate or even lie to give people a better impression of them.
For a fake person, their ego is all-important. And they will do whatever it takes to make themselves seem better to others.
6) They gossip
Some people just can’t seem to stop talking about others.
Gossip is an important part of human society, but it can easily become harmful when it goes too far.
Besides, talking about people behind their back is a sign of a person with weak character.
Ultimately, if you wouldn’t say something to somebody’s face, you shouldn’t say it at all. And people who talk about others behind their backs are almost always talking about you when you’re not around, too – and never in a positive way.
7) They are not reliable
Doing what you promise to do is important part of being a mature and respectful person.
But for a fake, none of that matters.
They will promise to meet you somewhere or do something with you, then bail at the last minute or simply not show up.
They may have all sorts of excuses for why they couldn’t follow through, but the fact remains that they don’t value your time as much as their own.
As psychologist Jeremy Sherman points out, this is a form of being two-faced. Saying you will do something without intending to follow through is a way of pretending to be someone you are not.
That’s what makes it a good sign of a fake person.
8) They are overly opinionated
We all have opinions. But that doesn’t mean we have to shout them down each other’s throats all the time.
Fake people didn’t get that memo. Because of their out-of-control egos, they feel that their opinions matter more than everybody else’s, and so they have no qualms about sharing them, even if they have to shout other people down to do it.
9) They put other people down
This is closely connected to the gossip I mentioned earlier.
You see, fake people will do whatever it takes to make themselves seem better. And sometimes, the easiest way to do that is to put other people down.
Fake people will talk all kinds of smack about other people to make themselves seem better by comparison. Beware of anyone who does this, because they are probably talking badly about you, too.
10) They are arrogant
Often, fakeness comes from a deep insecurity. But at the same time, fake people can be extremely arrogant.
Here’s why: to use people the way fake people do, you have to fundamentally believe that you are better than them.
It also takes a certain amount of disrespect for people’s intelligence to think that they won’t see through your act.
Therefore, if someone is arrogant and acts like they’re better than everyone, there’s a good chance that they are also quite fake.
11) They don’t own up to mistakes
Taking responsibility is key to being an emotionally mature adult. But fake people are completely unwilling to do that.
That’s because they take any flaw or criticism as a sign of weakness. They will hide any flaws they have and refuse to accept responsibility for anything that happens in their life, even when it’s clearly their fault.
As psychologist Leon F Seltzer writes, they will often get defensive when their mistakes are pointed out. Unfortunately, this inability to accept responsibility prevents fake people from ever really growing emotionally.
12) They are judgmental
Fake people are always ready to believe the worst about others. That can make them highly judgmental.
They often make snap judgments about other people without having all the facts, and are not afraid to share those negative judgments with others.
13) They aren’t interested in getting to know people on a deeper level
Ultimately, some people don’t see relationships as a goal in themselves. Instead, they see every relationship they have with others as a means to an end.
This makes them uninterested in really getting to know anyone beyond a superficial level.
They will avoid deep conversations and try not to reveal too much about themselves and their emotional lives, even as they talk endlessly about themselves.
Simply put, this mix of self-absorption with unwillingness to really share is a sure sign of a fake.
14) They don’t listen
Do you ever get the feeling that someone isn’t listening to you?
This is a common trait of fake people. In conversation with others, they will go through the motions of listening, but really, they aren’t. They are just waiting for their opportunity to say what they want to say.
This means they will forget details of things you have told them, and not pay attention to anything you say.
15) They don’t make time for you
Ultimately, fake people are not your friends. And so they will never make time for you if it’s inconvenient for them.
They don’t invite you to events. They don’t make plans with you.
If it feels like you have a friend who you would never see if you didn’t keep chasing them, it’s a good sign they are fake.
And life is way too short for fake friends.