9 ways to tell if someone isn’t a real friend, even if they say they are

Navigating friendships can be tricky, especially when it comes to figuring out who’s genuine and who’s just putting on a show.

Real friends are those gems who stick with you through thick and thin, while fake ones often have hidden motives.

So, how can you tell the difference? Even if they claim to be your friend, there are certain signs that unveil their true colors.

In this article, I’ll share with you 9 ways to identify if someone isn’t a real friend, even if they say they are.

Remember, it’s not about being suspicious of everyone around you. It’s about understanding the difference between a real friend and a fair-weather one. Let’s dive in.

1) They’re not there when you need them most

True friends are those who stick around during the tough times, not just when everything’s smooth sailing. They’re the ones who lend a shoulder to cry on, or a listening ear when you need it most.

Conversely, if someone only appears when they need something from you, or they’re nowhere to be found during your hard times, it’s a red flag.

I’m not saying you should expect them to be at your beck and call, solving your problems whenever you need them to. Rather, a genuine friend is someone who offers emotional support when you need it, even if it inconveniences them.

2) They dismiss your achievements

A true friend is someone who’s not only with you but also for you. In other words, they should be able to genuinely share in your joys. Let me clarify.  

I remember when I got my first promotion at work. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to share the news with my friends. Most of them were genuinely happy for me, but there was one who shrugged it off saying, “Oh, it’s just a title change, isn’t it?”

That was a bit of a punch in the gut. Instead of celebrating with me, they tried to downplay my achievement.

This is a classic sign of a friend who’s not genuine. If they can’t be happy for your accomplishments or if they try to belittle your achievements, then they likely don’t have your best interest at heart.

A real friend would be proud of you and celebrate your wins, no matter how big or small they might seem. After all, friendship is about mutual support and encouragement.

3) They spread gossip about you

If you find out that your friend is spreading rumors or sharing your personal information behind your back, it’s a clear sign they might not be as good a friend as they claim to be.

Here’s the thing: genuine friends respect your privacy, uphold your trust, and refrain from engaging in behaviors that could harm your reputation or well-being.

If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s time to re-evaluate the trustworthiness of your friendship and consider setting boundaries. Addressing the issue directly with your friend is also essential for protecting yourself and maintaining healthy relationships.

4) They constantly criticize you

Criticism is a part of life. We all need it from time to time to help us grow and improve. But there’s a big difference between constructive criticism and constant, unwarranted negativity.

If your friend is always finding fault in what you do, how you look, or how you think, that’s not healthy. It can chip away at your self-esteem and make you feel less worthy.

A real friend knows the value of constructive feedback and delivers it with care and respect. They want to see you become the best version of yourself, not bring you down.

5) They make you feel drained

should never tolerate from my friend 9 ways to tell if someone isn’t a real friend, even if they say they are

Friendships, like any other relationship, should be a source of joy and energy. They should make you feel good about yourself, not drained or stressed out.

Ever had an encounter with a friend and afterwards you feel emotionally exhausted? That’s a sign of a toxic friendship.

If spending time with them always results in drama, arguments, or leaves you feeling emotionally depleted, it’s not a healthy friendship.

Real friends enrich your life with positive energy. They leave you feeling happier and more fulfilled, not the other way around.

6) They’re not genuinely happy for your success

One of the most beautiful aspects of a true friendship is the ability to share in each other’s happiness. When one succeeds, it’s a victory for both.

It’s heartbreaking to realize that someone you considered a friend isn’t genuinely happy for your successes. If they can’t celebrate your victories or worse, they seem envious or bitter about them, this is a clear sign of an unhealthy friendship.

A real friend rejoices in your accomplishments as if they were their own. They’re your cheerleaders, your support system, and they take pride in seeing you thrive.

7) They’re only around during the good times

Friends should be around for both the highs and the lows. But if someone only shows up when the sun is shining and disappears during a storm, they’re not a real friend.

I went through a particularly rough patch a few years ago. I was dealing with personal issues that left me feeling isolated and vulnerable. During that time, some of my so-called friends were noticeably absent.

But there were others who stayed, who checked up on me, who made sure I was okay. Those are the friends I now hold dear.

A real friend is someone who sticks around even when things get tough. They’re there to offer support, to lend a listening ear, and to help you get back on your feet.

If someone isn’t willing to stand by you during your darkest hours, then they’re not worth your time during your brightest moments.

8) They don’t respect your boundaries

Everyone has their own personal boundaries, and a real friend respects these. Whether it’s needing time alone, financial boundaries, or personal space, a good friend understands and respects your limits.

If you notice that your friend constantly oversteps or disregards your boundaries, it’s a clear sign of disrespect. They should value your comfort and individuality, not trample over it for their own convenience or amusement.

A real friend doesn’t push you into situations you’re uncomfortable with. They understand that no means no, and they respect your right to set boundaries for your own well-being.

9) They’re not supportive

At the end of the day, a true friend is someone who supports you. They’re there to back you up, to encourage you, and to believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself.

If your friend is always doubting your abilities, belittling your dreams, or discouraging you from pursuing your goals, they’re not a real friend.

Support is the backbone of any friendship. A real friend wants to see you succeed and will do what they can to help you reach that success. They’re your cheerleaders, your sounding board, and your motivators.

Final thoughts: It’s all about respect

At the core of any meaningful relationship, be it friendship or otherwise, lies respect.

Respect for each other’s individuality, respect for personal boundaries, and respect for the trust that forms the foundation of the relationship.

If you find yourself questioning whether someone is a real friend, reflect on these nine signs. Remember, you deserve friends who genuinely care for you, support you in your endeavors, and respect you as an individual.

Friendship is a beautiful bond that should bring joy, comfort, and enrichment to your life. Never settle for less.

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.

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