5 Ways to Tell if Someone’s NOT Your Friend

We’re still on the theme of making friends and creating lasting connections. Many people in their 20’s (and older) come to realize that the people they’ve hung out with for years, whom they called “friends,” aren’t really friends.

Of course, there are different levels of friendships. You can be acquaintances, or even friendly, with lots of people. I believe that for the most part, people are good, honest and caring. But the ones you let into your inner circle really need to be trustworthy. Here’s a short list of how to tell who isn’t:

1. You always get drunk (or stoned, or otherwise anesthetized) together. If you’re friends with someone, you can do more than one thing with them, and you enjoy being around them when you’re both sober, too. The tricky thing about these people is that when you’re both high, you might easily mistake them for friends and even think you love them.

2. They talk crap about people behind their backs but are friendly to their faces. If they do this to others, it’s a fairly safe bet they’ll do it to you, too.

3. Somehow, you always end up listening to their problems. This is a tricky one, because friends do listen to and support each other. But it has to be reciprocal. If you find yourself always listening to their drama, but they don’t seem to have time for yours, they’re not really your friend.

4. They try to change you. I don’t mean your stylish friend who has a really good eye and is great to go shopping with. I’m talking about the people who try to get you to listen to their music and are crushed when you don’t like it. Or, those who keep trying to get you to get involved with their hobbies, their sports and their travels even after you’ve explained you’re not interested. It’s one thing to want to share something they love with you, but if they can’t handle that you have different interests, they’re not looking for a friend, they’re looking for a mirror.

5. They flake often, with many excuses. The excuses are often good ones – ones you can’t argue with (or verify). You may even catch them in lies but they can come up with some convoluted explanation about why it’s not a lie. They somehow fall short of really making it up to you or taking full responsibility for their actions. If you find yourself saying, “That’s OK, I understand,” a lot, you need to rethink how much you can count on this person. Of course, sometimes people really do have lots of complications in their lives, and you can still be their friend. But if it seems to be never-ending, with one thing after another for a long period of time, or if you start noticing that they avoid taking opportunities to improve their situation, you might need to distance yourself a bit from their drama.

Not everyone is trustworthy, and trusting the wrong people is a really common mistake – we’ve all done it.  But if you start noticing these signs, let them inform your inner compass and just watch. You don’t necessarily have to call these people out and create a fight, but it might be wise not to share your innermost thoughts and feelings with them.

Image Credit: h. koppdelaney on Flickr

About Colleen Arnold, PhD

Psychotherapist, Mother and Writer, not necessarily in that order.
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10 Responses to 5 Ways to Tell if Someone’s NOT Your Friend

  1. Hi Colleen,

    You give good, concrete, practical advice on some ways to figure out if someone is a true friend. I was particularly stuck by the following point that you made: “if they can’t handle that you have different interests, they’re not looking for a friend, they’re looking for a mirror.” So true!

    Best wishes,
    Andrea

  2. jude49 says:

    Hi Colleen,

    Thanks for your post. I e-mailed it on…

    Judith

  3. Very true, all you said. Here’s 3 more quickies. They are there to catch you when you fall, in the way they best do that (because we all have different support gifts to offer). They are honest with you when you need it the most. They support you fully in flying and when you do, they celebrate your success. Hey, these 3 also remind me of a redheaded dear friend I know. :)

  4. Colleen,

    I particularly appreciated your reminder at the end to be gentle with ourselves. Everyone has made the mistake of trusting the wrong person, or sticking around even when the inner radar is on high alert. I think your article provides permission (and tools) for us to assess relationships and make more informed decisions.

    Thanks,
    Ann

  5. Greg Galati says:

    Really like your pithy topic and down-to-earth writing!

  6. Pingback: Mid-Week Balance: 11 April 2012

  7. Kimberly Ann says:

    I met several fake friends who would only have lunch with me or take walks with me and brag about all the fun things they did with their other friends…including going out to dinner and inviting them to their homes…etc but I was just there as a fill in when no one else was around or they were bored. That got really old fast…if I am good enough to lean on and talk to about all your personal issues and be there for you then I think I deserve more than being a lunch friend. I soon learned these kind of people are social climbers who only use people as they need them…thankfully I woke up and I expect a little more in life…

  8. Monika S. says:

    Thank you, this really helped me.

  9. Julie says:

    I really appreciated the heads up I seem to be surrounded by postures

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