I see genuine friendship as sacred. When your parents and older relatives are all gone, a great friend can be by your side for the rest of your life. They become part of your new family.
And it’s why I’m so frustrated by all the people I see being fake friends. It’s not always intentional but it has the same repercussions in the end.
This scenario happens every single month:
Someone comes to me for advice about a person they like. Maybe they met them on Tinder or at a party. Maybe they’ve known them for a while.
Eventually, they gain the courage to make a move. Sometimes, they get rejected. However, the other person tells them that they’d still like to be friends.
So they become…”friends”.
My client assures me that they value this friendship and aren’t looking for anything romantic. And that’s where the dishonesty starts.
Because at some point…
The person they like starts seeing someone else. Or they try flirting again with that person and they get rejected. Or my client ends up meeting someone themselves where there is mutual romantic interest.
And you know what often happens?
That friend they valued so much, becomes a nobody. Or they get angry at them for choosing other people. Then they forget about them.
Then they admit to themselves and to me that they really weren’t looking for a friendship at all.
Do you know how heartbreaking it is to find out someone you considered a friend was only there for the prospect of sex? That’s a surefire way to create trust issues and emotional baggage.
So for the sanctity of good friendships everywhere, I want to minimize this shit before it even happens. The best way I know how is by having you ask yourself honest questions to evaluate the validity of your friendship.
For ease of writing, let’s imagine this friend you’re thinking of is called “Jamie” — whether that’s a guy or a girl.
If Jamie clearly expressed they’d never be interested in you, would you still hang out with them?
This is the first question I ask when someone requests help with a “friend”.
Because sometimes even after a rejection, people still hold on hope that the other person will change their mind.
But what if Jamie set the record straight and honestly told you they could never see you as a romantic partner? Would you still be spending so much time and energy on them?
If you don’t answer an emphatic, “Of course!” then you probably aren’t seeing them as a true friend.
Do you actually spend time with Jamie in person?
When you’re friends with someone, you try to hang out with them face-to-face. Nothing strengthens a connection like spending quality time together. I get we’re all busy but I’m sure there are two hours in the next couple months to spare for someone you cherish.
Maybe you’re the one who rejected Jamie and not the other way around. You’re endlessly texting them and claim you’re just being a friend. You say you’re not using Jamie for attention or validation yet you’ve never made an effort to hang out in the last few months.
If you’re not willing or excited to see Jamie in the real world, then maybe you don’t value their friendship. Unless they live far away, you can’t just text and consider that good enough for a friendship. You have to connect on a more personal level in the moment.
Do you spend as much time with other friends as Jamie?
When someone says they’re spending all their free time texting and hanging out with one new “friend” over other friends, it raises questions. It often indicates they’re not just trying to be buddies or they’re unhealthily fixated on this individual.
You’ve known your friends longer than someone new. They’ve supported you for years. They’ve been there for you at your worst. They’ve shown you unconditional love.
If you have all this spare time for Jamie, shouldn’t you be investing some of that in the people that have stuck by your side?
Maybe it’s because you put Jamie in a different category. It’s normal to start dating someone new and be so excited that you want to see them often. If you find yourself doing that with Jamie and not anyone else, it sounds like you’re trying to make this more than a friendship.
Could you be happy if Jamie started seeing someone else?
I’m not saying you need to be comfortable with watching Jamie hook up with someone in front of you. But if they started dating other people, could you accept that?
Would you still hang out with them, maybe even with the person they’re dating, and not resent Jamie?
It’s never easy seeing someone you were interested in be more interested in someone else. But if you’re acting jealous, guilt-trippy, or angry at Jamie for dating around…it means you’re NOT being a friend.
Further than that..
Could you encourage Jamie to pursue dating other people?
When a friend starts seeing someone they like, you support them. You motivate them to put themselves out there. You tell them you’re so excited for them. You even want to meet who they’re with.
You shouldn’t be acting any other way with Jamie.
Now obviously, if they’re with someone who’s mistreating them, you can express concern like any good friend would. The problem is that so many people who claim they’re concerned friends have ulterior motives.
They try to find any fault possible with Jamie’s new love interest. They voice all the reasons why that person isn’t good enough and make fun of them. And they tell Jamie they deserve someone better.
They try to sabotage the relationship in hopes that Jamie will finally see the amazing person right in front of them.
If you do this, you’re not a friend…you’re an asshole. You’re potentially ruining someone else’s happiness for your own insecure, selfish reasons.
When you meet someone else, will you still want to spend time with Jamie?
Imagine you’ve found someone else you like. Maybe you start dating them exclusively. As expected, you’ll probably spend less time with other people when you’re in a new relationship.
But this shouldn’t drastically change your connection with Jamie.
It often goes like this…
You get into a relationship and you completely forget about your supposed “friend”. You don’t feel the need to text or see them much anymore.
All this is because Jamie wasn’t your friend in the first place. You were using them to fill a void and now that you’ve found someone else to do that, you don’t need them anymore. This can crush them.
So ask yourself right now…if you met the hottest, most awesome person ever — would you STILL be excited to invest in Jamie?
Can you stop taking or giving money to Jamie?
I always find it funny when someone tells me about all the money they’re spending on their new friend. They talk about taking them to dinners, buying them presents, or paying for concerts.
When I prod into why they’re doing that, they say stuff like, “it’s no big deal” or “I enjoy spending money on someone I care about.”
But I don’t buy it. Because in almost every case, they aren’t doing the same thing for any of their other friends – especially ones they’ve never been romantically interested in.
If you find yourself spending money specifically on Jamie, that can be a sign you’re not being just a friend. Real friends don’t need to use monetary means to keep other friends around.
Stop the gravy train and see what happens – your presence and personality should be more than enough.
This goes the other way, too. Acting like a friend and letting someone spoil you endlessly is not cool. I see a lot of girls do this with guys they claim are friends when they know that guy obviously is trying to impress them.
If you really wanted to be a friend, you’d refuse his money unless it’s an actual emergency.
Whether you’re the one giving money or taking money — friends build friendships through caring, not what they have to financially offer.
Could you stop using Jamie to solve your problems?
Many claim they’re treating someone like a friend when they’re actually treating them like a therapist. They use this person as a sounding board for all their issue. They’re constantly complaining and crying to get attention or pity.
They accept that the person they like might not desire them. So they settle for the emotional support that a romantic partner provide. They’re basically trying to have a relationship without the sex.
Of course it’s normal to confide in your friends; they care about you and you trust them. But you have to be careful not to only use them to feel loved when you’re lonely and craving attention.
If you’re Jamie’s real friend, then you should have no problem building a mutually rewarding friendship.
That means actually caring about who they are. Discussing commonalities and sharing your opinion or stories. Having new experiences together.
And that means consciously not pouring your heart out to Jamie every day, at least for the time being. Only when you stop needing Jamie to be your emotional outlet can you start working towards a genuine friendship.
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you’re likely expecting more than a friendship. Because being a friend means having NO expectations other than a platonic connection.
It’s not a sneaky way to get close to someone in hopes they will fuck you or fall in love with you. Either accept those terms or walk away before you hurt them.
Friends don’t lie to their friends.