How to Identify Bad Friends

Two Parts:Spotting Unfriendly TraitsEasing Your Way Out

Sometimes a friendship may confuse you–you're not really sure about just how loyal, supportive and genuine that a friend is being towards you. If you have a gut reaction telling you that your friendship isn't all it's cracked up to be, it may be time to identify what this person is really up to and whether this is a friendship worth keeping.

Part 1
Spotting Unfriendly Traits

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    Watch out for the opportunist. This is a person who likes to use you because you have assets like a car, your own apartment or home, lots of money or a vacation property. Or, they may be using you to get close to your good friends, girl-/boy-friend or sibling. This type of person will eat up your house or home and even use your personal hygiene products. But when you confront them, they become angry. They disrespect you and your belongings.
    • You may notice borrowing becomes an issue. They borrow money and never pay you back. Borrow your clothes, property, and never give it back. Or, they return it damaged. They may even let other people use/wear your belongings.
    • They may also ask for a favor but can never return a favor.
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    Be wary of the self-centered. This type of person lives by the mantra: "It's all about me". They will always talk about themselves. Also, they won't care about you; they're not interested in your day, how you're feeling, etc. You may also notice that they brag a lot. Whether it be about themselves, materialistic possessions, boyfriend, getting married, or a vacation, they always find something to make them sound better than you.
    • This type of person seems to always have an opinion about everything. An opinion is a person's ideas and thoughts towards something. It is an assessment, judgment or evaluation of something. An egocentric person has no theory of mind, cannot "put himself/herself in other people's shoes," and believes everyone sees what he/she sees (or that what he/she sees in some way exceeds what others see). It appears that this is shown mostly in younger children. They are unable to separate their own beliefs, thoughts and ideas from others.
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    Steer clear of the victim, who exudes "poor me". This person always comes to you when having problems for advice, and lets you know in no uncertain terms how much hardship they are going through (often blown well out of proportion to the facts). But when you need advice or would like to vent, they're very short with you. So it's not fair when you don't mind spending two hours plus to cool them down––instead, for you, it's like five minutes. You're not a therapist, so don't let them air their grievances at your expense.
    • This type of person may stay mad at you when both of you have had a fight. This is because they only accept their point of view.
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    Detach yourself from the clingy friend. This type of person can't share you with other people. When they do see you with other people, they're jealous because they want you all to themselves. And yet, this clinginess has a strange hierarchy that leaves you out when a more important person is about to cling onto––for example, this person likely can't include you to see a movie with their boyfriend/girlfriend, as that person becomes the center of their world. And while they spend lots of time with this person, when their other half is busy, they want you all the time. It's a sure sign that this person can't bear to be alone and that all you are is a babysitter. Be very certain that this friend may ditch you for their significant other if they come around.
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    Sidestep the fake. This person smiles in your face, but when around other people, they make you feel small by continuously putting you down verbally. They may also do things such as drugs and deny it. They might promise to call you back, but never do. Always keeps you waiting. Always make excuses as to why they didn't call you.
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    Avoid the snob. This person never acknowledges your ethnicity/culture. This friend considers you something else, and think it's alright to insult your heritage using derogatory slang words around you while knowing it offends you.
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    Get rid of the spy. Nobody wants a friend checking your assets. For all you know, this so-called friend may be working for someone else to find about you. This type of friend may use spying techniques because they are jealous, or they want to teach you a lesson. Another reason may be if they want to get close to your network or friends and acquaintances. They are not really interested in you, so try to dump this friend as soon as you find out that this one is poisonous.
    • You might notice that these people always need to know everything. For example, you may be talking to another friend about a confidence and she/he was not right there, but comes across the room wanting to know what you're talking about. Well, okay, that can be nothing; don't be paranoid. It may be a "close-friend" but a spy could and would go much further, often really trying to overhear conversations, and sneaking to read email, or borrowing cell phones, reading texts, between you and other people.
    • Spies often lie. They may lie about their name, age, etc. to you.
    • Be careful of extremes of nosiness. They may soon blackmail or bully you.
    • If you feel intimidated or threatened by this person, tell an authority or elder you trust.
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    Pass by the friend who ignores you. This type of "friend" is absolutely infuriating. When you are hanging out with them and other friends of yours, they are always talking to you and start socializing with your friends. However, when you are hanging out with them and their friends, they absolutely ignore you and "forget" to introduce you to their friends. Every time you try to spark up a conversation he/she ignores you and continues to talk to their friend. This is a sign of insecurity masquerading as coolness; it's unkind and unwanted.
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    Beware the interloper. This person uses you and your ideas/intellectual assets; interferes with your social/professional contacts; takes over conversations you're having with others; tries to network and make friends with anyone you talk to; and generally climbs on you to get where you're going, not setting her own course. This so-called friend seeks promotion/or has gotten promoted on the backs of more talented colleagues, manipulating authority, making him- or herself look good at your expense and often using ideas and insights you shared with her. You might become exhausted trying to evade their interloping so you can maintain your own friends & contacts without their interference. They have low self esteem and have trouble making friends so let you do all the work it takes, then try to reap the rewards of your effort.
    • If you say "I'm going to compliment [someone]'s shoes", they will beat you to it and act like it was their own observation. If you say, "I think [someone] will be good for a job opening I saw", they'll chase the person down and suggest applying for the job. If you work with someone like this, they'll take credit for your ideas and tell the boss about your latest, greatest thoughts, saying: "I was just thinking ..." after you explained to them how you arrived at your conclusion. If you are in school with this person, she'll run to the professor with every brilliant insight you share and pretend ownership. This person is very insecure and needs you to show her the way; she feels entitled to share in all your relationships.
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    Avoid the queen bee. This type of person is really dominating. They don't accept you if you have different opinions to theirs. Instead, they accept you only when you think like them. Some are like this only because they are insecure, but others are merely jerks with a need to dominate. But the most fearsome thing about them is that queen bees often take advantage of friendships and might turn every one of your "friends" against you over the course of a day just to wreck and break you. They are just despicable and deadly, so steer clear.

Part 2
Easing Your Way Out

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    Decide whether or not the friendship is worth continuing with. If your friend is one of the "bad friend" types above and they sap your energy, patience and resources regularly, it's a fair bet that you're better off not counting this person among your tight knit friends.
    • Decide whether this person is even worth keeping as an acquaintance. This will depend on the context––if you need to keep working with this person or seeing them at family get-together, then keeping a calm and distanced acquaintanceship may be the best option. On the other hand, if this person has no other formal links to your life, you may wish to cut the bond entirely.
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    Cease staying in contact. If you are always the first one to contact a friend and you're getting tired of little to no response, stop contacting them. If this person is a true friend, they will reach out if they notice they haven't heard from you, and it only takes a few minutes to text, email, or call someone. If they don't, you're wiser about this friend's attitude and you can begin to spend more time with the friends who do care.
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    Tell your friend the friendship is over when this feels appropriate. If you can't quietly distance yourself and refuse all invitations to go places with this friend, you'll need to be up front about ceasing the friendship. The best way to break up with a friend who isn't working out is to confront them face-to-face or by phone and tell them crystal clear that you feel unable to continue the friendship for such and such a reason.
    • Avoid using blame language. Although you don't want to say "it isn't you, it's me" type language, you do want to make it clear that this is about your feelings and your peace of mind. Avoid insulting the character of the other person or blaming them for your feelings.
    • Remind the other person of the other friends in their life if this seems appropriate.


  • True friends should be there for you.
  • Create boundaries. See how you feel when you are apart from this person. This gives you time to reflect and figure out if they are a good friend for you.
  • See how your friend acts if and when you have a minor fight. If they are angry, but still want to be your friend, they do care about you. In contrast, if they are willing to end your friendship because it seems that you don't give them what they completely want, they aren't real friends.
  • This article is not about ditching friends who happen to change over the years. Allowing your friendship to evolve and change naturally is important too. This flexible approach to friendship allows your friend to be as unique and individual as you are, and for both of you to enjoy one another in that light. The problem arises when the friendship is all one-sided and you feel taken advantage of.
  • Sometimes friends are clingy because they don't have many friends or they deeply care for you like a sibling.
  • If your friend changes for the worse (caring for you before but then completely ignoring you now) then distance yourself. This way, you can get back together if she changes for the better or leave if she becomes even worse.
  • Look out for people who act self-righteous or seem to act like you always have to give them what they want. These people probably think of friends as being possessions rather than people.
  • Never feel like the underdog in a relationship with a friend, if you're getting used and he/ or she acts fake whenever you're around a group of friends that they want to impress- that's a serious problem ditch that person for more uplifting people you can trust.
  • A true friend would never lie to you.
  • True friends will never humiliate you in front of other people.
  • Be prepared to have the strength to walk away from the friendship, if fair agreements cannot be met. A friend that bullies is not a friend. A true friend is willing to acknowledge the issue, and carry their weight in repairing the issue.
  • Your true friend will always be helpful. A fake friend just acts like a Barbie doll, good-looking and friendly but weird and untrustworthy.


  • With opportunists, remember that first they befriend you, then they use you and dump you when they are done.
  • Don't set too many expectations and rules. That's just trapping others in your dimension.

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