Tired Of Fake Friends? Then Stop Being Fake

by Virginia Duan
Originally Published: 
Scary Mommy and Bettmann/Getty

Do you trust all your mom friends not to talk about you behind your back, or do you worry that they’re insincere and toxic?

Do you find it difficult to find fellow moms who get you? Are you lonely even though you have a crew of mom friends? Are you longing for people around whom you can be authentic? Are you sick of pretending to be someone you’re not?

Are you sick of fake friends?

Here’s the thing — if you don’t want fake friends, the only answer is to be 100% real yourself.

Yeah, I said it.

If you’re being fake, you’re attracting fake friends. The kind that are insincere and toxic. The kind that talk shit about other people.

Now, wait a sec, you may be thinking. You don’t know me. How dare you judge my friendships?

And you’re right. I don’t know you. But I’m not wrong, either.

The reason you’re finding yourself with fake friends may be because like recognizes like — and authentic people would rather swill poison than willfully consort at length with phonies. Genuine people seek other genuine people because they don’t know any other way to live — it’s simply too exhausting to try and be anything else.

But also — fake people don’t particularly enjoy being around authentic people because no one likes to be called out on their shit. And not that genuine folks will be pulling a ton of “the emperor has no clothes” shenanigans, but it’s a lot more likely.

I don’t say this to be mean.

While some folks use “keeping it real” as an excuse to utter cruelties, I say this out of kindness. If you really are sick of contrived friendships and want a change, think of this as the personality equivalent of “you’ve got something in your teeth.”

So, in the spirit of friendship and reaching across the aisle, here are some ways to stop being a phony.

1. Figure out why you aren’t “real”

Now, this will require some self-discernment and self-awareness — and it may hurt a bit — but it’s important to dig a bit deeper. Are you afraid of being rejected for who you really are? Do you want to seem in with the “cool” crowd? Are you worried about trying to fit in for your kids’ social lives? Do you hate making waves?

2. Tell the truth

Again, people conflate telling the truth with saying all the horrible things you’ve been keeping inside. That’s not it. What it means, though, is to tell the truth about how you’re doing, if you need help, if you are having a bad day, if you want something or not, and if you like something or not.

3. Stop gossiping

Gossips break trust. Make it a habit to only speak of a person what you would say to their face. If other people gossip with you present, say you are uncomfortable talking about someone behind their back and change the subject. This can be easier said than done at times, I know, but if these folks are often talking to you about fellow acquaintances, then you can safely assume they are talking about you as well.

4. Be vulnerable

We often associate vulnerability with telling everybody everything about ourselves — however, this is unnecessary (and also, unwise). Rather, it simply means to be yourself. It can feel incredibly exposed to be ourselves — especially if we are unsure of the reception. Isn’t that why we contrive to be someone else? This way, if we’re rejected, it’s not really us being rejected; it’s our persona being rejected.

5. Be the friend you want to have

What do you want in a friend? Do you want someone loyal? Kind? Funny? Courageous? Is it cliché to cite The Golden Rule? Maybe. But it works. Instead of searching for a great potential friend, be a great potential friend.

6. Drop the people you don’t actually like

You don’t have to give folks a powerpoint presentation on why you no longer want to be friends. After all, we’re still in the middle of the pandemic. You aren’t hanging out in person, and you can slowly ease out of replying to texts or group chats and blame it on the coronavirus. Friendships phase out all the time; why hang onto people who don’t bring you joy?

Keep in mind, this shift will take time and it will likely be uncomfortable before it isn’t. And — I’m not shitting you — fake it ‘til you make it. Did I really just tell you to fake being real until you are real? Why, yes. Yes, I did.

But seriously, it’s just a catchier way of saying “practice makes permanent.” Pretend you are the kind of person who is themselves all the time and behave as you truly are, and soon, you really are an authentic person. The best part? Like really does attract like — and now you’ll be surrounded by people who are attracted to the real you, because who you are now is really great.

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