How to Identify False Friends

False friends usually take more than they give.
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False friends stick with you through the good times but disappear when the going gets rough. They ask for lots of favors but never seem to be willing to reciprocate when the time comes. They might even lie or talk about you behind your back. If you recognize any of these traits in your friends, it might be time to cut them loose.

1 Take But Don't Give

If you have a friend who wears you out and asks for too much, without giving anything in return, you may have a false friend, writes leadership consultant Erika Andersen in an article for "Forbes." A friend who talks endlessly about the problems in her life, but is nowhere to be found when you are facing a crisis, might not have your best interests at heart. Also, a friend who asks a lot of favors, such as having you pick up her homework from class or walk her dog, but doesn't reciprocate or offer to do anything for you, may also be considered a false friend. Healthy friendships tend to have a more equal balance of give and take. Be careful not to give too much to someone who gives nothing back to you.

2 Lie and Deceive

If you catch a friend in a lie once, that might be a mistake. If it happens two or more times, that is a sign of a problem. A person who tells you things that aren't true or says one thing to you and something else to another person can't be trusted, writes Andersen. And a friendship without trust isn't much of a friendship. Liars often bring with them much bigger problems, such as moral and even legal issues -- so it might be a good idea to remove such a person from your life.

3 Disappoint

If you have a friend who constantly lets you down or is unreliable, that is another form of false friendship -- particularly if the behavior continues despite your asking for it to change, says author Liane Holliday Willey in an article for the Psychology Today website. For example, if your friend Kenny constantly backs out at the last minute from plans that you have made, or blows you off to spend time with another friend, he may consider you just an "option" in his life. Don't allow yourself to be used by someone who doesn't value the time you spend together.

4 More Bad Than Good

If you still aren't sure whether you have a false friend, consider whether you have more bad times than good times with that person, says Andersen. Friendship should bring you joy and happiness, not pain and sorrow. If the same person makes you feel bad, sad or mad a lot of the time, chances are there is something about her that rubs you the wrong way and that the friendship isn't a true one.

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.