How to Tell if Your Friends Are Using You for Your Car

Real friends want to spend time with you whether or not you are driving.
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With driving privileges and a new car, interest may come from not only your established friends but new would-be riders. While it is natural for even your genuine friends to initially feel fascinated by the possibility of going places easily without the help of parents, certain signs indicate fake friends who are only using you for the convenience. By learning to categorize your relationships, you can feel confident about who your real friends are.

1 Friend or "Frenemy"

The classification of nonromantic relationships has never been as barebones as “friends” versus “enemies,” a point acknowledged by clinical psychologist Paul Dobransky in his "Psychology Today" post, “How to Spot Friends, Enemies, Frenemies and Bullies.” The now-popular term “frenemy” refers to someone who puts on a friendly front when in your company but either acts destructively toward you behind your back or simply fails as a true friend when it matters. These fake friends typically stand to benefit, usually immediately, from the relationship. If someone is using you for your car, he will not stick up for you through difficult times. While he may offer you praise, he will not engage in constructive advice.

2 Spending Time

One of the easier ways to examine the nature of your friendships is to look at how, where and when you spend time together. Physically spending time together leads to increased closeness and empathy. If your supposed friends only want to hang out when you are driving them somewhere they want to go, there will not be sufficient time for these qualities to develop. With tried-and-true comrades, you’ll spend time together at one another’s homes, at school and whenever you get where you’re going – not just when there are four wheels and a stereo system involved.

3 Qualities in Common

If you have a wealth of shared interests and common goals with those you drive around, chances are they are real friends — not just riders. When it comes to finding friends you can confide in and comfortably be yourself around, it’s important to vet your companions for compatible opinions on issues such as smoking, drinking and even politics, suggests human development researcher Kenneth Rubin in the WebMD feature, “Friends: How to Make, Keep or Leave Them.” To determine whether your fellow road warriors are real friends, ask yourself if all of you are comfortable discussing topics that matter and whether you feel similarly about the hot-topic issues.

4 Risk and Reward Considerations

When one person out of a group gets a car, the others may be tempted not only to ask for rides but also to encourage risky behavior in the new driver. The company of peers can make a young person especially vulnerable to the perceived risk — usually status-related — of a risky behavior, according to results of a study conducted by Temple University researchers, as discussed in the Live Science piece, “Friends Drive Friends to Take Risks.” Genuine friends, who value you and want the best for you, will resist pressuring you into dangerous scenarios.

Jae Kemp has been writing and editing professionally since 2010. In addition to reviewing novels, memoirs and psychology/self-help books for major review services, Kemp has served as a copywriter, commercial and creative editor, and staff article writer.