How To Tell The Difference Between A True Friend & Someone Who Is Only Out For Herself

Spotting the red flags early can save you a ton of heartbreak.

three women friends blowing bubbles DisobeyArt / 

Someone we can call a true friend will always want what is best for us. They will be honest and upfront and won't hold back. 

They will tell us the truth even when we may not want to hear it.

True friends are honest, genuine, and transparent. They would never want to hurt us — especially not intentionally. 

So, how can we tell the difference between genuine friends and people out to use us?

RELATED: 22 Experts Share The Best Ways To Make Friends As An Adult — Even If It Feels Impossible


Remember that genuine friendships are rare

Can we have this type of friendship with everyone? Unfortunately, the answer to this is no.

Some of us have friendships that date back to elementary school. Having just celebrated my 45th high school reunion, I have several friends that come to mind. 


One such friend is someone that I still remain in constant contact with. She's been my backbone, and I do my very best to be hers. We met in the 5th grade. Because we still live fairly close to each other, we celebrate the longevity of our friendship by making sure we make time to hang out at least once or twice a month.

Granted, she and I don't see eye-to-eye on everything, but we don't let those issues hold us back from acknowledging our lifelong friendship. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree

However, it's nonetheless a beautiful, lifelong friendship that I cherish fondly. I don't believe she has ever held back with her thoughts. 

She will call it like it is — even when we don't always agree. This is something I strongly admire about our friendship. I never have to wonder where I stand with her.


RELATED: The Best Friendships Should Always Have These Characteristics

Watch for people who don't have your best interests at heart

To answer this question, I'll use Emmy and Trish as an example.

Trish came to me with her "friend" debacle. She met Emmy while she was going through her divorce. They had several mutual acquaintances.  As time went on, they became fast friends and after a while began hanging out quite a bit. 

Through the course of several years Trish and Emmy learned a lot about each other. They supported and trusted one another.

Since they were close, Trish trusted her with private information which included feelings for a potential suitor, Nick. 


Trish had known Nick for several years, and along the way became quite fond of him. She admitted that she had very strong feelings for him. In fact, she admitted to Emmy that she had fallen in love. 

After Emmy met Nick, she began coming around a lot more.  The three of them would hang out and spend quite a bit of time together, and they had a lot of fun.

About six months in, Trish noticed that the dynamics of the friendship were changing. It became apparent that Emmy and Nick had developed feelings for each other. They began doing things on their own. 

Of course, she was devastated. She cried in front of Emmy — she felt betrayed. Does a real friend swoop in and take away your dreams?


Even though we know that we can't change the course of destiny, it didn't make it feel any less painful for Trish. 

Eventually, they became a couple. Trish may have been able to handle that happening if Emmy didn't share private information with her. It certainly did not help the ache she felt deep in her heart.  

The women remained friends, but with distance. Despite the heartbreaking circumstances — she gave her friend a hall pass — simply based on the belief that we can't control everything that happens in life. If it was meant to be — it was meant to be.  

A couple of years later, Trish found herself finally feeling ready to move on. She met a man, Ross, that reminded her a lot of Nick. They had very similar personalities and mannerisms. She was drawn in, curious and willing to see where things would lead. 


Of course, Trish began telling Emmy about Ross — they were still friends, and friends share things, right? Emmy seemed genuinely excited for Trish and her new love interest. One day, she told Trish if things didn't work out with Nick, she would have to check Ross out. 

At this point, Trish truly began to see Emmy's true colors shining through. She realized that Emmy never cared about her as a friend — she only cared about herself.  Given the chance, she was ready to hurt Trish again.

She prayed that eventually Nick would see the truth about Emmy. At this point though — it was no longer any of her business.

RELATED: Why So Many Amazing Women Give Their Hearts To Unkind Men


Don't ignore the red flags as you see them

Genuine friends won't intentionally hurt someone they care for or about. They will always take their friends feelings into consideration. At the center of real friendships always lies respect.

Trish had initially wanted to give Emmy the benefit of the doubt. She believed that the first time this situation occurred, it was just meant to be. Whether she liked it or not, she had no choice but to accept it. 

She convinced herself that it was one of those things in life we simply don't have control of. However, once Emmy announced that she was willing to do the exact same thing to Trish all over again, then Trish had to acknowledge that Emmy wasn't a real friend afterall. 

She was an acquaintance who apparently didn't care about who she hurt along the way.


RELATED: You're Not Alone — It's Hard Making Friends As An Adult

Here are ways that you can use to measure if your friendships are genuine.

A real friend will:

  • always have our best interests at heart.
  • never intentionally hurt us.
  • lend a sincere apology when they know they have done something to hurt us.
  • want to be there for us with love and support.
  • always be transparent.
  • be there with compassion and heartfelt concern through the good, the bad, or indifferent. 
  • treat our friendship with dignity and respect.
  • value the importance of trust and prove it by not playing immature games.
  • keep our most cherished secrets and thoughts safe in the vault of their heart. 
  • share common interests and moral beliefs.
  • understand that we won't always see eye-to-eye but we can value our friendship in spite of our differences.

RELATED: To The Best Friend That I Lost Touch With

Remember, the importance of choosing your friends wisely. Stay true to yourself and your beliefs. Be open to hearing the thoughts and ideas of other people. When we do, we may learn something important through these experiences.

Do your very best to stay honest, genuine and transparent thereby, allowing others to love us for who you really are


Release those who do not have your best interests at heart and pray that they see how their behavior or choices have hurt others along the way. We can always want what is best for someone even if they are not a true friend.  

RELATED: How To Recognize Signs Of Mutual Abuse In Your Relationship

Kathy Thielen is an energy healer and life coach who focuses on happiness, self-care, psychic healing, and relationships.

Disclaimer: Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.