I know that we all want to buy into the Disney channel original movie circa 2007 mantra and believe that all our friendships will last forever. News flash: they don’t. Only the best ones do, because they can stand the test of time as walls rise and fall, people change, and lives migrate from who we once were to who we need to be.

That said, there are some realities that we have to acknowledge, sometimes it’s hard, but there are some tricks to learn to figure out who the real ones are, and who the short term or fake friends are. Fake friends will always be a part of life, but they will come and go like the wind and seasons around us. Don’t get sucked into their orbit, recognise the signs!

They never prioritise you.

Some friends are there more for convenience than anything, and that’s fine – we all have friends for different reasons, after all. But if your friend has a habit of cancelling plans or last minute ditching you for a better gig, then that’s a problem. While we all have friends that we complain to, friends that we binge tv with, and friends that we can just sit with and work – if you can’t think of how you guys actually spend time together, then that’s probably telling you something. Listen to that gut feeling.

More still, if you are always paying or footing the bill, that shows that they can only stick your company if you are the one taking the risk, bearing the financial burden, or working to make it work. They aren’t willing to value your time as work thinking of. They won’t risk their own money or time for ‘just us’. That’s sad – for them – but there’s nothing you can do about that. Maybe communicate how that makes you feel but other than that, you don’t need to change yourself to make that sort of relationship work. They aren’t there for your benefit – friends should offer each other something, not be one-sided.

Check in with your hobbies and entertainment preferences.

Even though your friends used to scoff at your earnest love of Harry Potter and Stranger Things in favour of the latest gritty drama, reclaim your passions! Without the threat of other people’s shame or judgement, you will find that you can unapologetically enjoy your true taste in music, film or podcasts. You won’t feel the pressure to consume politically-charged, ‘woke’ or emotionally intense entertainment if that’s not your scene, and you will find that you were probably less comfortable with the Game of Thrones film nights than you thought at the time. There’s nothing wrong with realising that retrospectively, but next time you will be able to know what you do and don’t like and act accordingly. 

Best friends are like gold dust: priceless, but rare.

There are people that we have to learn to let go. Like our Supernatural merchandise from when we were 13, we can probably afford to live without. Eventually, like unfollowing the toxic celebrities from our insta feed, you will never even realise they’re gone. That just proves that you’ve done the right think and decluttered your emotional life. No use wasting your time and effort on friends that won’t do the same, or take advantage of you, only to disappear from your life in a month. Good riddance.

This then is recognised as a gesture of testing the waters of friendship, and double checking that the other person is also on board. There’s nothing more awkward than having an unrequited best friend.

You know, when they are your best friend but you aren’t theirs… that hurts, man. Truly.

But if they’re causing you heartache, even when they don’t realise it, that’s when you need to get out. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting upset about ‘temporary friends’ – stick to the old faithful of your core group. If you are too invested in people that aren’t actually very important to you, it’s like pouring those emotions down the drain, not to mention the money and time drains!

However, this is why we try to read the signals ahead of time while we’re getting to know our friend more intimately anyway. There is hope for all of us.

I’ll leave everyone with two tips about non-permanent friendships:

Some friends come and go. Let them, it saves time in the future. 

And finally, don’t BE a fake friend!