1. Beware of Social Climbers
If somebody, out of the blue, takes a sudden interest in you: beware. At first, you may feel flattered — it feels good to feel like you matter — but ask yourself, “why this person is so interested in me?”, especially if you have nothing in common. If this person is overly excited by your social status or material possessions, this person may be sizing you up and seeking friendship for insincere reasons. As a litmus test, I always ask myself whether this person would have sought out my friendship in college when I had no social status. If the answer is no, this person is probably bad news. Real friends do not try to size you up. They are drawn to you for other reasons than climbing the social ladder.
2. Be Wary of Expensive Gifts
It is always nice to receive a gift, especially from a new friend. Gifts are expressions of affection, signs that somebody is interested in you and wants to get to know you better. However, gifts should always feel appropriate for the occasion. For example, if a new friend unexpectedly leaves a black dress on your doorstep for your birthday (before even being invited to your house), that person is trying too hard to be your friend. Friendships should always be genuine connections, something that money cannot buy. A true friend does not have to win you over with expensive gifts. The presence of their friendship will be enough.
3. Over-Interest in the Details of Your Life
Making a new friend can be an exciting time because you get to learn all about this person: their likes, dislikes, personality, etc. Beware of the friend who asks too many questions or tries to imitate you to gain closer access. If you notice that your friend is feigning common interests with you based on the intimate details you provide about your life, this is not a form of flattery. If you feel like this person is taking detailed mental notes on your happiness, this person is likely masking their unhappiness and trying to steal and manipulate yours.
4. Beware of the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
The biblical verse of Matthew 7:15 warns, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” If you have heard that one of your friends is talking or behaving badly behind your back, yet is nothing but friendly to your face, this person is not revealing their true character. As the biblical reference suggests, this person’s actions will eventually reveal their true character. This is the worse type of “friend” — one who conceals malicious intent under the guise of kindness or trust.
5. Do Not Fall Too Fast
If you are somebody that wears your heart on your sleeve, be cautious about revealing too much too soon. Socrates said, “Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.” True friendships take time to build and flourish; it is not something that is formed overnight.