“The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose friends who have healthy habits.”
Dan Buettner (Author, Blue Zones)
“You become like the people you spend the most time with.”
Jack Canfield (American Author, The Success Principles)
“One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.”
Euripides (Greek Poet)
50% of your friendships are fake.
I’m not exaggerating.
In general, people do a lousy job of discerning who their real friends are, from their fake friends.
You might be thinking, “not my friends”.
But, the research says you’d be wrong.
What we want is reciprocal friendships.
But, what we accept in our friendships only matches that half of the time.
So, what’s happening with the other half?
They’re in your life out of obligation, history, loyalty, or laziness.
But, you’re not just investing your energy into the good half.
You’re also investing your time and attention to the friends that are fake.
And, these are the ones that are robbing you of your mental energy and wasting your time.
These are the ones that are derailing your progress and holding you back.
These are the ones trying to use you to get to their goals.
But, before you blame “them”…
Realize that you invited them in.
And, you’re keeping them there.
Ignoring fake friends isn’t a strong enough stance, either.
They’ll still take up mental and emotional energy just by being in your circle.
The only way to deal with fake friends is to move them out of your circle of influence, entirely.
The only way to reach your biggest goals is to replace fake friends with a network of like-minded friends that support your efforts and encourage you.
Why Fake Friends Are A Bad Influence
A study published in PLOSOne discussed the influence of peer groups on new behaviors and that a lack of reciprocity in friendships has a large impact on our own behavior.
What this study found was that the participants ranked a high expectation of reciprocity in their friendships, but when actually measured, half of those friendship were considered non-reciprocal.
This asymmetry means that one of you is investing more than the other, and yields a large impact on the ability of friends to influence behavior.
Research out of Tel Aviv University looked at 600 friendships and found that 95% of people thought they were in reciprocal friendships (two-way friendships) when in reality, “50% of those polled matched up in the bidirectional friendship category”.
Dr. Shmueli, who conducted the research, says this is significant because of the power of influence inherent in friendships.
In terms of encouraging healthy adoption of habits — in this case, exercise — reciprocity matters. “Those pressured by reciprocal friends exercised more and enjoyed greater progress than those with unilateral friendship ties.”
Not just for influencing good habits and behaviors, friendships influence our overall levels of happiness and health.
Though we live in a culture that trumps family over friendship, research out of the University of Michigan, and others, suggests the opposite.
In 2 studies on happiness and health, with ratings from over 270,000 participants from almost 100 countries, both family and friendships were linked to increased health and happiness, however, only friendships proved the stronger influence over health and happiness as people got older.
In a second study, the influence of strained friendships led to increased reports of chronic illness, and where friendships were healthy, survey participants ranked higher in happiness.
The idiom that you become like the 5 people you spend the most time with also means you become happier, healthier, and as successful as the 5 people you spend the most time with.
On multiple levels, friendships hold influence and cannot afford passivity.
How To Stop Fake Friends From Sabotaging Your Success
Only half of your friends are there for you.
Which means, that half aren’t for you at all… they’re there for themselves.
You’re adding value… they aren’t.
And, you’re allowing this to continue.
Your close friends… maybe your bestie… might not really be the best for you.
Being strategic and selective with who you allow into your life is an essential success strategy.
Here’s why you have so many fake friends…
1. You aren’t paying attention.
One reason you have fake friends is because you haven’t been paying attention.
You’ve allowed anyone to leech onto your life.
You haven’t taken the time to figure out what you really want in your life.
So, you accept whatever loser drops in.
And, even if you evolve and change, you keep the same old friends.
You don’t allow yourself to outgrow old friends and move on.
So, you stop elevating your life.
At some point, you’ll become the smartest, funniest, most successful person in the room and feel amazing about yourself.
And, that’s where you’ll end.
That’s as good as you’ll ever be.
The same goes for people you have history with.
You grew up together.
They were family friends.
You went through a difficult time in life together.
So, you feel obligated to keep them around.
Even if it’s not reciprocal.
Even if it’s not aligned.
Even if you can barely tolerate them anymore.
Look — your friendships are a valuable tool in your success.
Not because you’re using people to get ahead.
Because you know how important it is to be surrounded with positive, healthy people that are going where you want to go.
Obligation is a chain around your neck.
It keeps you stuck with the wrong people, for the wrong reasons.
However your fake friends got there, they, like anyone else, should stay there because you have invited them to.
Not out of an outdated, invisible social contract that says you need to walk into the sunset together.
Or, drag each other.
The message you’re sending to everyone, and yourself, is that what you want doesn’t matter.
That being passive and avoiding conflict is more important than moving forward in your life.
That you should sacrifice yourself so you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
That’s the wrong message.
Successful people are strategic with who they allow to be close to them.
They’re paying attention to the elements in their lives that they know influence them.
They regularly do an audit of their circles to make sure that they are surrounded by the very best people.
They go on a relationship fast and take a break to get clarity.
And then, they deliberately move people in or out of their life.
Sometimes temporarily, often permanently.
Sounds cold and calculating.
But, it’s not only necessary, it’s healthy.
It doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it, but you have to be firm.
If you want to maximize your health and happiness, take a step back and be honest about your friends.
If you’re keeping people around just because you’ve banked time with them, it’s time to decide… them or you.
Stop being lazy and not having standards for the people in your life.
Start acting like a leader who earns success by curating a power network and group of friends that are reciprocal and aligned.
Evaluate your current friend group and start making cuts.
2. You think you’re doing them a favor.
Another reason you might keep too many fake friends around is because you think you can save them.
They need you.
And, you feel it’s your job to be their active salvation.
Needy people are energy drains.
They flock to you because you give good vibes.
You make them feel good.
And, you know it.
Which makes you feel good.
In this midst of Feel-Good Central, what you’ve created is the perfect way to give away all of your energy.
And, all of your focus.
Needy people live off your good energy, and because you’re so freely giving it, they don’t care that they’re sucking you dry.
It works for them.
You not setting boundaries means that they don’t have to do any of their own work to be less needy, either.
You’re not helping them.
You’re enabling them.
The same goes for the wayward, unfocused, dramatic, guilt-tripping, going-nowhere, channel-surfing distracted loafs you’ve picked up along the way.
Their inability to focus and get gritty for their goals — or identify any goals at all — is leeching your valuable mental energy and focus so that you can’t reach yours.
And, these ones sabotage you by doing everything they can to make you more like them.
So, they don’t ever have to change.
You… not reaching your goals… makes them look good.
You’re not doing them any favors.
And, you’re likely not far enough in your own success to be giving to these charity cases.
Sounds harsh, but in the end, it comes down to them or you.
Your goals, your success, and all the good things you want to do are being held back by toxic friends, negative people, and manipulative acquaintances.
Your energy is sapped by them, and your success is crippled by them.
You might think that keeping your less successful friends around is doing them a favor.
That your strength, positivity, good example, and energy, are helping them.
But, the reality is that you’re feeding into other people’s lives at the expense of your own.
If you have friends that aren’t pulling their weight… cut ‘em loose.
The people you spend time with have influence in your life. They can help you accelerate to the finish line, or they can be dead weight. No matter how strong you think you are, you’re not immune to the impact of others. No one is. It’s time to take a look at your friendships and identify which ones are fake, and which ones are real. Who’s for you and who is holding you back? If your goals and your happiness are important enough to you, you’ll start being deliberate with your friendships. You’ll actively seek like-minded goal-setters and leaders to connect with and stop coasting along with fake friends that are keeping you from your biggest achievements.
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