Eight Signs a “Friend” Is a Social Climber


By Irene S Levine Ph.D.

It’s not too uncommon that people learn that “friends” are not who they appear to be. Instead, they’re social climbers who utilize friendships to enhance their own status. A user on The Friendship Blog wrote that with “20/20 retro vision” she realized that her friend was using her to make more prestigious contacts. Not every social climber has the same pattern, but here are some telltale signs crowd sourced by bloggers and “doctored” by me that “can save us some heartache.”


• She’s Status Driven. The individual makes friends based on whom another person knows or what another person has.

• She’s a Name Dropper. They can’t resist telling you about the important people they know, or the important person someone they know knows. They’re eager to find out the names of people you know who fits that profile, too.


• She’s Overly Concerned with Appearances. These individuals go to great lengths to look like “they belong” and make sure that you and other people they hang out with do, too. They flaunt designer labels and attention-drawing accessories proudly.

• She’s a Selective Friend Poacher. If you introduce them to someone in your social circle, they may hijack the friendship to get closer to a more important or accomplished person than you.

• She’s a User. They try to use your accomplishments and/or connections for their own benefit. The intensity and persistence of their approach goes well beyond what might be called appropriate “social networking.”

• She Lacks EmpathyThey accumulate “friends” in large numbers who they really don’t know well or don’t connect with on an intimate level. In general, they tend to be narcissistic and self-centered.

• She’s Unreliable. They wait until the last minute to confirm or cancel a social invitation in case they receive a better offer.

• She’s a Queen Bee. They try to control social circles and have no qualms about dumping, substituting and excluding a “friend” from the group. They may resort to belittling and gossiping to get the job done.

Bear in mind, says another poster, “I think some people are naturally gifted at connecting to and reaching out to other people, and their motivations are genuine.” These folks befriend easily and often “with no eye for what they will get out of it.”

About the Author

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

* Credit:Psychology Today

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