Fair Weather Friends: How to Spot Them and Why You Don’t Need Them

October 10, 2008 by Two Hands Dancing  
Published in Friendship

Friends are supposed to be there for you. Fair Weather Friends only care when the times are good.

Beware the “Fair Weather” Friends


As humans, we typically hang out in crowds and find many of our immediate needs met this way. These include the need to be accepted, the need to be heard, the need to feel safe, the need for love and support.

Obviously, humans tend to develop friendships when grouped together – be it at work, at school, at play. Friends are important in the need-meeting department. We tend to rely on friends to accept us and support often more times than we do our families. Friends generally don’t judge us, they don’t have expectations as family does, and generally friends are there for us in good times and bad.

Or are they?

What about those friends who seem to love being around you when you’re smiling, laughing, celebrating, and generally finding joy in life, yet are thin on the ground when your chips are down, and you feel sorry for yourself – even momentarily. What about when you need cheering up, and when you’re having a bad day? Who is there for you? You can bet only a handful of all your social friends will give a damn about you and call to see how you are.

There is a name you can give to all the rest of those les-friendly social busy bodies who don’t give a jot about your wellbeing when you’re less than being well. They’re called Fair Weather Friends, a term that seems to have its heritage in the UK. It simply means they are friends when all seems good, yet when things are not going so well, they are not friends who are there for you.

How do you spot a fair weather friend?

Well, if this is the first time you’ve heard the term but you’re identifying some of the people in your world as fitting the description of fair weather friend, then you know how to spot them. You’d do yourself a favor to distance yourself from these types of friends in good and bad times, because they are people who will leach energy from you.

If you’re still not too clear what a fair weather friend is and why you need to avoid them like the plague, then hear are a few tips on what to look for and maybe even what to do about them:

Fair-weather friends:

  1. Are friends who say they really care about you, and seem so interested in you when they are in your space, yet when you are not in their world, they don’t seem to give a damn about you – no calls, no emails, no sms, no letters, nothing. If you don’t chase them up for a simple “hello” you most likely won’t hear from these friends. Oh, but they apparently do still care about you… and wonder why you haven’t called.
  2. Will be all-ears to hear about all the great things happening in your world – your job, your holiday, your love life (these friends LOVE to hear about your love-life) and about any other fun stuff you have been up to. They suddenly find they have someone else they must talk with, or visit, or something else that they must attend to the moment you want to tell them something that doesn’t sound so great… They’re the first to tell you “You’re so negative,” and “you need to relax”, and “you’re making too much of it”. It’s unlikely you’ll ever hear these friends say, “Hey, you look like you need someone to talk to” while they offer their undivided attention.
  3. Seem very superficial – and have a tendency to focus on topics that are safe. These friends seem to drink you in with their eyes, and they smile a lot, and tend to reach out to touch you on the shoulder or arm… and yet in spite of this apparent warmth, you still feel they’ve only had a superficial interest in you. These friends ask the 20-questions, and when they seem to know all about you, and if you’re in the right setting long enough, you’ll see them pull the same stunt on others. They don’t like to talk about themselves, oddly enough.
  4. Are the ones who are noticeably absent if you face a crisis or tragedy of some kind. These friends are likely to be too busy to visit; they have something else come up if you call just for a chat; and if you want for them to attend a more somber occasion they will undoubtedly have an excuse for not being able to make it. Friends like these are the first you will lose contact with if you go through a rough patch. Don’t expect them to show up with flowers or a sympathy card, for a chat over a cuppa. They just can’t sustain that kind of show of support.

In this day of multi-communication tools – email, sms, phones, chat services, even reliable postal delivery, we seem to have isolated ourselves even more than ever. Times can be difficult, and with so many negative social pressures it can be difficult to stay positive and on top of it all. What you don’t need is the added pressure of putting on a front for friends who just can’t do the real friends thing. You need to be you, and to feel completely at ease about being your best and your worst without feeling that those friends you trust will desert you and leave you to wallow in self-pity. There is no shame in a dose of self-pity – sometimes the world will get on top of you and you will feel beaten. You can take all the positive steps under the sun and do the “fake it till you make it” pop-psychology stuff, but at the end of the day if you feel like crap and desperately want to be around people you trust to accept you in good times and bad, then make sure you weed out the fair weather friends from your list because as friends go, they will only let you down and contribute to any down-but-not-yet-out feelings you may be facing.

Say “No!” to Fair Weather Friends.

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