How can I make friends when most people are fake?

ama ask me anything boundaries effective communication emotional health healthy relationships May 18, 2023

Hello Dr Julie! I have a pattern where I intuitively understand if a person is real or fake. Given today's world, I usually encounter fake people. Because fake people make me uncomfortable, I'm not able to engage in small take or make friends easily. Can you please guide me on how to create friendships?

--Looking for Real People

Dear Looking for Real People: Having a sense of when people are being honest is a good skill. However, I suspect you are relying a bit too much on your intuition. Consider this, all people engage in impression management, which means everyone presents a "front" in social situations because it is important to make a good impression and fit in. Also consider that most people are uncomfortable when they don't know others in the room and will be more likely to put up that front. You may be reading all this as fake. If you give people a chance to warm up to you (and you to them), you may find they are not as fake as you initially thought. You just need to get beyond their impression management front a little.

The best course of action is to gather a little evidence before you decide someone is as fake as you think--don't just rely on your intuition. If you take the time to gather evidence, the worst that can happen is that you still consider them fake.

Try this: when you find yourself in situations that gives you an opportunity for small talk, come with a set of 3-5 questions to ask people. Listen to what they have to say in response to the questions enough to ask at least one follow-up question. After a bit of engagement with them, see if you still think they are as fake as you initially thought. 

Challenge yourself to come up with thought-provoking questions so neither of you is engaging in scripted small talk. I'm thinking of questions like:

  • If you could take a photo of anything anywhere, what would it be?
  • If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
  • If you could travel back in time, where would you go?
  • Who is the most famous person you have met (and how did you meet them)?
  • If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead, who would it be?

I think you get the idea. 


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