Fair weather friends

by Madeline Laughs

You’ve probably heard this term before…she was a fair weather friend. This is someone who likes you and wants to be around you as long as they’re getting something from you. Once they either get what they were after, or figure out that what they wanted isn’t available, then they disappear and act like they never knew you.

It took me many years to start recognizing this kind of behavior and preparing myself for their eventual departure from my life. In the past I always made an investment in the friendship because that’s what I do. The fair weather friend has no intention of making any investments at all and if you don’t start seeing the signs early on, then you’re sure to get your feelings hurt.  

The sad truth is that a fair weather friend is not really your friend, at all. They probably don’t even think about you unless they’re actively engaged in whatever pursuit they have in mind in is play, or they want something from you.

This type of friend has come around in my life several times before. Whenever they disengage, I would always have a hard time understanding what I did wrong. My husband told me I needed to lower my expectations of people, but to lower my expectations would mean this type of friend would have a standing invitation and I wasn’t willing to keep doing that.

When I started creating some rules for myself to follow where friends are concerned I discovered I had quite a few fair weather friends. They were people that only popped up when they wanted something. Can you help with a sewing project? Can I ask you about a guy I want to date? Can I borrow this? Will you do this for me?

One fair weather friend spent hours chatting with me about a guy she wanted to date. She asked endless questions, assuming I knew him better than she did, and wanted advice from me about how to create a lasting relationship with him. I gave her the best advice I could, only to have her do the opposite of everything I told her. When he dumped her shortly after a sexual encounter, she was livid with him.

She also stopped being friends with me.

In the meantime, she got a new boyfriend and I never heard from her again. It was like she flipped a switch and the messages and texts stopped. The lunches together weren’t planned and if I asked, she was always too busy. I gave her a birthday gift that same year, but when my birthday rolled around, she never even wished me a happy one.

Still thinking we had some kind of friendship I recently asked her to do something for me. It wasn’t a big thing and it wouldn’t have taken any effort on her part, but it was important to me. She responded to me like she was talking to a complete stranger.

This time it wasn’t a huge disappointment to me. I had already figured out she was a fair weather friend. Her behavior was so blatantly obvious that to miss it, I would have to be legally blind. The difference was that once she reacted to my one request, the only request I had ever made, and she proved once and for all that my friendship meant nothing to her, I walked away. You see, she never wanted to get to know me, therefore there’s no way I ever really knew her, so I have no reason to continue pretending to like her at all. She’s now just someone I know and that’s the sum of the whole connection.

In the past this would have devastated me to lose someone I thought was my friend, but now I just shake my head and chuckle. People can be odd ducks, but people like her are not only odd, they are a complete waste of time.

How do you know you have a fair weather friend lurking in your contact list?

They are easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for. Some telltale signs are these:

  • They never call you unless they want something. It can be for anything; advice, assistance with a project, or to join their club so you can pay dues. If you respond with acceptance, they’ll only be available to you until they get what they want. After that don’t expect to hear from them until the next time they want something.
  • When you talk, they only want to talk about themselves. They will never ask how you’re doing or what you’re doing because they really aren’t interested. It’s all about them. Next time they connect with you, try steering the conversation back to you. You’ll be shocked at just how fast they can turn it back to them, or they will end the call.
  • They won’t return your calls, your texts or your emails until days later. Then they always blame it on the tech; their phone was on the fritz, their message light didn’t turn on, etc. Sometimes even when they do respond, they never address the request you made, but if they do, it’s always to tell you No, or they’re too busy or they missed your deadline (on purpose).
  • If they know you’re going to buy them dinner they might show up, but if you’re having a get together at your house for dinner, or a holiday party and you invite them, don’t expect to see them. Dinner out in a restaurant gives them a free meal and an escape. Showing up for a party in your home means effort to be sociable with your other friends and they aren’t willing to go to that kind of trouble for you.
  • A fair weather friend will never celebrate you or your accomplishments. They will never go out of their way to congratulate you or even to wish you a Happy Birthday and forget ever receiving a token of their friendship. Gifts of any kind are completely out of the question, but if they do make even the smallest effort to give you anything, they expect major kudos for being thoughtful. Even following up to say Thank You is a real effort for a fair weather friend.
  • Take a look at your friend’s own long-term, close friendships. If there isn’t a person, or more than a few people, in their lives that aren’t blood relatives or lovers, that they connect with, then this is a huge red flag. If a majority of the people in their lives are peripheral; someone they work out with or go to school with, but not someone they have over for coffee or talk to on the phone with some kind of regularity, then you need to take a step back before you invest in them as a friend. Someone that doesn’t have good friends that they regularly confide in or spend time with, one on one, is not a good candidate for friendship. This void in their lives has a lot to do with how they treat people and you can never expect them to treat you any differently or any better than they have been treating people all their lives.

Some experts advise keeping your perspective when dealing with a fair weather friend by offering them a chance to make it up to you.

I’m not an expert, but my advice is to cut your losses and find a better friend. I have no intention of giving the fair weather friend another moment of my time. I will be the one not returning phone calls, texts and emails and I will be the one moving on with my life and sharing it with good friends that don’t mind when it occasionally rains.

I took an online quiz to see if I had fair weather friend qualities. When I was answering the questions I was brutally honest with my responses because I wanted to know definitively if there was something about myself I needed to work on when it came to how I treated my friends. Was it karma that was biting me in the butt by sending me fair weather friends?

My results were a relief, but while I was taking the quiz it made me look back over the friendships I have. What became clear to me as I mentally flipped through my internal Rolodex of people I considered my good friends, was that my thoughts didn’t just gravitate to one or two people, but dozens of them! In my head I was calculating and reevaluating my actions for dozens of friends! That was an awesome feeling and it’s how it should be for everyone. Everyone should have a network of people they love!

Here are the results from my quiz:

Rain or shine, you are a true friend! You’re the best friend every woman wishes she had. Through thick and thin, you’re just an arm’s length away from your friends. A lasting friendship is based on your connection, and with that comes a natural willingness to show just how much you care. Your friends trust and rely on you – they know they can call you for a fun night out or to help them out of a pickle, no matter how inconvenient for you. If you don’t have the time, you’ll make it, or you’ll find some other solution. 

Fair-weather friends are those who are only friendly when it benefits them. They also put their friends down to make themselves feel better. To you, nothing defeats the purpose of true friendship more. Hopefully, you’re blessed with friends who are just like you – caring, supportive and encouraging.

You might think I’m tooting my own horn by posting my quiz results, and you’d be right. Having good friends is the best feeling in the world, but knowing you’re a good friend feels even better.

About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice, Facebook Advice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Fair weather friends

  1. Space says:

    does sucking at communication make you a fair weather friend? forgetting to say thank you for a birthday card does indicate Bad manners, but dont blame the parents; as personal responbility belongs to the one failing to reply. “lurking” on this blog (when time presents itself) allows living vicariously through your experiences. thank you for all of your writing


    • I don’t think bad communication skills count against anyone. We all have them to some extent. Blaming the parents for bad behavior once someone reaches 21 is just bad form. By then we all know how to behave.

      Thank you for lurking 🙂 But if you’re commenting now then you have been promoted to observer and participant. Welcome aboard! Thank you for reading 🙂


  2. Thank you Triple W 🙂 though sometimes I wonder if I could be a better friend. Your friend sounds like a nightmare and she was very lucky to have you in her corner. The expensive gifts were probably the only way she knew how to repay your kindness. They might not be warm and cuddly, but they were a hug from her. That’s the way I’d look at them and smile because in her own way, she did love you. How could anyone not love you? You are amazing! and I mean that!


  3. Hard to tell. It’s not her fault that she didn’t live up to your expectations. She operates in her own way, you do too. It just took you longer than you’d expected to realize that you two do not really click. It’s normal. I don’t really see a point of friendship only to meet some social criteria. Friend and friendliness are two very different things. Being a friend comes with commitment and responsibility, almost like a relative. Of course it depends on a subjective definition of it. Everything is subjective and relative. Some people like to listen and be part of someone lives, some like to talk about other lives, some are bigger than life. Everyone is deviant, but try not to stray too far from the course. It’s not so much about doing something, it’s about effect it creates in others and yourself. So if you feel like you freed yourself from unnecessary commitments – congratulations.


    • I’m not sure what you mean about meeting “some social criteria”. Being friends is being social. Whether or not they live up to your expectations depends largely on communication.

      I’m not certain, but I could see a foggy reference in your comment to a famous saying of Eleanor Roosevelt’s “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss things. Small minds discuss people.” This blog is all about discussing relationships, people and how to have better mental health. We aren’t discussing individuals here, but generalities based on our own experiences. If that makes us small, then call me Shorty 🙂

      Yes, everyone can be deviant, but there are better ways to deal with the everyday run-ins with others than adopting apathy. Apathy is the death of everything social and definitely the demise of friendships of any kind. I prefer to remain proactive with the people I share time with. In the long run, it will mean I have a healthy perspective about other people and enough in my heart not to be dismissive when it comes to the human condition.

      It never is about “doing something”, but it is about having personal boundaries so the leeches can’t suck the life out of you and leave nothing for the people in your life that are real. If this means I have freed myself from unnecessary commitments then I am indeed better off for having done it. Thank you for the congrats 🙂


  4. Pingback: Friendly reflections | Spread Information

  5. Pingback: Friendly reflections | Madeline Scribes

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