Nothing is worse than thinking a friend is trustworthy and loyal, only to find out that they have been lying to you the whole time. To avoid these situations, it's important to be able to detect any signs your friend is hiding something from you. This way, you won't be blindsided down the line when the truth suddenly comes out, and with this knowledge, you can go ahead and find some better friends who not only have your back, but can be honest and forthcoming about any situation.
"If someone is our friend, we tend to trust them — we trusted them in order for us to become friends in the first place," says relationship coach Susan Golicic, Ph.D., over email. "And when we already trust them, we don't look for — or we ignore — signs that might tell us they are not behaving in a trustworthy manner. It is also hard because even when we do see signs, we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt and even doubt our own perceptions of those signs rather than think less positively about them."
It can be hard to finally admit to ourselves that our friend is holding back information, but once you do, it can help you move on and face the truth. Here are 11 telltale signs that your friend is hiding something from you:
1You Have A Gut Feeling
If you have a gut feeling that something is not right, trust it. "You were born with an internal warning sign mechanism, so use it," says life coach Angela Tennyson, BA, MHP, CADC over email. "If you have a feeling things aren’t right, it is usually a good bet it is not."
2You Hear Gossip
Whether you've heard some vague gossip or you have been warned by someone else, it's useful not to ignore the chatter. "There is normally no smoke without fire," says psychotherapist and life coach Linda F. Williams, MSW over email. "If you're hearing things from other people about your friend, there is normally an element of truth."
3Your Other Friends All Feel The Same Way
"If your mutual friends act strange when your friend is mentioned, they may know something you don't," Williams says. There's a reason everyone feels the same way about someone, even if they don't know what exactly the person is hiding.
4They React Strongly To Things That Aren't A Big Deal
It's a major red flag if your friend has an over-the-top reaction to what seems like nothing. "This can be triggered during a conversation in which you unknowingly hit a nerve," Williams says. "Any over-the-top reactions almost always belie unresolved issues that they, themselves, have not faced. This could be something they hide from everybody or just something involving you."
5They Get Unusually Quiet About Certain Topics
"If your friend is hiding something, they may sometimes get strangely quiet," Williams says. "If you ask about it, they will refuse to tell you why. If you see such a pattern emerging, it could indicate that they are hiding something that they do not feel they can divulge."
6They Avoid Seeing You
A major sign your friend is hiding something from you is if they avoid you at all costs. "The friend is afraid to be around you because they don't want to — or are afraid to — share something with you, so they have reasons for not being able to get together," Golicic says. "This could be other plans, too tired, not feeling well, and other classic 'washing my hair' excuses."
7They Don't Make Eye Contact
Pay close attention to someone's body language, especially their eye contact. "People with secrets tend to think others can see through them," Williams says. "Therefore, prolonged eye contact is uncomfortable. If they are hiding or lying about something, they may divert their eyes during routine conversations."
8They Are Suddenly Very Private
Notice if your friend starts closely guiding all of their means of communication. This can include hiding their phone screen when getting text messages or walking out of the room if their phone rings, then avoiding commenting on who the recipient was or nature of the call. "Be honest with yourself: Most friends share who and what is being said in a text or call when you are hanging out together," Tennyson says.
A friend who is hiding something will deflect simple questions of what is going on. "When you are not getting a 'yes' or 'no' answer along with the change of subject to avoid answering your questions, trustworthiness should be questioned," Tennyson says. "This would feel like a politician’s run around answer, or lack of."
10They Don't Let You Around Their Other Friends Or Family
Bringing you around other friends or family may reveal some secrets they want to keep hidden, so your friend might not bring you around their other peers. "To avoid a misstep, your friend may choose to compartmentalize relationships," Williams says. "It’s a way to keep what’s hidden out of view."
11They Pick Fights With You
If your friend seems more irritable around you — even if not directed at you — it could be because they are angry with you or resentful because they feel they can't be honest and say what they would like to. "Likewise if they appear to be trying to pick a fight with you through words or behaviors that cross boundaries, it could be because they want you to get mad at them to make them feel better about being angry themselves for hiding something from you," Golcic says.