Teen girl sitting on a bench, turned away from two other teen girls who look at her

Not every friendship is a healthy friendship. In fact, sometimes your friend might really be a bully masquerading as your friend, especially if she is controlling and manipulating you. While this can be painful to admit, do not feel bad if you discover this is your situation. A lot of friendships are unhealthy and can include fake friends, frenemies or mean girls. The important thing is learning how to tell the difference.

Most of these so-called friends are controlling and master manipulators—the epitome of bullying.1 Consequently, they are very good at deceiving you into believing that they are your friend. But the friendship is based on their power and control over you and not on mutual respect. As a result, it is important to identify the characteristics of a controlling friend early so that you can end the relationship and move on.

6 Characteristics of a Controlling, Bullying Friend

Here are the top six characteristics of friends that control and bully.

Your Friend Is Demanding

If your friend places unreasonable demands on you and expects you to put everything aside when she needs you, that is controlling. She also may demand that you spend all your time with her. Controlling friends even try to control what you wear, what classes you take and who you date. She may even accuse you of not being a good friend when you do not meet her demands.


If you are not in control of your own decisions in the friendship, then this is an unhealthy friendship.

Your Friend Doesn’t Respect You as a Person

If your friend makes fun of you, undermines your perceptions or engages in name-calling, take notice. This is not a healthy friendship. Another red flag in an unhealthy friendship is friends that tell you how you should feel rather than accepting your true feelings.

Likewise, these fake friends may accuse you of being too sensitive, especially when she makes jokes at your expense. And she may even accuse you of being selfish if you communicate what you want or need, especially if it doesn’t meet her agenda. Do not be deceived. This is not healthy. You should be in control of your emotions and feelings.

If you are being ridiculed for feeling the way you do, then this is an unhealthy friendship.

Your Friend Acts Superior and Entitled

When a friend expects or demands special treatment that is a sign of controlling behavior. She also may use sarcasm when speaking with you, and she might act as if she is always right, knows best and is smarter. Usually, controlling friends talk down to you or are condescending and rude. They may even tell you that your opinions are stupid or don’t make sense.

A controlling friend communicates that you are inferior to her in some way. If this is happening in your friendship, it is unhealthy.

Your Friend Creates Drama

Sometimes controlling friends will start arguments for the sake of arguing. In other words, they simply like to take the opposite position. They also may display drastic mood changes or have sudden emotional outbursts. In general, controlling friends feed off of drama and will look to make a normal conflict or disagreement into a huge offense. They also enjoy rumor spreading and gossiping.


If it seems like your friend is always stirring up something, this is not a healthy behavior.

Your Friend Is Manipulative

Manipulative people use your compassion, values, fears or other hot buttons to control you or the situation. They also may manipulate and control you by making you feel guilty in order to get you to do what they want. And they have a tendency to exaggerate your flaws and to humiliate you in public. Remember, a good friend would never want you to be embarrassed.


A friend who regularly makes you feel uncomfortable is a sign of an unhealthy friendship.

Your Friend Isolates You

A controlling friend attempts to control who your other friends are. They also want complete control over which friends you spend time with. They may even take your phone, read your texts and e-mails, and listen to your voicemail messages. They also might criticize your other friends and family members. They may resort to peer pressure to get you to do what they want.

Controlling friends look for ways to manipulate you into spending all your time with them and get angry when you have other friends.

A Word from Verywell

Cutting ties with a controlling friend can be tricky and expose you to more bullying. Let someone know about the challenges you are facing so that they can help you end the relationship in a safe and healthy way. Remember, it may be hard at first to break ties with a controlling friend, but with healthy boundaries and assertiveness, you can move on and find a friend that respects who you are.