A friend thief (or plural, thieves) are people who hang out with you either online or in person in order to meet your friends. They want your friends to be their friends. They might do this because they lack friends themselves, or because they feel your social circle can benefit them in some way. Perhaps you have influential friends, or you know people who have an "in" that is attractive to them.
How to Spot a Friend Thief
People who steal friends often have a lot of things in common. They are usually not interested in you personally, and yet at the same time they try and get close to you very fast. They may try and schedule a lot of time with you the minute they find out you know someone they'd like to become friends with.
A friend thief will:
- Try and schedule time alone with your friends behind your back.
- Drop your name to your friend in an effort to bypass spending more time with you.
- No longer be interested in you once they successfully become friends with your friend.
- Give your friend the impression that you have encouraged them to get together when you haven't.
- Not be genuinely sincere as they get to know you.
Friend thieves are opportunistic, so if they find out that you're planning to meet your friend for dinner or some other event, they will try and get an invite from you.
Stealing Friends as a Way to Make Friends
There are some people who suggest stealing friends as a way to make new friends. I'm not one of those people! Stealing friends is behavior that makes you come off as a user and not a genuinely caring person. When your mindset is geared toward "stealing friends" you're more focused on meeting people off someone else, and this sets the stage for hurt feelings and inauthentic relationships. In other words, if you use someone for any reason (to meet people or not), chances are other people will want to avoid you.
Now, having said that, it's perfectly reasonable to meet others through your friends if you do it naturally. The goal should be developing the relationship with your friend, not on what your friend can do for you. If you genuinely grow your friendship, of course your friend is going to introduce you to others.
How to Get to Know Your Friend's Friends
If you do get introduced to someone new, be cognizant of acting like a friend thief. Make sure that when you first get to know your friend's friend, you do it through them instead of alone. Also, never try to cut your friend out of the mix. Always include your friend in any get-togethers.
As time goes on, you'll become better friends with your friend's friend, and as a result you won't need to be as cautious. That person will genuinely become your friend. But the golden rule applies here. Never talk about your friend behind their back, especially not to their friend. Appreciate the opportunity that meeting a new friend from your pal provides you, but don't overstep.