Why Do People Pretend?... to be someone they're not, etc.

Often we see things that really make us wonder, why do people pretend to be something so different from what they are? Let's talk about this.

Why Do People Pretend... to be someone else, to like you, etc.

Welcome (back perphaps) to roliedema.com, the home of deep conversations like this. 

I thought I'd take today's post to navigate through the important question of:

Why do people pretend?

Let's at least try to get a grasp of the concept as a whole, although we can never claim to fully understand everything about why a certain someone acts the why they do. 

What do you think? After you've read the post, feel free to share your thoughts on this in the comment section below.


I did a quick Google search and found that the only page really devoted to answering that question was a Quora thread.

It's undoubtedly a topic we secretly (or not so secretly) care about. And no matter how many times people we encounter shady, two-faced people, we continue to ask the question. 

There are many variations to the question, too. Like:

  • Why do people pretend to like you?
  • Why do people pretend to have it all together?

I appreciate the perspective of one Quora commenter, who said that we should rephrase the question to why do I pretend? because we often put "people" under the spotlight as if we are different from everybody else. 

Sure, it's human nature.

But that doesn't make it any less interesting.

Why Do People Pretend: Offence or Defence?

There are many reasons as to why people pretend. But it seems to fall into two main categories: offence or defence. 

For instance, some will say that people pretend to be someone they are not when they are in a situation where they feel pressured.

They feel they cannot truly be themselves because they will be judged, they feel restrained. We pretend to avoid criticism or judgement. 

But there's a flip side. There's the sort of pretence that's very closely linked to manipulation:

People pretend to get something they want. Perhaps someone sees something about you that could be of benefit to them, and they feel they should capitalize on that opportunity by putting on an act and making you feel some type of way about them. 

And from what I've seen, this is the kind of pretence that really grinds our gears. We're probably a bit more lenient on those who are just trying to fit in, versus those who are trying to manipulate us.

Although, at the root, both instances of pretence stem from the same low self-esteem and insecurity. 

If you would like to learn strategies that can help you identify when someone is pretending or not, I recommend reading Spy the Lie, a bestselling book where three former CIA officers share their proven techniques for recognizing deceptive behaviour. You can actually get the audio version of the book for free with my referral link here

It usually doesn't happen overnight, there's a build up 

Although some people have questionable motives, many people do not intend or set out to pretend to be someone they're not. 

People usually react to situations around them, and they do so in a way that they see most fitting for the challenges in question. 

Many people slowly create the facade of a life that's not really theirs over time. And it's easy for the fake world you've created to be positively reinforced by your perception of people's reaction. 

What do I mean by this?

Well, it often starts with a small pretence. If you see that people love and accept this 'upgraded' version of yourself that you present, you're more likely to grow the pretence. 

Before you know it, you're far away from where you started. 

Many think that pretending to be someone they're not will be worth it. But it's not. You should never have to pretend that you're someone you're not. Why pretend? If you want to get better and do better, do so. But never pretend. 

Moreover, if you feel you need to pretend to fit in, you're hanging out with the wrong crowd.

It's the most disappointing thing to put so much effort into being something you're not, and then people still don't like you. It's the whole idea of "those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Why do people pretend to like you?

Let's take one example of a situation where people pretend.

There are many reasons why people may pretend to like someone who they don't really like. 

As you guessed, most of the time it's to get something very specific that they want. Access to the person's social circle, that person's money (via getting their approval), things like like that. 

People also pretend to like you to boost their ego.

They pretend they like you because they want to be liked back. After all, if they pretend they like you, you'll likely think they're awesome, and this loop feeds their ego

This is especially true when people want to curry favour with people who are treated as outcasts in society.

The person who pretends to like them distinguishes themselves from the others who generally don't like that person. At that point, the pretender usually starts looking like an angel, and uses it to their advantage.

People will also pretend to like others to avoid confrontation and conflict situations. You have to admit to this, sometimes it's just easier to pretend that you like someone for the sake of peace. 

I think we can all make sense of that. Like I mentioned before though, what really frustrates us is when people go out of their way to pretend that they want to be friends with us, when they pretend to like us in a more substantial way.

We can deal with people just being polite, but when people get close when they don't have to and interrupt our lives, only to hurt us from within that close position, it can be really painful. 

That's why we always say that an honest enemy is better than a false friend. 

It hurts, but what lens do you see it from?

It can be quite painful to experience someone pretending to be someone they're not to you. But ultimately you can choose how you react to it. And you choose what lens you view their actions from. 

The particular outlook you have will depend on the situation. Again, based on the idea of: was the move on the offence or defence?

For instance, maybe you realise that the reason behind why someone was pretending is because they admire you, and wanted to put up a front to impress you. Maybe they thought they had no chance of you liking them as they really are. 

Of course, it was wrong for them to mislead you, but at least rather than being the victim you can see it from the angle of how it reflects on you, rather than them. They were trying to impress you after all. 

You can even come out strong when someone pretends, not because they admire you, but because they are trying to take advantage out you.

You can use the lessons learned from the painful experience to help you next time, so you don't ignore the red flags that should tell you that someone is not really who they say they are.

You can learn to rely more on action rather than mere words, and see how people follow up with the way they acted the first time you met them.

People may try to pretend, but you can also stop them short and not buy into it once you know what's going on.


So that's my exploration on the question: why do people pretend? There's obviously a whole lot more we could get into. The truth is we've all put up a front one time or another, but some people also take it to another level by constantly living a life of mischief and misleading others. 

Ultimately we can never read people's mind, and we can't change people either. What we can do is be aware of red flags, and watch for consistency. We can also reflect on what the pretence tells us, beyond the surface level, and we might be left with a lot of valuable insights; some may perhaps be comforting. 

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, you'll probably like this one  about transactional friendships too.  Also please feel free to share the post with the buttons at the bottom of the page.


What do you think, why do people pretend?

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