• Keeping Friends

When A Friend Always Copies and Imitates, What Do You Do?

Published: December 21, 2014 | Last Updated: December 23, 2023 By | 167 Replies Continue Reading
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A woman is frustrated that her friend always copies and imitates everything she does and wonders how she should handle this dilemma.

QUESTION

Hi,

So three other families and ours were planning on going on a trip together with all of our kids. We discussed going to a specific location in Mexico and were trying to work out which hotel and what days. It worked out we couldn’t go the same time as the other families so we decided to book at a totally different location for just our family.

I told my friends the place we were going and how excited I was. Then a week later they all decided to book the exact location and exact hotel as we did but a couple weeks before us.

I am feeling really disappointed and frustrated by this. It seems as though one of the couples does this frequently. When we went to buy a new vehicle, they bought one before us. I don’t know if I should just not tell them about stuff or what? What do you do when a friend always copies the things you do?

Signed, Lesley

ANSWER

Hi Lesley,

You feel like your friend always copies, steals your ideas by doing the same things, and beats you to the punch. Another way to look at it would be in terms of the old adage, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

It’s not that unusual. In fact, I recently saw a Reddit thread on this problem.

Why not reframe this situation? Instead of characterizing it as copying, you could think of it as your friend admiring your good judgment and taste. In the case of the vacation plans, you might also be able to take advantage of your friend’s having been there first, by soliciting her advice about what to expect and what to do once you get there.

If her behavior really bothers you, it’s true that you do have the option of not telling her about your upcoming plans/purchases—although keeping secrets often weakens a friendship.

I suspect that you wouldn’t have gotten as riled up if this was the only troublesome aspect of your friendship. Could there be other reasons that made this situation so upsetting?

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (167)

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  1. Nikita says:

    you know what guyd things are worse for me as she is my cousion. At first I thought she genuinely admired me because I was good in studies somewhat smart and intelligent, hence she aspired to become like me but now that she has been doing academically good herself and I am in bit of a career slump, I figured out that she always wanted to be ahead of me, every now and then she imitates me, wants to know where I do the shopping from, what cosmetics I use, what new accessories I have got. I get subtle hints too that she is enjoying with the fact that I am currently struggling to get a decent job and when couple of months ago I had started working for a company and my mom told her that She was like what she got the job?! This girl is so jealous of me I feel like whatever she does has an ulterior motive behind it. I wanna stay far away from her but because she lives in the same city and also a relative Its getting really hard for me.

  2. Charmaine says:

    My good friend has a really annoying habit: copying. She sits next to me in class and she’s FOREVER “not looking” over my shoulder to see my work! And recently she learned a new irritating habit- tagging on to the end of my sentences. Example:
    Last week we had to do a presentation on any subject. I did mine on space. Mind you, we had to work in PAIRS. I worked really hard on my part of the presentation whereas my friend did nothing! Then, on the day of the presentation, I asked her where was her part and she blabbed some rubbish about being sick during the four day holiday. It wasn’t true, since she couldn’t have been sick as I saw some texts about a wild party. So at the presentation, I thought, haha, now she can’t possibly copy me! I WAS WRONG!!! Whenever I said something, this would happen:
    Me: Okay, so my presentation is about space
    Friend: -Space
    Me: (thinking) What the…
    Me: Anyway, did you know Pluto is now no longer an official planet?
    Friend: – Planet?
    And guess what. My teacher said she was really proud of US for working TOGTHER and for practising extra hard to speak TOGETHER! She gave us an A, though I was hardly happy about it. My friend gave a super smug smile and ever since she’s been piggybacking on MY hard work!

    • Nikita says:

      why don’t you make it utter clear to your friend? I can clearly sense that she is not your real friend, She only seems to be using you!
      Start acting coldly or start giving her cold shoulders. If she is smart enough which I doubt she is, she will probably take a note and drop the facade.

  3. Alicia Clark says:

    I have a “friend” who does the same thing. From the clothes I wear to my makeup ,to my hair. It’s so annoying. I felt like I was being petty but the extent of how far she will go is so disturbing. I’m so annoyed

  4. Jordyan says:

    OMG I feel sooo much better after stumbling across this site! I am a total wreck! My “friend” is ALWAYS copying me! It’s like she lives to have more than me. If I tell her about an idea she will try to do it first. IF I tell her that I want something she will try and buy it first! I was decorating my room and I didn’t tell her about it cause I knew she would copy. And what happens a week after she saw mine she started hers! Bruh what is up with this! And she is even taking the same measures I took to do mine. Copying all the same methods and everything!*face palm* I am totally freaked out and annoyed at the same time! And its like she has some problem with being superior to me! There is nothing I can have that she doesn’t get! She already has soooooo much more than me. Its like she wants me to feel beneath her. I am also like her convenience friend. I’m only there when its convenient for her. Other than that I’m just like a dirty spot on the wall that her stain remover can remove! I am sick of it all! I really am! I think this goes far beyond a simple “admiration or flattery” of someone this is like seriously freaky!

    • Brandy says:

      Wow! Your friend sounds a lot like mine. I saw her recently and mentioned my theme for my christmas decor at home. She said ‘Oh how funny I was gonna do that too’. I have been losing weight and have been getting more male attention. When I brought it up because I’m excited about it (i’m single and looking) she mentioned she’s getting attention too. But she’s married….. I’m not sure what her mentioning this was meant to prove. That I’m not the only desirable one? Perhaps, but I’m single. She’s married, so our situations are totally different.

      Part of me thinks this type of behavior boils down to them feeling like if you have something they don’t then you are better than them. It doesn’t matter that they have more than you, or have accomplished more, etc. It’s their perception that drives all this behavior. It becomes a “she’s not better than me, I’ll show her” and then they copy you or compete with you. I don’t understand why they have chosen us to act this out on. I don’t believe I’m better than anyone else. But alas, this is how my “friend” likes to act.

      • Beans says:

        I can relate to every single one of you ladies. I have the same issue and it even comes down to career choices. I mentioned years ago when I met her I wanted and dreamt of being an interior designer so she became one, well, got her degree in it. Then I went to school to actually become a special needs teacher because of how my autistic nephew was treated in school and now after deciding she doesn’t want to be an interior designer, she would rather be a special needs teacher and tells everyone she did it because she didn’t like how her autistic son was treated in school. Then it occurred to me one day when she told her son that he should become a chef, because her autistic brother went to school to become one and quit so he should to prove he is better than her brother at it. NAILED IT! I have been feeling like she wants me under her thumb because as soon as I mention something I like she is all about it, mention something I want and she then owns it, mention hobbies and she is all about it all of a sudden. I started my own business, a dream I had for a while, and then she started one too she garnered all of the support and couldn’t even support mine until I cried that I supported her business and she couldn’t even so much as mention mine when people ask about services that my business offered. She even makes remarks about being smarter than me, but now I am going to school to become a doctor, something she says she could never do… let us wait and see!! I want out so badly. She is a terribly lazy mother that I step in a lot and I was always called the bad mother, not by her but by the people who say she is a wonderful mom.

        • Beans says:

          Oh, and when we went shopping I told her how I was feeling insecure and she bought an outfit I knew I wouldn’t like how I looked in it, then she tried it on in front of me and said, “Doesn’t it make me look so sexy!?!” I called her a bitch and walked out. When we talked about it she said she was sorry I was jealous of her body. Then later on she mentioned how she can’t get these guys off her body, men just want her body all the time. She is married with kids. They’re open, but what even is up with that?! Like she WANTS me to be jealous of her body?? Uh, no ma’am, I happen to like my own I just don’t like certain style of clothing on me.

  5. Brandy says:

    I’ve had a friend for almost 20 years on and off who copies me, but not just her it was the rest of her family too. The friendship didn’t start out that way, but things changed when she and her family moved to my neighborhood. They would come to my house and see how my mom decorated and go and do the same thing. Every little thing they could find they copied, for years they’ve done this. Yet, when another friend apparently copied an idea from their house they got upset…..

    My friend went on to get the same degree as me even though she’s not using it for anything. She even told me once that she’s getting the degree but didn’t know what to do with it…..then looked at me and waited for me to tell her what my plans were. I didn’t say anything at the time and now she just has the diploma for that degree as a frame on the wall.

    I saw her this Halloween. I make my own costumes and decorate my house for the occasion. She came with her kids and another friend and stayed barely a few seconds… no compliment on my home or my costume but I didn’t think much of it. I was surprised that she didn’t stick around since we started talking again and figured she’d stay and chat, but no. Later on I texted her to see if she was ok, and she was. She then said that she loved my costume. Then she said How funny I was gonna do the same thing. I asked her why didn’t you and your friend wear matching outfits but she had no interest in that. She has other friends but I get the feeling she doesn’t act like this with them….

    It’s so frustrating to me that she still acts this way. Every time I renew the friendship and hope that she would mature and grow out of this stage she proves me wrong. I don’t get it. It’s like she doesn’t want me to have anything she doesn’t have. But the thing is that she has so much more than I do, and yet that’s not enough. She’s very fixated in making sure that we are the “same”. But we’re not the same. She has so much more and yet she wants everything I have.

  6. Maria says:

    I have a friend and for a year she is been copying me !! She dresses like me. She copies my son’s style , she buys him the same toys!! Everything I get she gets!! It is sooooo annoying. She is really nice. But DELETED get your own identity!

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  7. Cassie says:

    I cannot express how good it is to have found this thread on this blog. I have had this “copying” phenomenon happening to me now for the last 5 years or so by various people, all mostly by people online, but also by one in real life.

    The anguish and torment that I have suffered with has been very real. It has come down to blocking and restricting these people. That has always left me feeling like a huge weight/burden has been lifted from me, instantly.

    I have come to the strong conclusion that I think these people, all women, are psychopaths. A psychopath seeks to torment and destroy their victim, and they are motivated to do this for self-gratification. I do suspect they are set to do this to us because they are green with envy, but whatever the case may be, with consistency, they seek to destroy us by taking everything we’ve got and passing it off as theirs. Despite the fact that we run in the same circles with our mutual friends seeing it right in front of their faces, that never stops them from their game. Psychopaths have no conscience, no remorse, no guilt, and no shame.

    So, how to deal with these bottom feeders? You do whatever it takes to remove them from your life, and you don’t think twice to do that, and you don’t look back. Set yourself free. I am astounded by how many reports there are here of neighbors who are doing this. As crazy as it sounds, I would consider moving. Confronting these people about it has proven to be completely useless. I did that to the first perp who did this, and she vehemently denied that is what she was up to. She said I was egotistical, when she had clearly stalked me in order to torment me. She said it was a coincidence. Then she upped her game and did it even more severely until I felt forced to leave the situation. The place where we were is the only reason I put up with that for as long as I did, as I was determined to not be chased away and have my fun ruined by someone like that, but make NO mistake about it…run and run fast and save yourself. Don’t try to beat them at their own game. Cut them off completely, because that eliminates their ammo that they will continue to use against you.

    • Rachel says:

      To Cassie, Amen!! You got it. Run and Run fast far far away. I did it almost 1 1/2 years ago. And am so glad I did!! My sis in law would never admit to all the copying always said I gave her the idea, I shared my new finds with her!! Ha, she searched it out online, or texted me “where did you get that!!” And suddenly she had exactly everything of mine!! So glad all the crazy feelings are gone. You cant reason with someone like that, it truly is obsurd someone has to have everything you have!! Its not normal!! Glad you said what you did. Sums it all up!! ?

      • Cassie says:

        It is honestly baffling. What I can’t get past is the blatant nerve these people have. I think they stalk and seek us out and try to make us feel like they are truly feeling. Breaking free is key. For me, I have had to figure out the best strategy to get away from each person who has pulled this crap. There are some people who are the keeping up with the Jones’s type, but this goes beyond that. This is very personal, and you end up being their target to get their angries out.

    • PK says:

      So much of what you’ve said resonated with me. This is my single biggest gripe, people taking our ideas and thoughts and passing it off as their own especially for their own gain. I had this one friend who did this to me. The worst is, after having taken all my ideas to her work place and getting herself promoted, she cant stop boasting about how everyone loves her and how good she is. The worst is when people like her take our ideas then try to educate us with something they learned from us!! Insulting! Confronting people like that is awkward to say the least. I tried to confront the issue is a non direct way hoping she would get the idea but she didn’t. later i approached her directly and she denied it flat out even after i gave her the facts. finally i decided to cut the relationship as i couldn’t trust her any more. When she lost access to our friendship she continued to try to manipulate me into getting back. ( they will talk about their ill health and how precious time is,Lower their tone and sound sad, or they may try to use other such methods to get you back) I fell for it ounce but quickly realized she didn’t want to lose the access to free ideas. The last straw was when I tried to explain to her how bad it is when people take our ideas. That was a mistake and left me in a worse position because she clearly cared nothing about what i had said. ( what i should have done is cut the friendship clean, easier that way) Her final argument was that people rub off on each other…. i.o.w she went from flat out denial to changing her answer. That was the last straw i told her directly the friendships done. since then she tried 2-3 times to rekindle the friendship but unfortunately for her i flat out refused. I feel cheated and manipulated. I will never go back.
      You are 100% correct, Confronting such people is a waste of time. I know i tried repeatedly. I finally understood that she simply sees no wrong in what she did and more than that, I also realized our values are vastly different. I care about certain values, she doesn’t, that in itself is a Big deal to me.

  8. Michelle says:

    I have been going through exactly the same experience. Not only have I spent the last 3 years trying to build up a business . This so called friend has tried to copy absolutely everything including my business plans right down to copying my art work and even changing her hair to match my dark curls and her dress style ! I’ve had enough!! I dare not release my latest plans or art work in case she steals that idea too. I feel very sorry for her. To begin with I just thought ok she’s started crafting , but now she is crafting stuff based on my original plans and designs for my clothing, prints and jewellery. I thought she admired what I do and wanted to be similar but trying to be one up on me all the time has left me feeling drained very upset and angry. I just wish she would focus on someone else for a while and take inspiration from others.

  9. Vanessa Beattie says:

    Your friend is a narsisistic problem came from a narsisistic mother or father she has no identity so she copies you to fake it be wary she is secretly envios

  10. Hannah says:

    My friend is always copying me. She always copies my style. She would also go to places I have gone and shoves it in my face. She also follows the same people I follow on my social medias who she doesn’t even know which is really creepy. She says she isn’t copying me when I told here about it. She also talks about me behind my back that I always copy her and that I am a total creep. She is really stressing me out and I don’t know what to do anymore. I tried switching my style and she would do the same.

    • Rachel says:

      Jordyan, dear you are not alone. You could be polite and talk to her to salvage your friend and see what happens. But in my case even sitting down talking she turned everything around and made like I was insecure!! Trust me many years of someone always having to copy and have everything you have does weigh heavy on you and makes it maddening. I am at peace never having to deal with this annoying situation again. Its not flattering its more like identity theft!! One or two things are flattering but your whole existence is a freakish nightmare.

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