By Vivian Bricker, Crosswalk.com
A friend and a moocher are two drastically different things. A friend is somebody who genuinely cares about you. A moocher is someone who “exploits the generosity of others” (“Moocher Definition & Meaning,” Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2022). It is not uncommon for a moocher to easily slip into a friend group and try to present themselves as a “friend.” If you are wondering if your “friend” is a moocher, here are five ways to differentiate a true friend from someone abusing your kindness:
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1. A Moocher Never Pays You Back
A definitive way to differentiate a friend from a moocher is if the individual never pays you back. While it is one thing if you treat a friend to a birthday meal or a surprise cup of coffee, it is completely different if a person is always insisting that you pay the bill and they never pay you back. Real friends allow you to treat them for special occasions, but they would not insist on it every time.
If someone you know is consistently making you feel obligated to foot the bill, and they never return the kind gesture, then they might be a moocher. Moochers are almost like leeches—they are always trying to get free things or take advantage of your kindness. True friends would not treat you in this way. Instead of leeching off you and never repaying you, they would be kind to you and reciprocate your generosity by taking you out for a meal. If this sounds like somebody you know, it is highly likely they are mooching off your friendship towards them.
2. A Moocher Takes What is Yours
A second way to differentiate a friend from a moocher is if the individual takes what is yours. Have you ever noticed that a certain individual in your friend group always takes something from you? Whether that be time, money, or possessions, a moocher is known to take things for personal gain alone. If you notice an individual has been doing this in your own life, they could be a moocher.
You should never allow someone to take your personal possessions, especially if the individual has no intention of returning them. Real friends do not take your possessions or your money. Guard your time, your energy, and your priorities.
Real friends are kind and considerate of not only your time but also respect your personal possessions. If you have discovered an individual in your friend group who consistently takes but never gives, beware of their intentions in the relationship.
3. A Moocher is Controlling
A third way to differentiate if an individual is a friend or a moocher is if the individual is controlling. A moocher wants to be in control, and they want to control you. Instead of allowing you to have multiple friends, a moocher tries to isolate you. This allows them to be your sole attention. A moocher also tries to control your decisions in order to have supremacy over you. Meanwhile, if they control your decisions, they manipulate the outcome to their advantage.
Real friends do not do this to one another. A true friend would not try to control you or have supremacy over you. Genuine friends give you the freedom to make your own decisions. If you are making a bad decision or a decision that does not align with the Bible, true friends help you, but they never control you with deceit and self-gain. If you have found that a "friend" has been controlling you or isolating you, he or she is probably mooching off your decisions.
4. A Moocher is Never Grateful
Another key to differentiating between a friend and a moocher is if the individual is never grateful. Have you noticed a person in your friend group who is never grateful or thankful for what you have done for them, or what others have done for them? A moocher is never grateful to anyone. Rather than being grateful, moochers believe they are entitled to only the best, only more, and they never say thank you.
True friends are grateful for your friendship, kindness, and support. A true friend doesn't act ungrateful or entitled. If a “friend” of yours has been exhibiting a severe degree of ungratefulness, be careful of how often you give into their wants.
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5. A Moocher Doesn't Care About Others
A final way to differentiate between a friend and a moocher is if the person doesn’t care about you or others. Anybody who doesn’t care about you is not a true friend. We know as Christians that we should care about all people. Caring and loving others is crucial to our faith (John 13:34). A moocher does not have regard for others.
True friends genuinely care about you, support you, and want to help you. A true friend would be willing to help you at all times (Proverbs 17:17). Whether you need to talk to them on the phone or have to stay with them for a few days, a real friend would be there for you. If you have noticed a person in your friend group hasn’t been showing signs of truly caring about you or other friends in the group, they are likely mooching off your selflessness.
How to Deal with a Moocher
If you have found that a person in your friend group is a moocher, you need to distance yourself from them. You can still be kind and share the Gospel with them, but you do not need to have associations with them that allow for manipulation. Moochers try to weave their way into our daily lives, but it is vital for us to not let them into spaces they could abuse.
We can be kind, but we have to be wise (Matthew 10:16). Wisdom helps us steer clear from being tricked, used, and manipulated by moochers. The Lord does not want us to be used by moochers. Of course, the Lord wants us to help them and point them to Him, but He does not want our priorities destroyed trying to appease a moocher's demands.
Jesus died in order for us to have abundant life (John 10:10). In this abundant life that the Lord has given us, there is no space for moochers or fake friends. True friends love us, care about us, and support us. It can be hard to find true friends, yet if we ask for God’s help, the Lord can direct us to true Christian friends who will be there for us. True friends are gems to our lives and they can help us weather the storms of life.
Finding True Friends
A moocher would not be there for us when things started getting tough. This is because moochers are not real friends and they do not truly care about us. All moochers want is our time, energy, and possessions. A moocher always leeches off of you and uses you for their own means. A true friend would never imagine doing this to you.
If you have moochers in your life, it is time to walk away from their manipulation, abuse, and control. Always be kind to them, but do not trust them with your finances and energy, and do not allow them to steer your decisions any longer. While it is possible for a moocher to change, it is easy for them to go back to their old ways. It is best to stay away from moochers and to distance yourself from them.
You will discover life is much better without a moocher controlling your every move. It will be freeing and empowering to restore sanity to your life. Do not procrastinate or put off the problem. Address the moocher (with honesty and decency) in your life and distance yourself from them. The more time and energy you pour into them, the more time, energy, and happiness you will lose from your life. Find true friends and leave the moochers behind.
As adults, it's tricky to find true friends. It's not as easy as finding a pal on the playground or budding up with the girl who sits beside you in math class. Life is more intricate, more real, for adults, and so are friendships. As you pray to God about sending loyal friends into your life, I encourage you to seek them out too. Look for friends in God-honoring places like small groups, community volunteer programs, and the places you value in life.
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