The Backstabber Personality

The Backstabber Personality

I have been doing a personality column for Natural Health, where each month I provide some insight into different personalities. Here is some insight into The BackstabberDoes this sound like anyone you know?


Backstabber’s will say the nicest things about you in your presence, only to turn around and tell others what a good-for-nothing, hopeless waste of space you are. They feel insecure, emotionally vulnerable, and angry with themselves and the world, so make up stories about others or exaggerate minor mistakes and weaknesses of people. They like to stir up conflict and drama, and enjoy seeing people going at each other’s’ throats. Often, these people leave us astounded and confused when we realise what they are up to due to their stealth and subtlety. Unfortunately, Backstabber’s are everywhere. Here are ways in which you can spot one:

  • Some are overly friendly and can be full of flattery for no apparent reason. This is to win your trust and to disguise their unsavoury motives.

  • They can make a show about being friends with your, yet indulge in poisonous gossip about you.

  • They almost always deny their role in spreading lies or starting untoward rumours about people.

  • They are adept at making you, when you confront them, feel like the guilty party


Nobody likes being bad-mouthed or being the unwitting target of someone’s aggressive actions or intentions. Hence, there’s hardly anything positive to say about Backstabber’s  It is what we can learn from them, however, that can be positive:

  • You soon learn that going behind someone’s back, even with the smallest thing, can make matters worse.

  • You learn to keep away from overly friendly people, especially if you don’t know them well.

  • You learn to empathise with people who gossip, rather than take their backstabbing personally.


You want to avoid having anything to do with the Backstabber because:

  • Through vicious rumours and twisted truths they can damage your reputation and integrity.

  • They have no problem in belittling you in your absence, making negative comments about your work while taking the credit for your ideas.

  • Stirring up trouble among unsuspecting people is what they delight in and thus they are unlikely to stop their backstabbing behaviour.

  • They pretend to look after your best interests, only to walk over you with disdain when you are not around.

  • They are deeply unhappy, jealous, envious, and pathological.


How do I deal with a Backstabber?

If possible, stay away from Backstabber’s. Otherwise, the following suggestions could help in dealing with them:

  • As challenging at it might be, confront the Backstabber when you have evidence that they have been saying negative things about you. If you don’t, they will delight in their triumph and continue with more of the same.

  • It’s not wise to want to back-stab in return. You don’t want to become their enemy.

  • Avoid getting drawn into private conversations with backstabbing individuals. They will use it as an opportunity to bad-mouth someone. Keep the conversation brief if you can’t avoid being alone with such a person.

Am I a Backstabber?

You know you are a Backstabber when:

  • You habitually think negative thoughts about others and are always finding fault with someone.

  • Your unhappiness with your life is so profound, and you hate it when others are joyful and successful.

  • Bad-mouthing people is your main strategy for drawing attention to yourself.

  • Spreading lies about others makes you feel good, and you use it to manipulate people

Categories: Psychology, Uncategorized

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37 replies

  1. You had indeed better not come across them but then they are generally hard to avoid, aren’t they?
    Nice to come across this blog though.
    Regards, Dick

  2. Hello Dr Nicola, this is an amazing analysis. I would like to share my story if you don’t mind. I have a best-friend, she’s super nice and a sweet-talker kinda type. Lately I realized that she often badmouthing other people. For example: today she was talking bad about x, the very next day she can have dinner with x. She also talk bad about a, b and c, soon she has a playdate with them. It give me an uncomfortable feeling about her. I learn from my own experience that when people can said something bad about others to you, then they can say something bad about you too behind your back. Once, I confront her about this, then she said it’s because she was misunderstood about their behavior. Again, she keep repeating to other people.
    She has a best friend and she said her best friend said bad things about me. In fact that she posted picture of her and her best friend (they are remaining close to each other). What should I do? I couldn’t trust her again. Should I just leave her as an ex-best friend? if only people know what she had done, I am sure no one is willing to be her friend.. Thanks in advance Dr Nicola.

  3. Oh my – thank you for this article. I seem to be going through this with my sister. I have in the past, my daughter believes she has a Narcissistic Personality disorder. Many of her behaviors do align with what you have listed here. She has made terrible choices her entire life. She has 3 failed marriages (according to her, all the guys faults!) – one was in fact abusive. While nothing, nothing should allow such behavior – her verbal abuse – screaming at the top of her lungs was there when she didn’t get her own way. When she is in her rages, she belittles and beats up the people who upset her and they are most often the people she relies on the most (girlfriend room mate right now whom she lives with because she has nothing!). She lacks compassion. If someone is ill – in fact the driver of this episode came about because I contacted her to inform her our brother has cancer. I hadn’t had much contact with her to find that my biggest mistake most recently was very nicely tell her how “what she did made me feel” – she had compromised a conversation, I first said, I didn’t ask you to intervene or say anything about our conversation – so please don’t do that again. I assured her I was not angry, but it was important to me to be honest with her. I didn’t even ask for an apology – I simply needed her to know how her behavior impacted me. Oh boy, is she ever in a rage as I write this! I have ruined her life, I cried about an operation I had but didn’t give her the time of day when she was scared, I have ruined every chance for her to ever earn money, she has nobody because of me, she is homeless because of me…blah, blah, blah, her list is never ending and if it relates to something awful in her life, it is entirely my fault. My dear elder sis is more than 11 years older than I am, and since she was 18 (more than 30 years ago) she has lived out of State. She is alone, own nothing but a car and there is no doubt that the truth she states is… she is lonely! Of course she is! I am not sure what Ito do, but holy smokes she is emotionally draining. I love her, she is my sister. I don’t even have a clue how to have a relationship with her. I have taken breaks – years – and no matter what we wind up in the same old unhealthy cycle. She always fights to be right she will never take responsibility and she has never apologized – ever for her behavior. Might you share what your take on this is?

  4. You are not happy with someone. Maybe that person is not worth your time. Put a smile on your face and a smile in your heart. You will feel so much better. Love, Pam

  5. Earlier this year I lost my job because of a backstabber. We were employed to write articles about toxic relationships for a new website. She was so sweet to my face, told me how talented I was and then added grammatical errors to my work as she posted it on the site. When I told her I wanted to own my work and that it should not be changed without my permission she stepped up her campaign. To the point that when I sent her lots or articles she did not put them on the site, instead they were all her work. I realised what she was doing but she had become the champion to our employer and had clearly stabbed me in the back and that was when I was told there was no funding available. I also saw that there was someone else in the background who had become popular and sure enough she replaced me, even her photograph replaced mine and I was actually the co-founder of the site, if it hadn’t been for the skype group I set up none of these people would even have known each other.

    On the plus side after a nose dive down I have stepped up to become more confident and developed self-esteem that I have never had and am now trying to build up my own business of reaising self-esteem in ladies who have had troubled lives. Every cloud has a silver lining and I count my blessings that I do not have to deal with this person anymore.

    Thanks for giving me this opportunity to tell my story Dr. Nicola.

  6. My family has a neighbor we’ve known for years. We’ve never had a problem with him and he is a politician in the town. Suddenly, he decided to backstab my family and complain about an issue with their yard. They’ve done nothing wrong and no one else can see what the problem is. What would cause a neighbor to suddenly be a backstabber? My mother owns the house and she’s an elderly widow. Why would a neighbor she’s known for over 28 years suddenly backstab her? She’s done nothing to them and keeps to herself in the neighborhood.

    • I have a similar neighbour who is in his mid 70s who had stirred up a silly thing as an issue and bad-mouthed about me to the other neighbours before a Residential Community meeting. He let myself and the other neighbours argue on this silly issue (which i am entitled to do) and he remained silent and calm as if he knew nothing.

      This old man is still on the belief that he has done nothing wrong. I had come across 4 to 5 people who were associated with this old man and they told me that this guy is a backstabber. I said “OK” but did not realize that he will stab me one day and that happened last week in the meeting !

      Backstabbers are just everywhere, Just be cautious. Try not to mess with them. If you are messing with these people you should be prepared to tear their masks in front of everyone. I am now trying not to have any conversation with him.

    • Your Neighbour could be interested in your mother’s property. And thats the exact reason he is backstabbing now. The old man which I mentioned in the earlier reply had interests in a space near our Block’s Covered Car Parking lot. He had also asked Mrs B (my other neighbour) if she can sell off their car parking space. Mrs. B was like -” What the heck is he asking?”

      • Oh, I know he is definitely interested in the back-woods part of our land. He has actually inquired about it. We haven’t talked to him since the incident. He is a very nosy neighbor. I have found him, several times, on the strip of land between our 2 properties acting like he owns it and wandering around close to our property line for no apparent reason. One time, he even sprayed that fluorescent orange paint on one of our trees saying that my father had put our fence 10 feet onto the dividing property many years ago when we first bought the place! Again, the property isn’t even his but he has appointed himself it’s landlord somehow in his mind.

        But, since he was a member of the town government, and very cozy with the authorities, reporting his behavior would do nothing but cause more trouble. We usually just ignore his nonsense because it isn’t violent or really threatening. There is really nothing we can do about him. Small towns like mine are often hives of corruption.

  7. Thank you so much for this post. This perfectly describes both of my grandparents, and I, sadly, have to live with them for the time being until I get back on my feet. It’s difficult sometimes to want to do things with my life, since I just feel like I’m garbage in my family’s eyes. It sort of makes me want to continue being that way for some reason. It’s just constant bad-mouthing, hearing them whisper in the other room or say something at family get-togethers. I honestly believe I will cut off all communication once I get the heck out of here. I can’t stand feeling negative and hateful all of the time, and my grandmother always seems to drag me into conversations where she’ll talk crap about someone in my immediate family.

    I just feel like they think they’re morally superior, that they can treat me however they like simply because they are being oh-so-kind-enough to let me live in their home. Even though this place was my last resort. Thank you again for the post, and I apologize for the rant. And to all others who have a backstabber to deal with on a daily basis: do what you can to keep away from them. These types are miserable people, all fake smiles and “clever” put-downs (my grandmother, honest-to-god, brags about how good she is at saying mean things without the person knowing her snide intentions; it’s pathetic).

    They’ll never change, so do what you can to keep them out of your life. Otherwise, they will find a way to bring you down.

  8. Thank you for this article. I have tried hard to find anything on the Internet about why a friend would REPEATEDLY backstab me even after we had worked things out over a previous incident. Then you said exactly how it is, she is unable to stop because it IS in fact the only way she gets attention. I would have thought our friendship would have been more important than the half hearted attention she receives from backstabbing.
    Great article!

  9. Reblogged this on Bum's Landing & Restart – Andrè Michael Pietroschek and commented:
    These are the persons to really watch out for…

  10. I lost jobs and reputation on the losing side of similar personalities. Still, in my opinion and with my experience, it harshly ever remains at bad-mouthing, when money and success can only go to the winner.

    Once more thanks and my best wishes for your career and wellbeing, Dr. Davies.

  11. Thank you for this article. I am able to move on after reading it because I finally understand the personality of a backstabber in details. It helped me to get on with my life and that I am not going to waste time feeling angry about it. Instead, I feel sorry for such person who resort to backstabbing tactics to get ahead by destroying others for their own gain and entertainment.

  12. Hi…
    I have had severe excema for a while now. But it’s now very bad and it makes me feel really insecure. I love to swim. It’s one of my favourite things to do. But because if my excema I hate it now because I feel exposed and I feel like everyone is looking at me. Recently my cousin came over. He is just a year older than me but quite rough and he has a bahaviour problem. I just found out that he was talking behind my back about my excema and I feel really upset. I’m not sure what to do because he is usually quite nice to me.Also, him being my cousin makes things a bit different.

    • Hi Aleena i feel your pain as ive had excema all my life 46yrs it sure does make you feel insecure i use to get picked on at school and it would hurt me alot and still in my adult life! Try not let others bring you down change your way of thinking, these people dont understand or are educated in having excema, i use to have to explain the pain i was in and how dry my skin was.. Sending you my love stay strong x

    • Hi aleena. It is so sad, but true. That some cousins are ass holes. My cousin loves being the center of attention. To make matters worst, she is also my friend. She finds delight everytime she speaks of mean things about me in front of our friends. And I also feel she ignores me on purpose. I have noticed things have gotten worse now that I’ve successfully lost a lot of weight and maintain it. I’ve struggled for many years, trying to msintain a healthy weight, because i’ve been overweight since I was young. It is so sad because some people just wont be happy for other’s success.

  13. Hi again,
    Found out my two brothers just sat their and did nothing when my cousin was describing me as ‘crusty feet’ and other stuff I don’t want to mention. Really upset and lying on my bed crying. I don’t know what to do now. I have searched stuff in uoutu be and everyone starts with your are watching this if you are having a bad day. Im not having a bad day. I have a bad life, bad sibling, bad cousins and obviously I have a bad body and appearence and skin worse than a snakes and Im ugly. Don’t want to te my parents. The only way to get it out o’s on this website.

  14. Very interesting read, simple in layman’s terms. I agree with most but not everything.

    Confronting a backstabber will most likely make an enemy (been there done that more then once)
    look at the pyscology and the motive- these people are cowards who are insecure and put down others and undermine at work ect.. when you call them out they just get sneakier about what they do.

    If there a gossip this may work- but true backstabbers can be sociopath’s – confronting a sociopath would not end well for US normal people.

    I would suggest this.
    If there a gossip you can confront them without emotion- in a matter of fact way and say you value them and their friendship this is why your speaking with them about this matter.

    If they are the typical sociopath (non dangerous type) lurking in every corner of our lives- do not confront them- they have fragile ego’s and superficial “feelings”- run don’t walk the other way- avoid them like the plague, this is your only option, they are a cancer.

  15. I learned a long time ago how to test people. Give them just a wee bit of info about yourself that doesn’ t hurt you, and see what they do with it. It often gets back to you right away. Cut them off, and never trust them again. When they ask you why you are suddenly cold to them, just simply say that “I don’ t keep backstabbers as friends”. That goes straight to their heart and everytime you meet, they know exactly where they stand. If some one is talkng about others, they are talking about you, too. Backstabbers have no boundaries so I have to keep mine strong. I have found that betrayal is the most painful experience to overcome and, in fact, I have not healed yet from some betrayals that are years old. I’ d rather be alone than in bad company. Forgiveness can only go so far, after that the wall is the best choice.

    • I wish knew this earlier or someone taught me how to deal with this kind of people or with varying degrees. I have grown weak and tired because of them, i may be fortunate enough to be naturally different from them but living with them for years do take a toll (especially considering i can easily emphatize with people). I wish i knew this and what i read here, years ago.

      At times, i feel sorry for myself not knowing who i was, and i grew weary because i was raised by them.

  16. Hi
    Here’s a different type of backstabber. My husband is a person who look at himself as a perfect person and wont listen to my advise even when what I’ve said turns out to be correct. I dont say anything but it seems that he doesnt like it when I am right. We dont have a great relationship, he wont even pay attention when I try and have a normal convo and wo ders why I get a little bit shirty or firm with him when this happens. Also his lack of concern or compassion for me is quite unbelievable. He never stands up for me or backs me if I have others that hurt me. He turns it around and blames me for anything that might be wrong. So we go to church and I feel that christians are the worst at treating people atrociously and he organised a meeting with our minister to discuss some issues. On the way over he started a heated convo with me so I was pretty agitated when we got there. To my surprise the minister took me back. He would ask me a question, and as I went to answer that question he would interupt me with another question. This happened about 12 times and by this stage I was getting pretty annoyed by this constant interuption and in the end I had to ask him quite firmly but politely to give me a little respect and be quiet and stop interrupting me. This wasnt well recieved and he then preceded to tell me I have serious issues and need to see a councillor preferrably an older male one!
    This was very odd to me and I was a bit confused as this mimister has known me foir 6 yrs and only spent 2hrs max getting to know me over this time. I then found out that my husband has beed bad mouthing me to him and he unde rstands my husband because he has a wife that has “similar issues”. Are you kidding me??? I’m seriously guttered and feel ill that someone who loves you could do that. It certainly explains that other people I thought were my friends one min look at me strangely all of a sudden and then dont want to know me any more. Just feel utterly betrayed.😔 Do you think I should consider leaving him. This is not the only time he has done things like this.

    • I would. He sounds just like my ex. It sounds like he’s isolating you from others by badmouthing you; verbally and emotionally grinding you down by saying it’s all your fault and depriving you of the loving support that a partner should WANT to give. Please be very careful….

  17. Thank you for this article. It brought clarity to a relationship I’ve been struggling with a long time.
    My so called friend A has a friend B that I just can’t tolerate because she is so controlling.
    I told A and ask her not to say anything because I don’t want to hurt B.
    We had a meeting scheduled and when I walked in there sat B. She looked so angry her eyeballs looked like they were going to pop out of her head. I was nice and never missed a beat. And A is gushing all about her achievements. I said congrats I’m proud of you.
    I feel betrayed and feel like she ambushed me.
    I made the mistake of sharing some of my dreams I plan on accomplishing and A went out and did them and then flaunted it in my face.
    She is a sneaky Backstabbing coward.
    At least I have a diagnosis now for her behavior.
    Too bad we can’t work through it and salvage the relationship because she can’t even admit she has a problem.

  18. About a month or so, I called a female cousin of mine, and someone else answered; I’ve dialed the wrong person, instead I called an old coworker that I just knew for two weeks in a temporary job. She was telling me how she got into a car accident and the agency let her go. I got compassionate and told her to apply in the agency where I am currently working. She applied and during the hiring process I used to call her and encourage her to move on. Well, she finally got the job, she works in the second floor where my supervisor sits. This past Tuesday, I went to see my supervisor, and Boom, there she was. I approached her and she greeted me nicely. After finishing talking to my supervisor the look in her face was of sheer envy of seeing me getting along with my supervisor. I told her, “hey, my email is this and that” and she replied “I am doing something else, I have no time”. My jaw dropped out of the sheer ingratitude. She later send me an email, and I did not responded. I got sick for two days, so regretting helping this woman get this job. Today I came to the office feeling sick, but another coworker, a grateful one, came from the second floor to check on me. I appreciated that gesture so much.
    The backstabber, on her second day on the job, wanted to split me and another male worker, by coming downstairs every second. I could not hold it; I spoke to my supervisor who appreciates my work. He put a stop to her narcissistic parade. However, I am still a little bit hurt. Its not easy dealing not only with an ungrateful person, but also a backstabber. Thank you America.

  19. I don’t know where to start really. I met and befriended this guy almost 6 years ago at work and we got pretty close – he was a newbie and I his senior. Unlike his companions he was more approachable and friendly. I trained him and another who wasn’t so approachable as they both were and still are the most energetic and brightest. A year after I moved to a different job and my life sort of sent downhill afterwards yet I and my “lil bro” remained close and in contact. He considered me his “older brother he wished he had” as he would always have questions for me and I would answer them and I even helped train him in the basics of automotive care. In 2017, I lost my job and fell into a deep depression. Mind you, my “lil bro” was beginning to excel at work, bought his first car and even got promoted. NOW WHILE I WAS AND STILL AM GENUINELY PROUD of his accomplishments and would always show support for him and his goals, something DISGUSTING began to grow inside me. Joblessness, depression, resentment ad envy I guess overwhelmed me and I began to spread gossip and malicious stories about him – some true and some made up. In 2019 he eventually suspected that I was one if not the only person who was doing that to him and he blocked me and wanted nothing to do with me. Honestly, losing this “lil bro” of mine hurt me deeply. What does that make me as a person? It’s true in what they say that regret always comes in the end and I regret what I did to him. He didn’t, HE DEFINITELY DID NOT NOR DOES ANYONE, deserve being gossiped about and stabbed and betrayed. I live with this deep regret because I could never imagine how and why I could do this to someone who never did me any wrong and considered me as his “older brother.”


  1. How to deal with a backstabber?How to deal with a backstabber? - The DailyPedia
  2. The Backstabber Personality – Health Psychology Consultancy – Parental Alienation

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