How to Why Do People Backstab

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Have you been backstabbed? You’re probably wondering why someone you thought cared about you would hurt you so badly. Whether your backstabber was a friend, family member, or coworker, we can help you figure out what happened. We have all the answers to why people backstab.


Question 1 Question 1 of 6:What is backstabbing?

Backstabbers are nice to your face but undermine you behind your back. A backstabber may say one thing to you, like feigning concern for you, but then tell others something totally different. In other cases, a backstabber might spread rumors and lies about you to make you look bad. You likely think of this person as a friend or confidant, but they’re really an enemy.

  • For instance, 60 Roman senators stabbed Julius Caesar to death in 44 B.C. Caesar’s close friend Marcus Junius Brutus co-led the assassination, making him the ultimate backstabber.
  • The betrayal that happens when someone backstabs you can be really harmful to your self-esteem and can make you doubt yourself. However, none of this is your fault.

Question 2 Question 2 of 6:Why do people backstab?

Backstabbers are often insecure or jealous of you. They want to drag you down to make themselves feel better. It may be cold comfort, but you’re probably living a great life or enjoying some type of success.

  • For example, a friend might spread rumors that you’re talking bad about your mutual friends because they’re jealous of how much everyone likes you.
  • Similarly, a coworker might take credit for your idea because they’re jealous you get so much praise from the boss.
  • Your sister might tell your mom that you hated your Christmas present because she thinks your gift was better than hers.

They may be passive-aggressively trying to get back at you. Someone who’s passive aggressive typically won’t come to you directly with a problem. Instead, they’ll find passive ways to handle their emotions. In some cases, they may act like everything is okay when they’re around you, but then talk badly about you behind your back.

  • For example, maybe your friend is upset that you wouldn’t change your plans to hang out with them. Instead of telling you how they feel, they might tell all of your friends that you think you’ve outgrown your friend group and are trying to make new friends.
  • Similarly, let’s say your girlfriend is upset with you because she thinks you don’t text her enough. Talking to you about her expectations would be best, but she might decide to passive-aggressively tell people that you’re inattentive and prioritize everyone else over her.

They might be seeking power, recognition, or favor. Backstabbers often act in their self-interest, so this person may be undermining you to advance themselves. Unfortunately, they may be successful, at least in the short-term. However, a backstabber won’t stop with just you, so people will eventually see their true colors.

  • As an example, a coworker might spread lies that you waste a lot of time at work because they’re hoping to get the next promotion over you.
  • Your toxic family member might lie to others about why you don’t talk to them so everyone feels sorry for them and turns against you.
  • Your friend might gossip about you to everyone so they become the center of your friend group.

The backstabber might just enjoy hurting people or thrive on drama. Unfortunately, some people backstab others because they just like being the center of attention. A lot of times, these people are narcissists. They like making you feel bad while also having everyone else think they’re a wonderful person. Going through this type of betrayal is super painful, and it’s not your fault.

  • Let’s say your friend is a narcissist, and she’s upset that you’re in a relationship. She may tell your mutual friend that you’ve been putting her down because she’s not in a relationship. This mutual friend now thinks you’re the bad guy and supports your backstabbing friend.

Question 3 Question 3 of 6:Family Backstabbing

Siblings may backstab each other because of rivalry or jealousy. Sibling rivalry is super common, but sometimes it can become toxic. Unfortunately, you may have a sibling who needs to undermine you to feel better about themself. It’s helpful to be aware of this behavior so you can watch out for it in the future.

  • For instance, your sister may be jealous that your job is going better than hers, so she tells your entire family that you only got the job because you knew someone.
  • Similarly, your brother may be jealous that you just moved into a new home. He tells you to your face that he likes the home, but then he tells other family members that your home is small and has issues, such as mold.

Blended families may breed backstabbing because of jealousy or anger. It’s totally normal for children in blended families to feel upset or uncertain about the changes in their household, especially at first. In some cases, they might act out against their stepfamily as a way to handle their emotions. In this case, good communication and parental support can help bring the family together.

  • As an example, maybe your step-child told you they already ate lunch and weren’t hungry. However, they told their parent you refused to make them lunch.
  • It may be best to work with a family therapist who can help you all share your feelings and understand things from each others’ perspectives.

Narcissists sometimes backstab to make themselves look better. Unfortunately, some family members may support the narcissists backstabbing behavior because they’re only getting their perspective on the situation. Narcissists typically shower a lot of attention and praise on people who are useful to them, and these people will take their side. As the victim, it can be difficult to get people to see your side of the story since they’ve already been poisoned by the narcissist.

  • For instance, you might find out that your mother told your entire family that you mistreat her, even though you’ve never done anything to hurt her. Now, the entire family is criticizing you.
  • Similarly, your cousin may have lied about telling you your grandmother was sick and then told your entire family that you just didn’t want to visit her. Now, everyone thinks you just don’t care.
  • This can be a very painful experience, but it’s important to remember that you didn’t do anything wrong.

Question 4 Question 4 of 6:Workplace Backstabbing

Coworkers often backstab to make themselves look better. They may lie, spread rumors, or give you bad advice to make you look inept so they seem like the best employee. In some cases, their goal is to have more influence over the boss, while other times they just want to feel better about themself. They may also want a better workload. No matter the reason, it’s unfair to you.

  • For instance, they may “forget” to give you an important document so you perform poorly on a work assignment.
  • Similarly, they may blame you for a mistake they made.

Your coworker might want a promotion. Unfortunately, organizations usually have only a few opportunities for advancement. A coworker may decide to undermine you to get ahead. This can include things like taking credit for your work, spreading rumors about you, and outright lying to your boss. It’s normal to feel surprised when someone you trusted turns on you like this.

  • As an example, you might find out that your coworker took credit for an idea you developed together.
  • Similarly, you could learn your coworker is telling people you take long lunches or you fall asleep during meetings with them.

Some people think backstabbing is necessary for a successful career. In this case, they may think lying and betrayal is just part of office politics. They’ll be nice to your face but are really just looking for a way to undermine you.

  • Typically, these people will not stop until they’re at the top of the organization.

They may be trying to sabotage the business before quitting. Less commonly, you might have a coworker who has a grudge against the company and wants revenge. Right before they leave, they may attempt to sabotage you, their team, or the company as a whole.

  • For example, a team member might not do their part of a client proposal so you miss a deadline.
  • Similarly, this person could send out an angry email full of lies on their last day.

Question 5 Question 5 of 6:Backstabbing Friends

Your friend may be jealous or insecure. This is a really common reason why friends backstab you. Chances are, this friend thinks you’re more attractive, more successful, or happier than they are. So, they’ve chosen to spread lies or gossip.

  • As an example, your single friend may tell everyone that you secretly complain about your partner.
  • Similarly, your friend who hates their job might tell people you lied to get your job.
  • By telling lies about you, they feel a little better about themself.

Your friend may want people to think they’re better than you. In some cases, low self-esteem can cause people to do hurtful things. Your friend may use lies and gossip to make them seem like the better person. At the same time, they may be really nice to your face.

  • For instance, this person may offer you something, such as a gift or a free coffee. Then, they might go behind your back and tell everyone you’re mooching off of them.
  • Similarly, this person may offer to be your shoulder to cry on, but then they use what you say while you’re venting to make you look bad.

A backstabbing friend can be the most painful of backstabbers. You likely trusted this person, and their betrayal can be super painful. It’s important to remember that you didn’t do anything to cause this. You deserve better, and there are people out there who can be amazing friends to you.

Question 6 Question 6 of 6:How to Deal with Backstabbers

Allow yourself to feel hurt, upset, and betrayed. It takes time to process your emotions, so give yourself all the time you need to work through your feelings. You may want to work with a mentor, coach, or therapist to help you cope with the sense of betrayal, especially if someone close to you backstabbed you.

  • You might talk to a trusted friend about how you feel, journal to express your feelings, or do something active, like running or going for a long walk.

Distance yourself from the backstabber if you can. When someone betrays you like this, they’re showing you that you can’t trust them. In general, it’s best to put some distance between you and them. In some cases, you may be able to cut ties with them altogether. If this isn’t possible, be careful about what you tell them and minimize contact.

  • If it’s a friend who betrays you, you might reconsider your friendship.
  • It’s really hard to walk away from family members. However, you might be able to set some boundaries, like only seeing this person at family events and never telling them secrets.
  • At work, you typically can’t avoid a coworker altogether. However, you can keep your relationship professional and seek work assignments where you can work with others.

Share your side of the story. It may help to set the record straight by correcting inaccurate information provided by the backstabber. Tell people your version of events, then let them decide who to believe. When possible, provide documentation of what really happened.

  • For instance, let’s say your coworker told your boss that you didn’t help with a project. You might show copies of emails between you and your coworker or your notes from a meeting you had with them.
  • Similarly, let’s say a friend told everyone you forgot to come to her birthday party, but really she didn’t invite you. You might show friends her texts where she told you she wasn’t having a party.

Take the high road instead of stooping to backstabbing. Be the better person and rise above this person’s toxic behavior. Instead of trying to get back at them, focus on being your best and let your actions speak for themselves. In time, you’ll get ahead the right way.

  • For example, you may be tempted to spread a rumor about a friend who’s gossiping about you. That might feel good at first, but it’ll likely make the situation worse.
  • Similarly, let’s say a coworker intentionally neglected to give you a document you needed. It might sound like a good idea to do the same to them, but this can easily backfire.

Learn from your experience. While dealing with a backstabber is a painful experience, it’s also something that everyone experiences at one point or another. Reflecting on what happened can help you avoid a similar situation in the future. Hopefully, you’ll be better prepared next time so it won’t hurt as much.

  • For instance, you might learn to stop sharing personal information at work after a coworker spreads rumors about you.
  • Similarly, you might learn that your sister can’t be trusted with secrets.
  • Remember, being backstabbed is not your fault. This can and does happen to everyone.
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