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15 signs they’re a secret hater (and not a true friend)

“Your biggest hater could be your closest friend. People pretend well.”

– Dr. Farrah Gray

Sadly, the pals that you hold dear may be your biggest doubter. How they do it may not be obvious, which is why you need to be vigilant for these 15 signs of a secret hater ‘friend.’

Don’t know how to deal with them? I’ve included some tips on how to do this as well.

1) They’re very judgmental towards you

Your true friend will support you, no matter how quirky your choices may be.

However, a secret hater will be quick to judge you – even if you did the morally right thing.

So why is your pseudo-friend very judgmental towards you? Well, there are six possible reasons:

  • Judging is more manageable than thinking.
  • They think you’re not part of the group identity. You like pink, they like blue.
  • They’re stuck in an echo chamber – they only follow the information that reinforces their beliefs.
  • They think they’re more superior to you.
  • They’re projecting – externalizing their feelings and thoughts on the people surrounding them (aka you.)
  • It’s their way of explaining the events that have just transpired.

2) They talk behind your back

A friend who talks behind your back is more than just a hater – it’s a brutal sign that they don’t respect you.

For one, they may be spilling your secret to others – something you’ve told them in confidence.

Worse, they may even spin this story to make you appear in a negative light.

Add to that, a secret hater friend may be readily talking mean things behind your back.

You can liken them to the quintessential backstabber. The Brutus to your Julius Caesar. The Judas Iscariot to your Jesus Christ. You get my drift.

So how do you know if your fake pal is talking behind your back? Well, you need to be on alert for these signs:

  • Their personality has changed – they act differently than they once did.
  • The room gets quiet the moment you enter. Unless you’re a professor walking into a class, this shouldn’t be the case.
  • They seem to be very uncomfortable around you.
  • They act stiff or freeze the moment they see you. They can’t look straight into your eyes!
  • They’re overcompensating, e.g., hugging you or smiling a lot towards you.
  • They’re talking squat about their other pals. If they’re doing this to their ‘friends,’ it’s a big possibility that they’re doing it to you as well.
  • Their body language is ‘closed off’ or anxious. Examples include crossed arms/legs, frequently adjusting clothes or jewelry.
  • You can’t shake the feeling that they’re talking about you behind your back.

3) They keep on lying to you

If your hater friend were a real-life Pinocchio, their nose would have grown to a meter now. That’s because their hobby is to keep on lying to your face.

As for the reason, Dr. Bella DePaulo is quite frank with the answer: they’re the problem, not you.

Most of the time, people lie to you because of your best qualities.

For one, you may have high moral standards – and your hater friend just doesn’t get it. You don’t like people who lie – so they do it to defy you.

You may also have attractive qualities that force them to lie through their teeth. They want to seem more impressive than you. They think that lying to you keeps them one step ahead of you.

Talk about insecurity!

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4) They can’t seem to compliment you

Compliments are ‘little gifts of love.’

They’re all about praise because you’re telling the other person you value them. They can help boost your mood and amplify your positive thoughts.

Giving a compliment is all about being genuine.

In other words, it’s the total opposite of your secret hater: they’re fake, fake, fake.

Think of this: why would a hater praise you and make you feel good?

Instead, they’ll do the opposite, which is to make you feel bad.

Even if you win the Nobel Prize, your secret hater of a friend won’t congratulate you. They’ll chalk up your win to your ‘luck’ or your connections.

They’ll make you feel like you can’t do incredible things by yourself.

5) …Or they give ‘backhanded’ compliments instead

Finally, your friend has given you the compliment you’ve always wanted! The only problem is it’s a backhanded one.

In other words, it’s more of an insult rather than a compliment.

Here are some backhanded compliments your secret hater friend may spew:

  • “You look great. Did you lose weight?”
  • “You clean up excellently!”
  • “You’re beautiful/handsome. What are you?”
  • “Your hair looks good slicked back. You should do that more often.”
  • “You don’t even look pregnant!”
  • “Wow, you’re already back to work! I wish I had the courage to leave my kids to a stranger, just like you.”

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6) They’re disrespectful – but in an ever-so-subtle way

In other words, they love throwing shade at you.

Anna Holmes, a journalist, describes it as the “art of a sidelong insult.

You might not notice it at first, but your so-called friend will try to disrespect, ridicule, or undermine you in a very subtle way. They’re your secret hater, remember?

According to E. Patrick Johnson, who has written extensively about the art of throwing shade, it’s a statement that follows the ‘element of plausible deniability.’

That means your shade thrower of a ‘friend’ pretends they don’t mean to be rude or impolite – when in fact, they are.

Experts believe it’s all about ‘dominance and one-upmanship.’

And while throwing shade usually involves elaborate statements, secret hater friends don’t need to say a lot to throw you shade either.

You might not know it, but a simple comment such as *side eye* or *sips tea* may be their way to talk trash about you.

It would be best if you were vigilant, as they often throw shade whenever you’re not around.

7) They’re very competitive – but not in a good way

Generally, being competitive is good. This allows you to work hard enough to reach your goals. Being competitive means you don’t back down against any challenge, no matter how tough it may be.

Sadly, being competitive often means doing whatever it takes – even if it’s to the detriment of the other person.

Your competitive friend-slash-hater, however, may be capitalizing on the trait’s disadvantages.  These competitive persons, more often than not, appear to be conceited, rigid, and passive-aggressive.

They’re too absorbed that they’re literally so full of themselves!

They may not know it, but they may be suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. That means they get stressed out if they don’t ‘win’ against other people (which is you, in this case.)

They don’t know how to deal with a person who’s better than them. Instead of viewing your triumph as a motivator in life, they see it as a humiliating defeat instead.

8) They’re super sarcastic

Sarcasm is a playful or humorous attempt to disguise judgment or hostility.

It’s no secret that it’s hurtful to be on the receiving end of sarcasm.

Unsurprisingly, the name speaks for itself. It comes from the Greek word sarkasmos, meaning ‘tearing of the flesh.’

Ouch indeed.

For one, receiving a sarcastic remark can make you anxious and defensive. You think you did wrong, even if you didn’t.

In the end, you lose your trust in this person.

But why would a friend do this to you?

Well, sarcasm is your hater’s thinly veiled attempt at disguising their fear, anger, or hurt. They’re trying to invalidate your feelings rather than own up to their fault.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s not you. It’s them!

Your sarcastic hater friends are passive-aggressive people who can’t be real with their emotions. More often than not, they’re very fearful of people confronting them.

In other words, they’re unable to handle emotional intimacy.

It’s their cloak-and-dagger approach of communicating, so they can ‘safely’ disregard their contempt.

9) They’re very petty towards you

Dr. Alex Alonso, author of the book “Price of Pettiness,” describes pettiness as: “Caring about or reacting disproportionately to trivial or inconsequential matters.”

In other words, a petty person is someone who gets riled up by the small stuff.

Wonder why your hater friend is unbelievably petty? According to the 2018 study of Ng and Levy, pettiness results from internalizing conditions such as stress, anxiety, even depression.

It may also be a sign of neuroticism.

This negative personality trait, as Costa and McCrae describe, is all about “maladjustment and negative emotions, poor self-regulation or the ability to manage urges, trouble dealing with stress, strong reaction to a perceived threat, and the tendency to complain.”

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10) They don’t like seeing you happy

A true friend will move mountains to make you happy. Your frenemy, however, will do everything it takes to keep you down.

For one, they don’t care if you accomplish this or that. They’re more interested in your failed date or the project you bombed.

Yes, they’re happier when you’re sad or frustrated.

A hater won’t tell you anything good or encouraging. Instead of motivating you to do this or that, they’ll tell you to give up and NEVER try again.

11) They’re very negative – even about the most positive of things

As mentioned, a hater won’t like you to be happy. So even if you have cause to celebrate, they’ll transform it into a pity party instead.

Say you’re getting married. Instead of congratulating you because you’ve found the love of your life, they’ll go on to say: “Good luck. You’re going to lose a lot of your freedom – and you’re money.”

Again, this negativity is all about them – and not about you.

According to Dr. Carrie Barron, a negative person may be a person who’s suffering inside. Their irritability and hostility may be signs of deep-seated emotional issues.

12) They often disagree with you

Say you’re planning a vacation with four friends. Three of them are amenable to your flight dates, hotel choices, and activities.

But before you could all agree in unison, one ‘friend’ shoots all your plans down.

The flights are too early. The hotel is so cheap. I’d rather we do this than that.

While disagreements like this are common in a group of friends, your frenemy won’t agree to anything that you say.

It seems that they dislike everything you propose. More often than not, they’ll try to convince your other friends to disagree with you as well.

Pure haters do this to spite you. As I’ve established, these people can be very petty. They want to rile you up, even if they don’t completely disagree with what you say.

It’s also their way of being competitive. They want you to bow to their desires. They want to end up the winner in the debate, after all.

13) They don’t spend a lot of time with you

Hanging out is one of the cornerstones of friendships. Haters, however, will spend as little time with you as possible.

They feign to be busy doing this or that. The truth of the matter, however, is that they’re doing what they want to do. And yes, that is to NOT spend time with you.

They’re trying to isolate you, which could take a major blow to your confidence and self-esteem.

14) They like to count your money

Your money, your rules, right?

A secret hater friend, on the other hand, cares more about your money than the IRS does.

Say you bought a $20 lipstick last week and another $20 tube this week.

Your fake pal will either throw shade: “Wow, I wish I had the money to spend on expensive lipsticks every week.”

On the other hand, they may be very vocal about this: “Wow, how do you have the money to buy expensive lipsticks every week?”

15) They never liked your social media posts – like, ever

Liking social media posts is just like giving a compliment. And for a hater who’d rather be caught dead than to compliment you, the same rule applies.

For one, social media likes can be compared to eating chocolate.

When we make social media posts, we share thoughts/ideas that’ll connect us to others. The more likes you get, the more dopamine courses through your veins. This is the hormone that’s responsible for your ‘psychological high.’

That said, not getting social media like from a certain person – especially your friend – can affect your self-esteem.

According to a young survey respondent: “As someone who gets anxious and occasionally struggles with self-esteem, the number of Likes on my posts can be both hugely uplifting or depressing.”

This is clearly what your hater wants – to make you question your confidence. They want you to hurt by not giving you their stamp of approval. But remember, you don’t need to prove yourself.

They want you to take a second guess at yourself. And if you end up being badly affected, that means they win.

How to deal with your secret hater

Everybody has got a secret hater friend! That said, the best thing you could do is follow these tips on how to deal with the fake friends in your life:

1) Don’t take it personally

As I’ve mentioned, some of your friend’s hating ways are because of them – not you. Their actions might be their ways of concealing their anger, hurt, or fear.

It’s always about being the bigger person.

2) Keep mum

Haters get irritated with your triumphs, and they tend to revel in your defeats. So if you keep mum with your life, there won’t be fuel to their fire.

If they don’t know anything about your life – no matter how good or bad it might be – they can’t hate on you!

3) Be frank, but remain respectful

Confronting someone is never easy. But if you decide to do so, make sure to hold on to your values. You don’t have to act the way they do and engage in a screaming match.

Show them that you won’t stoop down to their petty level.

4) Listen to them

If you’ve got the time, sit down and talk with them. Ask them why they hate you. Who knows? Your friendship may only require some little talk therapy.

5) Don’t be afraid to vent out

It always helps to talk to other people – especially your real friends. They can help you think of ways on how to address your frenemy.

6) Ask for advice

Maybe you have friends who have dealt with haters. What did they do about them? Asking for advice will help you devise ways on how to deal with your pretentious pal.

7) Maintain distance from your fake friends

Out of sight, out of mind. Fake friends can be damaging to your emotional and mental health, so the best way to go is to stay away from them.

8) Make new pals instead!

There are a lot of people who deserve your friendship. Don’t get preoccupied with somebody who doesn’t appreciate it. Instead, spread the love to people who need a caring pal like you.

Final thoughts

Genuine friends are a dime a dozen. You may have a big circle of friends, but some of them may be your secret haters.

It’s hard to filter true friends from fake ones, so you need to be careful! It would be best if you were mindful of the 15 signs above. Likewise, it’s good to follow the above-mentioned tips on how to deal with them.

Remember: “A fake friend can cause much more damage than a real enemy.”

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Written by Raychel Ria Agramon

I'm Raye, a nurse licensed in both the Philippines and the US. I also have a Master's degree in Public Management.

Just like helping my patients, I like to empower & motivate readers with research-backed articles.

You can reach me at [email protected]

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