11 clear signs of a bitter person (and how to deal with them)

There are few things worse than a bitter person.

In a world that’s hard enough as it is, the last thing you want to associate yourself with is someone who insists on surrounding themselves with negative thoughts and vibes.

You just have to ask yourself – why do bitter people act the way they act?

The simple truth is that they can’t help it, and it’s just the way they think people are supposed to live.

When you meet a bitter person, the best thing you can do is just avoid them and stay out of their way by knowing the tell-tale signs that give them away.

Here are 11 signs of bitter people:

1) Grudges Are a Part of Their Personality

Healthy individuals understand that grudges are toxic and emotionally heavy.

They weigh heavily on your heart and soul, and keeping grudges is the last thing you want to do if you want an easy conscience and a light soul.

But bitter people love grudges.

They turn every dispute with another person into an opportunity to develop and hold a new grudge.

They can’t get enough of grudges, to the point that it seems they’re convinced that grudges are just a normal part of daily life.

And the funny thing?

They’re not ashamed of their proclivity to hold grudges, either.

They’re more than happy to tell anyone who’s willing to listen about all the beef they have with everyone they know as if that makes them more sympathetic.

2) They Rarely See the Good In Things

You know the two old sayings, “the glass is half full” and “the glass is half empty”?

Both sayings talk about the same glass – it’s half empty and half full – but it’s all about your perspective, and how you choose to see things, positively or negatively.

Most of us oscillate from one to the other, depending on our general mood and what we’re dealing with in life at the moment.

But a bitter person will never see the good in things, and they’ll never be a “glass half full” kind of person.

They’ll always see the glass as half empty – seeing what they don’t have versus what they do have, and complaining about the emptiness and absence rather than celebrating and enjoying what they still have.

They are toxic to their own minds because they insist on only seeing the worst in things and in people.

3) They’re Never Grateful

It doesn’t matter what you do for a bitter person.

You could help them with homework or break them out of jail, but one way or another, they will never be grateful for how you’ve helped them.


Because a bitter person is an entitled person: they believe themselves to be so much greater than they actually are, so your help isn’t kindness, it’s an expectation.

Bitter people tend to see themselves as eternally victimized people who have been robbed of their success and luck by the mechanisms of the universe out to get them, so any kind of help that comes their way doesn’t really feel like help; it feels like something they were supposed to have, but too little and too late.

After all, how can you be grateful for something if you’re convinced you inherently deserve so much more?

It’s a level of entitlement that no one else has which makes up the greater part of a bitter person’s foundations.

4) They Hate It When Other People Experience Positivity

At their core, a bitter person is someone who is deeply resentful of other people for having things they don’t have.

Bitter people believe that the world owes them so much more than it’s given them, and they’re unwilling to put in the work to turn their dreams into reality.

So when other people around them have good things happen to them, they absolutely can’t stand it one bit.

They see themselves as being better than those people, so why should those people experience success and accomplishment far greater than anything the bitter person has experienced?

They have an innate inability to share in the joy of another person, because they simply don’t care about other people.

They just don’t want other people to succeed.

They believe that the joy should be theirs, even if they’ve done nothing to deserve it.

5) They Act Out So People Care About Them

We’ve all experienced this in one way or another: when you’re in a large group of friends or acquaintances, and someone starts talking about something great that happened to them (maybe a promotion at work or a new amazing relationship).

Everyone might start cheering for or congratulating that person, and all the attention goes to them.

If there’s a single bitter person around, you’ll see it immediately, because they won’t be able to stop themselves from acting out to get the attention back on them.

Bitter people simply can’t stand it when other people become the center of attention.

They need to have the spotlight on them, and whenever someone mentions something praiseworthy, the bitter person will do two things, in order: firstly, they’ll subtly undermine whatever the person experienced, and secondly, they’ll talk about their own thing, even if it’s about something completely different.

And if that doesn’t work?

The bitter person will change the topic completely, even if it means pulling some sudden random drama out of thin air.

6) They Don’t Hold Themselves Accountable

One major sign of maturity is the ability to hold oneself accountable.

It’s easy to hold others accountable, remembering how other people have messed up in some way.

But holding yourself accountable – especially when there’s the option of trying to explain your way out of it – is something only emotionally mature people can do (which is the opposite of a bitter person).

A bitter person can never hold themselves accountable.

Any problems they may have in their life, any negativity in their current situation, can always be traced back to someone else.

Someone else caused them to be this way, which is why they’re not as great as they should be right now.

They can’t stand the fact that they’re not at their fullest potential, but they also will never blame themselves for not being there.

They’ll find a million reasons to fall back on before they ever say, “Maybe I did this to myself. Maybe I didn’t push hard enough.”

7) They Spread Rumors

Gossiping, admittedly, can be fun; it’s fun knowing that you’re being let in on the group secrets, even if it’s at the expense of another person.

But there’s nothing healthy about gossip; it leads to division and toxicity in groups, and it almost always ends up with people getting hurt and offended.

So how does gossiping begin, and who are the first people to start spreading those rumors?

It’s almost always the most bitter people in the group who can’t keep their quiet whispers out of other people’s ears.

As they can’t be happy for other people, they also can’t empathize with other people, so the moment they find some kind of weakness in a person they want to bring down, they’ll make sure to spread that as far and wide as they can.

They have the exact negative mindset that leads to “crab mentality”, or the phenomenon when people keep pulling each other back down whenever someone tries to make something of themselves.

8) They’re Incredibly Cynical

A bitter person is a cynical person.

They’ve lost faith in the goodness of the world, the universe, and people around them.

They think everything and everyone’s out to get them, directly and indirectly, and they don’t even bother to care about anything anymore because of all the negative cynicism in their heart.

How can you tell when someone is drowning in their own cynicism?

Easy: they never talk straight.

They use sarcasm and scorn to express their thoughts, preferring to make fun of everything instead of genuinely caring about anything.

Their cynicism is also another way to make themselves feel superior to those around them, as if their cynical mindset makes them inherently smarter for simply knowing the negativity behind everything that other people don’t recognize.

9) They Never Stop Complaining

Remember when we said above that a bitter person is never a “glass half full” person? This applies to all aspects of their daily life.

When you’re with a bitter person, you’re with someone who will never stop complaining, no matter what they’re doing or where they are.

You could take a bitter person on vacation around the world, and they would still find a thousand things to complain about every single day.

The food isn’t good, the hotel room is too small, the bed is uncomfortable, the weather is too hot; no matter what it is, they will never stop complaining.

But here’s the thing: bitter people don’t have heightened senses that give them the ability to perceive sensations more sensitively than the rest of us.

We feel everything that bitter people feel; the difference is we don’t see the value in negatively complaining about everything.

Whereas most people will just let things go, bitter people magnify even the tiniest inconveniences.

10) They Never Recognize Possible Solutions

There are certain unwanted events that are uncontrollable – natural disasters, the natural death of loved ones, and simple blind bad luck.

But in many cases, we control our own fortunes, and the effort we put into the things we do can affect the outcomes we experience.

Those with a victim complex and a bitter personality are unable to see it this way.

When a person becomes enamored with their own role of victimhood, they do not even attempt to recognize possible solutions to improve their situations.

Even when there are others offering clear help or solutions, a victim and bitter person would prefer to wallow in their own self-pity rather than accept the help and attempt to work towards change.

In the rare cases that they do accept any help, they will do so half-heartedly, as if only to prove to themselves that even when they try, nothing could be improved either way.

As stated above, individuals with victim complexes and bitter personalities are often their own worst enemies.

11) They Always Feel Powerless

Victimization and bitterness often begins because a person has accepted in their heart that they do not have the means or power to change or avoid situations they do not like.

They may have previously attempted to change their undesired circumstances and failed, and they now lack the willpower to try again.

This leads to a deep sense of powerlessness and acts as a kind of defense mechanism for the person.

Instead of believing that their attempts at changing their circumstances weren’t enough, they simply choose to believe that the circumstances can’t possibly be changed at all, so there is no reason to try again.

While it can be painful to accept the idea that you are powerless to improve your circumstances, this is often like choosing the lesser evil, as opposed to accepting the idea that you haven’t tried hard enough or aren’t good enough yet to do it.

This is a means of avoiding accountability and responsibility.

3 Techniques For Dealing with Bitter People

Living with someone who regularly falls back on being bitter can be immensely challenging, particularly if that person is a big or active part of your life.

The first question you have to ask yourself is: how do you want to deal with them? Do you want to help them get over being bitter, or do you simply want to learn how to tolerate them?

Whatever you choose, it is important to let your response be guided by empathy rather than force.

Dealing with bitter people begins with self-acceptance, and you can never force anyone to accept a flaw they aren’t ready to acknowledge.

Here are some ways you can guide them:

1. Don’t label them

Calling a bitter person “bitter” is the last thing you want to do, and will only compel them to dig their heels in deeper.

Instead, gently try to discuss with them their issues of complaining, inability to accept responsibility, and blame-shifting.

Start the conversation; even if they don’t accept it, it helps to put the thoughts in their mind.

2. Draw up your personal boundaries

Understand your own limits when it comes to dealing with them.

Their issues aren’t yours, and you shouldn’t suffer because they can’t deal with their own problems.

Ask yourself: what are your limits? If they cross those limits, detach yourself from them and let them deal with themselves.

They will either slowly recognize how they are pushing you away or they are too far for you to help them at all.

3. Address their internal dialogue

Individuals with a victim and bitter mentality never truly engage in introspection.

They never take the internal dialogue further.

After they shift blame and avoid responsibility, they then wallow in their own self-pity.

Help them by talking to them.

If they say that they can’t do anything to help their situation or if they can’t achieve their goals, then push that conversation forward.

Ask them: why can’t they do anything?

What would it take to allow them to do something?

Give them a bridge between their own self-doubt and reality, and help them cross that bridge on their own.

Remember: when dealing with individuals exhibiting a victim and bitter mentality, you are dealing with people with intense emotional instability.

They often struggle with depression and/or PTSD, they have low self-esteem and self-confidence, and they already feel like they have no support.

Be direct but gentle; guide them without forcing them.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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