10 Unnattractive Habits Of Bitter, Emotionally Draining People

Bitter people are exhausting to be around.

woman with characteristics of a bitter person pixabay, mheim3011 / Getty Images

By Dondi Leigh

It can be easy, even inviting, to trade the light for the dark, the positive for the negative, and even the sweet for the bitter.

Sometimes it just seems easier to let life kick you when you’re down than fight back against it. Do that for too long, however, and you might start to become a bitter person.

What does it mean to be a bitter person?

Bitter people are always down about something, have a lot of drama and excuses in their lives, and can never seem to see the positive in anything. People who are bitter harbor deep-seated resentment and carry negative emotions. They have a persistent sense of dissatisfaction and an inability to let go of past grievances, leading to a pessimistic and sour outlook on life.


According to Psychology Today, the root of bitterness is "hurt" and "emotional pain," and it can be defined as "a chronic and pervasive state of smoldering resentment." One saying that is especially true of genuinely bitter people is that "it’s as if they drink the poison and then wait for the other person to die."

RELATED: 20 Signs You're An Extremely Toxic Person & Are Difficult To Be Around


Does this negative personality sound like you? Read on to discover the tried-and-true characteristics of bitter people, and learn how not to become one.

10 Traits of a Bitter Person

1. Bitter people are constantly jealous and envious.

Bitter people aren’t happy with their lives, so they constantly look at others' lives — or, actually, their perceptions of what others’ lives are like — to incite jealousy and envy. They cannot simply be happy with what they have.

One solution to this is simply to want what you already have, instead of comparing it to what others have. If your life is full of wonderful people, kindness, vibrancy, cozy things, or whatever it is that makes you happiest, that’s great! If you can recognize the importance of that mindset, even better.

2. Bitter people use drama to get attention and sympathy.

If there isn’t a crisis — or several — going on in a bitter person’s world, just wait. There will be and in short order.


Bitter people often find themselves bored and lonely because many people don’t want to deal with them. They create crises and perpetuate drama to get sympathy from their “friends” for a little while, and then they are left to deal with the situation, ultimately, on their own.

Creating drama and chaos is a terrible way to bring friends together around you. Try doing something good for all of you instead, like going bowling or for a hike or just having a casual get-together at a local bar or restaurant, or even your house. When happiness brings people together, it increases exponentially.

If a bitter person is there trying to cast a wet blanket about, give them their time, possibly try to present a resolution to their issues if possible, and change topics. You may end up explaining why you’re doing this to them, but that’s okay. They need to be informed that the world doesn’t revolve around them and their crises.

3. Bitter people focus exclusively on the negative.

People who are better tend to have negative attitudes, negative outlooks, and just, well, focus on the negatives in life.


You can help the bitter person in your life — as well as ensure that you don’t tend towards bitterness yourself — by helping to flip the switch on whatever it is they are ruminating about. Car is broken? Opportunity to look for a new one! Rent is overdue? Great opportunity to have some face time with your landlord.

Humor is a great remedy for an eternally bitter person, also. Point out what they’re doing and contrast it starkly with the beauty of nature, the creature comforts they have, their new dog, and their fabulous life. Get them laughing about the absurdity of their outlook. Get them — and you! — in the mode of thinking positively and your bitter friend might just become a sweetheart.

RELATED: What To Say The Minute You Start Thinking Negatively About A Problem, According To Louise Hay

4. Bitter people always expect the worst, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You can try to do something a few times and fail and fail a few more times and start to feel like you’ll never succeed. Help your bitter friend to stop right there! Every day is a new day, every try is nothing like the last try.


Consider past patterns and changes you want to make in order to succeed, and before you know it you’ll be flying through successes. “Fail forward” is something I hear a lot pertaining to this and it’s helpful: learn what you can make better decisions next time and then, even if you do fail again, you’ll be failing forward towards success instead of backward towards bitterness and hopelessness.

5. Bitter people hold grudges.

Grudges are carried by those who harbor them, not by those who they are targeted towards, so as the grudges pile on, you become more entrapped and enslaved by them. And the people you’re angry at? They’re just going about the world, living their lives.

Help out the bitter grudge-holding, resentment-festering people in your life by encouraging them to just let it go. It was forever ago, it’s not worth it, you don’t have to be trapped by your anger at this person, you can make a choice to put down that Santa-sized sack of grudges anytime you want and just walk away from them.

Keep encouraging them and praise them for how well they are progressing, even if it’s incremental. We’ve all gotta start somewhere.


6. Bitter people blame others for their own problems.

Bitter people tend to blame others because it helps them avoid taking responsibility for their own negative emotions. When people shift blame onto others, they maintain a sense of victimhood that will indirectly justify their bitterness.

Not only does it help them avoid their own responsibility, but it allows them an escape from their own self-reflection and introspection. This will give them the justification to keep up their negative mindset without becoming aware of their own contributions to their situation.

RELATED: 'Bad' Personality Traits Explained — And 12 That Are Actually 'Good'

7. Bitter people often criticize others.

Another way that bitter people deflect attention away from their own shortcomings is by criticizing others. When bitter people point out the flaws of those around them, they give themselves a small sense of superiority.


They may judge others as a means of distraction, too. By focusing on the perceived flaws and faults of others, they conveniently avoid facing their own personal challenges and areas for improvement.

Criticizing others can also serve as a way to validate their negative perspective on life and reinforce their belief that the world is unfair or against them. At its core, this "trait" is a defense mechanism that allows them to externalize their own unhappiness.

8. Bitter people are ungrateful.

Bitter people have a hard time being grateful for anything because they believe there is nothing good in life. They also have a hard time with the concept of gratitude because their negative emotions actually overshadow any positive aspects of their lives.

Bitter people are often resentful which can also make being grateful hard. They are fueled by a strong sense of unfairness or perceived injustice, which can make it difficult for them to appreciate or acknowledge the blessings or positive experiences they have.


Instead, they tend to focus on what they believe they lack or have been deprived of, perpetuating a cycle of discontentment.

9. Bitter people become irritated quickly.

Bitter people have a tendency to be quick to anger. Due to their underlying resentment and dissatisfaction, they are easily triggered by situations or interactions that challenge their negative worldview. They may react with hostility, frustration, or intense anger.

The quickness to anger in bitter people is a result of their overinflated sense of victimhood. These people defend their negative perspectives and may perceive any opposing viewpoints or criticism as personal attacks. It's a strong "poor me" reaction to anything that may counter what they see as right.

10. Bitter people hardly ever see the good in life.

The one major character trait people associate with bitter people is that they can never see anything good in life. Bitter people can also feel depressed, which can cause their perspective to be skewered. According to a 2014 study, depressed people can suffer from unresolved and suppressed anger that will mature into bitterness.


Bitter people need help seeing positive things about life and appreciating them. If not, they may focus on negative thoughts for long periods of time that can damage their mental health.

RELATED: 7 Signs Someone Is Projecting Onto You — And Why It's Toxic

Dondi Leigh is a freelance writer from Colorado, a frequent contributor to I Heart Intelligence, a former Senior Content Writer at WENmedics, and a writer for Distractible Content. Her work focuses on relationships, wellness, and psychology topics.