"A true friend stabs you in the front" – Oscar Wilde

I get a good number of Google hits on my blog tagline (the title of this post).  I imagine most of the searches are just looking to see who the quote was by, since few of the searches include "Oscar Wilde" and people who come here with that search don’t stay long.

I’ve been using that quote on my email since at least 1998 – probably even earlier than that – back when my email addresses were things like "rob@aloha.com, rob@e-world.com, and rob@earthlink.com".  Eons ago anyway.

I chose it after my first business partnership ended poorly.  I thought it was a good line to live by if I didn’t want to be considered in the same company with my former "partner". 

And I think I’ve pretty much lived up to it, over the years.  I haven’t ever had anyone accuse me of being a crappy partner, or friend, or consultant since I first read, and understood, this quote.

So it’s "not just up there".  I believe in it, and I live by it.  It’s just basic fairness, and honestly.



  1. Is it bad that I sometimes think of this quote as something sexual? Ha.

  2. @Will Smith – I like your description and I think it fits in with what I believe – “basic fairness, and honesty” – if my partner would have been honest with me, the business wouldn’t have failed. He was NOT dishonest in the illegal (or moral) sense – he just tried to “shield me” from some things for far too long. By the time I found out, they were too broken to fix.

    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the comment!


  3. Will Smith says:

    Rob, I did stumble across your blog on a quest to validate the source of the quote, but the meaning is not as simple as “the opposite of stabbing in the back.” It’s really about how we need an honest friend to call us out when they observe bad behavior. I don’t know you at all, so if I read something you posted, say a rant about something and interpreted it as something out of character, I may or may not call you on it – would you really listen to me, a total stranger? But if a true friend saw it, they should tell you about it (stab in front), not avoid it, pretend it didn’t happen, or tell others, “Did you see what Rob posted?” When you have that type of deep friendship, where you can openly and honestly keep each other in check, with no fear of the other person getting angry and “breaking up” over what is said, then our character has a real watchdog and we, consciously or subconsciously, take steps to make sure we live in a manner so that we don’t make that friend stab us in the front. Make sense?

  4. Another one from Oscar Wilde:

    “It is very easy to endure the difficulties of one’s enemies. It is the successes of one’s friends that are hard to bear.”

  5. *makes note to self: “next time, Rob, straight to the face”*

  6. I agree. But every friend hurts us at some point – and we hurt them. Better to do it straight to the face though 🙂


  7. I’d still prefer a friend who didn’t stab me in the first place … but that’s probably just me.