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Jealous vs. Envious: The Real Differences Most People Overlook

Jealous vs. Envious

Often thought of as interchangeable, jealousy and envy are not the same things. Jealous vs. envious, what’s the difference?

People often use the words jealous and envious as if they are the same, but they aren’t. There are very distinct differences between jealousy of someone/something or being envious of them. Jealous vs. envious has one very distinct difference. Jealous involves a third party while being envious only involves two.

What does that mean? Well, when envious of something, someone else has something you desire. When jealous of someone, you already possess it but are guided by fear of losing it.

For instance, if someone is super rich, you envy their fortune. But, jealousy would be if you had a super-hot girlfriend and feel jealous of every guy who wants her.

Jealous vs. envious – The real difference

So, if you feel the little green-eyed monster, it is a good idea to determine which one is getting the best of you, jealous vs. envious. You see, envy requires that you go after what you want and doesn’t involve hurting anyone else.

Getting over your jealousy requires that you either let it go or build your self-esteem to recognize other people being envious of you doesn’t have any bearing on your future. If someone is envious, it isn’t a threat, rather a compliment. But, you must feel secure enough not to fear loss.

#1 Distinctions of jealous vs. envious. The term jealousy is what the person who has the object of desire feels. For someone to be jealous, they possess the object they want but fear someone will take it from them.

You feel threatened by a third party who may or may not be seeking to take the thing that means most to you.

Another distinction is people who are jealous of someone else are also envious. Jealousy has nothing to do with envying someone, it just means you fear they are more attractive than what you offer. [Read: How to fine-tune your internal compass and rock your self-respect]

jealous vs. envious – What exactly are you feeling?

#2 When you really want something. Often people say they are jealous of someone or something, but what they really mean is they are envious. You can be jealous of what you already have, but you can’t be jealous of what someone else has. The word you want to use is that you envy what someone else has.

#3 When you fear losing something. To be jealous, you already possess something and worry about losing it. Jealousy is a term used to describe the fear you experience about losing what means so much to you. That is why so many people misuse the two terms. [Read: How to let go of your fear and find peace]

#4 If you are jealous, then you must possess the object you desire. To have jealousy, you have something worth losing or feel insecure about having something and losing it to someone else. If you are in a relationship with someone and you feel insecure, or worry they will find someone better, it is likely you are jealous.

#5 If you are envious of what someone has, then you don’t have it to begin with. You desire what they have because you miss it. If you want something that someone else has, you are envious.

Why is it important to know the difference?

Jealousy is not a very pretty trait and could ruin your relationship. There are likely going to be people envious of your relationship, what you have with your mate, or even that you have a mate. That is natural because the person you are with is worthy of being loved and admired by others. If you let other people’s envy invade your relationship then it will do real damage.

It is okay for people to envy what you have. In fact, it is a sign you have something special. So, instead of looking at the envy and retaliating with jealousy, see it for what it is and move past it.

If you try to protect what you possess too much, get upset, or angry at someone else’s envy, you might create a scenario where you are super aggressive about anyone showing envy. That likely creates cracks in your relationship that eventually split it wide open. [Read: How to stop being jealous – 20 ways to tame the green-eyed monster]

Let go of the jealousy and see envy as a positive thing

Like that Nick Jonas song, if you start to puff out your chest and hold too tightly onto what you have for fear envious people will steal it, you run the risk of losing the very thing you want most.

Take other people’s sign of envy as a positive thing and focus on what you have. There isn’t any reason to be jealous if you feel secure, worthy, and seek to earn the love of the person you are with instead of constantly trying to squash the attractiveness of whoever threatens you.

Jealousy is a very ugly trait. It isn’t going to be the thing that holds you to the one you love the most. It will be the wedge that drives you away.

[Read: 12 signs your fierce feelings and attachments are unhealthy]

Envy should be viewed as a good thing. It means you have something special. Jealousy means you aren’t sure that you have what you really have. Which way do you want to live: jealous vs. envious?

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Julie Keating
Julie Keating

A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined...

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