Whether your lab partner does better at a test than you, or your best friend got engaged first, jealousy tends to rear its ugly head in almost every social situation. We are human and competition is what makes the world go round.
You may have felt jealous of numerous people in innumerable occasions, but have you ever been on the opposite end of the spectrum whereby friends were jealous of you?
Jealous friends and the confusing negativity
I for one have a friend who would always turn things into a competition. From our college days all the way up to more than a decade later, she still behaves as though every little thing is a race to be won.
And her competitive streak and jealous nature made it hard for me to share things with her without getting defensive.
When I went on a beach vacation that lasted four days, she booked herself for one that lasted a week. When I did better on an essay than she did, she demanded the professor reread her paper. When I got certified as an advanced scuba diver, she took it upon herself to get certified too, only in less time. When I lost weight after months of being a gym rat and dieting, she shrugged it off as something anyone could easily do!
Jealousy, competition and the friends who can’t be happy for you
Jealousy can break even the strongest of friendships and if you do not acknowledge the slimy green ball in the room, you stand to lose that friendship. Undeniably, it is not easy to address and get over a friend’s jealousy because it is usually veiled under layers and layers of hostility and denial.
Some friends may even turn the tables on you and blame you for bragging too much and rubbing your successes in their faces. Sadly, there are people in this world who simply want to bring you down just because your life seems better than theirs. Whether it is being snarky with their comments or downplaying your accomplishments, we all have that one friend who simply cannot be happy for us.
People say that you should be flattered when people get jealous of you, but is that really the case? What can you do to improve the situation if you know that a good friend has something against you simply because you are more successful?
You may have gotten a promotion at work, lost 20 pounds, gotten published, or gotten engaged. Your first instinct is to share the good news with the people you love, most notably your family and friends. However, what happens when their reactions are not at all what you expected?
Instead of feeling overjoyed for you, your friend downplays your achievement and brushes it off as something anyone could have accomplished. This will probably leave you feeling hurt and confused as to why they are acting this way. That is jealousy for you. [Read: The complete guide to stop being jealous of someone else’s success]
8 detailed steps to deal with a jealous friend
Here are some things that you can do to delicately address the situation without getting that particular friend defensive and angry.
#1 Do not ignore it. Ignoring it will only make things worse. Just like a wound that is left to fester until amputation is needed, jealousy and friendship behave in a similar manner. If you leave it and let the displeasure and jealousy grow, you will only make the rift between the two of you larger.
Not just that, you will start feeling resentful towards that person and unconsciously root for them to fail. Depending on how close you are to this friend, you need to determine if you should just let it slide or confront it head on. You know your friend better than anyone else, so when the time comes, man up and make a smart executive decision to not ignore it. Although it is advisable to hash it out if you are good friends, this is something that only you can decide.
#2 Communicate honestly yet gently. Oprah, Dr. Phil, Tyra, Ellen and pretty much every talk show and self help guru out there will tell you that honest communication will fix everything. Take the time to speak to your friend about how they feel. Be honest yet gentle. You have to remember that they are holding onto resentment and the only way for them to let it go is for you to hold their hand and gently pry their fingers open.
Do not feel downtrodden if you are greeted with vehement shouts of denial. This is normal and to be expected. Never start the conversation with something as blunt as, “I know you are jealous of me”. Instead, open up with, “I have noticed that things have changed between us and that you seem distant.”
Proffer help, then gently make it clear that the divide between the two of you is widening and that something has to change. You basically have to walk them through it by letting them know how much their friendship means to you and that supporting each other through the bad times and good is part and parcel of an amazing relationship.
#3 Walk a mile in their shoes. Jealousy is a very negative emotion that gives off seriously bad vibes. It is inevitable that your friend will unconsciously lash out or create a gaping distance between the two of you. Before getting upset or defensive, try to put yourself in their shoes. Not just that, walk a mile in them.
Think about how you would like to be confronted if you were them. Decide on your next course of action by seeing things through their eyes and from their point of view. Maybe you really are rubbing your success in your friend’s face. Maybe you brag too much without even realizing it. At the end of the day, try to experience what the jealous person is feeling and you will know what to do next.
#4 Determine the “Why”. Another important thing that you have to do is to determine the “why”. Why is your friend jealous? Why does this person feel this way now? Why does this person always have to turn things into a competition? Why does this person feel the need to watch you fail?
Most of the time, people have their reasons for feeling jealous. Whether it is your girlfriend being jealous at you for spending time with another group of friends, or a colleague being jealous that you got promoted above them, there has to be a reason for everything. By understanding the “why”, you will then be able to make an informed decision on how to address the situation.
#5 Give them time. After your honest conversation with this jealous friend, step back and let it all sink in. This person probably needs more time than you do before they can begin to let go of their inexplicable jealousy. What they need is space and you should give it to them. Do not push them into making a decision about changing the way they view you. When they have thought things through, they will come to their senses and hopefully be able to reforge broken bonds with you.
#6 Give your friend some attention. Like a child, soothing a jealous person takes plenty of time, attention and compliments. You basically have to shower them with positivity for them to be able to get rid of that pent up negativity. There is no doubt that jealousy has its roots firmly implanted in insecurity and low self-confidence.
If you can lift your friend up, you have a better chance at vanquishing the jealousy than if you choose to do nothing at all. Always be genuine with your compliments and advice. Your jealous friend has a personal vendetta against you and will find fault in everything that you set out to do, even when you are complimenting them. They will nitpick and douse you in cold water every time you feel that you are making progress. Just remember to be very patient and sincere.
#7 Do what you can to make them feel better. If the two of you are truly friends, you will be able to find common ground from which to launch the repairs of your friendship. At the end of the day, as much as your jealous friend holds a grudge against you, there is a very good chance that they care very deeply for you, hence the reason why they see the need to act out like children.
You should do what you can to make them feel better without compromising yourself. Do not feel bad for your success because of this person. You should always be proud of what you have accomplished and do all you can to lift others up with you. If your friend continues to make you feel bad no matter how hard you try to lift them up, you may need to evaluate your friendship. [Read: Bad friends and deciding when you need to end a friendship]
#8 Decide if you want to keep the friendship. There is only so much that a person can take when it comes to dealing with a negative and jealous friend. You have to decide when the friendship becomes too toxic for you to continue fighting for. [Read: The 10 types of toxic friends you need to avoid having in your life]
If you have tried every play in the book to make your friend feel better but to no avail, you may need to start thinking about taking drastic measures. Start thinking about whether you even need this sort of drama in your life. Everyone should choose to be happy, whether it is for themselves or for others, and if your friend cannot do this for you, maybe you just need a new friend.
You will be surprised at how good life can be when you surround yourself with positive spirits who are just as happy to see you succeed as they see themselves.
At the end of the day, even the biggest saint has felt those embarrassing fissures of satisfaction when a friend fails at something. Do not fault your jealous friend for being human. Instead, be patient, kind and hopeful that the two of you will be able to sort out your differences sooner rather than later. If you are unable to, then it is too bad but at the end of the day, it is up to you to determine what sort of people you want to keep in your life.
[Read: Are you really losing a friend or are the two of you just drifting away?]
Try these 8 ways to calmly deal with a jealous friend and still the turbulent waters. But if nothing helps, remember that we are not getting any younger and life is too short to be stressing out about something as silly as jealousy!
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