Suspect Your Friend Is Jealous of You? Here's What to Do
Remember, don't let anyone dampen your shine.
Photo: Marcel Thomas/Getty Images
Life is full of trials, of course, and healthy relationships can offer invaluable support. But in a society where we often feel pressure to maintain the flow of our peers, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparison and insecurity—particularly with the ones closest to us: our friends.
So what do you do when you have a jealous friend who either ghosts you when things are going especially well, or scoffs at your happiness and success? And how do you identify a toxic friendship that's begun to reek of resentment? We turned to the experts to help you navigate the situation so it doesn't result in a (platonic) breakup.
First, here are a few classic signs that your friend may be jealous.
It often begins with what is not said. For example, you may be spilling over with excitement about your new car, but your friend barely gives it a glance. You offer them a tour of your freshly renovated home, but they casually shrug when you rave about the bathtub. You announce your big promotion—the one you have been vying for since last year—and they offer up an underwhelming "congratulations" that renders you feeling deflated.
"The earliest sign of jealousy is usually that your friend seems withdrawn when things are going well for you. Perhaps they either dismiss your news or move on from it very quickly," says Dr. Judy Ho, PhD, clinical and forensic neuropsychologist, and author of Stop Self Sabotage.
As it progresses, you may notice backhanded compliments and passive-aggressive jabs that haunt you for weeks—often delivered in such a subtle way that you wrestle with how to confront them. Perhaps your friend snickers at your good news, saying you got lucky in your connections. You may have prepared a delectable spread for a dinner party, but they joke that your wine selection wasn't up to par. Or, they remind you that even though you had the whole crowd roaring during that speech at a mutual friend's wedding, you stuttered at first. These are all classic indicators, and there is almost always a caveat. Dr. Ho says such cryptic behavior typically happens because "the person who is jealous of you deeply senses that they are being unfair."
Another sign is that each time you mention some facet of your success, they insist upon unpacking all of the exceptional ways they are thriving. For example, you just returned from a two week-long trip to Europe, and you're scrolling through pictures of yourself traipsing through Spanish gardens, and they rush to list all of the most enviable stamps on their passport. "Jealous people cannot genuinely take turns in a conversation," says Dr. Ho. "They will always move right back to their own life anytime you're talking about something that's going well for you."
While jealousy is often negative, competitiveness isn't necessarily destructive.
If someone claims to have never experienced jealousy, they are being dishonest—with you or with themselves. So, when identified, don't be too quick to write the person out of your life. In fact, if handled effectively, jealousy can be illuminating and serve to drive a person. "Jealousy is an emotion that can be productive if it motivates someone to work harder, or causes them to reexamine a relationship they haven't been valuing," says Dr. Ho.
Gabrielle Bernstein, spiritual thought leader and author of Super Attractor, teaches her students that the source of envy is a facet of a person that's yet to be developed. "If someone has what you want, it doesn't imply that it's not available to you," she says. "In fact, it's the opposite. Envy is a reflection of deep desire."
So, though bad behavior should be addressed, not all jealous friends deserve to be exiled.
If there is jealousy in an otherwise healthy and loving relationship, projection is almost always the culprit. Your friend may have little awareness of how much their icy disregard and hostile jabs are upsetting you.
Dr. Ho explains that when a person has internalized negative beliefs and past disappointments, those burdens serve as precursors to jealous behavior. That cold remark may not be about what's happening with you in the moment, but likely has roots in another time or area of the person's life that triggers them and causes a regurgitation of insecurity, regret or trauma.
"Our brains encode specific things in our memories stronger than others. This can cause us to have extreme reactions in a moment when our better judgment would tell us to feel or engage differently," says Dr. Ho. "So, with this in mind, it doesn't necessarily mean that a friend who acts jealous isn't truly supportive of you."
Read the full story here: Suspect Your Friend Is Jealous of You? Here's What to Do