7 Signs Your Friend is Jealous and What to Do about it

One of the worst dynamics that can kill a friendship is jealousy. If one friend is jealous of the other, it inevitably can ruin the friendship, or at least negatively impact it. Sometimes, however, when a friend is jealous, and they don’t want it to show, it can come out in very strange ways that may not seem obvious to the casual observer.  In order to help you identify jealousy in your friendship, here are some examples to look for:

  1. The Slough-Off: You tell your friend some good news and instead of reacting joyfully for you, your friend sloughs it off and makes it seem as though it is not “all that.” When people don’t feel good about where they are in their own lives, they make themselves feel better by acting as though other people’s good fortune isn’t so great or exciting.
  2. The Friendly Ghost: When individuals are jealous, they may feel less inclined to spend time with those individuals who are happy or doing well, and as a result, disappear or become extremely busy. Why? Your happiness is a constant reminder that they are unhappy and as a result, they rather stay away.
  3. Positive Negative: When some individuals are jealous, they may find a way to counteract your positive with a negative. This is similar to the slough-off, but instead of ignoring your positive news or accomplishment, your friend counters it with a negative. For instance, if you show a friend a beautiful picture you took of your kids, your friend may say, “Well, of course the picture is good: you had good lighting and a good camera.” Her reaction implies, in a sense, that the picture was good, not because of you, but for other reasons.
  4. Insincere Happiness: If someone knows that they are jealous, they may try to over compensate by putting on a huge grin and acting overly happy. Unfortunately, what your friend doesn’t realize is that this type of behavior seems very unnatural and insincere.
  5. Tears You Down: You decide that you are ready to go back to work after being a full-time, stay-at-home mom. Instead of being happy for you, your friend tells you that going back to work makes you a bad parent. If your friend constantly makes you feel bad about your decisions in life, they may be doing so to feel better about their own decisions and about themselves.
  6. Lack of Support: This is demonstrated when you rely on friends to help you achieve something that is important to you and they fall extremely short in delivering. They can either come up with every excuse in the book as to why they can’t help you, or worse, they promise to help but don’t.
  7. Constant Discouragement: This happens when your friend tells you all of the reasons why you shouldn’t or CAN’T do something, instead of encouraging you to “go for it.”

In general, if every time you succeed at something or have good news and your friend acts distant, strangely or dismissive, it might mean that they are jealous. Or, if you find it awkward or difficult to talk to your friend about things that make you happy or that you’re involved with, it might mean there is a little green-eyed-monster.  It is important, however, to remember that if you are experiencing any of these behaviors or traits in your friendship, it may not mean the friendship is completely over.  Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Self Evaluate: First evaluate the situation and spend some time practicing self-awareness. Are you doing anything that could be intensifying feelings of jealousy? Is your friend in a bad place in his or her life? Should you be considering their feelings or be sensitive to their needs? When things are going great for us, it is sometimes easy to forget that others may not be as fortunate. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes so that you can better identify why they may be feeling the way they do.
  2. Communicate: Open up a dialogue with your friend. If you have a sense as to why they may be feeling the way they do, let them know you understand how they must feel going through their personal challenges. Once you let them know that you are sensitive to their feelings, let them know how you feel. Explain that you are there for them, but hope that they can be happy for you, even though they are in a rough spot.
  3. Bridge the Differences: Once everything is out on the table. Think through ways you can deal with this together. If your friend is receptive to the conversation, that is a good sign. If, however, they become defensive and point fingers instead of taking responsibility for their own actions, you may need to reevaluate the friendship.

Does jealousy exist in your friendships? How have you handled it? What was the outcome?


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  • Slkdak

    What a great article! I know that gnawing feeling I get when I sense someones “passive/aggresive” jealousy. The are your friend or family, you sense what is going on in your gut but nobody will own up to it and you can’t really call it out. This article articulated what I am often feel inside from someones jealous behavior but can never pinpoint what is going on. The “slough-off” and the “friendly ghost” are usually my clues. Nothing has happened but their behavior is changing in a very painfully, long and drawn out process. It is that emotion that people are ashamed to admit they have and therefore it never gets treated. Instead, relationships and the people in them get torn apart. Thank you for this, it is hard to find jealousy definitions outside of romantic relationships and this is one article that hit it right on point! Somehow it just helps me feel a little validated, it isn’t just in my head, it is very real and you know it but you can’t prove it. I hate jealousy! I hate it when it happens to me and I hate it if I start to feel it towards someone else, especially someone I know I should be offering unconditional love towards. Such a difficult emotion to work through; you know how wrong it is and want it to go away but easier said then done. I would love to learn how to deal with this emotion in a healthy way from both sides.

    • brettblumenthal

      Thanks so much! Glad you found it helpful!

  • Veronica Pi

    Have a jealous friend who is a born again Christian. I know no one is perfect, but she spouts jealousies about her sister and me. Always says how lucky I am for this and that. As soon as she heard I was sick, she was very supportive. I know she suffers from mental illness, but she is treated for it. She makes me feel so uncomfortable. I wonder if she rejoices in my illness, as terrible as that sounds. She also said I found my husband because she prayed for me. Unreal ego.

  • Mel

    I know this is an older post, but I just have to comment: reading all of the comments has really helped me feel better about my situation.

    My husband and I recently took a dream vacation around the world. We are not rich by any means, but are very good at saving and budgeting. Naturally, we posted pics online. When we came home, we realized that multiple friends had “unfriended” us; some that we had known for years. It’s sad, really.

    • brettblumenthal

      That is sad! How very jealous they must be of your amazing experience. But obviously it’s a reflection on them not on you.

  • JDot

    I’ve dealt with several jealous women throughout my life. I’ve noticed that all of those women had one thing in common: nasty auras. I always felt super uncomfortable and insecure about myself when I was around them. I always felt like I had to put myself down in their presence, or that I couldn’t feel good about myself–otherwise they’d try to tear me down. Even if they were being “nice” to me, they were TOO NICE and TOO COMPLIMENTARY. Jealous people share a lot of similar characteristics!

  • charlotte.quevedo

    I cannot really find enough friends because I deal with so much jealousy. What sucks even more is that when you try to talk about it ppl get jealous all the more and call you vain. I just terminated a budding friendship because I smelled jealousy strongly. Some women who have their good in life wish they were the only ones, and so when they see someone doing well or possibly better they try to treat you as inferior. I get sick of jealoys individuals because while I think jealousy itself is natural and normal, what many ppl do about it is silly. I do not treat ppl badly because they have something I lack or am not equally blessed with. I have come to accept that I do not have everything I want or need in life and everyone is better than I am in some way.

  • DearWifey

    I don’t understand jealousy, I see it as a complete waste of my time. I recognise it now when I see it. Graduating, new job, promotion, or even new shoes! The things that friends say. It’s not just women, some of my male friends can rival the girls for jealousy awards.
    I’m truly happy for other people when they succeed, I know it took hard work and determination. But what I will say about jealous people is, they seem short sighted.
    They only see what you have, and don’t add up the hours of blood, sweat and tears it takes to achieve your dreams. Most of the jealous ‘friends’ I have left in my dust! So long suckers!

  • Christian

    My friend is very insecure and unattractive and im the opposite, this article describes his behavior perfectly.

  • Tree

    It’s the bain of my life. I never spot it until it’s too late. And it has the most incredibly destructive power. In my centre, I live a very beautiful life. I have this in the way I look – my work is incredibly beautiful – and upholds this striving to empower those who come into it – I have a beautiful daughter – but I am never rich in terms of finance. My experience around this, goes like this. Very often, those posing as my closest dearest friends will work to get really close to me, and I will give an enormous amount of space to them – listening to their negative stories in life, support them, love them. Then. Usually out of nowhere – something will pop, and they will tear me down, tear me to pieces. Usually in a fit of anger – that I never saw coming. Same with lovers. It’s something I am having to look to very closely now. Indeed. As I am now in a place of not knowing where I can trust. Particularly when it gets aimed at my daughter. It frightens me. What do I do? Give over all I am and what I do? Of course not. . . . . But I am left wondering if there is any authentic love in my life – and where it might be, have grown afraid to trust it. . . . . just incase it isn’t real. Vulnerable here. Wanting to make choices. But not knowing how. The monster of jealousy is destructive indeed. Nice post – thank you. Providing a window that helps reflection, as it is a very painful thing.

  • demi

    so i have my best friend who i new that would be always there for me but lately she has changed a lot!she only cares about being the centre of attention and when we go out it’s like she tries to make me feel bad and embarasse me.Well we were always very close and we use to swap our clothes and i noticed that 9 of 10 photos she has on fb she’s wearing my clothes.But i really don’t mind that.Till now i was fine with her wanting things that i have like a dress or like saying that i’ll be blonde (well i was kinda blonde before) well she also dyed her hair blonde.She always knew that i want to buy an audi when i graduate so once we was at a cafe she accidentally point a car and said that’s mine!and i said to her are you kidding me?when did you want an audi?I really think she uses me last time she said she’d come home to pick me up at ten and i said her that i maybe not be ready at ten and said to me to be ready otherwise her parents won’t bring her here..and i waited 45minutes with my higheels on wathing tv and when she finally came she asked me to do her hair.Ok sometimes i thing i’m a little rough on her and i should support her but she does thinks that i disagree with doing them like fucking with a friend of mine boyfriend and i don’t encourage her on doing that mainly because i don’t want to be in her position and that girl is also my friend!Anyway last night i logged in from her account to check her inbox messages (and tell her if the guy she likes sent her any) and i saw a conversation with her best friend who lives far away and she was compaint about me and call names at me!I promised myself that i will not accept this kind of behaviour again!i thought she was my best friend apparently she thinks that she’s now way better than me or maybe an improved version of me!

  • Vanessa xx

    Has anyone been though this …??

    You become educated with a successful career and then your friends suddenly dump you and change their phone numbers without you knowing? I was texting them to meet up and wondered why they took so long to answer until i decided to ring operator tells me that number not recognised!?!. Oh well. They were bad news anyway wish i knew it from the start but then i was only 18 (26 now)