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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?