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Jealousy in Friendships

May 6, 2011

Have you ever experienced a friendship that inexplicably changed when something great happened in your life? You got a better job. You came into a windfall. You begin dating someone who is smarter, richer, or more romantic partner than their partner. You got into the university they really wanted to get into. You had a makeover and started receiving compliments about your appearance. You bought a new house or car before they did. You had a child first when they really wanted one.

You may have felt that your friendship suddenly switched gears. It used to be so easy to talk, but after your success you noticed that there was an underlying tension. You felt as though you couldn’t share your feelings and dreams with your friend anymore. You felt uncomfortable talking about the good things in your life for fear that it would make them feel inadequate.

People become friends because of their similarities, so generally good friends tend to have similar views, social statuses, financial statuses, or relationship statuses. When you begin a friendship on one level and the status quo later shifts, it’s natural that the friendship is going to experience an upheaval. This is especially true if the shift was within one of your common points of interest.

Intensely positive changes in your life can be a difficult and threatening time for your friend. When something great happens for you, it shines a harsh and unflattering light on their own inadequacies. It’s not that they actually begrudge you your success or even mean to be jealous of you. They could be upset that it’s something they haven’t achieved yet, or maybe they’re concerned that you won’t want or need them as a friend anymore.

On the other hand, if you’re the one noticing jealousy rearing it’s ugly head in your friendships, it’s high time you changed your perspective. If you know someone who has achieved more than you, don’t try to bring them down. Instead, look at the situation as an opportunity for them to help bring you up! These people are your resources, not your competitors! They have what you’re striving towards, so learn from them.

As an example, do you have a friend who nice men seem to flock to, but they seem to run screaming from you? Stop watching Bridget Jones Diary for the fifth time, pick up the phone, organise to go out with your friend and get her to show you the ropes.

Are you struggling to pay rent while a friend kicks back and sips piña coladas at the beach? Call her for coffee, ask her to mentor you, then sit down, shut up, and listen.

Do you have a friend who can entertain effortlessly? She just seems to have a knack for making parties and dinners run like clockwork, whereas last time you tried, you ended up with a fire in your oven. Next time you’re entertaining, tell her you want to learn and get her on board!

Personally, I always prefer to hang out with people who, subjectively speaking, are “better” than me in some aspect of my life. For example,

  • My partner is much more loving and compassionate than I am. I learn from him every day how to be a more gentle and loving person.
  • A friend of mine is very talented at making his money work for him, and I converse with him about investment whenever I can.
  • A girlfriend of mine is fantastic at sensing how people are feeling and counselling them through problems. I’ve never had a problem yet that she hasn’t been able to talk me through. Whenever friends of mine have problems, I try to be as understanding, patient, and helpful as her.
  • Other friends are very entrepreneurial and are always thinking of new streams of income. I love listening to their conversations and asking questions to understand how they think.
  • Yet another friend is the most social person I know. She can throw a party and bring people together with her hands tied behind her back and blindfolded. Whenever I plan something, I try to emulate her style.

Remember, you may look up to people in a certain area of your life, but the people you admire have their own idols.

Most people like to feel important and knowledgable, so they’ll likely be flattered and willing to help you if they know that you’re genuinely interested in learning. Stop looking your gift-horses in your mouth and cherish them for the treasures they are. Not only will your friendships will improve when you’re not courting the green-eyed monster, you’ll learn something to improve your own life.

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2 Responses to “Jealousy in Friendships”

  1. What a great concept, learn from those that are better than you in the field that you are lacking adequate knowledge, be they friend or foe.

  2. Yep, there’s not a lot of point into bringing jealousy and other negative emotions into the mix when you have the possibility of learning something!

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