It’s always hard when your friends are unhappy – but it can be even worse when you’re the cause.
Unfortunately for us humans, jealousy is one of those emotions you simply can’t escape from. Whether you’re side-eyeing your boyfriend’s pretty work colleague or Facebook stalking your bff’s new bff, it can be tough dealing with the process.
We all know how it feels – the anger, the irritation, the anxiety, the fear…it’s a horrible emotion to experience, and if left unaddressed, can be a big source of trouble later on down the line. So what happens when you’re suddenly the target of someone else’s jealousy – when someone you care about it jealous of you?
Understand their anxiety
One of the first things to do is to understand exactly what jealousy is. Many people confuse jealousy and envy, mistaking a jealous friend as someone who isn’t happy for you, or who wants what you have. But jealousy is actually categorised as an anxiety-based emotion, rooted in the fear that someone will take away someone you have close, such as a friend, boyfriend or family member, and keep them for themselves.
So if your friend admits to being jealous of someone else in your life – the first thing they’re telling you is that they’re scared you’ll be taken away from them.
Find the cause of it
Have you been spending more time with your boyfriend then them recently? Do they feel displaced because of a new friend or colleague that appears to have taken their place? Take a step back and re-examine your recent interactions with that friend – when was the last time you spent time together, or did something just the two of you. Spending time together and making your friend remember the value they have in your life is really important to helping them deal with their jealousy.
Rationalise the jealousy
Sometimes, one of the best ways to deal with a jealous friend is by talking to them about it. Sit them down, with a cup of tea, and get them to offload on why they feel the way they do. It might be a tough conversation, particularly if you feel like they’re unjustly feeling jealousy towards, or their jealousy has made them lash out, but it’s a conversation that needs to be had. If your friendship with them still matters to you, then there’s no reason not to talk about something that’s upsetting the two of you.
Don’t give in to the jealousy
When a friend is down, our natural instinct is to make them feel better. But when a friend is feeling jealous, they can become manipulative or emotionally needy to try and make themselves feel better. If your friend has started trying to blackmail you or give you ultimatums that make you uncomfortable, then don’t feel like you need to give in to them just to cheer your friend up. People deal with jealousy in different ways, and if your friend’s jealousy is making them turn on you, they might not be such a good friend after all.
Let them handle it for themselves
It’s never easy feeling left out of the crowd, or like you’re being neglected. But sometimes, jealousy can stem from other issues, such as abandonment issues, or paranoia, that need to be dealt with professionally. A lot of jealousy stems from feelings of inadequacy, and of being worthless, which is a problem that no amount of ‘catch ups’ or ‘coffee dates’ are going to fix. Whilst you should always try to make your friends feel appreciated, there are some issues that they need to handle by themselves.
No one likes feel jealous, and no one enjoys being the centre of someone’s jealousy, so try to see everything from the other persons perspective. Dealing with a jealous friend can be difficult, but a gentle approach and a little bit of appreciation can go a long way – so give it a try.