Mon, 04/26/2010 - 12:25 — Pauline Neckles

Dealing With Envy In Friendships

Gossip Girl, 90210, and other similar teen shows depict how complicated friendships can be. In fact, the popular term for these “friendships” is frenemies. The complication in these relationships and many of ours is driven by the presence of envy in our friendships. With one friend resenting the other for her/his possessions, achievements and characteristics, the friendship will prove to be unhealthy for both persons in the relationship.

Envy can tear friends apart.

Envy can tear friends apart.

Signs of envy in friendships

Downplaying success – Your friend will minimise your success and try to make it seem less exciting than it really is, in an attempt to take away the pride of the moment.

Possessiveness – If your friend is constantly complaining that you are spending time with others above them, they may be jealous of your other friends or friendly personality.

Insulting – Is your friend always insulting you and putting you down? This may be a sign of jealousy and insecurity about herself and your friendship. She or he may seek to make you feel less of yourself, or insult your clothes or appearance. This would be an attempt to veil envy with shallow efforts to make him or herself seem better than you.

Talks your name with others – If you have overheard your friend talking negatively about you with others or have been told what has been said behind your back.

One-up – The friendship is unhealthily competitive. You and your friend are constantly trying to have an advantage on the other to boast about it to each other or to third parties. This can lead to tension in the friendship and long periods of the silent treatment.

If these are symptoms of your friendship, you are in a friendship filled with envy. You may be the one perpetrating the envy or you may be the victim of the envy. Either way, you have options available to handle the situation.

You may choose to let go of the friendship if you decide that there is nothing that can be done to heal the relationship. However, on review you may want to salvage the friendship and establish it on a new basis of trust and equality.

How to stop envying your friend?

Review your view of yourself – Most envy is rooted in insecurity and low self-esteem. Therefore, you need to build your self-esteem and view of yourself to determine that you are worthy of the friendship and of success.

Review your source of happiness and security – don’t place the full extent of your happiness or security in any one other person. This opens the door for you to become envious if something happens in his or her life that does not include you.

Become self-aware – Become aware of the triggers of your envy and your behaviour when you feel the envy rising in you. When you feel the envy coming on avoid saying or doing anything destructive including the silent treatment or anything that would betray the displeasure you feel. Wait until the feelings of envy have passed before reacting; this way you are able to think more clearly.

Stop comparing yourself to others – Accept yourself for who you are and stop contrasting your accomplishments against your friend’s. This will surely lead to feelings of inferiority and envy.

How to cope with an envious friend?

Understand your friend’s perspective – Your friend’s insecurity may cause the reaction and a harsh reaction from you would only make matters worse.

Speak to your friend – He or she may just need some reassurance that you still value his or her presence in your life. However, tell them how the insults directed at you make you feel and that you will continue to be yourself because you accept you for who you are. Allow your friend to reply and explain their feelings without judgement and retribution.

Keep an eye out – Should your conversation not yield any improvement in the relationship, be prepared to put a cool on the relationship, to remove yourself from negative influences that may be damaging enough to sabotage your progress.

Envy is a nasty emotion and even worse when it is among friends. Should you detect it in yourself or your friends, take all steps to eliminate it from your life as it has the potential to damage your personal growth.

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