Jealousy vs. envy borders on human emotions that occur in our relationships with different people. The question is, are envy and jealousy the same? If not, what is the difference between jealousy and envy? Learn more in this article as we dive deeper into envy vs. jealousy in a relationship and how to deal with them.
What does it mean to be jealous?
Some words can be used interchangeably without obstructing their meanings, but there is a clear difference between jealousy and envy. Jealousy is a feeling of resentment when something, usually a relationship you cherish and hold dear, is threatened by a third person.
It also refers to fear and insecurity when there is a real or perceived threat of someone having your possession. To define jealousy accurately, you must understand that three individuals are involved – the threatened, the cherished, and the threatener.
Most people think jealousy is tied only to a romantic relationship. This perception may explain why we see our partners as “our property or possession.” However, jealousy can occur in other relationships.
For example, two friends may fight over the third one when they perceive that attention, closeness, and love will shift. Also, jealousy occurs in sibling rivalry when one child feels the threat of losing a parent’s devotion to the other sibling.
Experiencing jealousy doesn’t make someone a toxic person, as everyone feels it at one point in their life. It means you value someone or something so much that you don’t want to lose them. For example, it can sometimes feel good to realize your partner loves you and doesn’t want to share you in a romantic relationship.
It is also a reminder to value the relationship more. The problem arises when you don’t deal with it on time before it gets intense. Jealousy can result in deep-rooted resentment and an emotional breakdown and negatively affect your relationships with people.
For example, irrational jealousy can lead to physical violence, abuse, distrust, and paranoia. Other emotions associated with jealousy are:
Aside from emotional symptoms of jealousy, it can also lead to some complications in the body. The following can happen when someone experiences jealousy:
What is envy? Envy is more related to resentment and admiration than jealousy. When you envy someone, you either detest or admire them for having a possession or advantage you wish you had. For example, if you envy your friend for his affluent lifestyle, you admire or hate him for the lifestyle you desire.
He didn’t offend you, but sometimes you blame him for living a life that should be yours. Sometimes you feel he doesn’t deserve the lifestyle, so he is responsible for the “unfair” distribution of goods. Weird right? People regard envy as extreme and toxic when it comes to jealousy vs. envy.
Envy is one of the common human emotions we see every day. But what does it mean to envy someone exactly?
Feeling envy towards another person implies that you see yourself as more deserving of the possession or advantage than the envied.
For example, if you envy someone with a rich background, you think you deserve it more than the person since you work hard or wish you had it. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. You must know how to deal with envy before it degenerates to extremity.
One fact about envy is that you are more inclined to direct it to someone you have certain similarities too. For instance, you are more likely to envy a sibling or a friend for living a particular life than a stranger. People envy strangers with nothing in common over certain advantages.
To put into perspective, a rich man’s son is likely to be envied by his other classmates. Similarly, sometimes people envy celebrities, intelligent and thoughtful people.
Sometimes, when an affluent person experiences a loss, some may unconsciously feel delighted. Such a feeling is toxic and highly undesirable. You need to check your emotions when blaming or criticizing people.
Meanwhile, you can envy someone over an advantage you can’t obtain.
Despite the typical toxic nature of feeling envy, researchers and academics have categorized it into two: benign and malicious envy. When you exhibit benign envy, you focus on the perceived advantage. In contrast, malicious envy is about the envy’s gift or possession.
Benign envy has an advantage over malicious because it tends to push the entire to work towards achieving the envied advantage. However, as praiseworthy as benign envy is, it can lead to unhealthy competition. Another topic worthy of exploring is the cause of envy. What causes envy?
Envy occurs when you compare yourself to another person and feels inferior. It stems from a basic human desire – you want what others have. Some of these include skills, abilities, wealth, and success.
Feeling envy is a natural human emotion that tends to jump out as we relate with others. Nevertheless, it might lead to unnecessary resentment for others and the development of negative emotions. It may cause relationships to fester and conflicts between or among people. Some of the common causes of envy are the following:
Money is one of the top causes of envy, and it sometimes determines your status in society. A substantial financial position gap between friends and family might lead to envy.
If someone has enough money with extra to spare while another person doesn’t have enough, it may affect their relationship.
Fertility is a common cause of envy among women of child-bearing ages. A woman who has been trying to conceive for years may feel envious of a young person who doesn’t want the child or didn’t try much to conceive.
3. Relationship status
If you have challenges finding a romantic partner, your friend’s or another person’s seemingly “perfect” can trigger deep envious feelings in you. If the envied appear to have it easy or seem not to appreciate it, it might make you resent them more for their lack of gratitude.
4. Physical Attributes
Beauty, weight, and stature come into play when discussing physical attributes. This envy often happens to individuals in their 20s and early 30s when there is a massive emphasis on attractiveness.
But it can also emanate from another group of ages. People with low self-esteem are often the receiver of feeling envy over physical beauty. They think others are lucky to be tall, slim, beautiful, etc.
Envy of success is typical in workplaces, schools, and training centers. When a coworker becomes more successful than you are, it’s likely to trigger anger and resentment. In this case, we have benign envy because it can motivate us to work harder to get to that level or above.
What is the difference between envy and jealousy?
What is the difference between envy and jealousy in a relationship? Which occurs more in a relationship, envy or jealousy?
Jealousy involves three individuals, whereas envy is a two-person situation. When you envy someone, it’s because you lack something they have. However, jealousy is a reaction to the real or assumed threat of losing something or someone.
Envy and jealousy are sometimes used interchangeably due to many reasons. When people feel jealous, they might describe an envious situation.
For example, the statement “I’m envious of her” can be misconstrued if no context is provided. However, “I feel jealous whenever I see my girlfriend with that tall guy” is more accurate.
Nevertheless, envy and jealousy are two interwoven words. Envy solely emanates more from comparison with another person due to certain qualities, skills, or abilities. In jealousy, you don’t compare at first, but you may feel the need later when the threat does not disappear.
Suppose your partner spends ample time with his female friend. In that case, you may start feeling insecure and think the other person has particular physical attractiveness, which you believe your partner desires.
This person initially feels jealous in this situation, but it graduates to envy since it’s not addressed.
Nonetheless, the few similarities between jealousy vs. envy don’t make them the same. In envy, you focus on your inferiority compared to another. In contrast, jealousy only brings resentment for another person because you feel they are about to take what is yours.
Furthermore, we may categorize jealousy as a rational reaction to something. Protecting your “possession” is natural when you think someone wants to take it. On the other hand, envy is an irrational emotional reaction to another person.
Someone from an affluent home isn’t at fault for their status. That’s because the envier isn’t responsible for having the advantage the envier wants. Nevertheless, envy can be rational on a few occasions.
For example, if you have been eyeing a contract to your friend’s knowledge and later discover that he got the contract through dubious means, your envy is rational.
So, are envy and jealousy the same? To some extent, envy and jealousy are the same. The reaction to jealousy or envy is resentment and anger.
Yes. Envy or jealousy can negatively impact your relationship with people when you don’t address them on time. Again, everyone feels envy and jealousy at a point in their lives. It’s natural for a romantic partner to show concern over a third party’s overbearing nature or presence.
The right way will be to communicate their feelings with their spouse. But when you start becoming abusive and physically dangerous to your partner or the third person. Similarly, we sometimes get angry that we lack something someone else has.
Wisdom lies in acceptance and gratitude. Know that people can never be the same, and there is little or nothing you can do about it.
Hating people or showing your displeasure over their advantage will destroy your relationship. Also, it might prevent you from accessing some opportunities in the future.
How to manage envy and jealousy in your relationship?
Since we agree that envy and jealousy will keep occurring in relationships, it is best to know how to manage them appropriately. The tips below will show you how to deal with envy and jealousy in relationships:
1. Examine your feeling
The first step to managing envy and jealousy is to retrace your step back. Find out why you feel the way you do.
Does your friend’s new relationship cause jealousy because you haven’t experienced a good relationship?
Does your partner make you jealous when they spend a lot of time with another person? Could it be that you are scared they will cheat on you due to your experience?
Do you envy your friend because of her slim stature?
Does your coworker’s promotion make you feel envious because you believe you are more hardworking?
Regardless of the reason for your jealousy or envy, getting to the root causes can help you know how to solve it. For example, it is best to communicate your feelings with your partner.
You may apply to another place of work if you think you are not valued at your present place of work. Also, you can talk to your employer about why your coworker gets promoted before you.
Another way to deal with jealousy is to voice your concern. Your partner might not be aware that their actions affect you emotionally. Choose a perfect time to have the discussion and let your partner know how you feel without mincing words.
Whenever you feel nervous about discussing the issue of jealousy, remember it is a normal human reaction.
Instead of envying someone over an advantage or possession you want, it is best to ask for help. For example, if you envy someone because of riches, you should ask how you can become successful like them.
Your resentment should be geared towards getting better or getting what you want, not an innocent person. Even if your envy is rational, focusing on acquiring the possession will be more fulfilling.
4. Practice gratitude and acceptance
Coming from a wealthy family might reveal years of hard work and resilience of old family members.
Envying such a person is unfair when they are just “lucky” to find themselves in that family. Sometimes, practicing gratitude and accepting that you can’t control how things work is the best you can do for yourself.
What you should do instead is to look into your life and appreciate the good things you have. If you envy your friend’s romantic relationship, remember you have family members who love you. Besides, gratitude will help you relieve stress and be happy.
It helps you pay attention to your thoughts and feelings as they come up without judging them. On the other hand, mindfulness makes you more conscious about some things and your environment.
When you do it right, you notice when you start feeling envious or getting jealous. Also, you can tell events that occur before a particular feeling.
That way, you can tackle the issue as soon as possible. Besides, you also accept your feeling of jealousy and envy as normal emotional responses while focusing on being better.
Learn how to practice mindfulness in this short video:
6. Remember your values
Regarding jealousy vs. envy, low self-esteem appears always to come up. Jealousy makes you feel scared that someone will take your possession. In contrast, envy makes you resent another person for having what you want.
In both scenarios, you feel insecure, incomplete, and unworthy. If only you take a second look at your life, you will realize you have enough. Whenever you feel envious of another person, do the following:
Remember the things that make you happy.
Engage more in activities that you enjoy.
Move closer to the people that love and appreciate you.
Remind yourself of the things you value in your relationship.
Focus on improving, and don’t be distracted by others’ progress.
Always remember that you have no control over things.
7.Talk to a therapist
If you don’t know how to deal with envy or jealousy, it is best to speak with a professional therapist. Therapists are trained to listen to the most awkward thoughts without criticizing or judging you.
More than anyone, they understand your feelings are normal emotional responses to events around you. Notably, if you notice any of the following, a therapist is the best person to meet:
An emotional breakdown from thoughts of envying someone
Obsessive thoughts due to jealousy
Thoughts of physical harm to yourself or another person
Delight over another person’s misfortune
Stalking your partner or another person because of a jealous feeling
Jealousy vs. envy talks about two typical human emotional responses. Jealousy is a feeling of resentment towards another person because of a perceived threat. On the other hand, envy happens when you resent or admire another person for having what you desire.
While the two responses are normal, they can be dangerous when not addressed on time. Thankfully, this article has done an excellent job of helping you bridge the link between jealousy vs. envy and how to deal with them.
If you ever sense that your envy or jealousy is going extreme, talk to a therapist as soon as possible.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.