You see it in media all time: women are always catty, jealous, and envious of each other. This primes you to have an instant reaction when you discover that you have a friend who is jealous of you.
You might think:
Why is she judging me?
Am I a bad friend for being annoyed?
How can I make her not hate me?
She’s so rude— why can’t she just be happy for me?
The truth is, women empower women more than you think. And often, that “jealousy” you think your friend has (and she might think it, too) is actually envy.
These two terms and not mutually exclusive. Envy is a fleeting emotion and, therefore, easier to get over. On the other hand, jealousy is usually an emotion that is outside your control.
By determining whether your friend is jealous or envious, you can communicate better with them about fixing this road bump in your friendship.
The Difference Between Envy and Jealousy in Female Friendships
Envy and jealousy are often used interchangeably.
But! There is a slight difference in their meanings which can make all the differences in your friendships.
The key differentiator is that envy involves 2 people, and jealousy involves 3 people.
Here’s what I mean:
When your friend is envious: You want something she has (2 parties).
For example, your friend might be envious that you got a raise a work, closed on your first home, got married, announced your pregnancy, received a book deal, went viral on social media, etc.
When your friend is jealous: Your friend is jealous of you because they fear what they have with you will be threatened by an outside force (3 parties).
An example of an outside force might be another friend of yours. Your jealous friend might not like that you have another friend you hang out with because it seemingly threatens the relationship between the two of you (even though it usually doesn’t).
7 Ways to Deal with a Friend Who is Jealous of You
Here’s the thing you have to get through to your head: you are not a bad friend if someone is jealous of you.
As a woman in her 20s or 30s, it's likely you've already experienced friend jealousy. But it gears you up for fight or flight. You either want to confront your friend aggressively, or you want to leave her behind altogether.
Here's a third option for you: address the issue and find ways to handle it.
Here are seven ways to deal with a friend who is jealous of you.
Tip #1: Don’t Ignore It
When you notice your friend is jealous of your friendship, it’s crucial to have an open and honest conversation with them.
I always talk about this when it comes to female friendship: Communicate.
Let them know how their behavior makes you feel and that you’re concerned about the status of your friendship. Try to approach the conversation without judgment or defensiveness and listen to their side of the story.
Use this script: “Something’s been bothering me, and I need to address it. When I share my accomplishments, you seem unsupportive and make negative comments. It affects our friendship. Can we talk and work through this? I value our relationship, but honesty is key.”
Tip #2: Set Boundaries
It’s important to set boundaries with a friend who is jealous of you. Let them know what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not.
If they make negative comments or behave in a way that makes you uncomfortable, it’s okay to let them know you won’t tolerate it.
Are you horrible at setting boundaries? This book by Nedra Glover Tawwab might be worth a read (or listen to).
Use this script: “I understand you might feel sad or anxious about [your situation]. But I need you to be there for me, too. If you can’t do that right now, that’s okay, but I want to make sure that our friendship is based on mutual support and positivity. So, can we agree to focus on uplifting each other and avoiding negative comments?”
Tip #3: Avoid Bragging
If you know your friend is jealous of you, try to avoid bragging about your accomplishments or new relationships.
While it’s okay to share your successes with your friends, doing it in a humble and thoughtful way can help prevent feelings of jealousy and resentment.
After sharing your news, try to ask your friend about something they’re excited or passionate about in their life. Redirect their attention to themselves to avoid conflict.
Use this script: “I’m really excited about this new opportunity/relationship! How have you been doing lately? Is there anything new or exciting happening in your life?”
Tip #4: Show Empathy
Your friend may be dealing with some personal issues that are causing them to feel jealous.
Try to show empathy and understand where they’re coming from. Offer support and encourage them to share their feelings with you.
Dr. Jaimie Krems says that one benefit of friendship jealousy is that it can lead to something good.
Look at it this way: Instead of feeling annoyed that your friend isn’t supportive, try looking for ways to preserve what you have with your friend.
This might look like reflecting on the fact that you should call your friend more to show her you’re still there for her— even when life changes.
Use this script: “I’ve noticed that you seem to be struggling lately, and I’m here for you if you want to talk about it. I understand everyone goes through tough times, and I want to offer my support. If you need anything from me, please don’t hesitate to ask. Remember, I care about you and want to see you succeed.”
Tip #5: Spend Less Time with Them
If your friend’s jealousy is too much to handle, it might be time to spend less time with them.
You don’t have to cut them out of your life entirely, but taking a step back from the friendship can help you both gain some perspective.
Use this script: “I think it might be helpful for both of us if we took some time apart to gain perspective. I hope you understand that this isn’t about ending our friendship but finding a healthier balance.”
Tip #6: Seek Outside Help
If you’re struggling to deal with a friend who is jealous of you, seeking outside help can be beneficial.
Consider talking to a therapist or a trusted friend who can provide unbiased advice and support.
Use this script: “Hey, I’ve noticed that things have been a bit tense between us lately, and I think it could be helpful for both of us to talk to someone about it. I’m planning on seeing a therapist to work through my own issues. Would you join me? It could be a safe space for us to communicate and gain perspective on our friendship.”
Tip #7: Accept That You Can’t Control Their Feelings
Accepting that you can’t control how your friend feels might be the only solution. It’s up to them to work through their jealousy and move past it.
While you can be supportive and understanding, ultimately, their emotions are their responsibility.
Use this script: “I can understand if you’re upset, but I can’t control your emotions. It’s up to you to work through them and find a way to move past them. Let’s work together to strengthen our friendship and move forward.”
What To Do If You’re the Jealous Friend
I recorded a podcast episode on what to do if you’re the one who is jealous of your friend. You can listen to the short 17-minute episode here.
In the meantime, here’s what you should do when you feel that ping of envy or jealousy:
Step 1: Step away.
Step 2: Think about the emotion word behind your reaction to a friend’s new relationship.
Step 3: Show up in ways that you can.
Creating Better Female Friendships
Dealing with a friend who is jealous of you can be challenging, but it’s important to address the issue and find ways to handle it effectively.
You can work through the issue by communicating openly, setting boundaries, showing empathy, seeking outside help, and strengthening your friendship.
Remember to be patient and understanding, and don’t forget to take care of yourself.