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Jealousy in friendship

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Jealousy doesn't just exist in love! It can crop up in friendships and be just as destructive. Here's our advice on understanding and preventing jealousy.
How is jealousy born?
Jealousy is a feeling like any other emotion, that often crops up in love but also in friendship. When we give our friendship to someone, we also give them an important place in our lives. The friendship is based on a notion of sharing, exchange and satisfaction, and it also places us in a situation of dependence with the person. When this relationship is being built - and in the case of fusional relationships - we can worry that it wil disappear, and a feeling of insecurity is born that can little by little transform into jealousy if we feel the friend is distancing themself or trying to escape.

The object of jealousy
Jealousy can take different forms but it is rarely found without an object. We're not jealous without reason: whether we admit it or not, the object of our jealousy is often well known to us. We can be jealous of a situation for example (our best friend's top job or promotion); of trivial things (her hair or designer wardrobe); or be jealous of another friend who threatens our friendship.

A revealing feeling
Whatever its intensity, jealousy is synonymous with unease and can reveal a lot about our state of mind, our needs, mental state and general attitude to life. It also tells us about the way that we manage our emotions and the relationship in question, whether it’s friendship or love. Jealousy can reveal a situation of rivalry or a possessive attitude.

Channelling your emotions
Whether we feel it or suffer it, jealousy can soon become oppressive if it gets out of hand. It is a normal feeling but must be channelled and controlled for the future of a relationship and for the wellbeing of each person, because jealousy can be a source of conflict and lead to animosity. It can even, in certain cases, be downright destructive, especially if it is transformed into unhealthy possessiveness or the opposite, deep hate. This is why jealousy must be expressed in a positive and constructive way, so that it allows us to progress and improve.

When jealousy helps us to progress
So that jealousy does not overcome us it must be honestly analysed. Putting a finger on the problem allows us to react to it. Rather than envy your friend’s fab job, why not use this energy to negotiate a pay rise, or find a job that's better suited to your ambitions? It can also be the trigger that kick starts that diet you've been putting off. Whatever the object, jealousy should always be thought of as a motor that gives us the energy that we lack to take control of things and change what we don't like about ourselves and our lives.

How to overcome jealousy
Admitting jealousy is already a step forward. But to control and overcome it, you need a lot of investment and sometimes a lot of time.
- Why am I jealous? Where does this feeling come from? What is it hiding? Do I have good reasons to be jealous? Ask yourself the right questions: analysing the situation well is important because only you know the responses and can find the solution.
- Express yourself. Jealousy often reveals fear (of losing a friend, for example) or lack of self-confidence. Putting your feelings into words is another step to healing: it will get it all out and help diffuse a weighty situation. And who knows: your friend may have the same feelings, so talk about how you feel!
- Act. You don't get something from nothing, so to turn the object of your jealousy into an object of joy and personal pride, you need to work at it. This task requires energy and courage, so don’t be afraid to ask your friend for help. That's what friends are there for - and it will strengthen your friendship and trust.
Published by Sarah Horrocks
25 Jun 2008
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