Written for House 21.
Friendships are probably one of the most important relationships in our adult life, I always think of the episode in Sex and the City where Carrie and the girls are taking a trip to Atlantic City on a coach tour with women all of a certain age and she asks where are all the men? To which Miranda replies ‘dead!’ which is of course although a little morbid, it’s also quite true! Women do tend to outlive the men in their lives, so our friendships are something we always need to hold onto in life. However, with that comes a whole range of different situations and issues, one of those being jealousy.
Jealousy is a complex emotion and something we will have all felt at some stage in our life, but how do you deal with it to not ruin a friendship? And how do we stop thinking that jealousy is negative and something to be ashamed of when really we should be using this emotion to motivate us to be a better person.
Jealousy can often appear when we have a love for someone, whether that be romantically or not. When you love someone, it can tap into our vulnerability. That fear of losing someone can often make you feel a little crazy. Who hasn’t felt that feeling of jealousy when you see your best friend spending time with someone else? If you say you have never felt this I would question whether that was the truth.
What about that friend whose life seems perfect? They have everything you can only dream of and although you are happy and you genuinely wish only good things for them, you can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy.
Jealousy is normal and not something we should be ashamed of for feeling. We are all human, we are never going to be rid of jealousy altogether. But what matters is how we deal with it, acknowledge that exists and learn how to work through the feeling.
Over the years I have for sure felt like this. Especially in my late teens, I struggled to maintain genuine, healthy friendships and this led me to dealing with certain situations badly for fear I would end up alone. At this stage in my life, I never felt in competition with my friends we were often at the exact same stage in our lives but I would often feel almost betrayed if certain friends would meet up without me. But of course, it is not betrayal, its simply certain friends spending time together.
As I entered my mid-twenties I realized jealousy had taken on a different form, this time almost competitive. Promotions, engagements, babies they all started to happen and yet although I was undeniably happy for them I couldn’t help but have a twinge of ‘but what about me, when will it be my turn’ and that stayed with me for a long time before I started to understand why I was feeling that way and how although normal it was exhausting and not good for my mental health. So normal yes, but not if you let it consume you the way I was.
So, what do I do if those feelings start to rise to the surface?
I address them, I ask myself why am I feeling this way?
I remind myself that our paths are different and tell myself that seeing others happy does have a positive effect on my life also.
And finally, I talk about it. I don’t shy away from voicing how I may be feeling if and when it is appropriate.
Because ultimately my friendships mean the world to me and without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
There is one side note to this; friendships should not be hugely competitive, toxic or damaging to your health and if they are then instead of questioning the jealousy, question whether the friendship is something you wish to still be a part of.