Nobody likes to feel jealous. If you have ever felt it, whether towards a coworker who just got a promotion or toward your partner’s ridiculously charming new friend, you know just how horrible and uncomfortable it can be. Still, in its throes, jealousy can make us act and think in unfair ways, even to those we love. Now, jealousy is not an excuse for treating anyone with less respect than they deserve, but it can be a challenging emotion to deal with.
When someone has jealousy towards another person, they do not usually confront it head-on. It is rare to hear someone tell their friend or partner, “I’m jealous of you, your promotion, and your new friend.” At least rarer than the typical alternative way of bottling up one’s feelings because we label jealousy as an undesirable feeling or emotion—ultimately oozing it out through passive aggression and spite. So, what are the signs of jealousy, and how do you deal with them?
The good news is that jealousy can be overcome just like any other emotional state. It passes, but it does last for a long time, so for those who are jealous, the best approach is to learn how to deal with it and let it go, rather than waiting for it to pass on its own.
So, what can you do if you have a jealous person in your life? There are a couple of techniques you can try, such as setting boundaries and speaking up for yourself. However, the first and most crucial step is recognizing jealous behavior at its first occurrence. If you do not notice it, you might let it continue for far too long, even to the point that it starts to affect your mental health and your relationships with the people around you.
Signs of Jealousy: How To Recognize That Someone Is Jealous of You
Jealousy can be harmless, but in some cases, it is harmful—jealousy has positive and negative effects. You want your friends and those in your circle to support you and have your best interests at heart. It does not mean that they have to prioritize your wants and needs above their own. Instead, they give you space to be yourself and enjoy your achievements.
The problem with jealousy is that it can be such a negative and powerful motivator. Those whom the green-eyed monster has overcome might no longer have your best interests at heart and seek some balance for their perceived injustice.
Having such a person in your life becomes troublesome if jealousy impacts your well-being. As such, it is important to recognize when other people are jealous, whether it is relationship jealousy, friendship jealousy, or workplace jealousy. Once you learn to acknowledge jealousy, you will notice them and take effective action moving forward.
Here are some of the 9 most common and obvious signs that someone is secretly jealous of you.
1. Jealous People Withdraw When You Succeed
When you show up with great news, the jealous person is nowhere to be seen. Most people will be happy that you succeeded in achieving your goal, such as landing your dream job or reaching your fitness goals, but the jealous person will not be able to hold onto their feelings. They do not want to make a scene or say something in front of others to celebrate your success, or worse, negatively react because your success made them little one way or another.
You might not notice it at first, but after a while, you may begin to recognize their physical and emotional distance when you achieve a goal, have some luck, or get attention from others. They distance themselves because jealousy is a deeply uncomfortable emotion, and being faced with its cause can feel overwhelming.
2. Jealous People Mimic You
“To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, dissatisfaction with the self.”Joan Dixon
Jealousy typically stems from insecurity. Jealous friends might see your inner peace, confidence, or discipline and determination, then turn the lens on themselves to how they lack those areas. They feel insecure because they perceive you as better or superior to them. Often, they want to achieve what you have achieved, but they have no confidence that they can get what they want.
These people’s insecurity can often be found in a deep dissatisfaction with oneself. The envious person wants what you have, but they hold themselves back because they limit themselves by their beliefs.
To overcome their jealousy, or rather escape it, they may try to copy what you do. Got a new hairstyle? So do they. Bought some new sneakers? They are on their way to the store. Got a new promotion at work? They are now vying for the boss’ attention.
For the jealous person, following in your footsteps is a maladaptive way of finding the answer to their insecurity, dissatisfaction, and low self-esteem. They see you as a happy and contented person and think they need to do exactly what you do to achieve that within themselves, without considering that our needs vary and how we react to every event in our lives.
3. Jealous People Embarrass You in Front of Others
Jealous people want to take you down a peg in front of others because they always want the attention you seem to get. They might bring up a story of a time when you did something silly or embarrassing, or even bring up a time when you were emotionally vulnerable and made a joke out of it.
In a group setting, such comments can quickly fly under the radar. We rarely want to confront a jealous friend or partner in a larger social setting. Still, others in the group can sense the awkward, negative energy more often than not. They may not say anything, but the jealous person does not realize that they are doing more damage to their social well-being than to yours when they publicly humiliate you.
4. Jealous People Gossip About You
Gossip is a common sign of jealousy. Jealous friends with low self-esteem and who are insecure might get a kick out of gossiping about you, your life, and your most personal business to others in a judgmental fashion. You might not expect as much from a friend, but jealousy is an insipid emotion that can make people act mean and nasty in so many ways.
In addition to gossiping behind your back, envious friends might be all about you when you are around. They might even seem extra friendly to cover up any hint that they have been talking poorly about you.
Take a workplace example. Amy thrives in her job and does not seem to get caught up in the workplace drama. She has earned the respect of the company owners for her consistent, helpful insight and ideas. In Amy’s personal life, she is calm, relaxed, and balanced.
Her coworker, Laura, is less calm. She finds the workplace a little stressful and does not feel like she gets noticed by the higher-ups. Amy has not done anything wrong, but Laura’s been overcome with jealousy because she feels invisible, and perceives that Amy seems to be receiving special treatment.
5. Jealous People Spread Rumors About You
Let us continue with the example of Amy and Laura in the workplace. In the throes of her jealousy, Laura might make snide comments about how Amy got to her career position. She might even go so far as to spread a rumor that she is having an affair with their boss. Yet, when Amy’s around, Laura smiles and acts very friendly.
Jealous people are not bad people, but their ability to be kind, empathetic, and compassionate gets reduced when jealousy arises, making them act in ways that may harm others.
6. Jealous People Show Off
There is a big difference between sharing your success and achievements with those around you and over-emphasizing your achievements to impress others. Jealous people are typically guilty of the latter. They feel that there is a need to emphasize how successful, funny, intelligent, good-looking, or talented they are to receive approval from others. Their attempts typically have the opposite effect.
People can usually tell when others are authentic and when they are not. You might have shared a genuine and heartfelt sense of accomplishment in your personal life for others to share that joy with you. Still, the jealous person sees that as a personal attack and needs to validate themselves to feel safe and secure publicly.
Typically, those who constantly talk about their success and talent have the deepest insecurities. Those who are safe and content within themselves may still talk about their achievements, but they are far more likely to be humble about them.
7. Jealous People Want You to Leave the Party Early with Them
Suppose you are in a relationship with a jealous partner. In that case, you may have noticed a couple of occasions on which a party was going well, and everyone was having fun and enjoying conversations. Still, as soon as you started talking to a particular person, your partner approached and tried to take you away. You say no and continue your conversation, but they react by acting cold and moody. Later, they might even start a random argument without apparent reason because they feel threatened and insecure when you are talking to other people.
“Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the other.“Robert A. Heinlein
A little bit of jealousy is normal in a healthy relationship, but it should never get to the level that makes the other person irrational and mean. It can inspire a closer connection between partners, but only when partners talk about jealousy maturely and respectfully and not in a passive-aggressive and controlling way.
8. Jealous People Intentionally Give Poor Advice
If you have just met a new guy and things are going well, you might get excited about the future of this potential relationship and share your news with your friend. However, if your friend is the jealous type, she might share your excitement on a surface level but feels somehow envious deep down. You always give her attention and emotional support, but now she is worried that she will have less time with you with this new man in your life.
She does not want to lose your time because the way you pay attention to her and support her makes her feel good. Instead of being honest and vulnerable by sharing her concerns, she might instead intentionally give you some bad advice for your next date. It will not be obvious, but she will want something with your new guy to go wrong, so she does not lose you.
9. Jealous People Do Not Listen to You
Imagine an office meeting. One of the employees, Richard, has been with the company for years and has worked incredibly hard to get to his current position. Tom, a younger and more recent addition to the team, is also in the meeting and takes the opportunity to share ideas and visions that are generally well-received by the rest of the group. Richard, however, feels that a hierarchy is necessary and that Tom’s presence threatens his authority. Feeling jealous, he might shoot down all of Tom’s ideas and everything he can to shift the attention away from Tom.
Whether the relationship is romantic, platonic, or professional, jealousy can make us act out. If you are dealing with a jealous person but want to continue the relationship, speak to them about it. Do not confront the jealousy straight away, but ask them if they feel alright. Let them know that you have noticed changes in their behavior that indicate some negative feelings, and offer them a safe space to vent if they need to.
Alternatively, it may be the case that the jealous person is treating you unfairly and even jeopardizing your well-being. In that case, it is well within your right to set boundaries and even end the relationship you have with them. It might seem harsh, but you do not have to tolerate hurtful and disrespectful comments, including gossip.