Whether we’re on the receiving or giving end, jealousy is a nasty beast. Jealous people are tough to handle.
Jealousy has the power to ruin our relationships, turn us against our closest friends, and make us feel like we’re going crazy.
If only there were a way to tame it.
Luckily, there is – and the first step is making sure you understand what jealousy is in the first place. This complicated emotion is often misunderstood, inflicting endless misery into our lives.
Did you notice your friend giving you the evils from across the room when you announced the news about your new job offer?
Does your sibling always make snide comments when you tell your family about your extensive travel plans?
Or maybe you’re the one jealous of that “best friend” your partner is always spending time with?
Either way, it’s time to end this toxic pattern once and for all!
If you’re struggling to cope with the jealous people in your life, you’re in the right place with our complete guide about how to deal with jealous people.
What’s the Difference Between Envy VS Jealousy?
People often get mixed up between envy and jealousy.
It might come as a surprise, but the two words aren’t actually synonyms – although they’re closely linked.
- Envy simply refers to wanting what somebody else has, whether it’s a Rolex watch or a cute little puppy dog. This emotion can be harmless enough – just because you wish you had your friend’s watch, it doesn’t necessarily mean you resent them or feel unhappy with your own life.
- Jealousy goes much deeper and involves a high level of insecurity. The jealous person doesn’t just want their friend’s watch – they fear it reflects on them as a person when they don’t have the thing they want. They might even see life as a zero-sum game and believe that, if someone else has something they don’t, that person is taking something away from them.
In fact, jealous people are often envious, but envious people aren’t always jealous.
Why Do People Get Jealous?
Like most deep-rooted psychological issues, we can trace jealousy back to a general feeling of inadequacy.
After all, why would any well-adjusted and confident individual feel insecure or irritated at somebody else’s successes?
The short answer is, they wouldn’t.
People tend to feel the most jealous when they see someone else doing or being what they wished they could do or become. Maybe they dreamed of becoming a lawyer as a child, and you’ve just been accepted into law school.
For people with particularly high levels of inadequacy, their jealousy could be triggered even by seemingly trivial issues.
To some extent, it’s human nature for us to compare ourselves with other people.
Like it or not, this habit is hard to avoid.
But it really becomes a problem when people don’t simply compare themselves – they also obsess over wanting to be superior.
A typical example is a wannabe “alpha male” who tries to establish dominance over every other man he comes into contact with.
Try Not to Judge Jealous People
Jealousy is an ugly emotion, so it’s tempting to dislike anyone who shows it. Especially when they partake in unpleasant activities, like mocking other people to feel good about themselves.
However, try not to judge or shame people for being jealous.
Remember that insecurity is the root of the problem – and few things are worse for an insecure person than putting them down further!
Instead of triggering their inferiority (and jealousy), try to build them up and make them feel secure. But more on that later.
We Can Be Jealous of Anything
Most people associate jealousy with superficially “desirable” things. A toned body, beautiful face, healthy bank account, high-flying career, or impressive material goods.
But just because someone is richer, better-looking, and higher up the corporate ladder than you, it doesn’t mean you won’t make them jealous. It’s common to be jealous of someone else’s personality, happiness, or even their general “vibes.”
Maybe somebody more successful than you on the surface secretly feels miserable and wishes they’d had the confidence to go after what they really wanted in life.
Or perhaps they wished they could be more outgoing, spontaneous, and fun-loving.
Jealousy can be difficult to predict or understand, especially when we often don’t see ourselves in the way others see us.
Inside the Mind of a Jealous Person
You might be wondering what goes on in the head of a jealous person on a day-to-day basis.
Above all, they spend more time than non-jealous people focusing on what they lack instead of being grateful for what they do have.
When they hear about the achievements or happiness of other people they interact with, they react from a negative viewpoint, wondering why they haven’t achieved the same success.
Their mind will then turn to making excuses about why they “failed,” convincing themselves they faced a tougher lot in life.
Of course, some people genuinely do face more difficult circumstances than others, but there’s no reason to compare your opportunities and privileges with those of someone else.
A jealous person might even turn to negative, spiteful comments – either in their head or out loud.
We all know that person who constantly criticizes others and moans about how their stupidity, ugliness, or unpleasant personality means they don’t deserve the opportunities they’ve received in life. Yikes.
Is It Possible to Stop Being Jealous?
If somebody close to you – like a best friend or family member – is suffering from a nasty case of jealousy, you probably want to know if it’s possible for them to get over their ailment.
In most cases, yes.
Nobody is born jealous – it’s something we develop over time depending on how our lives and interpersonal relationships unfold.
Because the root of jealousy is insecurity, those who struggle with this feeling need to look inward and foster a sense of confidence within themselves.
Ultimately, it’s their responsibility to overcome jealousy, but you can lend a helping hand by treading carefully around them and taking care not to trigger jealous emotions.
Need some more specific advice? Keep reading!
9 Effective Ways To Handle and Deal with Jealous People
You know what jealousy is, where it comes from, and how the minds of jealous people work.
Now, it’s time to complement this theoretical knowledge with some practical tips.
1) Always Stay Positive
If someone’s jealousy has made them hurl insults or hurtful comments at you, it’s tempting to retaliate and give them a taste of their own medicine.
They deserve it, right?
Maybe – but that’s not the point.
Reacting to negativity with more negativity is never the solution. If you’re a sensitive individual, you might even find yourself feeling guilty or wondering if you’ve done something wrong.
Try not get upset. Instead, force yourself to remain positive and stay true to yourself.
The other person has the deep-seated issues – not you.
Smile through gritted teeth to prove to them (and to you) that you’re not the terrible person they’re making you out to be.
2) Foster Empathy
You’ve just learned all about the psychology of jealous minds and where this horrible feeling comes from.
It’s time to put that knowledge to good use by developing a sense of empathy with the person who is jealous of you.
Instead of seeing them as a mean-spirited adult or bully who has it in for you, try to see the scared and sad child underneath the veil.
That might sound slightly patronizing, but we all have an “inner child” who comes to play when someone triggers our insecurities.
What’s going on in their lives to make them feel like this?
If they feel triggered by your happiness, maybe they need some support to get them through an unhappy slump in their life.
Perhaps they feel threatened by your professional success because they recently lost their job.
Could you refer them?
It’s a real mindset shift to turn feelings of annoyance or bitterness into empathy, but doing it will foster a deeper connection and could even help someone turn their life around.
3) Turn the Focus to Them
There’s only one way to get an answer to the questions outlined above : ask!
Of course, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it – don’t pointedly ask your jealous friend how their love life is going after they’ve been glaring at you snuggling up to your partner all night.
Most importantly, hold off on talking about yourself if you notice even the slightest hint of jealousy.
The more you blabber on about how happy you are and how great your life is, the more you risk triggering the insecurity of the other person.
At best, they’ll feel the need to prove themselves by inflating their achievement; at worst, they could try to tear you down.
What should you do instead?
Make them feel important by asking them questions about their life and showing a genuine interest.
To play it safe, start off by asking them about an aspect of their life you know they’re happy with. They just got married or came back from an exciting vacation?
That’s a great starting point for a positive conversation – show them you’re not a threat by showing you’re happy to them.
4) Don’t Take Negative Comments to Heart
When someone you interact with feels the dangerous pangs of jealousy and impulsively makes a mean or hurtful comment, it’s sort of like they’re inviting you to play a game with them.
If you retaliate, you’re accepting their invitation – but you can always opt out.
Smiling through gritted teeth after somebody insults you is easier said than done, but you can at least go silent and attempt a poker face.
Besides, it’s entertaining to watch the confusion wash over their face!
People tend to react in one of two ways: they’ll feel briefly disappointed because they didn’t get the reaction they wanted, or their animosity will melt away.
Either way, after a moment of awkwardness, it gives you a chance to steer the conversation away from the person’s insecurity and back on track.
5) Be Direct
If the other techniques on this list sound too much like manipulation to you or they’re simply not working, here’s a slightly more out-there method you can try.
Just calmly ask the other person why they’re treating you how they are.
It’s probably best not to hurl the accusation of jealousy immediately – most people don’t like to think of themselves as “jealous” and their egos will probably protect them by thinking up alternative justifications.
Instead, let them reflect on the situation.
Ask if you’ve done anything wrong and explain you want to build a more positive relationship.
In some cases, the relationship may be damaged beyond repair, and the person will simply deny acting in a vindictive way.
If this happens, cut your losses and move on.
But other times, the person may respect you for your candor and make an effort to improve their behavior.
6) Practice Kindness Toward Jealous People
It might sound counterintuitive to be kind to those who are jealous of you, especially if they’re treating you badly.
But remember, they’re the people who need your kindness most of all.
Is the jealous person in your life someone you see or talk to often?
If so, you should have plenty of opportunities to show them with random acts of kindness.
It isn’t about being a suck-up, it’s about boosting their self-confidence and showing you care.
Don’t be surprised if they regard you with suspicion at first, but once they realize your intentions are pure, you could be on the path to a better relationship.
7) Walk Away
Until now, we’ve assumed there’s a way to repair your relationship with a toxic person and make amends.
This should always be Plan A – especially if the person you suspect of jealousy is a loved one.
Unfortunately, there are times when you have to accept there’s nothing you can do.
Sometimes, you have to resort to Plan B: moving on with your life and leaving them behind.
It might sound harsh, but you have to put your own well-being and mental health first, or nobody else will.
At the end of the day, it’s their responsibility to work through their toxic tendencies and insecurities – it’s not your obligation to act as their therapist.
It might not always be possible to cut off people completely. Maybe the person jealous of you is your coworker, manager, or even your own parent.
Still, you can limit how much you interact with them and steer conversations toward topics that you know won’t trigger their jealousy.
8) Be Protective Over Your Mental Energy
The world is an amazing place – there’s more to life than walking over eggshells to make someone happy and sacrificing your happiness.
Learning who deserves your energy and attention is an important skill to develop in life.
If you decide your relationship with someone is important to you (maybe they’re a sibling, partner, or childhood friend), you might decide it’s worth working through their issues with them.
But you need to take a long hard think about what your true motives are.
Do you really care about that specific person, or are you just a people pleaser who is desperate to be liked by everyone?
Eventually, we all have to accept that not everyone will like us, no matter how hard we try. It can be surprisingly liberating to grasp this!
Besides, it might not even be about you.
Some people are just incredibly negative and struggle to interact with people who don’t share their small, limiting worldviews.
Or maybe they’re lovely people who just don’t vibe with you.
Get over it!
9) Devote Your Energy to the Right People
Guess what you’ll have more time for when you cut the toxic friends and lost causes out of your life?
That’s right – the people who really matter to you, or even brand new friends who can be excited for your achievements and happiness with you.
It’s possible that you’re spending so much time focusing on that one negative, jealous person in your life that you’re neglecting the people who treat you well.
Isn’t that crazy?
Turn your attention to those people and shower them with the love, praise, and affection they deserve. This is the true route to happiness!
Hopefully, you can now see jealousy for what it really is: not malicious, but simply a manifestation of a person’s insecurity or feeling of insecurity.
And, to some extent, a part of the human experience.
Next time someone shows signs of jealousy, you know better than to give in to your natural instincts by retaliating or reacting in a negative way.
Just remember the lessons you’ve learned about the psychology of jealousy and how to cope with jealous people.
It will be sure to improve your future relationships.