How To Help A Jealous Friend
Don't let jealousy be a friendship curse.
Relationships 22nd Dec, 2020
When you start a new friendship or relationship, inevitably you will spend a lot of time with them as a natural way of getting to know them. From time to time, this may cause issues with your long-standing friends feeling abandoned or left out, particularly if they have low self esteem. Early detection will ease the situation. Learning to read the signs will make nipping jealousy in the bud that much easier.
One of the earliest, and most noticeable, signs is if your friend starts acting out of character like uncharacteristically being rude to you, or your new friend, or irrationally losing their temper. Rather than going immediately on the defensive, try to take a step back and see if the issue is envy. Perhaps you’re so caught up in this new relationship, you are neglecting everyone else. If they are feeling jealous, that could make your friend lash out, which could actually result in driving you away, the thing they fear the most. Talk to them, tell them what they mean to you. You don’t have to say they’ll never be replaced, that could introduce a thought that wasn’t there. Just explain there’s space in your life for both them and the new person.
Another sign is if the new friend dislikes your long standing one, or vice versa. This could be envy, from either side, bubbling to the surface. To avoid long term issues and a lifetime of mutual dislike, talk to them both. Find out what the issue is, and if either complain they don’t see enough of you, the problem could be jealousy. Reassure them individually that you care about them. Then organise a couple of dates with both of them and perhaps another person, it is easy to feel left out in a threesome which would not help. Get them swapping embarrassing stories about you, they’ll soon be firm friends!
Jealousy can also be caused by a new interest. Perhaps your latest release from stress is a team sport, or craft class, where you are meeting new people. Your current friends may feel left out, or that they are second class, because they haven’t met your team/classmates. Explain that you only see them at yoga/football/watercolour painting for now. Make sure the people in your life understand this and that if it becomes a social thing you’ll invite and introduce them.
Spotting jealousy can highlight other problems that you may need to address. If your friends envy comes from low self confidence, this could manifest into possessiveness. It’s perfectly fine if the time you spend reassuring your friend is reciprocated, but if they become an emotional drain then perhaps leading them to professional help would be advised. If they choose to keep acting badly out of jealousy, you may have to draw a line in the sand, particularly if they are manipulating you and using your guilt over how much time you spend with your new friend. Take time to think before you act, but put yourself first. If this person is a steady drain on your energy and gives nothing back, perhaps it is time to let them go.
If you can learn to read these warning signs, then you could stop jealousy before it ever takes hold. You can’t control another person’s actions, but you can help them realise you care about them and that they are just as important to you as the new friend. Realising your friend is jealous also prods you to evaluate whether you are spending all your time with the new person and hadn’t noticed. Finding a balance that keeps everybody, especially yourself, happy will find some peace with all your friends.