Friend Envy-Is the Green Eyed Monster of Envy Destroying a Valuable Friendship?
You used to share everything together-bad date stories, clothes, and your dreams and aspirations. This woman was so much like you, it seemed like you were soul sisters.
But then, things changed. Her bad date stories ended when she found her Prince Charming and is now planning their dream wedding. Because of her promotion at work, she can afford the designer clothes in department stores, while you can only buy the ones you stumble upon at thrift stores. Her dreams are coming true, while you are stuck spinning your wheels.
Instead of being happy for your friend, you find yourself getting angry, upset and miserable with every Tweet, text, and Facebook update with all the details of her “perfect“ life. You don’t return most of her calls, you avoid geting together for drinks or for lunch, and she wants to know what is wrong.
If this describes how you are feeling, then you are suffering from “friendvy”.
How Friend Envy is Different From Envy
The Differences Between Friendvy and Envy
Envy has it’s roots in the Ten Commandments. The tenth one reads, You shall not covet your neighbor's house, nor his wife, his man-servant, his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor's. While having desire for things is not inherently bad, as it can make you work harder to achieve your goals, when it defines a relationship, then that is where things start going awry.
One of the seven deadly sins is envy. This is different from jealousy, where the emotion stems from something or someone being taken away (think of girl drama and what happens when she is left out of an outing). Envy makes a person mean to the point where they cannot think straight about the person whom they are coveting. A person is unhappy because the other person is achieving and doing better than she.
The difference between friendvy and envy is that with envy, you do not have a close, personal relationship with the person you covet. For example, your co-worker in the same department just got promoted. You do not have a personal relationship with her, but at the same time, you also were up for that same promotion. You envy her promotion, but it does not change how you interact on a personal level.
With friend envy, the object of your coveting is a person with whom you are close-at least you were before this emotion got out of control. The fact that you are avoiding her, that you feel nothing but bad feelings at the thought or sight of her, that you are no longer close as you once were, that is when the friendship changes because of your envy.
The Problem With Friend Envy
The problem with friend envy is that the very object of our envy, a close friend, can cause a hurricane of bad feelings for you. We are told that we should be happy for others good fortune, so we feel guilty if we are not jumping for joy at the brand new Lexus convertible that her fiancé bought her as a wedding gift (while you drive your eight year old slightly dented Honda Civic).
Compound this feeling by the lessons we are taught as children, that we are supposed to feel grateful for all that we have. Take the car situation, for example. You are taught that you should be feeling, I am grateful to have car that runs that can transport me back and forth to work.
Instead you are feeling, “What did she do to deserve this other than marrying a rich guy? I work hard, it’s not fair.”
When things get bad, we are told to “count your blessings” as that will help us overcome these envious feelings. Using the car again as an example, you are supposed to be thinking:
I am so blessed that my eight year old car is still drivable.
I am blessed to have no car payments.
I am blessed that it gets great gas mileage.
You have to motivate yourself to turn the negative into a positive and feel good about yourself and your situation. Is this possible with a good friend or is the relationship doomed?
Turn the Negative Into a Positive
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Does Social Media Play a Role in Friend Envy?
Does it intensify this emotion?
Envy has been around since the beginning of time, but social media has not. Before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you really had no idea what others were doing. If someone was away on vacation, you did not know where they were, what they were eating or where they stayed.
With social media, now you can vicariously be with them!
Before technology invaded our lives, you knew your friend was going on a trip to France, but that was it. Upon her return, you maybe saw some pictures if she cared to share them with you. Now thanks to Facebook, you can see every croissant, every picture of the Eiffel Tower, and even her view on the plane from her seat in First Class. She can Instagram the new couture outfit she bought in a boutique and Tweet about the five star luxury hotel where she is staying.
You get a ringside seat to her “perfect” life while all you can afford is a day at the beach.
Social media does exacerbate these feelings until you cannot look your friend in the face.
Can You Live Without Envy and Jealousy?
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Can This Relationship Be Saved
If you are suffering from friend envy, one thing you can do is turn off the social media and do something positive for yourself. Instead of wasting precious hours and energy stalking your friend’s latest updates on her wedding plans, go out and do something to improve your own social life. Take a wine making or cooking class or join a book club. Go out and live your own life and stop being envious of hers.
One thing to bear in mind is that social media is really all about sharing your best self. While there are some people who use Facebook and Twitter to share too intimate details of their lives, the fact is that no one's life is perfect. Think of Facebook as life airbrushed. If you know this person well enough, you know all of the things that are not perfect, like the difficult childhood she had when her parents divorced or the struggles she had to overcome in school because she had a learning disability.
Andrea Bonior, PhD, offers some advice on the matter, too. You can acknowledge how you are feeling, make a plan of action to change things, and the hardest one of all-talk to your friend. She already knows that you have been avoiding her, maybe it is time to talk about it.
Friendvy is a negative emotion that we can all do without. It makes us feel badly about ourselves and the one life that we have been given. Find ways to end it and get on living your own life.
A Book That Can Help
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