• Resolving Problems

How to handle a jealous friend: 7 tips

Published: January 8, 2014 | Last Updated: January 8, 2014 By | 18 Replies Continue Reading
What do you do if you have a jealous friend who is competing in the same playground as you?


Hi Irene,

How do you deal with a jealous friend that is constantly miserable around you because of your achievements?

Not to sound conceited, but I feel like every time something good happens for me she becomes negative and tries to make me miserable too!

We do theater together and she is often jealous when I get the roles she wanted. How can I preserve this friendship? I care about her.

Signed, Leah


Hi Leah,

Admittedly, it’s tough to overcome jealousy when you and your friend are both competing for the same parts—especially if you are having more success. However, here are a few tips that might help:

1) Your friend is probably insecure so try to remind her of her strengths and the positive attributes you admire.

2) While you don’t need to hide them, don’t be excessively exuberant about your successes.

3) Ignore some of her negative talk and don’t take it seriously. Remember it is more a reflection of her state of mind than it is of her feelings about you.

4) In her negativity, your friend is probably seeking support from you so encourage her with a hopeful attitude and small doses of advice, as warranted.

5) Try to engage in non-theatre related activities together, too. This will offer some balance to your relationship and give you other things to talk about.

6) At an appropriate time, gently let her know that it deflates your balloon and makes you feel badly when she talks negatively after you tell her “good news.” She may not realize she’s doing this.

7) If it’s too much of a drain, you may need to minimize the amount of time you spend together, especially one-on-one.

Hope this helps. Maybe others reading this post can offer you additional ideas from their own experiences because situations like this aren’t uncommon.

Best, Irene

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Jealous friends, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (18)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. East Coast Girls says:

    I had a friend for many years; we made in our early twenties and for almost twenty years we were joined at the hip. We shared everything, we never got tired of being together. She would even stay over my apartment on the weekends so we could get an early start on our adventures, like shopping or taking local trips. We finished sentences together and told each other things we’d never tell another soul. I loved her completely. I thought we’d be friends through to old age; we used to joke about sitting in rocking chairs on some porch together. Then I met the man who was meant for me, and we got married. Her reaction was quick and she spewed verbal assaults that were meant to hit their mark. I felt she had become a stranger; she expressed the same sentiment about me. She advised me that I was “ruining my life.” She hated my husband and refused to get to know him. She didn’t help me with my small wedding, and said maybe a total of five sentences to both me and my new husband. I couldn’t understand why she even attended. I spent my honeymoon crying to my dear husband; I had lost my best friend and couldn’t understand why. Seventeen years later, I still have bitterness in my heart. But I will always love her. Even though I will never see her in this life again.

    • SusanB says:

      What a sad story. Sounds like a clear case of jealousy that you fell in love and she somehow felt you left her behind. I know it must hurt incredibly. Not even knowing much about this woman I feel confusion and yet compassion for her inability to feel happiness for you…what a lonely, miserable existence she must have. Shaking my head…

  2. Cat says:

    I hate jealousy, I think there is a big difference between jealousy and envy. All my life I have had a jealous friend, It has even stopped me from doing things. I will never forget one birthday, we were commuting to the city and I told her I was visiting our other friend in another country and she went on psycho on me and started crying and saying how she wanted to go home and being a complete cow-she ruined my birthday, we were supposed to be having a one one one girl night out just us two, it broke me heart and instead of getting mad at her, like an idiot I feel I consoled her! the thing is I had asked her if she wanted to come and she said no she couldn’t so it wasn’t like I was leaving her out..but anyways jealousy between friends is so unfair and i feel sorry for you leah xxxxx

    • harebell23 says:

      I agree with what you say about envy and jealousy. Envy is a much gentler emotion and is likely to inspire you to achieve whatever it is you envy in someone else’s life/job/whatever…….whereas jealousy is quite a dangerous and violent emotion and is more likely to inspire spite and underhandedness in my experience.

  3. GraceW says:

    I’ve thought about it a while and I have to say the “don’t be excessively exuberant about your successes” advice rubs me the wrong way. It’s a fancy version of “don’t be too happy,” and if you have to worry about being “too happy” around someone, it is not much of a relationship. Because, after you’ve gotten that pesky happiness under control, she’ll be offended when you’re “too upset” about something that she thinks isn’t a big deal. Soon you’ll need to monitor EVERY emotion you have around her so you don’t offend her, and then she’ll get offended that you don’t share. Personally, I like being around people who are striving toward their own goals and are self-aware enough to be happy when they reach one. There are too few people in the world who seem willing or able to be happy. If you feel happy, be happy.

    • Tania says:

      I think there are certain degrees. I will give you an example. I have a friend who had a good friend. Her good friend was trying to have a baby and was vocal about it. However, it was just not working. She tried for years. Then, my friend got pregnant and it was so easy for her. She phoned her good friend and without empathy or understanding, blurted out “I’m Pregnant!!!!!” She was overjoyed, which she should be. However, when she told me the story of why her good friend will not talk to her anymore. I kind of agreed with her friend. When my friend told me the story, she also told me she was pregnant with a tone of voice that showed no empathy or concern or hey listen, I know right now your going through a hard time, but I have some news and….I am pregnant. If you need some time that is okay. Of course, if she would have said it that way, her friend would have said: oh no I am happy for you. I wish it was me but of course I am happy for you. Give me a hug! But, my friend came across as abrasive. It was not about her sharing her good news, it was: In your face!.

      With my twin, I got pregnant easy. My sister married for 11 yrs had problems. I was not even married and I got pregnant. My sister was jealous. But, when I told her in a hesitant, empathetic and happy and concerned tone all at the same time. My sister confessed she was jealous but still happy for me. Eventually we worked together and she decided to go on fertility treatments and we put our heads together and I supported her and she did get pregnant, when my son was 2. So, it is all in the tone. It is not black and white.

      • GraceW says:

        Thanks for your response, Tania. I agree that it’s not black and white, but I maintain my statement that if you have to worry about being “too happy” around someone, it is not much of a relationship. In the case of your pregnant friend’s friend, my thought was, yes, the news could have been delivered more appropriately. Absolutely. On the other hand, if you screw up ONE TIME and the person never speaks to you again, not even to give you a chance to apologize, it wasn’t much of a friendship. Friends are people. People make mistakes. If someone tells me that I hurt her feelings over one particular event, I will apologize and “tone down.” But if a pattern emerges where I have to “tone down” over and over, regarding every single happy event in my life, that friendship will not last over the long term. The OP’s theater friend sounds like she has a pattern of jealous behavior.

        Perhaps the OP works harder at theater stuff and spends more hours practicing lines and that’s why she gets parts. “It’s so EASY for you!” is the rally cry of the Jealous Person, when in reality she has no idea if it truly was easy or if you put hundreds of hours of work into something. Perhaps the friend is trying out for parts that aren’t right for her. Linda Hunt will never get the parts meant for someone like Angelina Jolie. Yet Linda Hunt still snagged a Golden Globe award for the acting she has done.

        From Barbara Sher’s book I Could Do Anything, If I Only Knew What It Was: “If you were around an angry, jealous person as a child, you remember it when you grow up; you expect to provoke resentment whenever you get positive attention… you should realize that jealous people don’t want to approve of you.”

        Tania, if you grew up with a jealous twin sister always being in competition with you, you may have spent your life “walking on eggshells” to protect her feelings. It may seem normal to you, but it does not to me. If your sister wanted a child as badly as her jealousy suggested, why didn’t she look into fertility treatments with her husband earlier in their marriage? When you got pregnant, you had something that she didn’t, and for a jealous person, that is not okay. I would not choose to be in a friendship like that, where the person’s jealousy turns everything into a competition.

        • Tania says:

          Thanks for responding. It made me rethink what it is to be jealous and walking on eggshells. As it pertains to me, I did grow up feeling like I had to walk on eggshells. Before my sons birth, my sister went to another city, very far because of a job, but she did not have to be around for a year to see my son. When my daughter was born, our father died three weeks before and our mother was visiting from Germany. Well, the day my daughter came home, my sister insisted that our mom stay with her and leave us alone. She said that our mom needs to spend time with her son alone to prove to her that she does not love my kids more than hers. We suggested we go to her place, we all be together, her husband had to work and she had no car to get to my place. So, we suggested we go there and my sister insisted no. She wanted mom to herself and she got her husband to pick her up. The very first day we were back from the hospital, my husband and I were alone and we ended up driving to my husband’s parents house and they don’t even like me that much and I don’t like them that much. When my son was born, my mom was in Germany and my sister in Vancouver, but my husbands family came over with my dad. It was nice we were all together and they made a welcome home sign and had gifts for him. My daughter got none of that.

          To this day, my sister is not apologetic about it, she says she needed so much sleep and mom looked after her son. She flipped out on my husband over christmas because he said she changes her mind a lot. But, she threw a full blown out temper tantrum. My husband says that if he had a brother like that, he would break off contact. However, she is my twin, what am I supposed to do. She was always sick and she was favoured by our parents so I know her temper tantrums are learned behaviour. I would never be able to get away with stuff if I threw the tantrums she did, but she gets away with it and I was always told to be “nice”.

          Yeah, we do walk on eggshells around her but to a certain extent I think my personality is weaker than hers and I have been a target for bullying because of it, whereas if people bullied her, they would never do it again. She is a strong personality, which is perhaps why she has a career and I do notj. So on one hand I admire her and on another hand, I cater to her because I can’t stand the thought of us not talking, where it may not bother her as much. j

          I agree for the most part with you. It may be easier in a friendship but when it comes to sibling rivalry, it is hard to know what to do.

          • GraceW says:

            Tania, I think you’re the stronger twin. Jealous people are jealous because they feel helpless, and that’s because most of them are giving away their own power. You’ve felt jealous, too, but you worked with the emotion yourself rather than “punishing” the person who “made” you jealous. That, in my mind, is a sign of strength.

            • Julieanne says:

              I fully agree, you are the strong one!!

              • Tania says:

                Thank you. That is very nice to say. I was thinking about it and hopefully, I will see that in myself and make some changes, where they need to be made. The one thing I think, that if your are jealous of someone because they have what you would like, why not be closer to that person and team up so that you can work more towards reaching a goal of getting some of that as well, whether it being career, new ideas, learning how to cook, parenting ideas etc….

            • Tania says:

              Thanks for saying that. Sometimes, it feels that way and others it does not. I know that my reaction to things change on the day as well, which is the same for everyone, emotions are funny that way. I know, I would like to change some of how I interact with my twin because if this is learned behaviour it can be unlearned at any age.

  4. Susan says:

    I have been friends with this girl for years and there has been occassions when weve nearly come to a head over certain things. She is very selfish and mentally draining with her neediness and also antagonising with her sarcastic and know it all attitude.i can see right through her and she is constantly comparing her life to mine . I myself remain positive and just ignore her half the time as friends like these only try to put you dwn once they find an opportunity and i wont let her neither and i do limit my time with her.

  5. Tania says:

    I am very familiar with jealousy. I am a twin. We have both felt jealousy towards each other all our lives and it continues to this day. Unfortunately, we can’t get away from one another. When I had my son first and she had fertility problems, not to mention she had been married for 10 yrs and I was not even married when I found myself pregnant, she was jealous. So jealous, she took a job in a city very far far away. So for the first year of my childs life she was not present. She was not even there at the birth. When I had my second, our mom came to visit from Germany and they were there, but the day we took my daughter home from the hospital, she insisted that mom spend the day with her. At this time, she had a son herself, but she insisted that mom loved my kids more and she needed to be there for her son and although, I suggested we go to her house, or she comes to ours, she yelled at the top of her lungs and screamed No, mom has to be with her son alone. She sent her husband to pick mom up from my place. And we were alone and cried. It was very upsetting. Even now, I am jealous that she is a teacher and I am a stay at home mom and she is jealous that I am stay at home. The difference is that she will rub it in my face that I have a husband who makes enough but she has no choice, it is like I can not complain about boredom or loneliness, I need to smile at all times and be happy. But, with me, I don’t bring up her teaching all the time. I ask for advice with getting a job when it is time. But, she has a stronger and more dominant personality than me and so far it has always worked.

    It is a tough situation and I agree that you may need to spend less time with her. Or remind her of her achievements as well and encourage her. Do not gloat about your successes either. Good luck.

  6. Sandra says:

    When you’re working in any type of creative and/or competitive field, I think it’s important to spend free time with other friends who are involved in totally different fields.

    I work in a competitive field, and enjoy most of my colleagues. That said, there are times when feelings of jealousy, envy, or one-upmanship spill into the relationships. I’m guessing this is true for a lot of people, and we can learn from these feelings.

    With a few exceptions, though, I find that my best and most comfortable friendships are with people outside my field. When I spend a lot of time working, it’s refreshing to get away and talk about something totally different — with people who are involved in other areas of life. Maybe you’ll be less upset by your jealous/competitive friend if you make a point of being around supportive friends with different views and talents.

  7. Amy says:

    Maybe she’s not jealous, but depressed and when she sees good things happening to others, if feeds into her insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. If you say something like, “sometimes I’m reluctant to share good news with you, because you don’t seem happy for me” she might realize that her responses are affecting you. I’d avoid using a term like “jealous” because that might put her on the defensive.
    You also have the option of sharing good news with those whose responses are more positive and demonstrative.

    • Suki says:


      Sorry to hear about your stressful situation. I stayed in a friendship where it was never-ending judgement, jabs, and snide comments after SHE thought I had surpassed her, all fueled by insecurities. I tried to work it out with her, but she couldn’t seem to help herself. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Leave a Reply