Remember looking through your mother’s coffee table issue of Vogue when you were younger? As you flipped through countless pages of high-fashion models looking glamorous you thought to yourself, “Why don’t I look like that?” How about when your best friend had her first boyfriend and suddenly it felt as if it was not just you two against the world anymore? Or how about that night you pulled an all-nighter studying for an exam while your friends all went out and you ended up getting a lower grade than all of them? Just like any monster, the green-eyed monster, also known as jealousy, takes on innumerable forms.
Regardless of why you have felt the all-encompassing emotion of jealousy, it is a feeling all of us can relate to. But what causes these intense feelings? After doing research, I found that jealousy is a natural response that we exhibit when we feel threatened of losing something dear to us. A common misconception, however, is that jealousy and envy are synonymous. Envy is when you want something someone else has, while jealousy is the fear of losing something you already have — be it material goods, people in your life, feelings, etc. Specific causes of jealousy are different from person to person but a few that us twenty-somethings could all relate to or have experienced are:
New and old relationships — Relationships can be a huge jealousy trigger. Now when I say relationships, I don’t necessarily mean romantic ones (although that will get a section of it’s own). What I am referring to are friendships. We all remember the saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old—one is silver and the other is gold” Well, that’s where jealousy tends to creep in. We all want our friends to surround themselves with awesome people but the second someone seems to be taking your spot in your friend’s life, the green-eyed monster makes his sneak attack. This is not because you believe you can be her only friend, it is because you do not want to lose her in your life and anyone who seems to impose on that strikes a jealous nerve.
New and old romantic relationships — As stated above, this is a whole other ball game. Jealousy is seemingly a natural extension of all romantic relationships. If you are the person in the relationship jealousy can arise any time you feel your relationship is threatened. This is not limited to just your significant other texting, checking out, or flirting with someone else — no, jealousy can even come about over mundane things such as jobs, hobbies, etc. For example, when my ex-boyfriend and I were together he would often go to the gym — too often, as I felt. This sounds crazy, but it turned into him choosing the gym over hanging out with me and I found myself jealous of the gym. Crazy right?
On the other hand, if you are not in the relationship, the green-eyed monster can sneak up on you in more common ways. Jealousy over a friend’s new relationship is quite common. You want them to be happy but just as the aforementioned new friend example; you do not want to lose your place in your friend’s heart or the time you spend together!
Grades and schoolwork — Simply put, if you work your butt off for good grades and you end up getting a worse grade on a test than your friend who has not even opened her textbook once, the green-eyed monster can and will strike. This can leave you with feelings of resentment for your friend and can put a strain on your relationship.
Physical attractiveness — Lets face it, we live in a pretty superficial society. Although in recent years what it means to be “beautiful” has been redefined time after time, it still impacts us in the jealousy department. Magazines filled with super models that have measurements that most people cannot obtain elicit a different form of jealousy. This jealous feeling is about subconsciously fearing you will not fit in with society or will be ostracized for your imperfections. In turn, you feel as if you are not good enough and become jealous of those who you deem fit the narrow-minded standard of beauty.
Speaking from a twenty year old female perspective, extreme jealousy (no matter what the reasoning is) can really become debilitating. Women seem to be in constant competition with each other, which only adds fuel to the jealousy fire. Whether it is over your friend dating your ex-boyfriend, feeling left out, not being able to afford the latest trends, or the unrealistic physical expectations — women are constantly being set up to battle with one another.
Even though it is in our nature to feel jealous, there are ways to use this intense emotion to your benefit. The most important way to overcome jealousy and use it to your benefit is to support one another. If we all eliminate the competition they feel when jealousy strikes, it will no longer take on such a monstrous form. Instead of constantly trying to out-do one another, we should be trying to uplift and support one another. If we had the support from each other, jealousy would not feel so intense. Another way to use jealousy to your benefit is to remain honest with yourself and others. If you remember to remind yourself that the jealousy you feel is because of your emotions and not because the other person was trying to be malicious, that alone can ease the tension build up quickly.
Just remember this is not a competition — everyone has her strengths, weaknesses, friendships, and hardships — so being in tune with your emotions and sticking together is so important keep the overwhelming jealousy at bay. So you think you are ready to fight that ugly green-eyed monster? You will win.