envy

Leaving a friend behind

Globetrotter.jpg

QUESTION:

Dear Irene,

 

I was recently made redundant, had been working in a high powered job and decided to move to a different county to explore what it is i actually want to do, have been volunteering to discover, anyway my closest friend whom i've been friends with for over 10 years has hardly been contacting me, any time i'm back home i always make an effort but she hasn't been asking me how i'm getting on just doesn't seem interested and it really hurts because i'm on such a journey and want so much to share it with her but she's always talking about herself and looks bored when i tell her about how i'm doing.

 

I now think that maybe she was envious that i'm off doing something different because she hates her job so much and spends 4 hours a day travelling to and from. It's really bothering me at the moment because i am always supportive of anything she does and i know if it was the other way around i'd be on the phone to her all the time wondering what she's up to. I did confront her and asked her if i had done anything to her and she just disregarded it and started talking about work. any advice on how to handle it would be much appreciated

Signed,

Anonymous

 

ANSWER:

Dear Anonymous:

 

A former neighbor on my block told me in confidence that she was going to move at the end of the school year. She asked me to please not tell a soul---get this, she was worried that other moms wouldn’t agree to playdates with her four-year-son when they found out about the family’s upcoming move.

 

It seemed kind of far-fetched to me at the time but there are people who only want to have friendships of convenience. As long as you are centered in their universe, they will be your friend. But if you move, either geographically or psychologically, they lose interest in the friendship and are unwilling to extend themselves. Perhaps that’s the kind of thinking shared by your friend. She may have written you off because you have left her universe.

 

Another thought: A journey of self-discovery, like the one upon which you have embarked, is rarely as exciting to the friends you’ve left behind as it is to the individual who is on the journey. Your friend may not be interested in the blow-by-blow of the story, but will probably be very interested in how it ends.

 

To meet your own needs to communicate and understand your experience, I would recommend that you keep a journal so that you regularly record your experiences and feelings during this exciting time. I would also suggest that you try to fully immerse yourself and make new friends in your new environment. 

 

Also, don’t write off your friend yet. She may simply be distracted by other things or have some transitory feelings of envy or distance towards you that will abate when you return to her turf. Keep in touch but don't deluge her with the details.


In any event, congratulations on your new beginning!

My best,

Irene

 

Reader Q & A: One-Upsmanship among friends

flowers.jpeg
QUESTION:

Hello,

I am a 26-year old female. I have a problem with female friendships. It really annoys me when a friend tries to compete with me. I'll give you an example. My boyfriend recently sent me flowers at work. I told one of my friends and she did not show any happiness for me. Instead, she started talking about her wedding bouquet and how beautiful it was and stuff like that.

I always try to be nice to my friends when something nice happens to them and never start speaking about myself at that moment. I expect the same behavior when something nice happens to me. My problem is that when stuff like that happens it really affects me. Maybe I am overreacting but I just want to find a way of coping with it without messing up my female relationships.

Signed,
Disappointed

ANSWER:

Dear Disappointed,

When your friend heard about the flowers you received, she was only able to think about herself--so she inappropriately spewed out the statement about her wedding bouquet. Sometimes people are so envious of others, or else are so self-centered, that they only think about themselves.

If you want to preserve the relationship with this 'friend,' you need to be honest about how you feel. You could say something like, "Indulge me and give me a few minutes to feel good about the flowers I got---and then we'll talk about your bouquet." Maybe she'll get the hint that it isn't all about her (although I wouldn't bet money on that!)

I suspect that some of your friends are more competitive than others. Don't lump them all together. Perhaps, you can pick and choose. Focus on nurturing the relationships that are more reciprocal. Those are the friends who are more likely to be able to genuinely share your happiness.

You might like to read a prior post I recently wrote about envy among friends. I hope this is helpful to you.

My best,
Irene

 

Reader Q & A: Envy among friends

envyMPj04304890000[1].jpg
QUESTION:

Dear Irene,

Just want to say thank you for this blog. I just walked away from a very painful friendship that almost ripped off my self-esteem. It is true that I have not always been the most confident person, but I have never encountered anyone like this before. She is always judgmental, negatively critical, pessimistic, and uses emotional blackmail. When I read your 20 ways to spot a toxic friendship, I answered YES to 16 questions.

It took me a year to finally be decisive and realize that the friendship wasn't worth saving. What pains me the most is the fact that she has always been envious of me even though she has the same things that I have. I never feel comfortable sharing my happiness or success with her. It really hurts because I see her as a sister and have always wished her well so it feels like a betrayal.

Now that I have walked away she accused me of abandoning her and took this opportunity to play the victim in front of others. She keeps saying I hate her and never want to see her again. People have no idea that I am just putting up my boundaries and protecting my mental well-being.

I have been patient, forgiving and understanding over the past three years. All she did was take me for granted. Although it is over, sometimes her negativity still bothers me and some of the hurtful remarks are hard to let go of. Nonetheless, at least now I am certain I no longer want her close to me. I am determined to move on and want nothing to do with her. The writings in your blog help me a lot, knowing that a lot of people have experienced the same thing. So once again, thank you and all the best for your forthcoming book.

Signed,
Bruised

P.S. I hope you will write more about envy among friends. I have experienced it a few times and surprisingly enough, people who are envious of me are almost always those I consider my best friends. I find this very difficult to understand. It is okay to feel jealous of someone - wishing you have what they have. I feel that way sometimes, too. But I am always happy for every success and happiness of my friends, and I never take pleasure in seeing them miserable. It is sad how some people can only sympathize with someone's misery but not their happiness.

ANSWER:

Dear Bruised:

Thanks for raising the topic of envy although I'm sorry that you feel bruised by an envious friend. It is always disappointing when a friend falls short of meeting our expectations.

Because we are all different, it's a natural instinct for each of us to compare ourselves to others. We tend to gauge ourselves by how we stack up against our friends and acquaintances along a variety of dimensions-e.g. looks, intelligence, career success, wealth, material possessions, and social cache. Most times, we realize that while our friend may have X, we are lucky to have Y.

However, women with low self-esteem, or who are depressed, tend to focus exclusively on their shortcomings and are bitter about what they perceive as the advantages or good fortune of others. Taken to its extreme, such an individual can be very self-involved, hostile and cutting. It's natural to feel envious occasionally but if this is a persistent pattern, it can be toxic to a friendship. (By the way, jealousy is an attitude of possessiveness when someone feels that a valued relationship is threatened; envy is a broader concept that can include coveting another person's characteristics or possessions).

An excess of envy makes for an uncomfortable relationship because you can't be open and share your successes. If you do, you run the risk of making your friend feel more badly about herself. After three years, it sounds like you have finally realized that your friend is consistently envious and resentful and you have become confident enough to let go of the friendship. It's unfortunate, but predictable, that your friend felt more threatened and put down, becoming more openly hostile to you when you decided to distance yourself from her.

Stick with your decision because it isn't very likely that your friend will change: She is who she is. On the other hand, make sure that you aren't falling into the trap of choosing best friends who feel one-down to make you feel one-up. Solid friendships need to be reciprocal---with two friends looking up to one another.

My best,

Irene

 
Syndicate content