Feeling jealous of a friend’s happiness is normal – especially if you lost your husband, broke up with your boyfriend, or have never fallen in love. You want to be happy for your friend’s relationship but you don’t know how to deal with your jealousy.
Not only are you normal, you are not alone.
“Am I the only one who gets jealous of somebody else’s happiness?” asks a She Blossoms reader on What to Do When You Feel Unloved and Unwanted. “This weekend my best friend went away for the whole weekend with her boyfriend’s family to celebrate his parents’ 40th anniversary. I can’t help feeling jealous of her happy relationship! She and her boyfriend are like the perfect couple. I have nobody. I feel sad and lonely wishing I had a boyfriend. It just isn’t fair. It’s like I can’t feel happy for others. I hope it’s just a phase because honestly I don’t want to feel like this. How do I deal with jealousy of my friend’s happiness?”
I understand the feeling, because I used to struggle with jealousy of my friends’ happy families. I didn’t think I’d ever have a happy relationship with a man because I never felt good enough to be loved. My problem wasn’t jealousy of happy couples. My problem was jealousy of happy families.
The Blossom Tips in this article apply to all types of jealousy. Whether you’re dealing with “happy couple” jealousy like my reader, “happy family” jealousy like me, or relationship jealousy (such as feeling jealous when your boyfriend sees his ex-girlfriend), you’ll find something helpful here.
5 Ways to Deal With Your Jealous Feelings
Be kind to yourself – especially if you’re coping with a breakup, divorce, or death. Feelings of jealousy and longing to be loved are normal! God wired us for love and relationships; feeling alone and isolated is painful.
You’re going through a rough time right now, but take heart. This too shall pass.
1. Dig up the bitter root of your jealousy
I often struggled with jealous feelings because I didn’t grow up with a typical family. I was in and out of foster homes, my mom had a severe mental illness, and I didn’t have a dad. I was consumed with jealousy of people who had a mom and a dad, a big brother, a few aunts and uncles and grandmas and grandpas. It hurt when I saw my friends’ happy families and relationships!
Even now, as a 48 year old woman, I still feel pangs of jealousy when I see a man carrying his toddler daughter. My heart yearns to know the love of a father, the strong arms of a dad, even the discipline of a parent who cares enough to set a daughter straight.
I know the roots of my jealousy because I wrote about it in Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back. Writing about my jealous feelings helped me untangle the emotions and figure out how I wanted to feel instead.
What about you — what is the root of your jealousy of other people’s happy relationships? Maybe you recently broke up with your boyfriend, and feel like you’ll never be loved. Maybe your husband died unexpectedly and you’re never thought you’d be alone this early in your life. Maybe you’ve never experienced a happy relationship, and you’re jealous because you just want to be loved.
2. Let yourself feel jealous of other people’s happiness
The more you try to suppress or deny your feelings of jealousy, the bigger they’ll grow. The more you allow yourself to struggle with jealousy of other people’s happy relationships, the weaker the feelings will become. Naming and working through your jealous feelings will help you process and heal them.
Writing is a great way to work through jealousy because it slows your racing thoughts. Writing helps you face and clarify your feelings, which can help diminish them. One of the best tips for dealing with jealousy is to simply admit how you feel. If writing isn’t your thing, talk to someone you trust. Ask if she’s ever felt jealous of other people’s happiness or their healthy relationships. Ask how she coped with jealousy, and if she still struggles with the green-eyed monster. You’ll find comfort and strength knowing you’re not alone.
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3. Find ways to fill your life with love, joy, and gratitude
After you spend some time actively dealing with your jealousy, put it aside. If you’re healing after a breakup, focus on how to be happy alone when a relationship ends. If you divorced or lost your husband, rebuild your faith and learn how to trust God after a heartbreaking loss.
What does it mean for you to live fully without comparing yourself to others? How can you fill your life with love, joy, peace, and healing? Decide that you will stop searching the internet for tips on how to deal with jealousy of your friends’ relationships or your sister’s happy marriage. Choose to spend time searching your spirit and soul for things that make you come alive! Look inside yourself, listen to God’s still small voice. If you haven’t met Jesus, take time to find out what all the fuss is about. Why is His name on everybody’s lips?
4. Set your heart on what matters most
The reason I was jealous of happy families was because I felt insecure, alone, and unloved. I felt unworthy of happiness in my relationships, work, and life. I didn’t think I was good enough to be loved by my own family, much less a boyfriend or husband! My self-identity was based on my family history, not on God’s love or grace.
When I finally learned — after about 40 years of circling around the truth — change my life forever. I learned to open my heart to God and to stay in step with Him. I learned how much He loves me, and how His love changes everything. I learned that if my self-worth and self-identity is founded on who He created me to be, then I can be surrounded by all the happy families and couples in the world and not feel jealous.
The source of all jealousy is a heart that’s fixed on the wrong things. What is your heart fixed on? What are you missing in your life? What does your spirit and soul need? A happy relationship is a beautiful thing to have in your life…but it won’t heal your heart from the bitter root of jealousy. The best way to overcome jealous feelings is to set your heart on an eternal source of love, peace and joy. And that is Jesus.
5. Plant your identity in a love that never dies
God created you for one purpose: to be in relationship with Him. He is jealous for your love, time, and attention! He is calling you right now. That’s why you’re here. It’s no accident that you found She Blossoms and that you’re reading these words. He brought you here, and He wants a deeper, more personal relationship with you.
Give Jesus your heart, and He will give you a more exciting life than you could ever imagine. You’ll know how to deal with jealous feelings. You’ll still feel pangs of jealousy when you see other people’s happy relationships because it’s part of being human…but you’ll bounce back quicker and easier when you know the love of Jesus.
Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below. Who or what are you jealous of? How have you coped with jealousy or bitter feelings in the past? Being honest about how you feel about your friend’s happy relationship will help you work through the jealousy.
I read every comment, but don’t worry. I won’t give advice or tell you what to do! It’s your turn to talk.
Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books
Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.
How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.
When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.