In college I met a girl who was super competitive. She always asked what grade I got on my exams, and how many hours I was studying. She would boast when she scored higher, and jokingly called me "lucky" or "a good guesser" when I got a better grade. A mutual classmate confided in me that she could no longer meet with us to study because my friend's "jealousy and copy-cat behavior was out of control." "Nah," I assured her "she's not." At that age, it's hard to see the subtle signs that someone is jealous of you.
It turned out that my college friend really had been jealous of me. She told me as much years later on Facebook. For whatever reason, her self-esteem was low, and somehow I had become the picture of what a well-rounded college student should be. It sounds super braggy to say, "I think so-and-so is jealous of me," so we tend to make other excuses for their behavior. "They are having a difficult time at home." "They are lonely." "We just happen to like the same things."
But jealousy is toxic, and can make your life a living hell. Here are some signs that someone is jealous of you, and what you can do about it.
1. They Want One Of Everything You Have
There's a fine line between admiration and jealousy. Someone who admires your style may ask where you got your blouse or shoes because they're inspired by your look and would like to recreate their own version of it. A jealous person will run out and buy all of the exact same pieces. You got a new tea towel? The same exact one shows up at your friends house after she saw it in your kitchen. Cut your hair in a bob? Bobby McBobberson shows up at your front door the following day.
Psychotherapist Robi Ludwig wrote on Huffington Post that the type of person who copies so intensely and frequently has no sense of self. "This lack of self prompts them to mimic or try to become exactly like someone else (you in this case). Being around this kind of grossly insecure person, can understandably feel unsettling."
So what should you do about it? There's very little you can do to keep someone from imitating you other than being honest and telling them that it bothers you. Even then, it may cause more problems that solutions. If you don't like confrontation, Ludwig recommended pointing out what you do like about your friends style, especially when it differs from your own. In the end, you have to decide if this is something you can live with or if it's a friendship that has to end.
2. They Get Offended When You Make Plans Without Them
Jealous friends don't want you to have any significant experience without them. They live in a persistent state of FOMO (fear of missing out) and you end up being the bearer of that burden. They get upset if you don't include them in everything you do, from simple things like going out to dinner to extravagant expenses like a European vacation.
Psychologist Irene S. Levine calls them "needy friends" and wrote in Psychology Today that you should begin by setting boundaries. Be clear and explain that as much as you love their company, you can't be responsible for filling their entire social calendar. This is especially important if you usually end up footing the bill.
3. They Try To Sabotage Your Other Relationships
They are quick to point out ways in which your spouse is lacking. They whisper rude things about your other friends when you all get together. They may even try to pull you away from your siblings or other close relatives. This is because they are jealous of you having a relationship with anyone other than them.
Matthew Lynch warned in Huffington Post against taking the advice of these kinds of friends because it is usually self-serving. This is another case in which setting boundaries is key.
4. They Try To Poach Your Friendships
Have you ever introduced a new friend to your old friends and suddenly the new friend is reaching out to your old friends trying to make plans without you? This can simply mean that they are really desperate for friendships, but it can also mean that they envy your relationships and want to walk in your shoes.
Levine called it "social poaching" and the toughest part about it is that it can spark up new found jealousy within you. Maybe this was the poacher's intention, or maybe not. Unfortunately, there isn't much that you can do to prevent this because everyone has the right to befriend other people. The most you can do is avoid introducing this person to other close friends in the future.
5. They Give You Bad Advice
There's no way to know for sure if a friend's terrible advice is purposely meant to sabotage you. But jealous friends will often advise you against doing wonderful and important things like going back to school, having a baby, or taking your dream job because it will leave you less time to spend with them. Avoid asking for, or taking advice from someone who seems to put their feelings above yours. Womenosophy noted that jealous friends will never help you attain your goals, instead they will put a "spoke in your wheel" at the first opportunity.
6. They Try To One-Up You
There are people who always have the need to one-up you. It doesn't matter if you're going on a trip, bought a new purse, or are getting married – they have gone there, own twelve designer handbags, or are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Behavioral Investigator Vanessa Van Edwards of The Science of People calls one-uppers "better thans". She warned that trying to change this kind of person will cause them to resent you, dig in their heels, and only get worse. You can try to understand them, but if the relationship becomes toxic, it might be time to part ways.
7. They Avoid You When Things Are Going Well
Unless they feel as though they can get something out of you, a jealous friend will avoid you when your life is – or seems to be – more successful than theirs. They will definitely come back into your life as soon as they have something to celebrate so they can brag about their achievements.
Don't try to chase after someone who avoids you out of jealousy. You are probably better off without them in your life. And, not having them around means that their jealousy isn't compelling them to sabotage your life.