Jealousy and envy

Jealousy and envy

Many people confuse envy and jealousy.

Jealousy is about the fear of loss, the fear of being left out or abandoned, betrayed, humiliated, or rejected. Jealousy usually involves at least three people. There is always another person or thing that threatens to take from us the attention and affection of someone we rely on or care for. Jealousy is natural (up to a point). Even animals feel jealousy.

Envy is about resentment at not having something, of someone else having something we want but don’t have. Envy only needs two people.

For example, a woman might be jealous of a husband’s attractive secretary because she fears he will give her the attention, admiration, companionship or affection, which the wife considers should be hers alone, or that he will abandon her for the secretary. But the same wife may envy a woman who has nothing to do with her husband if she is better looking say. When she compares herself to a younger, thinner, prettier woman, she feels “less”, feels inferior, because she doesn’t posses the other’s qualities.


We all feel envy and jealousy at times, in varying degrees.

But some people, who are excessively dependent on their partner, may be extremely jealous, controlling and even paranoid, seeing the slightest interest in another or indication of less than total adoration as a sign of potential treachery.

Most of us feel flattered when a partner shows signs of jealousy because we take it as a sign of love. But jealousy can also be about control. The prospect of losing a lover to another makes anyone feel vulnerable and powerless but for some, the fact that a partner could find another interesting is utterly humiliating and infuriating. The thought of being betrayed or abandoned, or even having less than a lover’s total attention is unbearable. Some people are more concerned about their hurt pride and loss of face than loss of their lover.

Some people are not only jealous of romantic rivals but anyone who their lover may share time with. Some even begrudge the time a partner spends on themselves and their interests. With such blurred boundaries these people do not feel complete unless a partner is perpetually available and they have their partner’s full attention. Some people’s jealousy is more about self-love than love of another.

To feel envy is to feel inferior to the envied one. Envy is the driving force behind much vandalism, gossip, violence, spite and malice. Many of history’s greatest villains have been motivated by envy. Envy is an uncomfortable unpleasant state leading to an urge for revenge, to take away, spoil, diminish or destroy the thing that is envied. Envy says, “If I can’t have it then neither should anyone else.”

While we all feel envy at times some people are more likely to feel it more. When your ego is inflated, when you think you are the best, think you deserve whatever you want, then, when someone has what you haven’t or is what you aren’t, it feels like injustice, deprivation, like an insult, a blow to your idea of yourself.

The achievements, success, confidence, possessions and even happiness of others assaults highly narcissistic individuals’ sense of power and superiority. People who believe that there is only a limited supply of everything are especially prone to envy. They cannot be all and have all that they deserve if others have so much.

To egotism and raw narcissism, the exis