Jealousy Vs. Envy: How Are They Really Different? 

by Esha Saxena

As humans, we feel an endless spectrum of emotions. For better or worse, emotions are what make us real and keep us feeling alive. While positive emotions are good for us, experiencing negative emotions, such as jealousy, shame, guilt, and envy, can often leave us feeling overwhelmed and uncomfortable. Jealousy In Relationships has the potential to gradually suffocate a happy partnership. Since there is no escaping these emotions, you might as well view them as an opportunity to bring about some substantial change. Because here’s the thing: emotional acceptance is always good.

In this article, we dive deep into understanding the difference between jealousy and envy – two primal emotions that frequently overlap. Read on to understand how you can healthily handle them, so both you and your relationship with your partner can truly flourish.

What Is Envy?

Feeling bitter when others have it better is the most accurate way to put it. Like an insidious cancer that lurks within the soul, envy is considered to be one of the seven deadly sins.

Envy creeps in when you want something that someone else has. It could be a certain quality, achievement, or possession that you desire but lack. It is triggered when you feel inadequate. It breeds on low self-esteem, and that is part of the reason why it is experienced as such an “unpleasant” emotion.

What happens when envy flares up in the supposedly safe haven of a romantic relationship? While envy is most common between two people who are close and invested in each other, it can be toxic for any relationship. However, not all envy is created equal, and it does not always provoke problems within a relationship. Benign envy is merely wishing we had the attributes and traits of another, while malicious envy is of the most destructive kind. It arises from resentment and is accompanied by shame.

In a marriage, let’s say that A is out-earning B, and it’s a problem for B. Instead of identifying his feelings as envy, B might say, “Her career is ruining things for us. She’s so stressed out, and she can’t take care of the kids anymore.” But the truth eventually comes out that B really wants a more successful career.

Feelings of envy and disappointment can also surface if A is not excited about what he or she is doing while B has a flourishing career and is receiving accolades. Such a situation is painful, especially if the less fulfilled partner does not have a definite path to pursue.

Like all other emotions, the most important thing about envy is to recognize it in yourself. Suppressing this emotion or pretending like you don’t even feel it is downright unhealthy. As much as it is difficult to admit you envy your partner along with the accompanying shame and guilt, it is crucial to address your feelings. So, be honest with yourself. Remember, stable couples want the best for each other, and they are thrilled for each other’s accomplishments. They don’t feel the need to compete with each other – except for fun, like in a game of tennis or while running a marathon.

What Is Jealousy?

The emotion of jealousy shows up when there is a threat to the relationship. Unlike envy, which is a reaction to lacking something, jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing someone. It may be driven by low self-esteem. If you don’t feel confident or attractive, it can be hard to believe that your partner truly loves and values you. Jealousy In A Relationship can be caused due to Unrealistic expectations about the relationship.

Pretty straightforward, right? Unfortunately, the semantic ambiguity of the word ‘jealousy’ is one of the main reasons why a lot of us don’t understand the difference between envy and jealousy.

Jealousy requires three parties – you, your partner, and a third person. It arises when you are worried that your partner is going to leave you for someone else. To put it briefly, you feel jealousy over something you already have but are afraid of losing.

Jealousy Vs. Envy – A Comparison Chart

JealousyEnvy
  • Jealousy manifests when you fear the loss of someone or something already in your life.
  • Envy is the longing aroused by someone else’s qualities, possessions, or situation.
  • Jealousy is characterized by feelings of fear, anger, insecurity, and resentment.
  • Envy is characterized by feelings of longing and resentment.
  • Jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing someone or something.
  • Envy is a reaction to lacking something.
  • Example: “He’s been spending so much time with her. I’m afraid I’m going to lose him.”
  • Example: “What a beautiful car! I wish I could have that.”

A Helpful Guide To Overcoming Emotions Like Jealousy And Envy

If you were ever in a scenario that made you feel jealous or envious of your partner, you are not alone. The first step to crushing negative emotions is to be aware of what you are precisely feeling. Here are a few powerful ways to combat and overcome these emotions:

1. Self-Awareness Is Key

Self-awareness requires observing and accepting yourself for who you are – not for who you should or should not be. Self-reflection is important without judging yourself. Learn to be gentle, compassionate, and forgiving with yourself. This is how you will stop needing things or people to feel more significant.

2. Stop Comparing

Learn to appreciate yourself for who you are, not for what you have achieved or what you possess. Success and happiness are extremely personal. The key to happiness lies in defining success on your own terms.

3. Turn Envy Into Inspiration

Looking up to others for inspiration is not bad. The problem lies in trying too hard to be like them. Reacting with emulation rather than envy is to be open to learning from others. It is better to be original than a copy.

4. Be Mindful And Develop Control Over Your Attention

Make conscious decisions so you can have control over your emotions. If you do this, you will be able to consciously choose what you think about and what emotions you feel.

Like so many emotions, jealousy and envy can be good teachers. They are universal feelings, and we all feel them at some point. And it’s okay to feel them. Getting beyond these emotions will take practice, communication, and a shift of beliefs.

The bottom line is that you can conquer them. Jealousy and envy are both ugly: they are only a channel through which we broadcast our insecurities to the world. Let it go, be grateful for what you have, and don’t get stung by your own emotions.

Have there been any significant events in your life when you felt jealous or envious? How To Not Be Jealous? if so? How did you deal with them? Comment below to let us know.

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Esha Saxena

Esha Saxena is a writer, journalist, and a full-time wallflower. She holds a Master’s degree in Media and Mass Communication and firmly believes that makeup is nothing less than art. Combining her love for writing with her passion for makeup, she brings to you reviews, techniques, and her ever-growing knowledge on this form of art. In her spare time, she loves reading, listening to obscure indie bands, and writing poetry – all of this while being a crazy dog lady.
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