Jealousy and Envy Almost Ruined My Life

How to make sure the ‘green-eyed monster’ doesn’t choke your relationships.


I’ll never forget Jarrod. We dated for about a year when I was 24. He was as perfect as they come. Smart, funny, successful, handsome… other women were always checking him out.

He traveled a lot, and this made me worry. Mostly because I had an irrational fantasy that some pretty blonde would meet him at a hotel bar while on the road and he’d end up with her instead of me. I though I’d kept all that fear bottled up, but I learned a new lesson the hard way: never underestimate the power of jealousy to change your behavior without you even realizing it.

Jealousy and Envy Almost Ruined My Life

You should know the importance of jealousy’s role in your relationship. This overlooked emotion can become your biggest adversary.

Growing up, I had a lot of issues with both envy and jealousy. Maybe it was because I always assumed that my sister was my parent’s favorite, or because I had a lot of boyfriends date me because I’m ‘the hot girl’, then dump me for another flavor.

My earliest memory of these ugly emotions is from when I was about seven years old. My best friend and I were playing with Barbies at recess, and my sister came over to sit with us. She was upset about a boy in her class hitting her, and to make her feel better, my best friend gave her a Barbie. The one with the big pink sparkly dress. The one I always wished I’d had. I threw a fit. It was a full-on fit. I threw the toy at the wall, stomped back into the school, and wailed at the teacher as loudly as I could. (I told you they’re ugly emotions.)

Jealousy and Envy Almost Ruined My Life

Don’t let the green-eyed monster ruin your relationships

As I grew up, I felt those feelings wash over me frequently, when a model would get the job and I wouldn’t (which is part of the reason I switched to stock photography — no more castings!), when a boyfriend would talk to another woman, or when my sister would get more praise than I did.

It’s like the opposite of schadenfreude, but just as petty: Instead of getting pleasure from others’ misfortunes, I felt torture at their successes. Behind that all was the belief that I was being short-changed, that the situation was unfair, and, sometimes, that I was inadequate.

But back to Jarrod. Before I realized what the underlying emotional problem was, my relationship with Jarrod imploded. I had gotten so paranoid about his traveling that I ended up reading his emails, finding something that looked suspicious (but was actually innocent, in retrospect), and stupidly forwarding it to him with a message akin to screaming “what the hell is this?!” in his face. That ended that. #crazytown

It’s hard for me to admit these flaws (especially to thousands of strangers), but I’ve been learning that it takes a good hard look at your shortcomings to truly get past them.

A lot of people confuse jealousy and envy, but these two emotions are actually quite different from one another. It’s important to tell them apart so that you know which you are truly feeling, and so you can deal with each accordingly. The main difference between envy and jealousy is that envy is the emotion of feeling resentful because someone else has something you want, while jealousy is the emotion related to fear that something you have will be taken away by someone else.

These kinds of emotions can really mess up your relationship, no matter how perfect you think it is — IF you let them. In fact, it can happen in a number of ways you wouldn’t even think of. Trust me — it’s worth taking some time to get to know it to prevent it from ruining your happy ending. And if the time comes when you’re convinced that the green-eyed monster has gotten hold of you, take action! Once you cross the line, it can pull you down like a quicksand; sucking the breath out right of your relationship.

Jealousy and Envy Almost Ruined My Life

My breakthrough was both accidental and gradual rather than one climactic, made-for-TV moment. To tell you the truth, aside from my blowout with Jarrod, I didn’t even know the toll these feelings were having on me and my relationships or even realize that they were happening.

Several things I’ve learned over the last decade or so have helped me put things into a healthier perspective:

Comparisons are ‘odious’

The quote “comparisons are odious” has been credited to several esteemed authors. Basically it means that a comparison (especially of people) is repulsive. Jealousy and envy are all about comparisons—and tallying up the differences between one person and yourself, as if life were an accounting game, to make sure you’re not in the red.

Praise, like love, isn’t zero-sum — there’s plenty to go around

I used to bristle when my parents would spend more time with my sister, but I realize now that sort of thing doesn’t detract from me. It’s not like people are rationing out their love, appreciation, or other good feelings like canned food during an apocalypse. There’s an infinite amount to go around. I learned this long, long ago during an episode of Full House where Bob Saget explains that his love is like an endless supply of water and his kids are all teacups, and the love is just overflowing. It just took me a while to understand and really accept that lesson.

It’s important to always be conscious of my feelings and thoughts

Jealousy and envy are gut feelings, and you can nip them in the bud when they rear their ugly heads. But first you have to realize it’s happening. I learned how to do this through meditation, mindfulness training, yoga and therapy. These practices helped me to label my negative feelings as they popped up, and detach myself from them. (Not just saying “I feel a pang of jealousy” but also “I’m feeling nervous” and everything else. In a way, I think people who often have other negative emotions, such as anger, could benefit from these tactics).

All of the above have been efforts to improve myself, but they also ended up changing how I appreciate and interact with others. Do I still get jealous or envious every now and then? Hell, yeah. But as I keep practicing to become a better person, I recognize when I’m starting to turn green and can control these feelings rather than let them control me.­­­­­­

Avatar of Sarah Woodstock

Sarah enlightens us on a daily basis with the newest trends as (and often before) they transpire. She is the consummate globe trotter. Having traveled to over 70 countries, she earns her living writing, blogging ( and modeling while on the road. In her spare time she gets manicures, suntans on yachts in Greece, shops for even more shoes, and lives in the limelight. She loves photography, elephants, sailboats, bangles and ballet flats.

Reader Discussion: 402 Comments

  1. Avatar of Jade Martin

    Jade Martin

    Find an alternative to your jealousy. You can use that wasted energy from negative to positive and shift it to something else. You can think about how lucky you are to have a girl or a guy who someone else wishes they have.

  2. Avatar of JENNIFER ROCCO


    Someone I know said she trusts her boyfriend completely. But when I look over her phone, she stalks him on Facebook almost every minute. Girl, what if he has multiple accounts?

    • Avatar of Sarah Woodstock

      Sounds like she has trust issues (don’t we all??). Meditation helped me a lot in this department 🙂

  3. Avatar of Alexandra

    If my boy flirts with the waitress the first time we go out to dinner, I sit back and scope the scene, trying to figure out whether it’s his natural demeanor or if he’s a certified f*ckboy.

  4. Avatar of Zara Wallace

    Zara Wallace

    It’s really hard to shake off something that’s so culturally rooted, but the bottom line is that jealousy is just a mindset. Trying to be rational about this would involve you think things like “if the person i’m with already likes someone else, there is nothing i can do about it, so why would i feel something like jealously? it doesn’t make sense, right?”

  5. Avatar of Phoebe Poole

    Phoebe Poole

    I was the jealous type in my relationships in the past and I’m sure as you already know, it creates a wedge between you and the one you’re with. What got me through was to KNOW that I was going to be OK.

  6. Avatar of Jasmine Kelly

    Jasmine Kelly

    I used to be necrotic level of jealous. I wouldn’t even let my first boyfriend help a girl move a table at a bar that she was obviously struggling with. I remember my exact words were “Don’t you dare help her!”. Still feel bad to this day about that and you know, in the end I honestly believe I drove him to cheat as I was trying to micromanage every interaction he had with the opposite sex.

    • Avatar of Sarah Woodstock

      While I think it’s better to at least pretend to trust him, I don’t think that his cheating is in any way your fault. If anything, you sensed that he was capable of cheating and that’s what made you feel so much anxiety!

  7. Avatar of Courtney Butcher

    Courtney Butcher

    Thing about jealousy is that it is very hard to control. I am no longer a jealous person and I can say that sincerely as I’ve learned a lot from my experiences.

  8. Avatar of Margaret Fernandez

    Margaret Fernandez

    Jealousy is a sickness. You must realize that the person you’re with is their own person and you can never control them. They will always be their own person and there will be times when they’ll be in situations that will make you jealous if you were around.

  9. Avatar of Ruby Little

    Ruby Little

    Great topic.If they wanted to cheat, they could. You might never find out, or you may. Point is, you have no control over it. Absolutely nothing. You can either make him feel bad about trying to be normal around the opposite sex OR chill out and have a better relationship. (I’m not sure if you’re male or female, but taking this from a female perspective).

  10. Avatar of Carolyn Lewis

    Carolyn Lewis

    I find that the people who have more friends and have more potential for relationships, are less attached. You aren’t being fair to yourself if you only invest in a few friendships and then are surprised when you get jealous over them.

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