Friendships & jealousy

This topic contains 7 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Reds10 10 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #1487

    lost_hope
    Participant

    First I would like to thank everyone here for sharing their stories. Finally I don’t feel like I’m the only one with these experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
    A little bit about my background: I’m 27 and I’ve never had a real relationship (except 3 months with a guy who then found out that he’s gay…). Although I could recount my romantic past and ask the never-ending question “Why hasn’t it happened?”, I want to concentrate on something else in this post.

    I would like to know how you handle jealousy in friendships. This is a very difficult topic for me because I’ve noticed that jealousy is starting to impact my life in a way I would not want it to.

    The thing is that most of my very best friends are in happy relationships. And while they live with their boyfriends, I had to move twice to a new city in one year, alone. And while they have beautiful apartments with their boyfriends, it was very difficult for me to find an apartment at all and now I share one. Which isn’t that bad, especially since my room is huge and really nice, but still it isn’t the same as building a home with someone.

    I think I’ve always been jealous of the relationships my friends had and I didn’t. But while we were all studying it was different. Now the difference is so much bigger.

    Although the feeling of jealousy is there with my friends who have been in a relationship for a longer period, it is particularly bad when friends are fresh into a relationship. I noticed this when we had a girls’ weekend with two friends, of whom the other one used to be my go-to single person. And now she’s happily coupled up. And I noticed that I just couldn’t hear it. I couldn’t ask her about it, and I prayed that it wouldn’t come up.

    Another case was now with a friend who was single for a few months and now she’s again in love. I just couldn’t answer her texts the way we are supposed to. The only honest reply would be “I can’t be happy for you. Because you have what I don’t seem to be able to have.”

    I know that this is not how a friend is supposed to act. But I just cannot help it. I do notice that I prefer to keep contact with people who are not in a new relationship, just because it would be so painful for me to hear about it. And I don’t know how to overcome this. The thing is that it’s going to get worse, soon they are all going to have babies. But I try not to think about that for now.

    So, after a very long post (sorry for that), I would like to hear from you how you handle it? Do you experience jealousy and if, how do you cope with it?
    Do you think I’m a bad person? Is it better to protect oneself and potentially endanger a friendship?

    PS: The first friend didn’t have that much sympathy when I explained to her later why I didn’t ask about her boyfriend. She said that we all have different topics at different points of life and we should be able to talk about everything.
    So do you agree? Is the only right way to jut try to swallow your tears and play the part of a supporting friend?

    #1488

    courtney550
    Participant

    Oh how I can relate. I’m also 27 and I live in an area of the Midwest where it seems to be common to marry and have kids by the age of 25. The vast majority of my social circle are in committed relationships, engaged, or married.

    This past April my best friend (who has been with her current boyfriend for 5 years) had a birthday party where we took a party bus to a neighboring city for a night out. The guest list was 7 couples… and single me. She said I could bring a date… but I didn’t even have anyone to ask!

    Was I bummed? Absolutely. Did I have several moments before the party where I meditated on the fact that I was alone? Yes. When we road back on the party bus after bar-close, I looked around and most of the couples were starting to fall asleep, head on each other, holding hands, etc…

    It was a lonely moment I’ll never forget.

    I’ve also noticed moments where I’ll distance myself from friends in new(ish) relationships. It’s hard. In my opinion it’s like having this insatiable urge to eat because you have no money and you’re starving. You would give so much to feel full, content, and happy. Then as your feeling incredibly hungry your best friend starts telling you about how they’re so satisfied from the 5 course meal they just had. It’s not that much different of a concept.

    So how do I cope? I try to stay in the present moment as much as possible (thinking about future what-ifs of “will I ever have what my friend has?” won’t benefit me). I also try to acknowledge my friend’s happiness, but drive conversations toward mutual interests, fun conversation, etc.

    I don’t want to lose my best friends because then I’ll just be boyfriendless AND friendless. :(

    #1493

    mamey2422
    Participant

    Great topic @losthope and great analogy @courtney550. Alienating myself from friends/family because of their relationships/family status and feelings of jealousy/wanting has been a recent struggle for me just in this past year. Can’t say I have figure it out other than isolating myself usually makes me feel worse so I know it’s not healthy. I also go back to Sara’s book about how these experiences are sad and it’s normal to feel sad in circumstances the party bus. I try not to judge myself for feeling bad but also try to not to let those feelings overwhelm me for more than a a day or two. When I’m dreading something because of those uncomfortable feelings but do it anyway, I always leave feeling happy to have spent time with friends/family.

    So, I force myself to push past those negative feelings but balance it with turning down invitations when I’m simply not up for being the only single or childless person in the room. I like your point, @courtney550 about ending up boyfriendless and friendless. I think it’s very true.

    #1494

    Reds10
    Participant

    I have these moments too, but there are two things I focus on to pull me out of them: A) I will never know for 100% certain what is going on with those other couples. Sure, my girl friends could be gushing about their new bf’s because they’re genuinely happy, or it could be that they’re just psyched they’re no longer single. And B) I am not my friends.

    I know a few couples that look solid on the outside but I’ve caught glimpses of true insecurity and unhappiness. I also want and value different things in life and relationships than my friends. You may not have what your friends have, but you are making the right decisions and doing what’s best for you and no one else. Work on building the home you want for yourself, and let the right person into it. Yes, it’s more expensive and may take longer, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fulfilling and worthwhile. My friends have great apartments and go on vacations, and I’m essentially paying through the nose to live in a dusty closet, but I worked really, really hard for that dusty closet and I’m proud of it. Think about what you value and do not compromise.

    I am 30/no relationships, but I look around and I see a lot of women I know talk themselves into going more dates with men who who do not interest them, or they keep going back to a crappy ex when they can’t tolerate being alone, or they stay in years-long relationships because they think it’s better than being single. It makes me realize that being with someone does not guarantee a higher quality of life, and it’s valuable time I could be spending doing other things that will definitely be enriching. I haven’t yet met anyone doing those enriching activities, but I’m sleeping well at night regardless. It would be nice to share my life with someone, but it’s also really nice to not have to buy Christmas presents for anyone and get those Nike trainers I’ve been eyeing for myself.

    #1497

    LoneStar
    Participant

    In my opinion it’s like having this insatiable urge to eat because you have no money and you’re starving. You would give so much to feel full, content, and happy. Then as your feeling incredibly hungry your best friend starts telling you about how they’re so satisfied from the 5 course meal they just had. It’s not that much different of a concept.

    Courtney, you’ve read my mind! I have made very similar analogies about it (you’re fasting while everyone else isn’t, you’re still waiting for your order while everyone else at your table is on dessert already, you’re poor and everyone else’s rich, etc). In truth, both of them are a yearning (and need) and when you see everyone else enjoying/talking about what you don’t have, it’s very hard for it not to feel even worse than if everyone was else was hungry, and you can talk about your pain and hopes, together.

    I have been thinking about the solution and I don’t have one, because, like many, I have distanced myself from those friends and felt isolated. But I feel isolated with them, too, because conversations are often about their families. It’s hard to see people surrounded by love while you are all alone. :/

    I thought about the analogy and it gave me a few non-perfect solutions:

    1) Since I don’t know if/when I’ll be married, I can choose to not be around a whole group of married people who will only discuss their families and married life. I can instead choose one-on-one times with friends of my choosing.

    2) I can find single-oriented fun things to do that will fulfill me so I’m not constantly thinking of having a partner.

    3) Find other single people (like here!) who will commiserate and empathize with me, and choose to be with married friends only on occasions.

    It’s not easy and I’m still trying to navigate it.

    #1597

    lost_hope
    Participant

    Hi all,

    sorry for not replying for such a long time! For some reason I didn’t get a notification via email that there were new posts and I was also very busy in the past weeks…

    THANK YOU for your replies!! It means so much to me to hear from people experiencing a similar situation. It’s comforting to see that others are struggling with the same feelings.

    And I see that there isn’t really a solution to this. But I think LoneStar’s way is a good one and pretty much the one I’ve been following. I do think that since no-one else is really looking out for me and my well-being, at least I should be. And if it’s too hard for me to do certain things or keep in touch with certain people, then that’s the way it is; that’s life, I guess. And I dare anyone in my situation to criticize me. Strangely, if a couple cannot have children, people have a lot of understanding if they have a hard time being with other couples who have children. Why can’t single people get the same kind of understanding? Could it be because finding a spouse is considered more in your own hands than the ability to have children?

    Fortunately I’ve been very busy in the last few months, and this whole being single has not been so crushing. One reason is that I’ve found an awesome (single) friend whom I see very often and we text a lot, which makes all the difference in a new city. (On a side note: This kind of close friendship seems to be very much frowned upon once you’re an adult. For example one of my colleagues said that we spend too much time together. But that’s a different topic, maybe I’ll start a thread on that).

    But then I get a message from my (younger) cousin inviting me to her wedding. And it’s like trauma: Everything is back, all the sadness and loneliness. And now I’m seriously considering not going to her wedding, something I thought before her brother’s wedding too. And honestly, I would have been happier if I had stayed home. In church I was battling tears all the time and later it was not really much better, with the guests to 90% consisting of couples. When I told my parents that I would rather stay home, my father said “But you can still be happy for other people!” And I think he really meant “should”. I bet he wouldn’t have said that to a couple who can’t have children. So do I really have to? I don’t think so. I refuse to force myself to try to be happy for others if I can’t.

    When it comes to weddings, to me it also makes a difference whether the people getting married are really in my life and what we share. I would be happy to go to my best friends’ weddings. But why should I go torture myself for an entire day for someone who is not interested in my life (which is the case with my cousin), just because she is getting married? I just don’t see the point. I know that this is cynical, but I actually don’t care that she is getting married.

    And finally: I hope you had/have a great Christmas despite everything! And wish you all a happy new year with many happy moments! :)

    #1599

    mariposa
    Participant

    Hey Lost Hope,

    Nice to have you back, and I hope you had a good Christmas too! I can very much relate to the whole younger cousin getting married thing (and to feelings of jealousy in general from your earlier post). I’ve been to several younger cousin weddings and have two more coming up next year, and I know it can be really, really hard. I don’t think there’s an easy answer to the question of whether or not to go. I’ve always gone to those weddings (and they have ranged from times where I have had a pretty good time overall to a few that were really difficult) and am planning to go to the two coming up, but I know that isn’t the right answer for everyone and you need to do what’s best for you. I guess the one thing you might want to think about is whether your absence could lead to problems in the long run. Would you not being there call more attention to the fact that you’re unhappy about being single? Will this lead to well-meaning relatives trying to “help” in ways that aren’t actually helpful. Will your parents/other relatives keep bringing up the fact that you weren’t there long after the wedding is over? Every family is different and maybe that won’t be the case with yours, but if it is, it might be worth enduring a difficult day if it will lead to an easier path with your family long term.

    I definitely don’t have this all figured out yet, but if you do decide to go, here are some things I’ve found that help me a little:

    – While I’ve always gone to weddings, I often will skip the shower. It’s easier to fake another event that day since you don’t know the date many months in advance, and I find it puts me in a better frame of mind for the wedding itself. For me, showers trigger those “what’s wrong with me feelings?” in the same way that weddings do, and I find it easier to get through the wedding if I haven’t already been ruminating on that from the shower. That being said, I’m from a big family where one missing cousin isn’t a big deal, so I know this might not be an option for everyone.

    – Having a plan for what to talk about with people and which relatives might be good to hang out with if I’m feeling down (my cousin whose wedding I attended several years ago but who is now divorced, or my aunt who is married but never had kids are good options for me). Not to talk about my problems with them because it’s not the time or place, but just to help remind me that we all have different paths and nobody’s life is perfect.

    – Making a conscious effort to avoid (or at least mentally avoid) the parts of the wedding that are hardest. For me, this means thinking about other stuff during the ceremony rather than listening to some random officiant make me feel like marriage is the only valued path in life. Using couple-y dances to go get another drink from the bar, and going to the bathroom the second they announce the bouquet toss (Ugh the bouquet toss! I could write a whole post on how much I hate that tradition! Even in my early 20’s I thought it was demeaning, but there’s nothing worse than well-meaning relatives insisting that you MUST go and stand with a bunch of women 10+ years younger than you to compete over who is going to get married next. Especially when that well-meaning relative is your dad, who then makes you feel bad when you tell him you’d rather just stay at the table (insert “You need to try harder” comment here, because clearly the secret to finding love is catching some magical relationship-summoning flowers!).

    – Giving myself permission to leave early if I’m having a hard time. I left one cousin’s wedding not too long after dinner was over and for me on that particular day it was the right choice. I just told people I had a headache and nobody made a big deal about it. Obvioulsy you can’t play that card every time, but for me, knowing I have an out if I need it takes away some of my anxiety about getting through the day.

    This is turning into a really long post, all to say that I know it isn’t an easy experience or an easy decision. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer about what to do, but as long as you’ve put some thought into it then I don’t think you can go wrong with trusting your own instincts, whatever they are. And if you do decide to go, doing some thinking in advance about how to avoid the worst parts might help make the day a little easier. Good luck and keep us posted. While I know it doesn’t always feel like it, there are definitley a lot of us out there who get it.

    #1603

    Reds10
    Participant

    Basically everything Mariposa said. Especially the leaving early thing. I’ve had several family weddings in the last few years and every time we took two cars so that my sister and I could bail after dessert.

    Lost_Hope, I’ve been there. But I also think your dad kinda-sorta has a point. I’ve attended four weddings in the last couple years for relatives around my age with whom the relationship is take-it-or-leave-it at best. I’ll likely never see some of them again till my own wedding, if that ever happens. There was one in particular I did not want to go to, but my mom said something similar to what your dad said. I was pissed, but over time I see she was kind of right. I can be happy for them because while I want a relationship, I don’t want their relationship. I do not want the pressure the bride and groom had to find someone and get married/settle down ASAP, and she’s had to move her job twice for him. Those are just two of many things that I would never want for myself.

    So, maybe what I’m trying to say is that if you feel like you can’t be happy for them, you can maybe stop other negative feelings by identifying the things you want in a relationship that you’re not seeing demonstrated in the relationships around you. For example, I don’t want kids, so I need to find someone who also doesn’t want them. I went to a friend’s wedding where the groom had never traveled abroad, and travel is extremely important to me. I love the wise words of Amy Poehler: Good for them, not for me. And not “not for me” because I don’t want to be in their shoes, but there might be something that’s just not a match.

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