Getting Over Jealousy
By Keith Ablow, M.D.
Jealousy is normal, it's human - and it's wrecking your relationships. Here's what to do.
Maria came to see me because she was having second thoughts about the clothing boutique she'd opened with Kendra, a close friend of many years.
"It just isn't fun for me anymore," she said. "Before, it was all about the two of us going out on a limb together and being creative. Now, the place is up and running, and everything's changed. It's all about managing stock and shipping and employees."
"Do you think Kendra feels the same way?" I asked.
"She's more ambitious than I am," Maria said. "She spends a lot of time thinking about the 'next level' and how to manage people. That just bores me."
"How many employees do you have at the boutique?" I asked.
"Actually, we just hired our first full-time person three months ago," she said. "Nancy, an old friend of Kendra's from high school."
Managing one employee didn't seem as if it should take much time. "What do you think of her?" I asked.
"She's fine. And Kendra wants to grow things faster." She paused. "I mean, in the last three months, they must have had 20 lunch meetings. Personally? I think we were doing fine on our own."
It didn't take long to zero in on the real reason Maria was dissatisfied with her work. The presence of a third person at the boutique meant Kendra's focus and attention had partly shifted away from Maria. And Maria felt jealous.
"Do you ever feel like Kendra is choosing Nancy over you?" I asked.
Maria looked at me as though I were accusing her of something terrible. But her disbelief and outrage slowly faded. She shrugged. "Maybe, sometimes. I guess so."
"That could be a big part of the reason work doesn't feel fun anymore. It isn't fun to feel jealous."
Maria took a deep breath and let it out. "Wow. I'm actually jealous of someone having lunch with my friend. I guess that means I'm a pretty pathetic person."