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3 reasons why being jealous of a friend can be good for you, depending on how you deal with it

Two women looking away from each other on a couch
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  • Jealousy in friendship is a taboo and often a sign of being a bad friend.

  • A psychologist said jealousy is natural, and can show you where to improve in your life.

  • It can also boost intimacy in your friendship, depending on how you talk about it.

When it comes to relationships, being clearly jealous of a friend is considered one of the worst offenses. TikTok is filled with commentary on the subtle signs of friendship envy, from not hyping friends up to giving backhanded compliments, and the advice is usually to run or keep your distance.

At the same time, jealousy is a normal human experience — one nearly everyone experiences at some point in their lives. "People trigger so many different things for people — one of those triggers can be jealousy," Jill Weber, a psychologist in Washington, DC, told Business Insider.

According to Weber, jealousy in a friendship can manifest in many "crummy" ways, such as being passive-aggressive, making jokes that bring your friend down, or downplaying and criticizing their accomplishments.

But, depending on how you handle it, it can also be an opportunity to grow. "I love the idea of working with jealousy and envy, that way of kind using it as a guide," Weber said.

She shared three ways to use friendship jealousy to your advantage.

You get a clear idea of why you're unhappy

Sometimes, you can feel down about where you're at in your life without precisely knowing why. But jealousy of a friend can provide useful information as to what you feel is missing.

Weber said pretty much every life stage can usher in moments of comparison. In your teens and 20s, you might feel jealous of a friend's relationship or feel competitive over college admissions. As you get older, Weber said you might worry about being able to have children or having enough money to retire.

"Things are always shifting," she said. "Just when you think you've got it all going on, there's another thing to deal with. But in these moments, it can feel like, 'Wow, that person's got it all and what's wrong with me?'"

Beneath the jealousy of your friend's new house or marriage proposal could be deep shame because you see it as a measuring stick for your own success.

"Usually under it is this kind of inadequacy," Weber said. "Society and culture tells us you should have all these things in line, and then your friend seems to have them in line."

Knowing exactly why you feel you're "behind" is the first step in actually dealing with those feelings.

You can take action steps to get what you want

Weber said that envy can be a great motivator, if you know how to harness the feelings and use them productively.

"Maybe you are feeling something about your friend's promotion," she said. "Sit down and journal about what you want. Nothing stopping you from getting those things, too."

Instead of hating yourself for feeling jealous, Weber said you can reframe it as a wakeup call to start looking into jobs or career paths you'd feel really happy in.

"Sometimes it's a portal into more of what you want, or maybe taking more action steps," she said. "It doesn't have to be exactly what your friend has, but kind of sitting with yourself and trying to identify some specific goals around getting those things."

You can grow closer to your friend

If you love your friend dearly and would never want to dampen their enthusiasm, it can be tempting to just withdraw or stay quiet.

But Weber said that you might be missing out on a rare opportunity to really connect.

"I think that in healthy friendships and relationships, people are able to talk about that openly," she said. For instance, if your friend got into their top-choice grad school and you haven't heard back from anyone, she said you should start with "I'm so happy for you, you deserve it" and really take the moment to celebrate with them. But at some point, you can also be honest that you're worried about your future and anxious to hear back about your own application.

Done the right way, it can stop you from being a killjoy energy vampire and provide a chance to support each other in an otherwise competitive environment.

Read the original article on Business Insider