When Your Friends Don’t Wish You Well

This weekend I heard two different stories of friendship jealousy. But unlike what I’ve mulled over in the past—what to do when you’re jealous of a friend—in both of these cases I was hearing from the subject of the frenvy. Both women have close friends who are jealous of them, and both friendships are at serious risk because of it.

In the first case, the girl in question—let’s call her Kristy—is married and currently house hunting. Kristy says she knows her friend—we’ll call her Claudia—is jealous because whenever anything good happens to her, Claudia gets the crazy eyes and starts shooting Kristy with death glares. Claudia is bitter that Kristy is looking for a home, that she’s found a husband and gets along with her in-laws. Unfortunately, Claudia’s father died recently, so she resents the fact that Kristy has a healthy and happy family. (As someone who has lost a father, I understand being jealous when you see you friends having moments with their dads. But there’s a difference between wishing you had a father and wishing someone else didn’t.) It would be one thing if Claudia was jealous of Kristy but kept it to herself, but no. She is openly bitter, and sometimes rude, about Kristy’s good fortune.

The second scenario is similar to the first. We’ll call these ladies Mary Anne and Stacey. Mary Anne is engaged and so is Stacey. But everyone hates Stacey’s fiancée, while Mary Anne’s is adored. Stacey’s parents don’t get along with her inlaws, while Mary Anne’s parents and her in-laws have a great, healthy relationship. As with Kristy and Claudia, Mary Anne knows Stacey is jealous because she is obvious about it. She makes snide jabs at Mary Anne’s happiness and mocks any of her good news.

What’s interesting are the different ways each lady has handled this relationship hiccup. Since Kristy and Claudia are in the same group of friends, Kristy has resigned herself to the knowledge that Claudia will always be in her life. They have too many mutual BFFs to cut each other out. So Kristy grins and bears it.

On the other hand, Mary Anne has said goodbye and good riddance. Why be friends with someone who isn’t happy for your success? Sure, we’ve all had moments of frenvy, but if you never root on your BFF? Then she’s not your BFF.

There’s nothing worse than when a friend makes you feel guilty for your happiness. If your best friend won’t celebrate with you, who will? It’s been a while since I have found myself in this situation, but I of course remember the fights I’d have with friends as a kid. Oh, how often my mom would say “she’s acting that way because she’s jealous.” I learned, eventually, that those weren’t real friends, but I can’t imagine dealing with this as an adult.

So I ask you, have you ever been in Kristy or Mary Anne’s shoes? How did you handle it?


Filed under The Search

11 responses to “When Your Friends Don’t Wish You Well

  1. Layla

    I like your choice of names… Babysitters club were some of my favourite books for a couple of years. I’m impressed that Mary-Anne has the guts to say goodbye and good riddance – She’s definitely become more confident since she was in grade 8 🙂

    I’ve never had a problem like these characters. Thankfully 🙂

    I think when I’m jealous of people I don’t take it out on them. Sometimes I have a bad habit of turning the conversation towards myself to make me look more interesting, or going out of my way to be super nice (in case the good luck rubs off on to me).

  2. Marissa

    I love this post, but it might be because of the shout out to the Babysitters Club!

  3. Haha, I clicked to comment too just because of the Babysitter’s Club names! 🙂

    But I’ve also had friends make those kinds of comments to me, and I just called it out. When a friend said to me, “It must be nice to be able to just fly off at the last minute to San Diego,” my reply was, “It is! I’m very fortunate to have that in my life.” Conversation over.

    Another time the comment was, “I wish I could still stay out late on Saturday nights, must be nice!” To that I said, “Well I don’t have a baby daughter at home, so do you want to trade?” Conversation over.

    Probably the best thing Claudia can do is to call Kristy on the carpet, in a kind way. Snide comment about looking for a house? Response could be, “It will be really fun to have our own home, but talk to me when we have our first expensive maintenance issue and I’m sure I’ll be wishing I was a renter!”

    Sometimes acknowledging the jealousy and pointing out that the grass can still be brown on the other side is all the friend needs to not be threatened by your “good fortune,” and maybe she’ll start focusing on the good in her life instead of what she’s missing in everyone else’s life.

  4. M

    I find the people who act this way are usually unhappy in general. I have dealt with friends like this before and what it came down to was that the friends didn’t want what they were even jealous of but they didn’t want me to have it either. I got rid of them because it was just unhealthy all around

  5. Maria

    First, long time listener; first time caller (as they say). I enjoy your blog very much!

    I’ve had a couple of friends express a low level of jealousy from time to time, but nothing chronic like these two situations. I did address it with one friend and everything was fine thereafter. But again, the situations were nothing like these.

    That said, these stories also seem rather one-sided to me to immediately take the sides of Kristy and Mary Anne. As you noted, these indeed are very different situations.

    Kristy and Claudia – as someone who’s also lost a parent and was pretty much in a depressive funk for almost a year, Claudia’s probably not in a good place. Anyone who gets the “crazy eyes” and “shoots death glares” might need some help (and a friend to suggest that). Or, perhaps, Kristy’s being a bit dramatic?

    Mary Anne and Stacey – whoa, “everyone hates Stacey’s fiancée”? There’s all kinds of research that shows that most marriages are doomed when the friends and family dislike the future spouse. Honestly, I’ve told my friends and fam that, if I’m engaged and they hate the guy, I want to know.

    Admittedly, I have cut ties with friends whose negativity just brought me down. But I think there’s probably something else going on with each of these situations than the tale-teller would let on.

  6. Your post definitely struck a few loud chords with me! I am always so disappointed when I am faced with or even just observe a jealous friend. I’ve had and seen plenty–jealous of grades, boyfriends, husbands, houses, children, children’s achievements, figures. How about the friend who tries to get you to eat more so you will catch up to her weight! And, I must admit, I’ve almost been there myself. When things go wrong, it might seem easier to find fault with those who have it “right.” Yet, I find it much more satisfying to smile at others’ good fortune and move on.
    The father or mother loss (and both of mine have passed away) really gets me. Having loved and lost my parents makes me want to shake anyone who doesn’t appreciate what they still have. I look longingly upon these relationships, but that is because I want to see them enjoy life together.
    Thanks for writing such an important friendship blog!

  7. Jen

    I’ve had friends who cheered on my successes and wished for success where I still hadn’t experienced any. Unfortunately, being the kind of people they are (adventurous, open-minded…), they eventually all moved away, and I’ve since lost touch with almost all of them! So to avoid being completely alone, I stick with the friends who don’t really support me and laugh at my ideas (like going to med school or moving to another country for a year).

    It takes a person of confidence to leave a truly bad relationship, but if the friendship was ever important, I think the ‘Kristys’ and ‘Mary Annes’ of this world owe their friends at least a heart-to-heart talk. Sometimes we may be unaware of how our behaviour affects another, or how the coldness we are directing to someone better off is actually a maladaptive way of seeking some attention and validation for our own feelings and it needs to be pointed out by someone who cares. Why are we more willing to ‘dump’ a friend then try to salvage and/or improve the friendship through honest and open conversation? Isn’t this the reason most of us seek out female friends in the first place?

  8. My best friend from college was there for me the three times I didn’t pass the CPA exam. She was supportive while I was stressed and anxious studying every weekend for two years. Then when I called to tell her I finally passed the exam instead of congratulating me she practically hung up on me. We didn’t talk for a long time after that. When I did run into her at an outdoor festival the first thing she says is, “Are you a manager now?” Not even how have you been? My next correspondence was a Christmas card I received saying, “Our new house is finally finished and we’ve moved in.” Like I knew she was building a new house. We haven’t spoken since.

    Studying for that exam was one of the worst things I ever did, if not the worst. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t happy when I passed. What bothered me the most is that she was most likely super happy for me the three times I flunked. I’m with you, if a friend can’t celebrate with you during your successes she’s not a friend.

  9. Nezumi Nora

    Hi – I have just found your blog and it is a godsend – this coming form a girl who is looking up blogs about having no friends on a Saturday Night. I have just moved to a new city and I have a long-term partner. I think this adds another tricky dimension to finding new friends, especially since, as you have each other, you tend to lose motivation!
    But thank you for your blog it is giving me hope, and ideas. And the BSC reference tells me I’ve come to the right place. 😛

  10. Droplet

    I echo Nezumi’s post! I just found your blog and it’s awesome. I just moved to a new city and my BFF from home just doesn’t seem capable of a LDR, which has really got me down. But she always has so many “crises” in her life with her kids and her hubby and this and that, it’s no wonder she doesn’t want to have to work at our friendship anymore, when it was so easy when we lived near each other and saw each other every day. And I think the theme of “frenvy” has been underlying in our friendship for a long time, because she doesn’t think I pay enough attention to her each and every crisis, or when I try to offer practical suggestions, she calls me “little miss perfect.” So our newfound distance from each other may have been what we needed to see we just weren’t really made for each other after all. =/

  11. mama

    I have a friend who cant deal with me unless Im “down and out”. Unfortunetly Ive played right into this awful role. Ive been so toxic Ive made her feel good about her husband who hates her and her kids who dont do well in school. She has always been extremely jealous of me, now Im realizing the best thing to do is stay positive around her and kill this dysfunction. Ive endured jabs, put downs etc. Im always made to feel defensive and Im angry and resentful. Its gonna be hard, but her seeing me happy is the best revenge.

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