I’ll never forget the day I learned that one of my friends was jealous of me.
As she told me to my face how she felt, I sipped my coffee that had already grown cold.
We were unpacking the unspoken awkwardness and tension that had caused a distance in our friendship for quite some time. We’d known each other since we were kids and had kept in touch on and off as adults. And whenever we reconnected, things seemed cool. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my friend didn’t want to keep in touch anymore. I noticed that she wasn’t reaching out as much.
I tried to explore the different reasons why. Revisiting past conversations and the old text message threads we’d shared, I wondered if I’d said or done anything to cause the rift between us. When I looked for her on my social media friends list, I didn’t see her anymore.
Later, I learned that she had unfriended me. I never really knew why.
So I sent her a text, asking her if she was doing okay and if she’d be open to meeting for brunch sometime. I wasn’t sure if she still had my number, so I let her know who I was when I reached out and hoped we could catch up. She responded and was open to meeting.
When we met, it felt like a reunion between old friends. We talked about our families, what life was like when we were kids, some of our old peers from school, and how much our lives had changed since we’d become adults. It felt good to see her and to reconnect. And though I knew she unfriended me on social media and had distanced herself from me, I still felt like we should talk.
Once our brunch settled down, she told me she had something to confess. “I have something I need to tell you,” she shared. “I know it’s not right, but I unfriended you on Facebook.”
I looked at her, nodded, and responded, “Okay, that explains why I wasn’t able to find you when I wanted to check in online and see how you’d been doing.” I wasn’t upset or hurt or angry, just mostly confused.
“Well,” she explained, “I know it’s not right to be jealous of your friends, but when I saw the pictures you posted and your friends and how happy you are, it was obvious to me how good you’re doing. You finished college, have a good job, and are popular. Things are working out for you.”
I paused for a moment, and then I started laughing. “Girl, what in the world? I’m like the least popular person I know!” I responded. “And I can’t believe you unfriended me, how dare you?” I said jokingly.
She started laughing too.
I went on to share that out of all my followers on social media, I actively keep in touch and hang out with about three who are my real friends. And that around the time I was posting “my highlight reels,” I was moving through a very difficult time in my life that seemed like it would never end.
She had no idea that during that time, all hell had broken loose behind closed doors and that there was no reason for her to be jealous.
After our brunch, she sent another friend request (which I accepted), and I shook off what happened because it didn’t seem like a big deal. As we talked and laughed about the incident, I understood why she pulled back and had hoped we’d be able to move forward with our friendship.
And for a while, it seemed like we could.
Until the day came when I purchased my first home. And she unfriended me again. And I haven’t heard from her since.
Jealousy is a complicated thing to unpack and move through, especially with friends. I’ve had moments when I’ve struggled with it myself and needed to work on getting myself together. But how do you process a friend being jealous of you?
And what do you do when you’re the one who’s jealous?
Now, I do believe you should be happy for your friends when they’re doing well. Or when they receive exciting news like a promotion at work, engagement to the man of their dreams, or when they’re having the baby they’ve always wanted. When they start a new business, purchase a new car, a new home, or anything else that’s great news for them. But jealousy can creep in and ruin things. And that can be painful for all parties involved.
But if you’re jealous of any of your friends, take a step back to process what you’re feeling and why, get yourself together, and just try to be happy for them.
Your time to celebrate will come, too. Everyone’s process and timing will look different, and that’s okay.
And understand that no matter how exciting or glamourous someone else’s life looks from the outside, no one’s life is without problems or challenges. So don’t allow jealousy to complicate things.