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10 Subtle Signs of Jealousy: How to Tell If a Friend or Family Member Is Jealous of You

Jorge's advice is based on experience and observation. He's seen many people—including himself—get hurt by those they love most.

Jealousy isn't always easy to spot—especially in close friends and family. Here are a few subtle signs of the green-eyed monster.

Jealousy isn't always easy to spot—especially in close friends and family. Here are a few subtle signs of the green-eyed monster.

You've probably noticed envious traits in the people around you before. They should be obvious, right? Well, not always. People can be very subtle in their jealousy. In fact, a jealous friend may not even be aware of their own jealousy; it might be totally subconscious. This makes it extra hard to address.

Here are some not-so-obvious signs that someone is jealous of you.

10 Signs Someone Is Jealous of You

  1. They never seem impressed with your accomplishments.
  2. They tell you that you're "lucky" for things you work hard for.
  3. They copy or try to outdo you.
  4. They're quick to rain on your parade.
  5. They talk about you behind your back.
  6. They start avoiding you suddenly.
  7. They pick petty fights with you.
  8. They go out of their way to mention people who are "better" than you.
  9. They get angry when you offer advice.
  10. They seem happy when you fail.

Read on for a more in-depth discussion of each of the items above, and keep in mind that while some of these issues can be addressed, certain relationships are past the point of fixing. As hard as it is, it might be necessary to cut toxic friends and relatives loose.

1. They Never Seem Impressed by Your Accomplishments

Does it seem that no matter what you do, it's never impressive to this one specific friend? Are they always playing down your accomplishments?

"Hey, I climbed Mt. Everest," you'll say.

"Yeah, lots of people do that," they'll respond with a laugh. "I was in Nepal last year. It's not that cold."

It's like they're on a mission to protect their own ego from being bested by anything that you do. This is a sign of jealousy and insecurity.

2. They Tell You That You're Lucky

Though many times it's meant as a compliment when someone says, "Oh, you're so lucky," in certain contexts, it can actually be a subtle way to diminish your accomplishments.

If you won the lottery, then of course it's purely because you're lucky. There were no character traits that contributed to winning during a windfall like that. But if your friend is telling you that you're lucky because you run a successful business, have a fit body, or have a fulfilling romantic relationship—all of which you've worked hard on—then they might be jealous.

Saying that you acquired these things through luck might be their way of making themselves feel better for not having them.

Copycat behavior isn't reserved for kids—adults can be guilty of it too, sometimes without even realizing it.

Copycat behavior isn't reserved for kids—adults can be guilty of it too, sometimes without even realizing it.

3. They Play the Copycat Game or Try to Outdo You

Does it seem like every time you do something fun or accomplish something new, your friend has to run out and do the same thing—or something better? It seems immature, but there are grown adults who do this, often subconsciously.

Did you go on vacation to Florida, so your friend went to Mexico and started bragging about it? Did you start lifting weights and suddenly your friend has an interest in bodybuilding? Did you start dressing better, so now your friend is wandering around everywhere in a suit and tie?

It's ridiculous, sure. However, when people allow jealousy to take over their minds, they do silly things like this to "keep up" with the people they're jealous of.

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4. They're Quick to Rain on Your Parade

Does your friend seem to take a weird joy in bursting your bubble? Do they live for giving you bad news?

For example, let's say you decided to go camping at a lakeside retreat for a weekend with your partner. Your jealous friend will be the first person to jump on their phone and let you know that it's going to rain hard for the next few days. Or maybe they'll tell you that there are known crocodiles that are swimming around in the lake. Or maybe they'll mention that some people have gotten malaria from the mosquitoes that live around the area.

You get the picture. They're always happy to rain on your parade.

5. They Talk About You Behind Your Back

Did you get along great with a certain friend, but then something good happened in your life and now you hear that they're talking smack about you behind your back?

This can happen when you're dealing with jealous people. Again, they may not even realize that they're jealous. They'll probably just develop a general feeling of "dislike" towards you after you attain something that they want—and then they'll come up with random justifications afterward.

Usually, they'll have an excuse. For example, a common one is that you've become too arrogant or "cocky," or that you've "changed" somehow after your latest accomplishment.

Suddenly having trouble pinning your friend down? If they seem to be avoiding you for no obvious reason, it could be a sign of jealousy.

Suddenly having trouble pinning your friend down? If they seem to be avoiding you for no obvious reason, it could be a sign of jealousy.

6. They Start Avoiding You Suddenly

Maybe you haven't heard them whispering behind your back, but is your friend suddenly avoiding you after you experienced a positive life event? Do they keep making excuses not to see you? If you do run into them, do they seem uncomfortable when you talk about your good news?

This person might be jealous. Not only that, but the fact that you're moving forward might actually put them in a bad mood. This doesn't mean that they're a bad person or anything; they might simply feel inadequate.

Unfortunately, there's nothing you can really do about that. You just have to wait until they get over it—if they ever do.

7. They Pick Petty Fights With You

Were you getting along fine before, but after you had that big promotion, your friend started picking weird little arguments with you all the time? Do they make cutting comments that are vaguely related to what you've accomplished?

For example, if you're making more money now, do they criticize you for going to a fancy restaurant or taking a nice vacation? Do they try to find flaws in everything that you do in order to get a rise out of you? They might be jealous and are trying to bring everything to a head.

8. They Go Out of Their Way to Mention People Who Are "Better" Than You

Does it seem like every time you mention something great that you've done, your friend counters it with another friend of theirs who has done it better? Do they even go so far as to introduce you to such people?

This is yet another way that jealous people try to make your accomplishments appear smaller.

If your "friend" gets angry when you offer advice, they may be jealous of you.

If your "friend" gets angry when you offer advice, they may be jealous of you.

9. They Get Angry When You Give Them Advice

Nobody likes unsolicited advice, but that's part of the deal when you're true friends. If your friend gets angry whenever you offer advice based on your more extensive experience with something, then they might actually be jealous of your situation. Maybe they feel that you were lucky and that they're hopeless.

For example, if they're struggling to lose weight, but you're very fit and you try to offer advice, it might backfire.

If they seem to get particularly bothered when you try to help them, then just let it go. They may feel that your success is a constant reminder of their failure. They could feel that your advice is like rubbing your success in their face.

10. They Seem Weirdly Happy When You Fail

Finally, one of the more sinister signs of jealousy is if your friend seems oddly excited or happy when you fail at something. Most people aren't so dumb as to be really obvious about it. They won't say, "Ha! You failed! Awesome for me!" However, you will usually be able to tell if you look closely.

Do they seem relieved? Do they treat you nicer than usual in a weird way? Do they not seem bothered at all that you failed to do something that you really cared about? Are they in a better mood than they were before?

This can be especially true when two friends have the same social status, but then one begins to rise above the other. Beware of those who want to bring you down. Most of all, be careful of those "friends" who view your friendship as some kind of competition. It's not worth it having toxic people like this around you; they will sabotage your life.

© 2017 Jorge Vamos


john on March 07, 2019:

if they doing nasty tricks or taken prisoner

Thomas on March 04, 2019:

I have had family members who have been in and out of prison and youth detention facilities since they were in their teens. They did drugs, drank and committed crimes. I stayed in high school and went to and graduated from college Summa Cum Laude and # 1 in my class. This is while battling a recurring life threatening illness.

This isn't meant to brag, just that hard work went into my education as it does for many who do just as well or better in college. a few of my siblings got GED's from High school and never went on.

Somehow, I am to blame for the serial failures in their lives. Ironically, I am the youngest in my family and wasn't around them that much when growing up.I found I needed to put permanent distance between my life and theirs as they constantly undermined me and tried to belittle me at every turn.I had aunts and cousins who did the same thing as I failed to understand or observe the " pecking order " in the extended family as well.

I am much happier now that they are no longer making my life the toxic soup it was becoming, thanks to their warped influences.

Alicia midkiff on October 15, 2018:

I've had so called friends date my experience boyfriends, down my looks and try to sabotage my reputation. Jealous people need help. I believe some are socio/psychopaths.

Momof3 on April 06, 2018:


...copycat is jealousy. Just do your own thing. Don't say to someone when they have something "I am going to get one too"... It makes you sound desperate that they have something you dont. Inspiration is taking notes from someone and then applying it randomly in your life when it comes up. Not in a desperate manner like being a copycat

Lo on January 14, 2018:

I have a friend who admitted she was jealous that my husband wanted to have sex w me. She apologized but I’m not over it. I do t believe she’s attracted to him she just can’t find a decent guy and is a

Milonga on October 04, 2017:

I don't think the copycat game is a bad thing. If I inspire someone to take a trip or dress better that doesn't diminish me and it might make their life better. I'm not really sure that's jealousy...competitiveness maybe. But to me, jealousy comes from thinking you can't have what the other person has. Dressing better because someone else is dressing better seems like deciding you CAN have that and you are going to go for it. That's aspiration isn't it?

Jorge Vamos (author) on July 25, 2017:


Thank you Dora, and I agree. When someone constantly tries to outdo you like that, it can be particularly annoying. It's like turning the friendship into a competition.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 23, 2017:

Number 3 is my pet peeve--the friend who wants one (whatever the item is) like yours, then he or she goes off and finds one better. You didn't care to have one like his or hers in the first place. All your signs are are for real. Good job!

threekeys on July 22, 2017:

This can be a taboo subject but it is real and alive. Good summary of the finer aspects of it. Well done. Thank you.

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