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

Updated on July 21, 2017
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After seeing many friends (or himself) seduced by love, only to crash and burn afterwards, Jorge writes advice based on his observations.

Signs of a Jealous Friend

What are some major signs of jealousy? 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 of these less obvious signs that someone is jealous of you:

What are the signs of a jealous friend? Find out below.
What are the signs of a jealous friend? Find out below.

1) They Never Seem Impressed

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 that you worked hard on, or have a fulfilling romantic relationship, 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.

Is it luck or skill that led to your accomplishments? According to your jealous friend, it was the fates that decided and you had nothing to do with it.
Is it luck or skill that led to your accomplishments? According to your jealous friend, it was the fates that decided and you had nothing to do with it.

3) They Play the Copycat Game

It seems immature, but there are grown adults who do this, usually subconsciously.

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?

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.

Your Jealous Friends

Have you ever had a friend get really jealous of one of your accomplishments?

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4) They're Quick to Bring Up the Bad News

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 hot girlfriend / boyfriend. 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) You Hear From Others That They Dislike You For No Good Reason

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 themselves that they're jealous. They'll probably just develop a general feeling of "dislike" towards you after you have something that they want--and then they'll come up with random justifications afterwards.

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.

Does your friend hate you for no particular reason after you experienced a positive change in your life? This is a sign that they might be jealous.
Does your friend hate you for no particular reason after you experienced a positive change in your life? This is a sign that they might be jealous.

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 had a major 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; it just means that they might 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're doing 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

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

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?

9) They Get Angry When You Give Them Advice

Nobody likes unsolicited advice, but there's going to be a certain degree of information exchange when you're friends.

If your friend gets extra 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, then just let it go. They may feel that your success is just a constant reminder of their failure, and that by giving them advice you're rubbing it in their face.

Do they smile when you fail? Do they never seem to celebrate your victories? This might be a sign of a jealous friend.
Do they smile when you fail? Do they never seem to celebrate your victories? This might be a sign of a jealous friend.

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.

When the Jealous One is You

Have you ever been the "jealous friend"?

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© 2017 Jorge Vamos


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    • profile image

      Lo 2 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      Milonga 5 months ago

      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?

    • thehands profile image

      Jorge Vamos 7 months ago


      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.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

      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 profile image

      Threekeys 7 months ago from Australia

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