Being Jealous Vs Envy. Whats the real difference?

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a man showing jealousy and envy to his wife

So jealousy vs envy what is the real difference? These are commonly used words throughout any type of relationship, and when asked what the difference between them is, so many people get confused. If you ask ten people about the difference between jealousy and envy, everybody will have their own definition of jealousy and envy. These two terms are usually considered the same, and in many scenarios, they have almost the same meaning, but in reality, it is not what it sounds like; jealousy and envy are two totally different things. Each one of them has its own effect on people, emotions, human reactions, and circumstances. Let’s dig into this topic and learn to differentiate between envy and jealousy.

What Is Jealousy?

Jealousy is referred to as a mixed emotion that encompasses feelings starting from fear of abandonment to rage and humiliation. It is defined as “fearful or worry about losing one’s position in someone’s life or in any sort of relationship.” Jealousy can best be described as competition. 

 Jealousy can effect people of almost all ages, genders, and sexual orientations, and most typically happens when an individual perceives a threat to a valued relationship from someone else.  The threat could also be real or imagined, even based on assumptions.

a couple flirting a girl is jealous

Jealousy is not limited to romantic relationships; jealousy can also arise among two family members competing for parental attention, among co-workers, or in friendships. A few examples of jealousy are:

  • The brother was jealous of gifts brought for her sister rather than him. 
  • The husband was jealous that his wife’s workplace was mainly men.
  • A person was jealous of her friend since she was hanging out with her other colleagues.

Although jealousy may be a painful emotional experience, evolutionary psychologists regard it not as an emotion to be suppressed but together to heed—as a sign or a warning call that a valued relationship is at risk and that steps have got to be taken to regain the love of a mate or friend. 

As a result, jealousy is seen as a necessary emotion because it preserves social bonds and motivates people to interact in behaviours that maintain important relationships.

What Is Envy?

Psychotherapists define envy as an emotion that usually occurs when someone lacks another persons superior quality, possession, and has a desire to have something that the other person has which they don’t. Basically envy is defined as the feeling of wanting or desiring what somebody else has.

a mother envy of her daughter

It means to bear a grudge towards someone or something that the other person enjoys, and yet you do not have it, so you get envious. Best explained in a milder sense; it means “the craving for something somebody else and you are not able to have it.” To know exactly what envy means, let’s see the examples:

  • Envy is when your friend at work gets that promotion and your extremely envy of him because you always wanted that promotion.
  • When someone envies your talent or skill to dance.
  • Envy is when your best friend gets a new car you have always wanted and you cant have it.

For envy, three conditions must be met. Firstly, we must be confronted with an individual with superior quality, achievement, or possession. Secondly, we must desire that quality for ourselves or wish that the opposite person lacked it. And lastly, the person envious must be pained by the associated emotion. In sum, envy is the pain caused by the will for the benefits of others.

Being one of the seven deadly sins, envy may be covetousness of another’s advantages, possessions, or abilities. Someone who is envious is resentful of those more fortunate than himself and of the items that they have. 

Envy is mean, miserable and arguably the foremost shameful of the deadly sins. Our envy is rarely confessed, not even to ourselves. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, envy isn’t synonymous with jealousy.

a sister jealous of her other sister

Envy vs Jealousy?

So now that we know what jealousy and envy are, let’s clear out the basic confusion and myths about jealousy and envy. So the basic differences between these two emotions have just been explained. Jealousy and envy have its own causes and signs.  

Taking an example to explain envy vs. jealousy, let’s say if you’ve got a boyfriend who has many close female friends, you would possibly be jealous of these other women, fearing that they need a special relationship together with your boyfriend that you simply wish you had. This is often an example of jealousy. As a comparable example, envy would be to be envious about someone else’s boyfriend. Maybe he’s smart, attractive, and honest listener, etc. you would like him to be your boyfriend.

The causes of Jealousy vs envy are:

  • Disbelief 
  • Unfair Judgments 
  • Separation Nervousness 
  • Ineffectiveness 
  • Distress 
  • Lack of confidence

Causes of Envy vs jealousy are 

  • Unhappiness 
  • Comparison to others. 
  • Superiority 
  • Seeking worth/Low self-esteem 
  • The desire for worldly achievements i.e., wealth, success, fame, etc.

Jealousy is characterised by feelings of fear, anger, resentment, and insecurity—envy is characterised by feelings like resentment and longing.

Let’s take another example of how jealousy and envy affect human emotions.  If two people are in a perfect relationship, have a great bond between each other and are extremely compatible. People often tend to be envious of them. People who have been alone most of their life feel hopeless and make themselves suffer. They question their abilities and self-worth. This brings nothing but discomfort, unhappiness, and lower self-esteem. In some cases, being envious makes them vengeful out of anger and insecurities they face.

Signs of Jealousy 

  • Controlling Behaviour 
  • Constant Communication 
  • The rejection 
  • Weird Behaviour 
  • Hostility 
  • Avoidance 
  • Competitive Behaviour

Signs of Envy are:

  • Restraining success 
  • Possessiveness 
  • Insults 
  • Talks your name with others 
  • Always trying to get one-up on you

With jealousy, you’re resentful towards the one that is “advancing” into your relationship. In the case of envy, you’re resentful towards those that are more fortunate than you.

You feel Jealousy once you are at a point of losing something or at least assume that you are at risk of losing something that you already possess. On the other hand, you feel Envy about something that you simply don’t have.

Jealousy can come about due to the involvement of another person that infiltrates the relationship between two people. Jealousy can sometimes often cause paranoia, feelings of insecurity, and fear. For example, I’m jealous that you simply like her over me. Whereas envy generally brings strong emotional reactions associated with anger and deceit. For example, I am saying that I envy her belongings or situation. 

That said, neither word features a positive connotation, as they both are supported discontentment, resentment, and bitterness toward other people.

Overcoming Jealousy and Envy

a man overcoming jealousy and being envy

Envy and jealousy travel together but are different emotions — both are negative and may cause you to feel miserable and ruin your relationships. Both jealousy and envy come from the primitive acute stress response. Once you feel under strike, your brain triggers an alarm. It’s known that the fastest way to hopelessness is by comparing one’s insides with another’s outsides.

Ignoring the signs of jealousy and envy is just not something that you can do. Ignorance is the mother of all poisons, then wisdom, which is the universal antidote. Being wise is appreciating everything around you. To overcome jealousness try to follow the following ways:

  • One must know his self-worth. To know yourself is to simply accept who you are. Self-awareness requires observing and accepting who you are — not whom you ought to or shouldn’t be.
  • Try to free yourself from poisonous comparisons from people and the world. You are not somebody else, and they are not you; this is what you should understand. You must compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Specialise in your improvement, not others.
  • Emulate instead of envy and stop looking at people as competition. Looking at others for inspiration isn’t bad; the matter is trying to be like them. Reacting with emulation instead of envy is to open up to find out from others.

You cannot avoid feeling jealous or envious, but you can prevent it from getting worse and worse.


Many people around the world are jealous and envious of each other. The feeling of not enough having various effects on a person’s life.  The above-mentioned differences can help anybody understand the basic difference between envy and jealousy. This further explains how jealousy and envy are two different words with two different meanings, having totally different causes and signs. So, the next time someone says that they are jealous of what you have correct them right away by telling them that they are envious and not jealous.

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