‘Friend Jealousy’ Article: Featured on Teen Vogue!
I’ve been writing Femsplain for several months and it’s a fantastic platform for emerging female writers; featuring personal essays, funny articles, reflective pieces and much more. So, I was delighted to find out today that one of my pieces for Femsplain on the theme of ‘jealousy’ has been featured on the Teen Vogue website. To read my piece on the Teen Vogue site, click: here.
Or read the piece below…
I’m sure when ancient man saw another cave dweller with a bigger piece of meat than he had from that afternoon’s hunt, he probably felt a twinge of jealousy. He may even have been so jealous that he smashed his fellow cave dweller over the head with a club, stole the meat, and ran off with it. Who knows? Maybe jealousy is a quality that dates back to the days of the Flintstones, right back to the beginning of humanity. Whatever the case, it seems to be a primal part of us, but its meaning often blurs, and sometimes what would usually be protectiveness can morph into that all-too-familiar green-eyed monster: jealousy.
“Friend jealousy” is something that I’m sure most people — perhaps more so the case with girls — have experienced (although they may not admit to it). When you’re a small child and you make your first best friend, and you have fun with them, care about them, share your deepest darkest secrets (usually who you fancy that week), and cuddle them when they cry, a sense of protectiveness over that friend gradually builds. As your bond strengthens and you become true BFFs who know everything there is to know about each other, you start to think “Yep, this is my friend. Don’t mess with them, or you mess with me!”
But, typically, at some time or another, someone else is going to come along. Maybe they’re already in your group of close friends, and at the start of the new school year after a long summer off, they have a cool new haircut or backpack and they’re just cool this time around; everyone wants to be their new friend, including your BFF.
Though you want to cling on to your best friend — much like a spouse trying to win back the attention of their estranged partner who is looking to trade them in for a younger model — neediness is not going to help your case. You’ll get new toys, invite them over for sleepovers, make them a friendship bracelet, anything just to make yourself the “it” girl again. But, before you know it, your bestie will be playing Barbies with the new BFF at lunch times instead of you.
This is all natural. Especially when you’re young. As we grow, we are all constantly changing in every way, physically and emotionally, from our fashion sense to our tastes and interests. It’s natural to outgrow friends, to drift apart from them, to discover new friendships that make you happier, and to generally just change from pal to pal sometimes. But these constantly interchanging friend groups as a child can sometimes leave a lasting impression into teenage years and even adulthood, and you may continue to feel twinges of that little green-eyed creature nagging in the back corner of your mind.
With the drama, hormones, and stress associated with high school, this environment could be even more difficult in the friend department than earlier years. But when you get past high school and start community college or university or get a job, and you find yourself in a more stable, committed, friend-making-friendly setting, you should be able to build those kind of solid friendships that last a lifetime. By this stage, you’ll probably think, Ah, I am so over “friend jealousy” now. Ugh, I used to be so silly and childish. Thank goodness I’m way past that. Wrong.
With your new grownup friends, secret sharing has gone deeper than just about who you have feelings for or who you dislike, and you don’t just have other friends to compete with. There are now boyfriends and girlfriends, too. You might think that you’ve locked up that jealousy monster, but as soon as you hear, “Uh, sorry. I’ll have to cancel on you tonight. I’m going on a date with Jonathan” or, “Sorry, I can’t make it to the cinema. I’m going shopping with Jessica,” you’ll start to feel it once more.
At this stage in life, the good news is: Your friend isn’t going to be stolen. If your friend is shallow enough to ditch you for someone else simply because they are new and “cool” or have a lot of nice things, then they weren’t a friend worth having. And you’ll be at a stage where you’ll have a group of friends that you’re really close with, and you’ll constantly make new friends in new social circles. You may not even have one best friend anymore, but a whole group of them.
The bottom line is, “friend jealousy” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This particular green-eyed monster has a heart of gold and is only riddled with jealousy because at the root, there is love. When you make a friend who you instantly click with and you just think, Wow, this person is amazing! I love them! I want to hang out with them all the time, you quickly feel protectiveness and “friend love” for them. So, when someone new comes along, you naturally want to wrap your friend up in cotton wool and hold them tight. But you have to let go. If they’re a true friend, they won’t be going anywhere anyway.
I am good friends with both sexes, but I love my girlfriends and I’ll always be protective if someone threatens to hurt them. And maybe I’ll always have a bit of “friend jealousy” if someone new comes along. But nowadays, I’ll meet that new person too and think, Hey, I want to be friends with this person as well!
It’s okay to admit that you feel “friend jealousy;” it just means that you care. We just need to remember to tell this cute, lovable, little green-eyed monster that true friends are never stolen, and that everything will be okay.