Jealous? Or Envious?

Back in September (which feels like ages ago), my cousin, Melissa, requested that I write a blog post regarding the difference between venting and gossiping. That post inspired me to write a similar post. This time around, I want to compare jealousy to envy.

How does one define jealousy and envy? Well, I asked two of my girlfriends to tell me how they define jealousy, the oh so frustrating feeling. First to respond was one of my college friends, Kelly. Interestingly enough, when I asked her to define jealousy for me, she asked to, instead, describe it. When I read her text, I thought, “Um… yes. Even better.” Descriptions are often easier for people to understand. So, her description is as follows:

Occasionally, I’ll feel a sort of fear (jealousy) that someone/thing will gain the attention of my significant other and take it from me. Usually, I feel silly or conflicted about having those feelings because I know the person only sees me as their romantic partner. I guess it’s just that life is so right with the person, that I feel a need to defend it… want to make sure it stays mine/between them and me.  – Kelly

Now, I want to share how my best friend, Tori, defined jealousy. Then I will analyze the two.

I always get jealousy and envy mixed up. But, to me, jealousy is when you’re afraid of something you treasure being taken away by someone else you’re competing with. – Tori

Analysis time: I noticed that Kelly immediately associated jealousy with love/romance. Tori, on the other hand, was much more vague about jealousy. Tori also used envy to help define jealousy. Obviously, a person’s definition or description is often based on experiences. Given that Kelly’s experience was noticeable in the way she described jealousy, I asked Tori to give an example. Specifically, I asked her, “When was the last time you felt each of those feelings (jealousy and envy)?”

It was definitely when I interviewed for a position a while back. I felt super jealous of another person when they passed the final interview and got the position I really wanted. I hadn’t thought of that person as competition until we both wanted the same position. The person had a lot more experience than I did. – Tori

It seems clear to me that Tori feels jealousy here. Although, I can see some envy in her reaction as well. Still, I love how experience-based each of their definitions/descriptions were.

Before sharing my  descriptions of each word, I wanted to hear a male’s definition. I chose to ask David (my fiance) and Nick (a good friend from college). David is up first.

Whenever I think of jealousy, I immediately think of the beginning of our relationship. One example is sometimes when you discussed another male, it triggered something in  my brain like, “Oh maybe she lost feelings for me and has feelings for them?” Obviously, I don’t think that way now because we are getting married. I know our commitment to each other. – David

This answer is very much like Kelly’s. He immediately thought of relationships/romance. (There is no right or wrong answer… like I said before, it is experience-based.) I want to turn to Nick’s answer, now.

Jealousy, to me, is when someone is uneasy because they feel they should have what someone else has. (Not to be confused with envy, which is when you want something that is unobtainable.) – Nick

Nick’s answer is vague, like Tori’s.  He even mentioned envy in his description as well. I am glad that every person I asked puts his/her own spin on the description.

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What about me? Well, I describe it in two different ways. First, I used my relationship with David. I am not jealous when he is hanging out with another person (be it male or female), I am envious of the time that person gets to spend with him.

My second description is, I am jealous if another person gets something that I wanted, even when I worked just as hard. I hate to use the same example as Tori, but this is all experience-based. I, too, did not receive a job I so greatly wanted. Another woman got the job over me. I was jealous. Simple as that. To compare those feelings with envy… I have felt envious over friends of mine that are more affluent than me. Some of my friends travel regularly, and to amazing places. I cannot help but feel envious of their experiences. I am, in no way, competing with them. So, the feeling of envy sometimes kicks in.


These feelings are awful, aren’t they? There is a reason why they call jealousy the green-eyed monster. It certainly is a monster. Envy is too, though. Both of the feelings can severely impact how we perceive our lives. The trick is to look past those feelings and focus on the “good” feelings. Great word choice, I know. But seriously, feelings that make us proud, happy, in love, and confident are the feelings on which we should focus. We have to resist the urge to let jealousy and envy impede our opinions of others and most of all, opinions of ourselves.

If you feel that I have not sufficiently compared jealousy to envy, what better way to compare the two than to share a video of Homer Simpson describing the difference? Who knew the cartoon could be so educational? Haha!

It seems that we have reached a consensus… Jealousy involves competition. You become jealous of a person with whom you are potentially competing. However, envy is when you desire to have what another person has. Simple as that.

Remember to count your blessings each day. Also, remember that not everything is as it seems. We see so many of our friends posting their spectacular lives through social media. That does not mean life is perfect. So, stay humble, be happy and, disregard those terrible feelings of jealousy and envy!

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