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How to Deal With Jealous People

Let’s talk about how to deal with jealous people.

For various reasons, I’ve been the target of jealousy for most of the life. Yet until I informed myself about this emotion, I had always been puzzled by the seemingly unprovoked hostility that friends and family showed towards me.

Now, I’m able to recognise jealousy, deflect it before it uncontrollably inflames, and take preventative action.

Know that with jealous people, you’re in the driver’s seat. Though it may not seem so, you have the power to control the situation, so long as you don’t do anything silly. It’s the jealous person who is out of control.

In general, we want to avoid giving jealous people a reason for becoming more jealous and acting on it, and we want to bolster their self-esteem so that they won’t feel so jealous of us. This looks quite soft and skillful when dealing with low-grade jealousy, and more extreme when facing the toxic kind.

You might like to check out my article on the signs of envy before you go further.

Let’s begin by talking about how to deal with people who have a low-to-medium amount of jealousy towards you.

Deal With Jealous People: Low-Grade

Play It Down

We tend to be jealous of others because of something they possess or have gained. So, one way to assuage this emotion in others is to complain about the object of their jealousy and play it down. That new job is a poisoned chalice. The new language you’ve learned isn’t so fun after all. Whatever! Your complaints don’t even have to be true, so long as they deflect the person’s jealousy a little.

Get Them to Talk

The next strategy is to have them talk about their life and play it up.

Jealousy ultimately stems from a sense of inferiority. You can deal with jealous people by helping them to talk up their achievements and success. Do less talking, and ask more questions. Get them to talk about how great their life is, and join them on the ride. This is likely to close the gap between them and you in their mind.

One thing: as they share their life and achievements, do not share details that overshadow them in any way. This is a guaranteed way to provoke greater envy in them, the direct opposite of our aim.

Once envy eats away at someone, everything you do only makes it grow, and day by day it festers inside him. Eventually he will attack.

Robert Greene

Be Humble, Show Your Weaknesses

Jealous people often overidealise their victims, believing they have the golden touch, the ideal genetics, the perfect life.

In fact, we all overidealise other people’s lives. It’s only when we get closer to them that we see them as they really are. Our illusions fall away. We realise they’re human, like the rest of us. All of a sudden there’s less cause for envy.

You can take advantage of this phenomenon by opening up and being honest about your challenges in life, perhaps even exaggerating them.

Humble yourself in their eyes. Show them that you and your life are far from perfect. Tell them about the struggles you went through to achieve what you did. This will take them out of their fantasies and into cold, hard reality.

Also show your weaknesses. If they envy your guitar skills, boast about your deplorable art skills. If they’re jealous of your financials, complain about another area in your life that isn’t going well. Do anything that shows them your life isn’t so rosy.

Now, if these strategies don’t work, and you notice that the relationship continues to be plagued by their jealousy, it’s time to step it up a notch. Here are my industrial-strength methods to deal with jealous people when their hostility starts to become unbearable and you continually notice signs of it.

Deal With Jealous People: High-Grade

Hide Your Achievements

With low-grade jealousy, playing down our achievements is usually enough to deactivate the person’s sense of inferiority. But when the person becomes too jealous, this will not work.

In recent years, I’ve taken to completely hiding my achievements from those who show signs of strong jealousy towards me. This includes friends and family members. I know that with every new achievement, I stir up a fresh bout of jealousy. So I just don’t share them.

This isn’t easy for me. It means I have to enjoy my success alone, but it also means I can go on achieving without fearing sabotage or enduring their half-hearted enthusiasm and forced praise.

I even do this when they ask about my life. I deliberately withhold information from them, because I know they’ll have a problem if I reveal all.

The difficulty with this method is that you need to be comfortable with a lack of praise and external validation. Get used to the inner satisfaction of doing things well, whether or not other people care. That way, you’ll have no need to brag, and you won’t stir up envy.

Deal With Jealous People; Don’t Try to Change Them

I’ve also learned not to try to persuade people out of their envy. I let them have it.

First, if they know that you’re aware of their jealousy, they’ll feel very exposed and insecure, and are likely to lash out. Second, people rarely change because another person wants them to, even if that change would be remarkably beneficial for them.

Just don’t even try! Instead, recognise the signs of jealousy, and use these methods to tame it.

The Last Resort: Cut off All Contact and Let Them Stew

If I sense that the person is rotten to the core with jealousy and that nothing I do will ever heal the relationship, I cut off contact.

If you feel aggrieved by their hostility and treatment of you, it’s best not to take overt action. The envier has greater motive, and will likely outlast you in a tit-for-tat battle. The solution is right before you: cut off contact and just let them stew in their poison from afar.

Envy is a painful emotion, and it’s torturous when we can’t express it. Your distance from them is punishment enough.

I withdraw and cut off communication. I avoid mingling with them socially. It’s sad, but it’s definitely much better than being their victim. You can even see it as a benevolent act: if they’re out of your life, they’ll be uninformed it, so won’t have fresh grounds for jealousy.

The best part about this strategy? You have done nothing overtly wrong, other than create distance, which is fairly easy to explain away. This means the envier can’t be annoyed or use your actions against you.

Once envy reveals itself for what it is, the only solution is often to flee the presence of the enviers, leaving them to stew in a hell of their own creation.

Robert Greene