Signs of Jealous Family Members and How to Deal With Them
Jealous relatives do exist, and they can cause a problem within the family overall. They are not an urban legend or a strange delusion. Family and all of our interactions with them are supposed to be a blessing. But if you have a jealous family, you can feel absolutely cursed.
There’s a saying that goes, “Blood is thicker than water." In my opinion, blood is more jealous, too. It’s so sad to know that jealousy might motivate your aunts, cousins, or even your siblings to hurt you. And when it comes from family members, the hurt is deeper. Plus, they can cause a lot of unnecessary stress in your life. They can drain you emotionally and make you feel bad about yourself.
Strangely, I’ve had horrible luck in dealing with jealous relatives in my life. It could be worse, but it’s still a shame that jealousy occurs in the family. I suppose that we can say it’s just human nature, but it’s so unnecessary.
What Are the Signs of Jealous Family Members?
You may think it's easy to spot envy in others, but some people are very subtle in their actions or wording. According to Frances M. Bledsoe, a licensed clinical social worker at the Relationship Center Nashville, signs of a jealous relative can include things like, "Criticism, direct, or behind one’s back; passive-aggressive behavior (like “forgetting” to make good on a promise, deliberately sabotaging a plan); gossip; or outright lies." Here are some more tell-tale signs.
They're Never Impressed
Do you ever feel like your cousin or sister is never impressed with your accomplishments? Jealous relatives tend to downplay your accomplishments by telling you that lots of people can do that. They'll say things like, "Anyone can get a promotion if they just work hard enough. It's not that big of a deal." This is definitely a sign of their own insecurities.
They Try and "One Up" You
Every family seems to have that one person who is always trying to be the best. If your child said their first word at the 16 months, theirs did at 12 months. If you share news of your big promotion, they already got one six months after starting their new job. Try not to get caught up in their need to compete and focus on you.
They Get Angry When You Give Them Advice
Now, most people don't like unsolicited advice, but as I mentioned above, insecurity is the driving force of jealousy. People who are filled with envy get defensive quickly and don't like their "flaws" being pointed out. Even though your advice is well-intentioned, they don't see it like that. Instead, they think you're trying to show that you're better than them.
Seeing Them Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself
Seeing your relatives should make you feel good and loved. If you always leave a family gathering feeling worse about yourself than you did when you arrived, this is a sign that something's wrong. Your family should be supportive of your goals and proud of your accomplishments.
They Are Extra Critical
If your aunt or cousin is constantly calling out your flaws or saying negative things to you, this is a sign that they are jealous. People who are insecure about themselves try and bring others down to make themselves feel better. They will find fault in almost anything. Try not to let them get to you.
Did You Know?
About 1 in 3 siblings drift apart entirely in adulthood, sometimes describing their relationship as distant or rivalrous.
How to Deal With Toxic Relatives
Keep Your Mouth Shut
While you cannot remove yourself from the family tree, you can easily manage any jealous family members that you have. The most important step is to keep them out of your personal business. They do not need to know that you are purchasing a new home, awaiting a promotion, or even dating a new partner. Only share these things with people who are going to support you.
You do not want your goals or current events to be the main discussion at their dinner table. They will simply devour it and speak negatively about your life. Do not fuel the fire for their gossip and negative talk.
Stop Feeling Guilty
Do not feel guilty that you are pulling away by not sharing your life story with them. Sometimes, you just have to love people from far away. It’s easy to feel that you are being the bad guy when you are simply trying to protect yourself.
If they invite you to family functions, you can still attend. You just have to be mindful of what you share with them. There is nothing wrong with enjoying their company.
However, in most cases, you will find that certain relatives who harbor jealousy will usually not invite you to their events. You should not despair, and do not force your way into their world either. It's probably best to limit your in-person interactions with them. Why hang out with someone who doesn't have a positive effect on your life?
And remember, it's okay to set boundaries with certain people. You can still love them from a distance.
Some say that a person should call a family meeting to discuss the jealousy issue, but a lot of times it only makes the drama last longer. Bledsoe says, "Occasionally, a healthy relative may just need to say out loud how insecure or overshadowed she or he feels, and be met with compassion. However, not everyone who is jealous is willing and able to be honest and vulnerable."
The most important thing is to remain a loving, caring individual and not allow the antics of jealous family members to make you bitter. This may sound weird, but become the peace that you seek from your family. Compliment them and focus on being a positive force within the family. It's hard to be the bigger person, but it will be better in the long run.
You can acknowledge the good things happening in your life by attributing them to hard work and/or luck. Try not to come off as judgmental because most likely their jealousy is fueled by their own insecurities about not being good enough.
Take Care of Yourself First
It can be easy to dwell on the jealousy and negative feelings surrounding it. However, it's important to practice self-care to stay emotionally healthy. Try journaling or meditating if you find yourself starting to get angry or sad. Have compassion for yourself and be patient. It's okay to be bothered by their actions, but try not to let it consume you.
Why Do People Get Jealous?
Sometimes, these same jealous relatives may feel conflicted on the inside. They may actually be proud of you but are simply jealous that they were not able to achieve what you've been able to. They're dealing with feelings of inadequacy.
While that is sad, it is not your problem. This is an issue that they need to deal with on their own, so you shouldn't feel burdened by their feelings. You also shouldn’t have to be overly humble and ashamed of your milestones so you don’t offend your family members. Continue to be confident of yourself and proud of your achievements! Don't allow these people to affect your self-esteem and make you lose confidence.
In time, you will either find that your absence has made their heart grow fonder for you or that nothing has changed. Find it in your heart to forgive them so that you're not consumed by bitterness. Figure out what's driving their jealousy and try and put yourself in their shoes. Maybe they're jealous of your new relationship because they've been single for a number of years or maybe they envy your new job because they can't find someone they love. This can help you become empathetic towards their life situation.
But remember, you can only control your own actions. This is the only way to find peace.
Causes of Sibling Jealousy
Sibling rivalry is extremely common, especially if you're the same gender or around the same age. They are one of the few people you've known your entire life, and you've shared every milestone together. However, childhood sibling rivalry can easily turn into jealousy in adulthood if it's not addressed. Here are a few reasons why this happens.
Many parents place high expectations on their children, and it's especially difficult if one child lives up to those expectations while the other doesn't. Bledsoe says, "Sometimes families promote unhealthy competition between children. For example, a parent may lavish attention on a child who is more academic, athletic, musical, etc. than another." These jealous feelings can linger and cause problems in adulthood.
Hitting Milestones at Different Times
As you and your brother or sister reach adulthood, you'll start to accomplish different things and live different lifestyles. This could cause some competition as to who gets married first, who has kids first, who buys a house first, etc. Marriage can be especially difficult if you don't approve of your sibling's significant other or feel like that person is threatening your bond with them.
What If I'm the Jealous One?
Maybe you're actually the one who is jealous of a relative. It's okay to be envious of someone, but try your best not to let it show. Remember that this is likely stemming from your own insecurities and has nothing to do with the other person. Don't let these feelings ruin what is otherwise a really great relationship! And don't let them build up either—you'll only start to resent this family member and the relationship will deteriorate.
Here are a few healthy ways to manage your
- Acknowledge your jealousy: Just recognizing that you're having these feelings opens the door to letting them go. Bledsoe suggests asking yourself the following questions: "What am I most afraid of in this situation?” “How did I learn to believe there is not enough (love, approval, etc.) to go around? Are those learned beliefs/feelings really relevant to the current circumstances? Am I willing to identify the old fears and let them pass?”
- Open up to a friend or trained professional: It's important to talk about your jealousy with a friend or even a trained professional, like a counselor or therapist. They'll be able to help you determine the causes of your envy and how to deal with them.
- Remind yourself of your positive traits: Just because someone else is better at something than you are doesn't mean that they better than you. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, so remind yourself of the things you are good at or the positive qualities you possess. It can even help to write these strengths on a post-it note and tape it to your mirror, so you can get a daily reminder of why you're awesome.