From Jealousy To Envy - Changing As We Age

We have all experienced jealousy at some time in our lives. But what is jealousy? Jealousy has been described as a complex range of emotions that affect both men and women. Jealousy stems from a fear of being abandoned, and may include feelings of rage and humiliation. Jealousy always contains a third party and it is not always limited to romantic relationships. It can also arise between siblings who are competing for their parents attention or within close friendships. 

Jealousy is very different from envy. Envy generally only occurs between two people. It is the desire to have what someone else has. Envy can be around money, a better life style, or academic qualifications.

Recent research has indicated that we change from jealousy to envy as we age. In our teens and twenties we may be jealous of a person’s romantic relationship, social status, and in some cases their physical appearance. But as we move into our thirties and forties our jealousy begins to change to envy. In our thirties and forties we begin to focus more on money and wealth, and less on romantic relationship, social status and looks.

From Jealousy To Envy - Changing As We Age

A recent study suggested that the change from jealousy to envy may be due to the perception people have of success and security in their lives. People who are in their thirties have secured their friendships and accepted their social position. But they may become increasingly envious of another’s economic status or academic qualifications. Surprisingly envy appears to be less likely between family members than between good friends.

Alternatively, jealousy and envy may stem from people competing for the same goals in similar age groups. In our teens and twenties we are competing to find a romantic relationship and social status. And in our thirties and forties we are competing to build wealth and security. 

The good news is that once we pass into our fifties and sixties the hold jealousy and envy have on us begins to diminish. Research suggests that as we age the need to compete for the same goals with those in a similar age group lessens.

Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling Psychotherapy - Wellington