Each of us has dreams, goals, and desires that we would like to achieve, as well as things, plans, or affections that we would like to achieve or keep in case we have them with us.
These desires often involve a large investment of time and resources, and even so they are not always realized. In this context, sometimes we see how others get the things we would like to achieve, or we fear that they will “take away” what we have achieved.
This can lead to arousing unpleasant and annoying emotions which, although natural, if not handled properly, lead to toxic and destructive behaviors: we are talking about envy and jealousy. In both cases, we are faced with unpleasant emotions related to the idea of possession, being alike or even often confused by a large part of the population. But we are not dealing with two synonyms, but with different concepts.
In order to learn how to distinguish them, throughout this article we will discuss the main differences between jealousy and envy, With explanations on how to distinguish the two phenomena.
Envy and jealousy: two different concepts
Understanding what the concepts of envy and jealousy refer to is essential in order to be able to distinguish them and appreciate the differences between the two. In this sense, it is necessary to make a brief definition of each of them.
This is called the envy of the feeling characterized by a strong feeling of discomfort or pain in the existence or achievement by another person of a goal, characteristic or that is sought for oneselfIt doesn’t matter if the other person struggled to get it or not.
It is a strong desire for something that another person has that we do not have, causing anger, bitterness and / or sadness that another has our object of desire. Sometimes we consider as such the feeling of admiration at the same time as the desire to have something which does not have, which would become the “good desire”, but generally when there is desire, there is a tendency to wish that the other loses it’s good.
As for jealousy, we use this name to designate the feeling of discomfort, anguish and worry directed at the possibility of losing something that is precious to us in another person’s hands and which we consider appropriate.
One can speak of the existence of jealousy towards very different types of elements, such as professional jealousy, but in the area where it is most often observed in the area of interpersonal relationships.
In this sense, the attention, affection or love of the other person is perceived as something that belongs to the subject and that another can come and take away from him. Although the most common is that when we talk about jealousy of those we associate with relationships, there can also be jealousy between friends or even family (for example, siblings).
If a certain level of jealousy can be natural, in general its existence speaks to us of insecurity in addition to a perception of possession or belonging of the other or of his attentions and it is not uncommon that there have feelings of inferiority towards one. who has reached the object of desire.
Main differences between jealousy and envy
Although at first glance jealousy and envy have many similarities, the truth is that ** they are concepts that have remarkable differences **. Among them, some of the most relevant are as follows.
1. Situation in relation to the object of desire
The main and most important difference between jealousy and envy, and the easiest way to tell them apart, is that while envy is established in relation to something desired but never possessed or possessed jealousy centers around the fear of losing something you already own and want to keep.
2. Who is the emotion focused on?
A second difference lies in the object towards which the emotion is directed. When someone is envied, attention and discomfort are generated by the person generating the envy. In jealousy, the discomfort does not usually come from the person (Although the relationship is usually felt) but from a situation that triggers suspicion or fear of losing what is loved.
3. Possibility vs certainty
Among the differences between jealousy and envy, we can find the level of uncertainty and certainty we have about what emotion generates in us.
Typically, envy is based on a certainty: The other person has something that we don’t have. However, in the case of jealousy, the emotion is generated by uncertainty, by the fear that another person will appear and take away the object of desire or the suspicion of losing what is loved.
4. Fear vs anger
Another of the differences that we can find between jealousy and envy is in the feeling that usually predominates. Usually in jealousy, what usually predominates is an intense fear of losing what has been accomplished, while envy focuses much more on resentment and anger what generates the other to have what we want and what we don’t have. However, you have to keep in mind that in both cases there will probably be as much fear (of losing or not achieving what you want) as anger (towards the envied person or towards those who can. realize what we have).
- Parrott, WG; Smith, RH (1993). Distinguish between experiences of envy and jealousy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 64 (6): 906-920.
- Reidl Martínez, LM (2005). Jealousy and envy: human emotions. National Autonomous University of Mexico.