Beneath the surface, envy can silently erode the foundation of a friendship.
From gossiping and spreading rumors to dismissing your problems, there are many more or less subtle signs suggesting your friend might be secretly envious of you.
In this article, let me show you what these signs are to help you navigate this delicate territory and shed light on a potentially challenging situation.
1) Passive-aggressive behavior
Many of the signs I’ll jot down in this list technically fall under passive-aggressive behavior. It’s such an important and encompassing term that it can’t be skipped in any topic regarding toxic behavior.
Passive-aggressive behavior is, therefore, one of the most common signs of envy in friendships. When a friend is secretly envious, they usually resort to subtle or indirect forms of aggression as a way to express their negative feelings.
One of the best signs of envy and PAB is sarcasm. I should know because I used it a lot. Not so much anymore.
You see, since middle school, I have been surrounded by sarcastic friends. The group has always been like that. Pulling each other’s leg all the time.
Although I wouldn’t say we were envious of each other, sarcasm was a vital part of my upbringing, and my mind still often goes there as a first response to anything.
But yeah, seeing your friend being unusually passive-aggressive with you could be a sign of envy or even jealousy.
Just try to address the issue with your friend through open and honest communication. They may not even be aware of how their behavior affects you and how hurtful it is.
2) Excessive competitiveness
If a friend is constantly talking about their own success, it could be a sign that they’re trying to prove they’re as good as or better than you because they’re secretly envious.
They might be trying to outdo you, always be the center of attention, feel the need to exaggerate their own accomplishments, or create a false sense of superiority.
They start doing that because they need to counter their feelings of envy. It’s as simple as that.
3) Lack of genuine support
A lack of genuine support can have many underlying issues, one of them being that they’re secretly envious.
When you achieve something significant, does your friend genuinely celebrate your success? Or do they offer insincere compliments or change the topic of conversation back to themselves?
Think about that for a moment.
For example, If you share news about an exciting job promotion, they might respond with, “Well, it’s just a small step up. It’s not like it’s a big deal or anything.”
If you consistently notice a lack of genuine support from your friend, you should address your concerns and discuss your feelings with them.
This should at least give you a better understanding of their perspective and help you work towards resolving any underlying issues.
4) Starts copying your behavior or style
Have you noticed that your friend started imitating your mannerisms, tastes, or fashion choices?
While some mirroring can be normal in friendships, an excessive or sudden change in their behavior to match yours could indicate envy.
My friends and I have many catchphrases we use regularly, as well as some quirks most of us don’t even notice until someone points them out to us.
But if that wasn’t typical behavior for your friend, or it crosses personal boundaries, it may indicate envy.
For instance, if you excel academically, they may suddenly show a strong interest in the same subjects and strive to achieve the same grades or awards as you.
Or if you frequently post about your fitness journey, and they start sharing similar workout photos or progress updates on their own social media accounts.
5) Responds with pessimism or negativity
As I mentioned, my friend circle was quite colorful. However, there were days when one wanted to talk frankly or share positive news or ideas with the group.
No way, Jose. You’d regularly get dismissed and, on other days, laughed out into oblivion. Still, as I’m typing this, I have a smile on my face, nonetheless.
However, if that’s not the norm in your group (and I hope it isn’t), and your friend consistently responds to your positive news or ideas with pessimism or negativity, it could be another sign of envy.
This includes focusing on the potential problems or challenges associated with your news rather than acknowledging the positive aspects.
For instance, if you share that you received a job offer, they might respond to that with, “Well, I hope you know what you’re getting into. Jobs like that can be incredibly demanding and stressful.”
6) Gossiping or spreading rumors
Are you surprised we’ve made it this far without mentioning gossiping and spreading rumors behind your back?
Gossiping is a national sport in this country. Unfortunately, I don’t know many people who don’t gossip.
So what happens if you hear that your friend is spreading rumors or negative information about you? Could that be a sign of envy? You betcha!
In fact, they may be going as far as trying to sabotage your reputation out of jealousy. Not fun, is it?
A typical attempt at spreading rumors or gossip would be sharing personal details or private conversations you’ve had with them in an attempt to undermine your character or make you look bad.
Another example I saw was taking a small mistake you made and blowing it out of proportion, emphasizing it to others, and making it seem like a significant character flaw.
Okay, let’s move on.
7) They frequently offer unwanted advice
Offering someone your advice is commendable. Especially if they’re a good friend. However, you have to read the room.
If you’re pushy and offering unsolicited advice to your friend, they might think something’s wrong with you.
In fact, if your friend keeps doing that, particularly if this advice seems intended to hold you back or make you doubt yourself, this could be a sign of envy.
Again, not all unasked advice stems from envy, as friends may genuinely want to help. But I’d raise the red flag when the advice consistently undermines your confidence or hinders your progress.
8) Dismissing your problems or struggles
Another behavior I’ve encountered myself was the dismissal of my problems or struggles.
Look, I get it. We all have our issues, and they seem bigger than those of other people. But friends are here to listen and offer a shoulder to cry on if needed.
So when you confide in your friend about your problems and challenges, and they downplay or dismiss them, that’s not good.
They may not show empathy or provide the support you need, possibly because they don’t want to acknowledge your vulnerabilities.
9) Isn’t interested in your life
Have you ever felt that what you’re saying to your friend goes over their head and is left unacknowledged?
For example, your friend appears disinterested or unengaged when you talk about your accomplishments, goals, or exciting experiences.
They even change the subject or seem distracted, indicating a lack of genuine interest in your life.
Isn’t that just the worst?
If that’s not their typical behavior, it might be a secret sign of envy, and they simply don’t want to recognize your success or even what else is happening in your life.
And what about this next behavior?
10) Criticizes others’ success
Some people just want to criticize others the whole day long. This could be a general pattern of envy towards those who are successful. Including you.
If your friend often criticizes others’ success or accomplishments, it could be a sign that they’re also envious of you.
There could be many underlying reasons. One of them is that it’s a way of projecting personal insecurities or feelings of inadequacy.
By belittling someone else’s success, they feel a temporary boost to their self-esteem, creating a sense of superiority that helps them cope with their own feelings of insecurity.
A persistent criticism of others can also serve as a sort of smoke screen. To hide their true feelings of envy.
By openly criticizing, they hope to divert attention away from their own jealousy and disguise it as mere observation or opinion.
Now there’s some food for thought.
So there you have it. 10 signs your friend is secretly envious of you. Remember, these signs aren’t definitive proof of envy and could be the result of other issues or circumstances. You have to understand the context.
If you’re doubtful, having an open and honest conversation with your friend about your feelings is usually the best course of action.
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