Feeling a sudden, irrepressible wave of envy towards your best friend can make you feel like the worst person in the world. They're supposed to be your closest friend and you should feel happy for them! Yet, as your anxiety about coveting thy BFF's new job hits an all-time high, you still can't stop thinking about how much you want her glitzy promotion.
Thankfully, this is normal. This is more than normal — it happens all the time. "People feel guilty because in our culture, being jealous is seen as the 'green-eyed monster' and it makes you seem like a bad person," says Dr. Andrea Bonior, author and adjunct professor of Psychology at Georgetown University. And that guilt gets even more complicated when you mix in fears of losing your friends if you fess up to them. "Some people may feel that by talking about their insecurities, their friends won’t deem them deserving of the friendship," says Dr. Irene S. Levine, psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine
But being envious (to a degree) does not make you a bad friend at all. Here are three reasons why being jealous of your closest friend is actually ok:
1. Jealousy helps you realize what you truly want in life.
If you look back at the times in your life you've been the most jealous, chances are, they probably weren't the times when you felt like everything in your life was perfect. "Envy is usually affected by our own personal lenses of how we are seeing things," says Dr. Bonior. "It usually has to do with what we perceive to be deficits in our own lives — even if we don't realize it."
Because you don't live in a vacuum, comparing yourself to others is natural, and can "help develop [your] own values, sense of style and approach to life," says Dr. Levine. "But if you feel as if you can’t achieve as much as a friend or always feel inadequate in comparison, it can leave [you] feeling insecure and envious."
If envy is more about what you wish you had more of in your life (a cooler job, boyfriend, more vacations — not necessarily your BFF's job, boyfriend, or vacations), then envy can make you more aware of what's missing, and the steps you can take to actually get it.
"Having a friend whom we admire and envy can help inspire us to do our personal best, whether it’s dressing stylishly, feeling physically fit, being kind to others, or achieving career goals," says Dr. Levine.
2. Social media makes everything so much worse.
If you feel like you can't stop thinking about your BFF's all-expenses-paid family trips, the problem might be more your phone, not you.
"Research suggests that when people use Facebook and other social media primarily to lurk and compare themselves to friends – rather than to connect and socialize – it can lead to envy and symptoms of depression," says Dr. Levine. "Facebook is a poor barometer for making comparisons because people tend to put their best foot forward when they post on social media."
Constant exposure to your BFF's best grams (even though you know them as a more fleshed-out person with their own set of problems) can make you feel like you obsessively envy their lives every time you open Instagram and the algorithm sends their beach pics straight to the top of your feed.
3. Your friend could just be bragging a lot.
There are times in your life where everything seems to be going wrong for you, but, of course, your BFF just got a new boyfriend and cute apartment and won a free ticket to Paris and OMG CAN'T WAIT TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT. Part of being a good friend is being happy for your friend...but there's a limit.
"Someone who needs to constantly flaunt their riches is insensitive, and probably as an unconscious need to assert that her superiority," says Dr. Levine. And if your best friend can't pick up on you feeling down and tone down the bragging a little, that's not good.
"If it doesn't seem to pass, the best way to address it is to pick a relaxed and private time and bring it up with 'I' statements," says Dr. Bonior. If your BFF is indeed your BFF, they'll realize how they might be making you feel unsupported.
And if you've done all the soul-searching you could and still can't figure out why everything about your BFF makes you envious, it could mean maybe you don't really like this person to begin with. "Friendships are mutually satisfying when two people see each other as equals," says Dr. Levine. "If you are always feeling one-down, it suggests there may be an unhealthy imbalance and the friendship may be on thin ice." If your friend is always showing off and never there when you need them, are they really your BEST friend?
Having feelings of envy and insecurity at a low point in your life doesn't make you a bad friend or person. And great BFFs, even the same ones you're envious of, can help you get through it all.
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