Do you have family members who always seem jealous about someone or something? You’re not alone. Many people struggle with this issue.
Whether it’s envy over someone’s successes or possessions, or resentment over time spent with one another, jealousy can cause a lot of tension in a family. Fortunately, there are things you can do to address this problem.
According to experts, here are ways to deal with jealous family members:
Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD
Certified Psychiatrist, The Pleasant Mind
Understand the reasons for their jealous behavior
Jealousy among family members can cause serious relationship issues. It also hampers your mental peace and causes negative emotions to disrupt family life.
Since every family member responds differently to situations, it is also essential to understand the reasons for their jealous behavior before you can actually deal with them.
Jealousy is a secondary emotion that is complex and usually has many shades to it. This negative emotion involves:
At times, it may be extremely difficult to understand if any particular member is feeling envious because, in family situations, jealousy operates undercover and doesn’t get revealed quickly.
There are many subtle signs of jealousy that exist amongst family members:
- The jealous family member always gets busy with fault finding.
- They will not be happy with your achievements.
- The jealous family member will scapegoat you in all possible ways.
- They will constantly compare you with others.
- Sometimes, they will go on raising their expectation bar for you.
- Criticism will be a regular thing.
- They will never show empathy towards your problems.
- They will give poor advice and with some hidden intentions.
- They will try to insult you in front of your extended family and friends.
- Jealous people never take things easy because they are insecure and vulnerable. Even if you say something with a good intention, they will become angry and abusive.
- They will try to prove that your life is easygoing and your achievements are just a fluke.
- These people are toxic and will feel happy if something goes wrong at your end.
- They may also copy you in many ways, just to prove themselves that they are on par with you or even better than you.
Dealing with a family member is not as easy as it may sound because you are dealing with someone you have a close bond with. Whatever the person may have done, you still feel for them.
Dealing with an outsider who is envious of you is easy, but with a close relative, it is harsh.
Some of the best tools that you may try to mend the broken bonding are as follows:
Open communication is the key
Ask the member politely why they feel jealous and what you can do to decrease their negative feelings about you.
Address the issue in a calm and peaceful manner
Do not overreact to what they said immediately. You may feel irritated at times, but keeping cool will help resolve the issue without things getting out of hand.
Do not take their hateful comments personally. You will feel less insulted.
Deal with their poor self-esteem cautiously
Jealous people are insecure and scared. They are afraid of your talents and achievements. So, you need to deal with their poor self-esteem cautiously. Accept their feelings as real, and help them build their lost self-esteem.
Related: Why Are People Insecure?
Avoid playing a blame game
Try to acknowledge that both of you have certain flaws that need to be corrected to mend the relationship.
Tell them that you will work together to resolve the issue
Do not try to fix the jealous person because your try will be futile. Instead, tell them that you will work together to resolve the issue that is bothering them.
Self-reflect on your feelings
Try to analyze your behavior to find out if any flaws of yours could have fueled the jealousy. It is important to self-reflect on your feelings as well.
Limit interaction with the jealous member
You can limit interaction with the jealous member if the issue is not resolved so that the relationship does not worsen any further.
Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling | Psychotherapist
Jealousy is a powerful emotion.
When directed toward a family member, it can feel personal, often creating a defensive response and, in some cases, may put the family member at risk.
In some parts of the world, jealousy is a feeling of devotion and passion. However, most experience jealousy as a weakness or lack of self-confidence.
Let them own it and become curious about their claims
While difficult, it can be helpful to observe how the jealousy may be playing out in the family member experiencing it. With some reflection, you may discover it has nothing to do with you. It may merit nothing more than compassion.
Sometimes, if we take ownership of jealous accusations that do not belong to us, we may deprive our family members of the opportunity the jealousy brings to them. Let them own it and become curious about their claims without becoming defensive.
Communicate with vulnerability
Vulnerability is often tricky, especially in the spotlight of a jealous family member.
Expressions such as:
- “I feel uncomfortable.“
- “I can see that you’re hurting, which makes me sad.“
- “I feel agitated and accused.”
are potent phrases in interacting with jealous relatives.
These types of responses provide positive utility, often inoculating the intensity of the jealous family member. This approach can be challenging to “hold space” for the passion of jealousy.
However, vulnerability often leads to understanding by creating secure bonds and liberating the intensity of jealousy.
Set appropriate and healthy boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries is a way to support the relationship.
A jealous partner may request for another family member to behave in a way that reduces their anxiety. Sometimes these requests may be healthy, but not always.
Sometimes jealous attitudes include toxic boundary infringements or violations.
If you feel like your jealous family member is causing you harm, whether physically, emotionally, or in any other way, you may need to establish new boundaries.
Your family member may need space to regulate their emotional response healthily.
Find the courage to take ownership of the things you may be responsible for
With self-reflection, you may find aspects of your behavior that need to be changed. Find the courage to take ownership of the things you may be responsible for.
Choose to acknowledge any out-of-character behavior with the jealous family member. Taking ownership of such behavior may be the fast track to resolving problematic jealousy.
A jealous family member can manifest in many ways. It could be:
- Doing something as small as not congratulating you on your accomplishments.
- Making snide comments about how easy your life is or one-upping you every chance they get.
- Trying to sabotage relationships
There are also many reasons a family member might find themselves envying you. It could come from:
- Feeling inadequate
- Having less money
- Feeling less attractive
- Not having a significant other
- Not succeeding in a career
- Having an unhappy marriage
- Or simply being unfulfilled
Have a conversation with them about this issue
A cousin may feel jealous of you after being constantly compared to you by their parents while growing up. An aunt might feel insecure after seeing you get ahead at work or in a relationship while struggling in these areas of their lives.
If you find yourself dealing with a jealous family member, the first thing to do is have a conversation with them about this issue:
- Calmly let them know what you’ve noticed
- Acknowledge how they may be feeling
- Don’t blame anyone’s party
Avoid them or put them on an information diet
If they continue with their behavior after attempts to “clear the air,” it may be best to avoid them.
However, if that’s not possible, it’s best to put them on an information diet—limit what they know about your life. This gives them less ammo when things may not be going well for you, and it gives them fewer reasons to be jealous of you.
If you speak with them, try to keep the focus of the conversation on their lives instead of yours.
Determine why that person or the relationship is so important to you
Believe it or not, some of us have a much more deeply-seeded fear of being successful vs. failure because of how our relationships might change.
Jealousy and envy come across in many forms, and although they can seem innocuous, they might be more detrimental than you think.
When we’re subconsciously afraid of a loved one becoming jealous of our wins, we’re significantly less likely to strive for these kinds of successes.
Relationships, especially with those in our family, unconsciously mirror and reflect our most deeply-rooted insecurities. Receiving love, support, and encouragement are almost always more important than realizing our potential.
If you find yourself becoming aware of being hyper-conscious about how others will respond to your success, I suggest the following:
- Determine why that person or the relationship is so important to you.
- Understand their insecurities—why might they get jealous?
- Take a look in the mirror, gaze into your eyes and say the following aloud: “I am not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. My wins and successes only create more opportunities for others to feel the same.” Rinse, and repeat.
Dr. Jaclyn Gulotta, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Choosing Therapy
Establish your own rules and limitations
If you find yourself dealing with jealous family members, remember there is no way to run away as this is family, though there are ways to navigate through this issue:
- Set healthy boundaries for yourself
- Limit interactions if you think they will escalate
- Do not engage in negative behavior
- Try to gain more insight
- Connect with them to find a resolution
These few tips can help establish your own rules and limitations that you can set to define boundaries within the relationship.
You can also take time to understand where they are coming from to gain better insight into what they may be feeling and why they are projecting this onto you.
You may be able to connect with them and find resolution or common ground to at least be able to coexist.
If you do find this person making situations difficult by refusing to open up and find solutions, you can limit the interactions with them.
This is where you would make your boundaries known by expressing you may not be able to attend particular family gatherings to preserve your own well-being.
You can also explain to other family members that as much as you love your family and want to spend time with them, you do not feel comfortable if certain topics are brought up.
As much as it is not ideal to have a family member create tension, you may want to respect what others are going through.
With this acknowledged, you also want to be respectful of yourself and what you can handle. Be kind to yourself and be mindful of what you need in these situations.
Clinical Director, ChoicePoint
Jealousy is inevitable between family members. Where is a family, there will always be jealousy, no matter how close or close-knit you all seem.
Being jealous does not always mean that the family member might despise you; it could also mean that they want to achieve more than you do.
Often, jealousy should be taken as a healthy thing so people can be productive and instill positive competition. But that is ever rarely the case, honestly.
So if you are worried about family members who openly show they are jealous of you, here are some tips to deal with them:
Try not to show off your or your children’s success in front of them
If you do talk about your achievements, try to downplay them. Don’t give already jealous people more reasons to hate you.
If you can, avoid them
When it comes to family members, I know it is hard not to see their faces every Christmas, but try not to boast about all the things you did the past year.
Take their sarcasm like a pro
Most of the time, when family members are jealous of each other, they will try to taunt or be sarcastic. Take their sarcasm like a pro; no need to be hurt. They are jealous of you for a reason.
Always remember: People who are jealous of you, deep down, wish they were you.
Let their jealousy slide
Remember, you worked hard for the things that you have in your life now. Be proud of your achievements and let their jealousy slide. Do not let anyone or their jealousy make you feel hurt or ashamed.
Laura Rippeon, LCSW-C
Owner, Calm Waters Counseling
Be open to a conversation and hear each other out
Can it be worked out?
If you have the time, energy, and interest in investing in this relationship, is it worthwhile to have a conversation and work through any issues that may be causing the jealous feelings?
It would require both parties to be open to a conversation and hear each other out. While it may not solve the problems, communicating in a healthy way can eliminate assumptions and misunderstandings.
Limit your time or the information you share
If your jealous family member treats you unkindly, it’s okay to set some boundaries. Limiting your time around them or the information you share is helpful.
Also, let them know their behaviors towards you are not okay with you, and because of this, you are choosing to put X boundary into place.
Keep your values in mind
Knowing your values and allowing your values to help guide your choices in life is helpful and important.
This can be especially true when others may not agree with your choices or outwardly express their feelings of jealousy in an unhealthy manner towards you.
Remember, this is your life—not theirs—so use your values as your own North Star.
Remember that their jealousy is not yours to own
You are not in control of anyone else; their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all their own.
If someone else experiences a feeling, that’s okay. It’s not up to you to manage those feelings or work through those feelings for them.
So as long as you are content with your choices, their jealousy is not yours to own, so there is no need to take it personally.
Hillary Schoninger, LCSW
Owner, Water For Your Garden
Jealousy is a spectrum that all of us will be on some time within our lifetime. Whether we are the ones who are being envied or are envying someone else, jealousy is a universal feeling and experience.
More often than not, some of our first and most visceral experiences with jealousy come from our family.
Jealousy can happen for many reasons, and the more productive focus is coping with jealousy rather than trying to understand the rationales.
Don’t take it personally
When someone in your family is jealous, thinking about it from a stance of it not being your business can be extremely powerful.
Of course, it is hurtful to receive this treatment, but if you can employ your boundaries while not absorbing this hurt, you are serving yourself and what you have achieved.
Modeling compassion to those who are envious can be rewarding. In addition, when we can employ compassion, we are not engaging in the negativity that jealousy offers.
Use the experience of jealousy to see your resiliency in action.
Whatever you have achieved is valuable to you and is something you worked hard on. Enjoy the fruits of your labors while keeping your motivation and goals in place.
You are entitled to accomplish whatever you want without considering the opinions of others.
Psychologist and Co-founder, Personality Max
There can be millions of reasons for jealousy in family members like:
- Feelings of unimportance
- Personal traumas
And most of the time, it is just there without any valid reason. Let me give you a few ideas on how to deal with such people:
Communicate when they are calm
This will depend totally on your sixth sense that talking to such a person to resolve the issue will be effective or cause more issues.
When they are calm, try to discuss the issues and resolve the conflict in a friendly manner. Some people don’t like confrontation, and it can cause more problems, so better to ignore them.
This is the best advice that I have ever had. Do not discuss with everyone your:
- Good news
Try to share them with limited people (most trusted) if required.
Don’t feel guilty
Don’t feel guilty for not involving everyone; sometimes, it’s best to love someone from far away.
Go for a non-confrontational approach
Most of the time, they will try to make you anxious, upset, and hurt your feelings. So try to avoid confrontation go for a walk etc.
This is the best option for you to limit your interaction with them. Do not force them to solve it. Maintain a long-distance relationship.
Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Specialist | Medical Reviewer, OK Rehab
Why do family members get jealous?
Jealousy is a normal human reaction that comes from a place of insecurity; when we confess to being jealous of someone, we often confess that we believe ourselves to be inferior.
This is so common among family members because there is often plenty of competition involved. We all want to be seen as the family member who has it all together, whether about:
- A stable career
- A long-term partner
- A thriving social life
This means that when we are not achieving this, and one of our family members is, we can quickly become jealous of them as we are self-conscious about how we are being perceived compared to them.
What does jealousy look like in family members?
Jealous family members may belittle you for your achievements as they don’t know how to cope with your success.
For example, one of my clients is a successful entrepreneur whose brother constantly mocks her new projects and makes hurtful comments such as, “You’re not as successful as you think you are,” as he is insecure about his lack of success.
Jealous family members may also distance themselves from you and stop inviting you to family events as they don’t want to be outshined by you.
It is also common for them to gossip between themselves about how you are doing and what you have achieved, and this is because they feel better about themselves when they are putting you down; it means the attention is not on their lives and their achievements.
Don’t bother trying to win them around
Try to remember that jealousy is linked to a lack of confidence.
Therefore, you aren’t intentionally doing anything to bring about the jealousy; it will naturally arise as long as you possess a trait that someone else wishes they had.
This means you cannot control the jealousy of your family members, so don’t bother trying to win them around.
Take care of yourself by distancing yourself where necessary
If you know that attending a family gathering will only result in feeling bad about yourself, perhaps decide to sit it out and spend time with people who uplift you rather than knocking your confidence.
Stay neutral and don’t give them the emotions they want
Another tip is to stay neutral when your family members mock you. This is difficult to do as you will naturally want to jump to your own defense, but if you do this, you are giving your family members space to criticize you further as they have already made their minds up about you.
If you stay neutral and don’t give them the emotions that they want, they are more likely to leave you alone in the future. However, if you do react in an emotional way, it is not your fault as this is very natural to do.
Qualified Psychology Teacher and Multi-Award-Winning Family Lifestyle Blogger | Founder, The Inspiration Edit
The best way to deal with jealous family members is to try to understand where they’re coming from and why they’re feeling that way. Once you understand their perspective, it’s easier to have empathy and compassion for them.
Acknowledge their feelings
The first step is to validate their feelings. You can say something like, “I see that you’re feeling jealous, and I’m sorry that you feel that way. Can you tell me more about why you’re feeling jealous?”
You might be surprised to find that their jealousy comes from a place of insecurity or fear rather than malice.
Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about them. You can’t control how they feel, but you can try to understand where they’re coming from.
One of the best things you can do is avoid comparisons. It only serves to make people feel worse about themselves.
So instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your unique gifts and talents. And instead of comparing your family member’s accomplishments to theirs, celebrate them for their achievements.
Help them find other outlets for their jealousy
Jealousy is often rooted in insecurity and fear. So one way to help jealous family members is to help them find other outlets for their jealousy.
This could include things like:
- Encouraging them to pursue their passions and interests
- Helping them find a support group or therapy
Don’t enable their jealousy
Finally, it’s important not to enable their jealousy. This means not feeding into their jealous feelings by gossiping about other people or engaging in other negative behaviors.
It also means not tolerating their jealous behavior if it starts to become harmful. If you see that someone is beginning to act out their jealousy in a dangerous way, it’s crucial to get help from a professional.
Property Tax Lawyer
Let people know that although things may appear grand, it’s not true. Everyone struggles:
- If you have a nice house, talk about how the expenses are so high.
- If you have a large retirement account, talk about how that money is frozen, and you can’t access it until much, much later.
- If one of your videos on youtube goes viral, talk about how you didn’t see any money because you don’t have enough subscribers.
- If you have a successful business, talk about how the state, the federal government, the issuance company, and all these other agencies have their hands in your pocket, keeping you broke.
Give away the credit
Make it seem like you lucked out.
If you have a successful business, talk about how fortunate you were that “Juan” was looking for a job when you were hiring. He is the reason why your company did well.
Or talk about how you happened to start a business right when the market was changing, and you just happened to ride that wave.
It’s easy to keep the peace with jealous relatives when you credit your success to someone else.
Talk about the “marathon effect”
Everyone gets jealous when they see your marathon medal on your wall. But they don’t know the weeks and months of training that went into it.
Talk to people about the truth because no one envies running in the rain on a Wednesday night because the preparation for the marathon said you had run 8 miles on that day.
Or spending Sundays going to church and then running for 12 miles. Sometimes, jealousy comes because people think that you didn’t earn it.
When they hear about the work you put into getting your success, they may quickly realize that they don’t have your work ethic.
Entrepreneur and Co-founder, Lifeforce
Dig deeply and find out the cause of the jealousy
There is nothing worse than dreading the time you’re about to spend with family, whether it’s during the holidays or at weddings or other planned gatherings. Those moments should be ones to cherish.
Someone always needs to step up and be the level-headed mediator, the voice of reason. Dig deeply and find out the cause of the jealousy.
Once you understand what’s causing the jealousy, you’ll have more empathy and more information on how to quell some of those bad feelings.
Be the forgiving one
John Fogerty famously had to deal with jealousy from his bandmates when he was leading Creedence Clearwater Revival. One of those bandmates was his older brother—the one who was more handsome and more accomplished than John when the two were growing up.
Then, suddenly, John took control of the band because he was the one with the talent and vision to lead it. He was the songwriter, singer, and lead guitarist, while Tom was relegated to playing rhythm guitar.
It was a jarring experience for Tom, and John didn’t realize it until it was too late. The band had split up, and Tom succumbed to an illness while young; before the two could patch things up.
That should be a family’s biggest fear—losing a family member before everyone had a chance to dispel all the bad blood. Keep that in mind, too, if you don’t want a relative’s jealousy streak to divide the family.
Service Manager, Little Blue Nest
Understand where their jealousy comes from and the difficulties they face
As a mother with a successful career, jealousy is, unfortunately, something I have had to deal with throughout my life, even from my own family and friends.
The first thing I try and remember if I encounter jealousy from a family member is that the jealousy isn’t coming from a place of hatred or intentional negativity, nor does the person want to see me fail.
The jealousy is usually coming from their own insecurities and fear of failure.
To help me empathize with them better, I always try to see what it is about the situation that has caused the person to react like that.
Understanding where their jealousy comes from and the difficulties they may be facing helps me not take it too personally or judge the person too negatively.
However, if jealousy is a consistent problem with the same person and responding with kindness or addressing the situation directly hasn’t helped, I find it more beneficial to keep my distance for a while.
Chief Scientist, Aquion Energy
The best way to solve family jealousy is confrontation
When I started my company, I was looking for investors. I had got a chance to work with two brothers. They were good people, but they started a conflict between them over money.
Once the business got some wind, they started arguing about who will get the major return. On contract, they were acting as a singular entity.
Because of their problem, they began to pull the investment back; moreover, one of them even sought legal help so he could get more money. In the end, all this conflict left everything in disarray.
When their jealousy started to affect the company, I saw a professional, he was a friend, and he advised me just to get them in one room and confront them on this. And this is what I did, plus it solved the issue, but I had to drop them as investors.
The best way to solve family jealousy is confrontation. In this, either they will resolve it or finish it. It is still better than keeping a toxic relationship.
Related: Can Toxic Relationships Be Healed?
Don’t give them a free pass to act negatively toward you just because you’re related
Unfortunately, jealousy is a part of our human nature. Even more unfortunate is that the closest people to us, our family, can grow jealous of our success or things in life.
They can be jealous of:
- Who we are dating
- Our financial standing
- The things we have done
- Virtually anything else
It is important to set boundaries with the people around you. Family or not, they should respect your wishes, and if they don’t, sometimes it is best to withdraw from their presence respectfully.
This doesn’t mean being aggressive and storming off, never talking to them again, but rather than visiting them once a week, make it every other week.
You have to be careful not to let others disrupt your emotions and health, and being related doesn’t give them a free pass to act negatively towards you.
Jealousy can lead to gossip, “I wish I were so lucky” statements, and other things that are detrimental. Make it known that you worked for what you have.
Express genuine love and respect
You can try to melt their jealousy completely by expressing genuine love and respect.
Praise them for whatever positive qualities you notice in them. Don’t be afraid to compliment them both openly and indirectly.
- Praise them in front of their relatives and talk well of them. It’s natural for us to gravitate toward folks who compliment us. Your praise will attract them to you, and you will be protected from their wickedness.
- Sending them a present is another approach to alleviate this jealousy. Gifts cause people to fall in love with one other. A small present may be enough to bring you closer together.
- You might start talking to them about broad topics and allow them to get to know you. It’s possible that once they’re at ease with you, they’ll quit assaulting you.
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