My husband and I recently had an interesting conversation about jealousy – sparked by the Jealousy episode of Whore Rapport. The conversation evolved into the difference between envy and jealousy.
We both agree that there is a significant difference, but I’m not so sure others would agree.
Let’s start by looking at the definition of each.
Envy: noun; plural – envies
1. a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
2. an object of such feeling;
Her intelligence made her the envy of her classmates
Jealousy: noun; plural – jealousies
1. resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself.
2. Mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims.
3. Vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.
4. A jealous feeling, disposition, state, or mood.
On first glance envy and jealousy are pretty synonymous, it is hard to argue against that, but there are a few subtle differences that I think are important.
Envy is discontent or covetousness whereas, jealousy is resentment.
Jealousy speaks to suspicion, fear, and rivalry.
My husband and I agree that jealousy is exclusion based – feeling left out of [thing[, and as a result not wanting others to have [thing] either. On the other hand, envy in more inclusive – wishing to be part of [thing] but holding no resentment.
Let’s look at an example.
My husband is my primary partner, but I have a secondary partner who is equally important to me. My secondary and I are long (very long) distance, we only get to see each other once a year and it usually involves traveling – which means that we go to some amazing places together.
Jealousy would be expressed through ultimatums or rules
– My husband saying that I can’t travel to meet my partner
– Saying that I can only travel to places my husband and I have already been together, as not to “ruin” a new place
– Only meeting in places that don’t interest my husband
Envy, on the other hand, is expressed entirely differently. My husband is envious of the travel I get to do with my partner, he would love to go to all these wonderful places with me. But, he is happy for me. There is no resentment, he doesn’t want to hold me back or make me unhappy. He also knows that he will have other experiences with, and without me.