No matter how devoted the friendship, there’s often an undercurrent of jealousy or competition. In researching my book on female friendships, I found that this is particularly true of women. We compare ourselves to each other. We tell ourselves that we make more money, but her kids are better behaved; our house is nicer, but she’s thinner. It’s like a running balance sheet; if one friend appears to be coming out ahead, be prepared for trouble -- and possible sabotage.
If you’ve made a commitment to a health goal -- say, to lose weight, quit drinking or train for a marathon -- your friend might feel hurt, abandoned or guilty for not sharing your determination. A jealous friend may try to undermine your efforts by baking you cupcakes or begging you to skip a workout to hang out with her. After all, misery loves company.
What to Do
When faced with an obvious sabotage effort, try telling your friend, “You’re important to me and always will be. But I’m in this new place and I need you to support me and not hold me back.” A good friend will step up to the plate. If she absolutely refuses, you’ll have to make a choice. It takes a lot of courage, but you have to weigh the positive impact of the friendship versus your commitment to your own well-being.
How to Look at It
If your jealous friend continues to sabotage your commitments, it’s helpful to view her as just one of the many challenges you’ll face on your path to better health. Perhaps your new lifestyle will inspire her. If not, you can either accept her as she is or make a conscious decision to distance yourself from her.
Healthy friendships require boundaries and respect.
Susan Shapiro Barash, author of the book "Toxic Friends" is a gender expert and the author of Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships. She also blogs for the HuffingtonPost.com and Psychology Today.
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