Difference Between Jealous and Envious

Difference Between Jealous and Envious

What is the difference between jealous and envious? Well, for starters, we think we can all agree that everyone has felt at least one of the two at some point. Now to the unaware they may seem to be the same thing but to the curious (Yes! you my friend), they are miles apart. Each has its unique situational trigger. The negative state we undergo due to these emotions leads us to confuse one for the other.

Now that we know that they are two different emotional states let’s use a common hypothetical situation to aid in our understanding of these emotions. One evening Mr. X is at the bar with his girlfriend, having a good time. A handsome young fellow approaches them, and Mr. X’s girlfriend happens to compliment the man’s looks. Now this is a situation where both of these emotions may be felt. When and where either is triggered, let’s have a look by defining each.

Definition of Jealous

Jealous is defined as the fear of losing one’s relationship to another. This fear applies to every form of relationship but is most common with intimate ones. It surfaces in the form of behavioral response when we feel like our relationship with a particular person is being threatened.

From this definition, it is understandable why anyone would use jealous vs envious interchangeably, but for the sake of accuracy, these two are not the same and should not be used as synonyms. The former applies in the case of relationships while the latter does not.

Most of the time, it is hard to keep this feeling of jealousy in check, which is why it was nicknamed “the green-eyed monster” by Shakespeare. It can be apprehensive, vengeful, zealous, suspicious, insecure, and so on. This fear can be aroused in cases where:

  • A man sees another man flirting with his wife
  • A girl sees her best friend hanging out with another person
  • A boss gives more attention to a particular employee than others

To reiterate, jealous is a feeling of fear we have when we feel our relationship with a particular person is threatened. In the table below, we were able to dive even deeper on the subject to throw more light on how envious vs jealous compares to one another.

Definition of Envious

Envious is defined as an internal longing, inspired by resentment towards another who has something we desire. Note that the definition says “something” and not “someone.” When the feeling has to do with “someone,” then it is no longer envy but jealousy.

What are some of the things one can possibly desire that may lead to resentment against another? It could be anything ranging from material possessions, skills, or talents to character, and so on. According to experts, this resentful feeling is most common among people who feel inferior to others in some way.

Despite being viewed in a negative light, this internal longing is not all negative. It could also serve as a motivation to get better if channeled positively, but it can have some dire consequences when acted on negatively.

Jealous vs Envious Comparison Table

This table will be useful in helping you remember the difference between jealous and envious.

Basis of Comparison   Jealous Envious
Meaning Fear of losing something we own or consider to be ours to someone else Desire or longing for what is owned by another person
Individuals/Objects Involved   3 2
Trigger Something we own or believe to be ours   Something we don’t have
Applies to Human relationships   Human relationships, possessions, social status, physical attributes  
Outcome   Negative Positive or negative

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Jealous vs Envious

Now we hope this clarifies the difference between envious and jealous. So, in short jealousy is the apprehension of losing what we have and envy is wanting what we don’t have. Both emotional states intertwine but are unique at the same time. This should help clarify the ambiguity between the two, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are negative emotions and bring more harm than good.