In a perfect world, jealousy and engagement envy wouldn’t exist. In the real world, we’re only human, and sometimes our emotions bring out the worst in us. You probably know that all-too-familiar feeling when someone announces their engagement to the masses and instead of being happy for them, you wonder, “But...why not me?”
While nobody intentionally wants to feel jealous, it’s not always something that can be controlled, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. If you’re envying someone who’s recently engaged, rest assured that it’s a natural reaction. You might even feel guilty about the fact that you’re jealous (thus creating an annoying cycle of inner turmoil), but don’t be too hard on yourself. With the right state of mind, you can overcome it.
Engagement envy isn’t always pretty, but it’s real. Here’s how to handle your jealousy.
If you’re single and feeling hopeless
Living the single life definitely has its perks. When you’re flying solo, you make the call on literally everything — plans, meals, your Netflix queue, living space, you name it. You’ve learned how to feel comfortable on your own, except when you notice how cute your coupled-up friends are, or you get invited to an event and the host asks if you’re bringing a plus-one (ugh). You can’t remember the last time you went on a promising date, and you’re mocked by a sad microwavable pizza every time you open your freezer. Suddenly, your independent lifestyle seems pretty dull and frankly, a bit lonely.
How to deal: It’s completely normal to feel a mix of jealousy and confusion when everyone around you is getting engaged and it feels like you’re the last single person in town. You’re a catch, so why is no one catching you? Maybe being single isn’t your ideal situation right now, but there are ways to use it to your advantage, as long as you’re in the right mindset. Instead of letting engagement jealousy get to you, brush your shoulders off and focus on you. Take a memorable vacation, find a new hobby, move to a different city — whatever helps you stay busy and feel fulfilled.
If you’re healing from an awful breakup
Breakups in general are pretty rough, but sometimes you’re hit with the kind of heartbreak that can’t be cured by downing a few pints of ice cream or going out on the town with your besties. When this happens, even the smallest things (let alone an endless stream of engagement announcements) can trigger an emotional meltdown and remind you of your lost love. The heartache is amplified if you were hoping to get engaged yourself, or if your relationship ended on bad terms. Every time someone you know announces their engagement, it feels like the universe is playing a cruel joke on you, especially if the couple dated for less time than you and your ex did or — ouch — you introduced them. You aren’t excited for the newlyweds-to-be because you’re too busy weeping at the sight of their relationship.
How to deal: Poring over other people’s engagement photos and proposal stories will only stir up your negative emotions, stopping you from moving on with your own life after a breakup. Engagement season can elicit some not-so-nice thoughts when you’re single (“You’re in love? Oh, that’s nice. Enjoy it while it lasts!”), so if you feel a surge of engagement envy or pettiness every time you see a ring selfie, don’t feel guilty about ignoring those types of posts or limiting your time on social media altogether.
If it’s a close friend or relative that gets engaged, offer your congratulations and try to put any jealousy aside, especially if you’re asked to be in the wedding. In this situation, it’s best to avoid discussing your feelings with the engaged couple — your honesty could accidentally come across as selfish or offensive. If you’re still struggling with engagement envy, open up to someone who is neutral to the situation, and don’t be ashamed about connecting with a therapist if you feel like there may be a deeper issue at stake.