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, whether it's your BFF or an old acquaintance, 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 "dinner for one" recipes and 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 and struggling to accept the end of yours.
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. Let's face it: 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!”). If you feel a surge of engagement envy or pettiness every time you see a ring selfie, don’t feel guilty about scrolling right past those posts or limiting your time on social media until you're feeling better.
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.
Photo: Erin Wilson Photography
If you’re in a long-term relationship and losing patience
Couples are getting engaged left and right, and even though you’ve been in a serious relationship for what seems like a million years, you’re still waiting for a proposal. Dodging questions from friends and relatives about why you aren’t engaged yet has become a full-time job. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle met less than two years ago, and he already put a ring on it. What’s taking so long for your S.O. to do the same?
How to deal: When you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s normal to feel a surge of engagement envy if practically everyone except you is going from girlfriend/boyfriend to fiancé(e). Focusing on what you don’t have yet (ahem, a ring) will only bring negative energy to your relationship and could actually end up pushing your S.O. away. Bring yourself back down to earth by staying grateful that they're in your life — don't lose sight of the bigger picture. Instead of obsessing about why they haven't proposed, put your effort into strengthening your bond as a couple. This is extra-important if you've been together for several years and have lost that “honeymoon phase” spark.
Maybe your partner wants to propose eventually but isn’t ready right now, for whatever reason. An honest conversation about where you both stand is better than letting your engagement ring envy get the best of you. Start out on a positive note by saying something like: “I’ve been thinking about our future together and I’m so excited to see what’s next for us. I want to know that we’re being the best we can be for each other. Is there anything that you’re missing from our relationship right now?” This opens a discussion about taking your relationship to the next step and will help you understand whether or not your partner is ready to get engaged.
If you’re afraid your friendship will change
Your best friend in the entire world just got engaged. It’s super exciting, except you can’t help but feel a little sad when you think about how your friendship could potentially change from here out. Planning a wedding and getting married are two major events, and your friend’s fiancé(e) is now officially the most important person in their life. Enter: jealous best friend syndrome.
How to deal: If you’re jealous of your best friend’s engagement, the first thing you need to do is figure out why. Maybe it’s because the two of you were the last non-hitched members of your squad and now you’re a lone wolf, or maybe it’s the fact that everyone will be fawning over your BFF and the wedding until further notice. Whatever the reason, it’s crucial that you control that green-eyed monster inside you, and fast. While it’s not wrong to feel jealous of your best friend, letting your emotions come between you means risking your friendship forever, so you need to put things into perspective. While your bestie is busy planning the wedding, stay occupied by focusing on yourself (and being there to fulfill your best friend duties when needed, of course). Once you have your own thing going, it will be easier to share in your engaged friend’s excitement, which is exactly what BFFs are for.