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April 2, 2019

How to Deal With a Jealous Friend & How to Stop Bickering

Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly's Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection. Made available to media outlets via Creative Commons. No derivatives, no commercial use. See guidelines here: broadlygenderphotos.vice.com/guidelines

After sitting on the squatty-potty in heels last week, the fine folks at The Morning Show still invited Jess back for the Ask Dr. Jess segment this morning on Global TV. She joined Jeff and Carolyn to address questions from viewers across Canada.

Since I got married, my best friend has been distant. I’ve heard she’s jealous of my new husband and felt left out of the wedding despite being my Maid of Honour. How do I handle this?

Oftentimes our first instinct is to respond to jealousy with frustration, criticism and hostility when we’d be much better off leading with empathy. When someone is jealous of another relationship (e.g. with your spouse), it’s often a sign that they’re feeling neglected or unworthy; they may also be scared of losing you. If you can consider how they’re really feeling (fearful or unworthy) as opposed to focusing specifically on how they’re acting (distant), you’ll probably show more empathy from the onset.

If they seem distant, ask yourself if you’ve also been pulling away. And then reach out. Ask them how they’re feeling. Show interest in their life and consider whether or not your relationship has been disproportionately focused on your life lately (e.g. your wedding). In many cases, reaching out and including them in your plans/life is all it will take to address their fears and other feelings that have lead to jealousy.

If they’re still pulling away, address it head on. Ask them how they’re feeling about your relationship and share your own observations about how you feel your friendship has changed. Just as communication is the key to intimate relationships, so too is open and honest dialogue essential to friendships. Last week we talked about the fact that one of the best ways to make new friends is, in fact, to reach out to old friends, so don’t let this one go. Research suggests that you lose one friend when you get into a serious relationship and you don’t want that loss to be your best friend.

How many times is too many to have the same argument over and over again? And how can we stop bickering about nonsense every day?

I’d be less concerned about the number of times you have a fight and more focused on how you fight. Are you aiming for resolution or are you aiming for a win? If you’re not aiming for real resolution and just want to be right, stop talking. Communication isn’t always the key to a happy relationship; if you’re just trying to prove a point, you’re not engaging in a relationship – you’re battling for power.

If you’re stuck on the same fight over and over again, try writing down the answers to three questions:

1. What resolution do you seek?

2. What are you willing to do to arrive at this resolution?

3. What would you like your partner to do to help arrive at this resolution?

Focus on #2 first. If you come prepared with your own commitments and reparations, your partner is more likely to be disarmed and do the same.

If you’re fighting about what is seemingly nonsense (e.g. who left the cookies open), get to the bottom of why something bothers, or use the 99 rule: ask yourself if you’d rather be happy with this person when you’re 99 or if you’d rather win this fight. Pick one, because it’s unlikely that you can have both.

If you’re fighting because you’ve allowed resentment to build, that’s another issue that requires actively working on forgiveness, empathy and assertive communication to address past behaviours. Read more about letting go of resentment here.

If you have a question about sex or relationships, submit here and we’ll do our best to answer on the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast. Speaking of which — why not have a listen now? Jess and her husband, Brandon discuss everything from workplace relationships and managing difficult family members to intimate communication and threesomes. Listen and subscribe here.