My best friend’s life is perfect and I have to admit it makes me sick to my stomach. She’s the same age as me (late twenties) and we graduated at the same time, but she already has it all: great husband and two cute kids who she gets to stay home with. My friend makes me regret my own choices in life that have led me to still be single. What makes it even worse is that she’s oblivious and complains to me about her husband, while I haven’t had a boyfriend for four years. Am I allowed to remind her of how good she has it? —Zoe
It shouldn’t be so hard to be close with people who have different relationship-realities than we do, but it is. It is! A newly in-love pal can be annoying and it’s hard to make plans with friends who have to coordinate schedules with husbands and babysitters and decorators and in-laws. It is hard because the pattern your friend is seeing through her life-kaleidoscope shifts, and yours stays the same. It is hard because she might say and do married-ish, mom-ish things that alienate you, and negate the micro-culture that you two created before one of you totally betrayed it just by living her life. It is hard because one of you might want what the other one got (the man, the kids), or one of you might want what the other one still has (freedom). This is just what happens. It’s nobody’s fault.
And that’s why you’re not allowed to “remind” her “how good she has it.” But, does she, necessarily? Telling someone how they should feel sucks, btw, and if you’ve been paying attention to your friend you’ll know that marriage is hard, and marriage plus kids is harder. Also, know that getting married and having kids versus not getting married and not having kids (yet) isn’t entirely about what “choices” you’ve made in your teeny-tiny pre-30 life; obviously, you haven’t found the right kind of guy, or the right kind of moment (yet). Look: any woman who really wants to get married immediately, like now, has a wide variety of available scrubs to choose from. Your friend’s schedule is hers; yours is yours. Relax.
Anyway…. Your issue isn’t with her complaining about the problems that you perceive to be easier than yours (and complaining to your friends about any stupid shit at all is the stuff of life!); instead, it’s so super-obviously about the resentment and non-specific jealousy you’re feeling about her life. (And I do mean non-specific: I don’t know anyone who wants someone else’s actual marriage or man; it’s more about wanting your own personalized-if-blurry vision of the same thing fulfilled, right?) Taylor Swift is right that haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate, baby, and that’s what you’re up to: hating, like a hater. And much like the word “hater” this attitude is both sad and beneath you. It’s beneath all of us.
The encouraging news for you is that jealousy is instructive. Instead of informing your pal that she is not entitled to a bad day because she has gestated a couple humans, ask her to set you up with one of her husband’s friends. Right?! Being pissy and jealous and judgey is such a useless form for good energy to take, and is almost always used to obscure something else. Put all your feelings toward making the kind of life that makes you happy, keeps you open and ready for a new relationship, and includes a regular practice of gratefulness for what you have already.