Confronting and Processing Some Issues with Envy

I had a long conversation with a friend yesterday that has left me thinking about many things.

It has been a long time since I have had such intense issues with envy as I have had recently with respect to this friend. He is in relationships of various types with three different people, all of whom I am interested in, and all of whom I am not in relationships with for different reasons — lack of time, with one, lack of interest, with another, and prohibitive distance that I cannot afford to traverse regularly, with the third. He also works in tech, full-time, which is something I would very much like to be physically capable of doing, but can’t.

I am not actually in any relationships of any sort with people who are local to me at the moment, and while I have been doing better than I was a few weeks ago, the stress and frustration associated with not being able to work any more than I am at the moment is with me most of the time. As such, there are times when spending time around this friend feels a lot like watching a movie about all of the things that I don’t have right now. It’s a good recipe for complicated feelings.

Yesterday, I decided it was time to have a face-to-face conversation about this with him to, hopefully, keep my complicated feelings from spiraling into friendship-damaging-level feelings. It went very well. The envy is still going to be an issue with me, I think, but the conversation itself was very positive, and I feel much better for having had it. I think I managed to express how I was feeling without coming off as accusatory, and he managed to show me, once again, that I tend to surround myself with very good people, him included.

I’ve been mulling over one particular part of the conversation that we had, and trying to decide how to think about it. As much as I appreciated that he was able to have this conversation with me about my feeling complicatedly negative around him, and as much as the conversation that we had about what to do about it was reassuring, the thing that had the most immediate positive effect on my mood yesterday was when he told me that one of the three women mentioned above is significantly more into me than him.

I suppose I should take what I can get, in terms of allowing myself to feel good about things that make me feel good, but I feel very… complicated… about the idea of feeling better about the situation in a way that implies a zero-sum framing of it. All things being equal, I would prefer to feel better about the situation in a way that didn’t depend on my “doing better” by comparison with someone else. Partially I don’t like the zero sum framing because it means that my feeling better depends on circumstances which are, to a significant extent, outside of my control. Partially, I don’t like it because I don’t like the idea of feeling better about myself in a way that is specifically at the expense of someone else.

I expressed this, in so many words, to him, and he didn’t seem at all bothered by it, himself. I hope to have more conversations about it in the future in order to flesh out my feelings about the whole thing.

For the moment, I think I’m doing reasonably well at not beating myself up for the superficial reasoning of my brain, but I would still like to get a better fix on everything. And I would like to have a better way of assuaging envy than having to find a way that I’m doing better than the subject of the envy is.

Anyone else have advice on dealing with this  envy thing?

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One comment on “Confronting and Processing Some Issues with Envy

  1. Pingback: Polyamory, and Attractiveness as a Zero Sum Game | Research to be Done

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