Difference Between Jealous and Envious

Difference Between Jealous and Envious

What is the difference between jealous and envious? Well, for starters, we think we can all agree that everyone has felt at least one of the two at some point. Now to the unaware they may seem to be the same thing but to the curious (Yes! you my friend), they are miles apart. Each has its unique situational trigger. The negative state we undergo due to these emotions leads us to confuse one for the other.

Now that we know that they are two different emotional states let’s use a common hypothetical situation to aid in our understanding of these emotions. One evening Mr. X is at the bar with his girlfriend, having a good time. A handsome young fellow approaches them, and Mr. X’s girlfriend happens to compliment the man’s looks. Now this is a situation where both of these emotions may be felt. When and where either is triggered, let’s have a look by defining each.

Definition of Jealous

Jealous is an emotional state associated with the worry of losing what we believe to be ours to a person who we feel is better than us. An insecurity consumes us when we fear the loss of our things. It usually applies to jobs, certain positions, relationships, etc.

Now, Mr. X here feels jealous that his girlfriend complimented another man. He feels insecure that the other person may steal his girlfriend away from him.

Definition of Envious

Envious is an emotional state associated with the desire to want an object in another person’s possession. This desire applies to anything from material possessions, physical attributes, to social status. An envious individual can’t let anyone enjoy what they don’t have. However, at times, envy may also lead to a positive outcome as it drives us to achieve what we want.

The man in the above scenario has looks that Mr. X envies. Mr. X not only felt jealous when his girlfriend complimented that man but also had some envy with the desire to attain the looks of that young man. Now it must be noted; envy only involves two articles; the object of envy and the one who envies it.

Jealous vs Envious Comparison Table

This table will be useful in helping you remember the difference between jealous and envious.

Basis of Comparison   Jealous Envious
Meaning Fear of losing something we own or consider to be ours to someone else Desire or longing for what is owned by another person
Individuals/Objects Involved   3 2
Trigger Something we own or believe to be ours   Something we don’t have
Applies to Human relationships   Human relationships, possessions, social status, physical attributes  
Outcome   Negative Positive or negative

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Jealous vs Envious

Now we hope this clarifies the difference between envious and jealous. So, in short jealousy is the apprehension of losing what we have and envy is wanting what we don’t have. Both emotional states intertwine but are unique at the same time. This should help clarify the ambiguity between the two, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are negative emotions and bring more harm than good.