Difference Between Jealousy and Envy

Difference between jealousy and envy

The main difference between jealousy and envy is that jealousy is the fear of someone taking what you have. On the other hand, envy is the desire to have what someone else has. 

Jealousy and envy are common emotions, and people often use these words interchangeably. These terms have slight differences, though.

Insecurity, loneliness, and lack of communication.Root CauseLow self-esteem and competition
Afraid of losing loved ones or things you already havePossessionSad for something you don’t have
It is a negative feelingNegativityIt is not a negative feeling
Three peopleParties Involved Two people
Human relationships
Possession or status
UsageHuman relationships
Possession or status

What Is Jealousy?

Jealousy is the overwhelming feeling of insecurity about a person or a resource. We get jealous when we’re scared to lose our belongings to a third person. 

This could be anything from success to a happy relationship, material possessions, or social benefits. In jealousy, you want to hold on to what you already have, which mostly happens in relationships. 

Jealousy is a common feeling experienced by people from time to time in different phases of their lives. 

Difference between jealousy and envy

Signs of Jealousy

Jealousy is often felt in relationships, especially between partners. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, but when a person starts feeling jealous, there is a lack of trust, which leads to negative thoughts. 

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There are sure signs that a jealous person might show in various ways. 

  • Rage towards the person or situation that is interfering with something you care about
  • Feelings of dislike toward a new person in your loved one’s life are hard to explain.
  • Lack of trust towards someone you love
  • Attempting to control your partner’s behavior
  • Resentment of a friend or partner when they can’t spend time with you
  • Not feeling happy about something that your colleague achieved that you wanted to

Examples of Jealousy

Let’s understand this feeling of jealousy with a classic example from Shakespeare’s Othello

Othello was the main character in the novel who married the most beautiful and noble woman. Still, he felt unworthy of her, and he became so jealous that he murdered his wife. 

This is an extreme, but clear example of jealousy.

Jealousy can also creep up in a situation.


  • When you found your partner enjoying with his girlfriends when he told you he would sleep early at home because he is dead tired.
  • You feel jealous when your recently engaged friend spends more time with her fiance than with you.  

What Is Envy? 

Envy is a feeling of sadness for something that someone has, and you don’t. It is a longing feeling for someone else’s possession, talent, or status. 

Envy is a combination of admiration and discontent. It’s a natural emotion that makes you want something another person has, and you try harder to achieve that. 

Envy is more associated with desiring someone else’s possession, whether a relationship or material things. 

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Difference between jealousy and envy

Signs of Envy 

When you feel unhappy about someone else’s success, then you might be experiencing envy. 


  • Your friends’ achievements make you sad
  • You form a negative image of others
  • You find happiness in other people’s failures

Examples of Envy 

Here are a few examples to understand this term even better. 

  • A woman who wishes to buy the exact new car as her neighbor is likely feeling envious.
  • A young man whose best friend spends all her time with her new partner may be envious of their relationship.
  • Your colleague achieved the “Employee Of The Year” award for which you worked hard. Hence, you’re envious of your colleague. 

Schadenfreude takes envy to the extreme. Schadenfreude is the experience of joy or self-satisfaction that comes from witnessing another’s troubles, failures, or humiliation.

Jealousy vs Envy – Key Differences 

Here are some important differences between the two commonly felt emotions.

Root Cause

The root cause of jealousy can be communication issues, fear of losing your loved ones to others, loneliness, or, in relationships, differing interpersonal boundaries. 

However, the root cause of envy includes negative comparison with others and low self-esteem.


In jealousy, you’re afraid of losing something that you already possess. In contrast, envy makes you sad about something you don’t have.


Jealousy is considered to be a negative emotion and can ruin relationships. 

While envy implies that you don’t wish bad for another person, you are not happy either. Hence, envy is not a negative emotion and may not ruin relationships. 

Parties Involved

Three parties are involved in jealousy, while only two are involved in envy.

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In other words, jealousy is a three-person situation, and envy is a two-person situation


Jealousy is a term for human relationships. However, envy is appropriate for possession or status.

The bottom line is that jealousy and envy are both feelings of discontentment and are unsuitable for mental health. However, they are very common, and we all have experienced them. 

Though both terms are often used interchangeably, a slight distinction makes all the difference. Jealousy is the fear of losing something that belongs to you, and envy is felt for something you don’t have.

If you enjoyed this post, check out our post comparing townhouses and condos.


Vanessa is passionate about written communication, especially after beginning her career as a middle school English teacher. She’s an experienced content marketer as well. Vanessa loves to analyze, compare, and contrast, which is why she writes for ContrastHub. Besides writing, Vanessa is a wife, mom, entrepreneur, spicy food enthusiast, comedy nerd and lifelong learner.

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