Let’s say you’re the only single person in your friend group. Or your BFF has a seemingly perfect relationship. Or you feel like everyone in your life has a romantic situation that is, simply put, just way better than yours. Well, it’s normal to feel salty about this from time to time. How could you not when you find yourself swiping through profile after profile on your dating apps, only to go out with a slew of duds while you’re bombarded with Instagram evidence of your pal and her partner sunning themselves on some gorgeous island?
Though feeling jealous of your friend may well be a natural response, the sensation likely won’t make you feel good. And neither will any pity party you throw yourself when it seems like everyone but you is happy and in love.
“This is a common ditch that a lot of people fall into,” says Susan Winter, best-selling author and relationship expert. “When this happens, it’s easy to think that everyone but you is in a relationship. But that just isn’t the case.” It’s important to remember that the world is full of people who are single both by choice and…well, not. So even though you feel all alone, you’re definitely not.
“You’re really only ever getting the highlight reel of someone’s relationship, whether it’s on social media or from their own mouth.” —Susan Winter, relationship expert
Furthermore, Instagram and reality are not one and the same, and neither are small talk and reality. What you’re seeing and hearing about are only the parts of your friend’s relationship they want to share—not the whole narrative. “You’re really only ever getting the highlight reel of someone’s relationship, whether it’s on social media or from their own mouth,” Winter says. Unless your friend is very close to you, you can’t expect them to fill you in on the negative aspects of their relationship. Because of this, it’s easy for to imagine every relationship broadcasted across our feeds or swooned about over brunch is a happy one. “What we forget, though, is the hard parts of partnership,” Winter says. Meaning, consider that your coupled-up friends may sometimes dream about being in your single shoes.
The grass-is-always-greener mentality will always hold true in times of emotional anguish, no matter your relationship status. But Winter has one tip to stay levelheaded about your worthiness for love without letting jealousy of your happily partnered besties getting the best of you: Stop misinterpreting your friends’ dating data. It’s easy to look at other people’s relationships as proof that you’re not datable and will be alone forever, but that’s the worst thing you can do for yourself. “It’s a victim mentality,” Winter says. “And it leads to a spiral of negative thinking.”
Instead, Winter says to regard the evidence as a sign of hope. “Since there are so many partnered folks in the world, it shows that love for you is statistically possible.” Your friends, just like you, are imperfect people. Yet, they still were able to find love.
And if all else fails? Ask your partnered pals to set you up. Their significant others have to be good for something in your life, right?
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