eceiving upwards of six phone calls from a friend in a day usually only happens on drunk night out, right? But not for 28-year-old Cath, a university researcher. Her best mate, Amelia, used to ring her six times every day of the week, at least.
“The calls were constant,” she says. “I found myself lying about where I was, and why I couldn’t take the phone call. Amelia always wanted to know where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with.” But incessant phone calls (and texts and emails) were only a small part of this possessive, controlling friendship. “Amelia did everything for me, to the point where she wanted to pay for us to go on holidays together,” says Cath. “She’d go out of her way to pick me up and drive me everywhere. Then, if I did something to upset her — like not take her calls — she’d make me feel guilty.” Amelia was also a gossiper, which was especially bad because the two girls worked together. “When I did grow close to someone, especially at work, Amelia would get in and try to be better friends with them,” says Cath. “She’d take them out for one-on-one lunches, then come back and say things like, ‘Jennifer said you’re unprofessional with clients’.” It was mission accomplished for Amelia — she had Cath isolated, insecure and all to herself. Dr Nadine Pelling, senior lecturer of Psychology at University of South Australia, defines jealousy as fear and anxiety over a loss that one anticipates. Anticipates is the operative word; no loss has happened. “Jealous people feel threatened when their friend goes off with somebody else. It makes them feel rejected, and it can make them want to get back at them.”
According to Dr Pelling, jealousy is tied to low selfesteem, and has a habit of appearing in people who are worried about abandonment. “Children need emotional connection to grow into healthy people, but not everyone gets that,” says Dr Pelling. She compares being left behind to a wound, and consequent feelings of jealousy as salt. “You’ve to heal that sore, because salt doesn’t sting on healthy skin.” Cath admits she enabled Amelia’s jealous behaviour. “I’m a people pleaser — I attract dominant people, and then I let them take over because I just want to make them happy.” Cath became friends with Amelia at the lowest point of her life. This is a common way for jealous friendships to start off, says Dr Pelling, as that person is very vulnerable. Cath affirms, “I’d just broken up with my boyfriend of seven years. I remember Amelia coming over and offering me a lift home, which I accepted. I was baffled as to why she was being so nice. But, I was, like, ‘Well, I’m a bit lonely and I need some company’, so we fell into this routine.”
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