The Narcissist and Jealousy

“A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.”~ The New Oxford Dictionary of English

narc and jealousySome people think that narcissists are plagued by the “green-eyed monster”, yet others would say that narcissists ARE the green-eyed monster.  They are jealous of anyone who has more resources than they do (such as status, power, beauty, money, success, etc).  At the same time, they also have a strong belief that other people are jealous of them. Excessive levels of jealousy and envy are characteristic traits of narcissism. People often use the terms jealousy and envy as synonyms, however, there is a distinction between the two.

 Definitions of Jealousy and Envy

Jealousy refers to a fear of losing something we have to another person.

Envy refers to wishing we had something that another person has.

Narcissists take jealousy and envy to the extreme, resulting in pathological jealousy and pathological envy. Applying these emotional states to a love relationship, we see the difference:

  • A jealous individual may fear their partner leaving them for another mate or committing an act of infidelity
  • An envious individual may feel ‘left out’ or resentful because their partner feels good about themselves, has great friends or a satisfying job.

When these emotional states become pathological, then delusion and irrational behavior sets in– and the results can be devastating.

Pathological Jealousy

‘Pathological jealousy’ is a totally different story than jealousy. This form of jealousy indicates that the individual believes he has exclusive ownership over another and that this ownership is necessary for him to maintain the relationship.

Pathological jealousy shatters an otherwise loving relationship piece by piece. Trust, intimacy and connection are destroyed. Pathological jealousy can be extremely dangerous, leading to significant abuse and often violence. It’s the most treacherous aspect of abusive relationships, frequently leading to the devastation of the victim mentally, emotionally, physically, and frequently financially.

Pathological jealousy is truly narcissistic. The most frightening and frustrating part of pathological jealousy is that the narcissist cannot be appeased or reassured. Pathologically jealous individuals are hyper-vigilant, always on the lookout for reasons to be jealous.

Signs of Pathological Jealousy

  • Accusations of looking at other men
  • Eye contact with a man is considered flirtation
  • Accusations of giving attention to other men
  • Accusations of being uncaring or “appearing single” if not granting enough body contact or attention in public
  • Interrogation of behavior
  • Interrogation of phone calls and all other forms of communication
  • Reading diary, going through belongings
  • Incessant questioning: where you were, who you were with, etc.
  • Demanding reports of any males in your company
  • Isolating, not allowing you to socialize on your own
  • Threatening  ‘tit for tat’ retaliations if you pursue own interests
  • Taking your car keys and money
  • Hiding makeup, damaging clothes,
  • Interrogating and accusing if home late
  • Laying stipulations and conditions in regards to contact with males
  • Checking up on you
  • Accusations of affairs when pulling away or attempting escape from the abuse
  • Accusations of affair when libido suffers as a result of the abuse
  • Not being able to be reassured
  • Not trusting you
  • Verbal and physical violence triggered by jealousy, blaming other men for jealous behavior
  • Blaming you for jealous behavior
  • Always an excuse for jealous behavior
  • Denying jealous behavior (except when hitting ‘rock bottom)
  • Gaslighting techniques trying to confuse your trust in self; Gaslighting techniques trying to prove there is reason to be jealous.

Pathological Envy

Pathological envy is extremely painful for the narcissist and devastating for the love recipient. It isn’t as obvious as pathological jealousy, and can be insidious and more difficult to define in a relationship.

Dr. Sam Vaknin, an expert on narcissism describes pathological envy as “…a compounded emotion. It is brought on by the realisation of some lack, deficiency, or inadequacy in oneself. It is the result of unfavourably comparing oneself to other – to their success, their reputation, their possessions, their luck, and their qualities. It is misery and humiliation and impotent rage and a torturous, slippery path to nowhere. The effort to break the padded walls of this self-visited purgatory often leads to attacks on the perceived source of frustration.

If you’re in a relationship with a narcissistic individual, the relationship dynamics will feel like a ‘me versus you’ battle with an enemy. A large source of this dynamic is pathological envy. Pathological envy is a very intense and destructive emotion, resulting from strong emotional insecurities and feelings of low self-worth.

  Signs of Pathological Envy

  • Being uncomfortable / moody when you’re given praise or attention
  • If not the centre of attention he/she discredits the experience or leaves the scene
  • Discredits your ideas, interests, friendships
  • Depression if you’re happy and energized
  • Depression if you’re successful
  • Creating arguments if you’re successful
  • Prescribing what is or isn’t right for your life
  • Intense anger when not consulted
  • Intense anger when not utilized for projects yet depression / moodiness when inputting energy that may assist your project
  • Undermining your reputation
  • Undermining your interests
  • Undermining your work
  • Undermining your friendships
  • Using gaslighting or abuse to undermine your self-esteem
  • Projecting: declaring you’re the person doing the undermining or discrediting to yourself and them.

Reactions to Envy

Narcissists must be superior to others in every single way. So when someone else has a resource that they don’t have, but want– admiration, status, skills, money, etc.–the narcissist sees it as a significant threat. Like so much else in the narcissistic mind, it is unconscious, discounted and denied, which makes it more treacherous for the object of his envy. Sandy Hotchkiss, author of Why Is It Always about You, says, “To admit to envy would be to acknowledge inferiority, which no good narcissist would ever do.”

So what does a narcissist do?  He will try to take credit for the other person’s good fortune (“my son must get that great quality from me”) or he:

  • Feels contempt for those he envies and puts them down vehemently–sometimes to their face, sometimes not. This restores his vision of the world where he’s always on top.
  • Can’t share in the other person’s happiness, which disappoints others or make them doubt themselves. Narcissists even envy others when they are the center of attention for a sad reason (death of a loved one, illness) and will not support them in their time of crisis.
  • Fantasizes about his own success
  • Indulges in self-soothing activity (gambling, drinking, sex, etc.) to ward off feelings of imperfection and shame.



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About Alexander Burgemeester

4 Responses to “The Narcissist and Jealousy”

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  1. Jamie says:

    I am rather clumsy and my ex used to shut off and turn his back on me whenever I have had an injury. Once we were having a party and a bottle of beer dropped on my foot, causing me to bleed on the floor. Everyone including his son was attending to me and asking if I was OK, getting me a bandage, etc. except for him. He stepped over me so he could reach the fridge for a beer. Another time I smashed my shin really badly at a party and some people were getting me ice. He went from being friendly to me to not speaking to me for the rest of the night. This kind of thing has always baffled and hurt me immensely. It makes more sense now reading this.

  2. cliff says:

    FYI Questionable Source: Dr. Sam Vaknin is a narcissist by his own account and a particularly pathological one at that so to claim him as an expert is hardly scientific. I wouldn’t even doubt that his “doctorate” has no merit.

  3. Picadilly says:

    My husband accused me of cheating on him, he fits so many of the above categories. His constant interrogations of my daily activities at work got to a point that I was starting to believe that I had somehow done these things and blocked them out. But how, my memory is very good. He had left tape recorders around our home, our car and my office for months in an attempt to “catch me”. At the same time telling me he was doing these things. I didn’t care I was not doing anything to betray him.He had a 45 second clip of me in a noisy bathroom and said I was in there with a man- I was not, but when he sent it to an analyst they said there was a male voice.(well, a grunt, not even a voice) Then after a couple of weeks of non stop verbal and emotional harassment, I willingly took a polygraph. It did not come out the way it should have. I told he truth but the examiner said I was deceptive. So this only added to his suspicions. Weeks went by of the same accusations, and then endearing intimate moments to follow. Back and forth we went. I had been diagnosed with breast cancer during this time. Unfortunately, I could not think about that- I needed to clear my name and make this man understand that I hadn’t done anything to him or our marriage. within 2 weeks of my diagnosis he was filing for divorce. When I came out of surgery, in post op he wanted to discuss our divorce agreement. Final straw was when he called the police to keep the peace at our home, nothing at all had happened that day to have him call the police- we did not even disagree over what we were having for dinner.We have been separated for 8 months now. He already has a girlfriend and wants to introduce her to our teenage son. I on the other hand do not even know how this all happened. No husband, our family torn apart,our house gone, car gone, financially ruined, and trying to heal emotionally and physically. He told me once that I was a narcissist, text book to be exact. When I go down the list above I do not identify with any of those things, except for that I always liked to be right. However, it didn’t happen very often in my home.

    • Kathleen says:

      Picadilly. I’m in the same place. Divorcing narcissist and as soon as I got him to move out I was diagnosed with BC. Working hard on that now as I have 5 kids 3 are still young, were adopted and my one son has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The sickest part is that he is showing behaviors that suggest he is jealous of me having cancer. He actually alludes to having it himself!!
      I was given advice I’d like to share. If he hasn’t moved out make sure he goes. Then tell lawyer you want a cease and desist or something to put divorce proceedings on hold until you have your health back. I was warned that they will rush divorce while you are sick hoping you aren’t thinking clearly. Don’t put it past him.
      Put yourself first and take care.
      Good luck
      My email is:
      If you need support. It would help me as well.

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