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By Eric Orji
E-mail: ayoadehat@yahoo.co.uk

Do you envy your friend?
(A little competition between pals can be a good thing, but too much can tear you apart)

*We know your little secret: You get jealous of your friends from time to time, right? But don't worry; you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. According to experts, little flashes of envy can actually be a good thing. In small doses, competition can motivate you to achieve more. 

For example, knowing that a friend has just been given a visa to study in America may inspire you to try your own chance. However, problems do arise when rivalry goes too far. Constantly comparing career successes, materials, money or your love lives can wear down your self-esteem, and your friendship.

Competition becomes unhealthy when it makes you feel bad about yourself. If you leave a date with a friend feeling deflated and frustrated with yourself instead of relaxed and happy, then things may be getting out of hand. One of the main ingredients in a positive friendship is that both people feel that they can be themselves and don't have to impress each other.

So how does a little envy turn into a big green monster? It's easy to become jealous of people if they're in the same realm as us or have the same goals we have. Also, people tend to harbour an irrational belief that there's only so much good stuff to go around. It's common to fear that if your friend finds a nice home or a great guy before you do, you'll never get those things for yourself. But the root of the problem is not your friend's amazing luck, but your own flagging sense of self-esteem. People who try to beat others all the time are attempting to bolster their self-image.

*The good news: If your relationship is falling victim to a "me vs. you" mentality, whether you yourself or your pal are guilty of ramping up the competition, there are steps you can take to call off the contest and revive the friendship. Here's how: 

1. If you are the jealous party:-Think before you speak. Be conscious of your jealous feelings and catch yourself before you say something that might hurt your friend. If you feel the need to get your feelings out into the open, then prepare what you'd like to say, and how you plan on responding if she doesn't take it well. On a good note, she may take the opportunity to tell you about some of the things in your life that she's envious of, which may make you feel that you're on equal footing.

2. Acknowledge your issues:- If you feel that you're competing on a regular basis, you need to take a look inside. If you feel bad about yourself every time a friend achieves something, you may have some self-esteem issues.

3. Don't beat yourself up:- Above all, keep in mind that competition is normal and doesn't mean you aren't a good friend. You might even find ways to make the competition work in favour of your friendship by channeling your, or her, competitive nature into a shared goal.

That way, you both end up with accomplishments you're proud of, and you have some fun to boot. Isn’t that what friends are for?

*If your friend is jealous:
1. Talk to her:- Gently approach your friend using "I" statements as in: "I love hanging out with you, but I don't like when we compete. I'd like us to have a more supportive friendship, wouldn't you?" Your pal may be unaware of her competitive tendencies.

2. Agree on a signal:- Old habits die hard, so decide together on a word or phrase to use to alert your friend when she slips into hypercompetitive mode. Sometimes jokingly saying "OK, you win" is enough to remind her that your friendship is not a race. Create some distance. If your friend refuses to back down, start keeping details about your life to yourself. The less she knows, the less she'll be able to compare. Plus, she may sense that something is amiss and look at her own behaviour for the cause of the distance between you, giving you an opening to discuss your concerns.

3. Avoid her triggers:- If your friend is competitive in just one realm, say, whose jeans
trouser fits more, then steer clear of fashion-related conversations. If house envy is the problem, meet at a restaurant instead of each other's homes.

4. Know when to let go:- If the problem is excessive, you have to consider whether this is someone you can be friends with. I’ll do anything to get him back.

Dr Love

Dear LoveThing,
My boyfriend of almost two years is feeling the need to break up with me. One night we were with some friends, and we all were drinking and planning on going to a club. Well, I had way too much to drink, and acted like a fool in front of these people, and I was getting sick and everything.

Now, I'm feeling worse than ever about it, and I really want to improve this situation, and make him happy, but he says he's had enough. I'm so scared right now. I love him so much, and he doesn't believe me that I can make improvements. I've improved a lot already, and I think I'm somewhat of a better person because of it, but now, I'm even more determined to get our relationship back on track! I'm so sad right now, what should I do? He’s so important to me, and I don't want to lose him. ……SANDRA

Lovething****If you're going to do anything, you should do it for yourself, because you want to. It's fine to want to change for someone when you already wanted to, but what happens if he still leaves? Will you go back to your old habits? If you want your changes to be permanent, you need to make the changes because you want them. I think it's great he's being a catalyst for your improvement, but don't do this with the hopes that it will get him back. 

If he really loves you, he should see your efforts are true. I would approach him from the perspective of having him help you through it. Tell him everything you've told me. Unless he's truly determined not to be with you, it should have some effect on him. Just remember, if he does leave, don't go back to your old habits. You don't need someone else to make you a better person. 

His mother hates me
Dear LoveThing,
I can't stand my boyfriend's mother, and I don't know what to do. My boyfriend and I have been dating for about a year, and the rest of his family is great. But his mother barely talks to me, and she makes nasty little remarks that are supposed to be jokes. It hurts my feelings, and now it's impacting our relationship. -------------

Lovething**** Mother-in-law issues typically arise when the relationship between two people is serious, because then it's not just about you and your mate, it's about the whole fam-damily (as my own mother used to say). Some mothers have definite opinions about the type of woman they want their son to marry, or even date. When their son's real-life partner doesn't measure up in their eyes, these moms can be ruthless and unpleasant. This behavior stems less from your boyfriend's mother's opinion of you than her feelings about losing control of her son. Unfortunately, that means she has to make you feel that there is something wrong with you. Her hope is that her son will see you through her eyes and, hopefully, change his mind. That would vindicate her belief that mother knows best. This situation sucks. We all know there is nothing wrong with you, it's her! But you just can't tell her that. I'll be honest: Since there isn't a whole lot you can do to change how she feels, your main job is damage control. Try not to make things any worse.

That means:
1. Avoid her as much as politely possible. The worst thing you can do is cozy up to her. As with any bully, playing nice will just encourage her to see you as a weakling. Instead, keep a cool distance. That will send a signal that you respect yourself, know how to take care of yourself and don't like how she's treating you.

2. Don't blame your boyfriend. It's not his fault that his mother is a raging, jealous beast. Be honest about how you feel and give him examples of the behaviour that makes you uncomfortable (although we hope he has noticed by now). Ask for his support and sympathy, but try not to make him feel as if it's his responsibility to change his nutty mother. There is little he can do, aside from confronting her when she becomes truly insulting.

*I can't promise that if your relationship with your boyfriend continues, this woman will ever accept you. History is full of too many examples to the contrary. But if you manage to stay cool and if his mother is a rational human being (I know, it seems unlikely now), she'll realize that her rudeness isn't going to make you disappear, and she'll probably stop.


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