If you're single, you've likely encountered the kind of person who has seemingly mastered the art of dating. After ending a long-term relationship, this person licks their wounds, but then decides to download Tinder "just to see what's out there." The next thing you know, they're in a committed relationship with a person they met after only being on the apps for a handful of days. Meanwhile, you've been swiping for so long you're starting to see repeat profiles.
When this happens, it's so easy to fall into jealousy. Who wouldn't? When what you want comes easily to other people, it's natural to start to question what the hell could be wrong with you. The answer to that question, obviously, is nothing, just like there's nothing wrong about feeling a little jealous sometimes. But it's important to keep that jealousy in check.
"The accessibility that we have to people through social media and dating apps has increased the total availability to see things that make you jealous," says Amie Harwick, PhD, a marriage and family therapist. "But when it comes to that jealousy, or that comparison, it's important to remember that you're looking at what you perceive to be the truth." And what we perceive to be true isn't always the truth. So, your friend who seems to hop from happy monogamous relationship to happy monogamous relationship might not be as blissful as they seem.
"Serial monogamists feel their best in a relationship, so they sometimes project this insanely happy facade, when in reality, they're unhappy in their relationships," says Carlen Costa, PhD, a therapist and sexologist. Now, that's not to say that everyone who jumps from relationship to relationship is inherently miserable in their partnership, but it does point to how easy it is to develop a skewed reality. One person is acting happier than they actually are, which can make an outsider feel as if that person's life is perfect. That's why it's great when people are transparent about the work they put into a relationship — it helps people around them set more realistic expectations for themselves.
But if you're on the outside, and a friend's relationship is looking peachy, and you're stewing because you can't get a text back, there are ways to make yourself feel better. "You want to look inward when you're starting to feel jealous," Dr. Harwick says. "You want to recognize what you actually have control over. You can't control whether you're in a relationship or not, but you can increase your odds by setting up an environment that would make that possible." This is all about taking action. "Dating apps aren't the only ways to meet people," she says. Go out in person, talk to friends, get involved in social activities. It's about recognizing that it's natural to feel [jealous], but not to dwell on it. And when you do start to compare, check yourself."
Dr. Costa says that your mindset is also very important when it comes to keeping jealousy from rearing its ugly head. "We only have power over ourselves and how we see the world," she says. She explains that it's important to reframe your thought patterns when you start to feel yourself getting envious. Instead of thinking, Look what I don't have, remind yourself of everything you do have. That's a great first step in changing the way you look at your single status — which, incidentally, is often attractive to potential partners.
And remember: Just because one person's relationship seems to be in one place, that has nothing to do with you or your life. "Relationships develop on their own timeline, and people move at their own paces," Dr. Harwick says. "Just because one person is ahead of you, doesn't mean you won't catch up eventually."