5 Telltale Signs That You’re the Target of Envy

Araya Baker, M.Phil.Ed., Ed.M.
5 min readApr 4, 2020
Source: Getty Images

If you’ve ever earned recognition for a significant accomplishment or milestone, you’ve probably been blindsided by disappointment that your victory didn’t move everyone who witnessed the sacrifice and work ethic it demanded. Without warning, even the people who love us most can sometimes grow envious of us, and just as unexpectedly, so can people who barely know us at all.

And worse, being a modest person who doesn’t flaunt coveted material possessions or status symbols doesn’t necessarily protect you from being targeted. When you possess certain enviable personal characteristics that garner attention — traits like charisma, creativity, or self-discipline — simply being yourself is enough to make some individuals resent you.

Below I delve into several telltale signs of envy, and unpack the psychological underpinnings of these red flags. Each analysis offers an explanation of why and how comparison, competitiveness, insecurity, and narcissism often get the best of people who are particularly susceptible to envy. In many instances, their low self-worth, often masked as bravado or condescension, stirs up unnecessary conflict and tension.

If you’re being targeted by envy, you’ve probably wondered why said person spends more time diminishing you than addressing their own low self-esteem and working toward inner fulfillment and self-empowerment. The examples here provide insight into just how disempowered and irrational envy can render some individuals.

1. They step out of character when others compliment or congratulate you.

Envy is such a common and universal emotion, even the angels amongst us are susceptible to it. It doesn’t help that by selling illusions of perfection, the beauty and media industries plant a degree of insecurity in all of us.

The implication for recognizing envy in others is that they probably aren’t known as bullies. Instead, their envy may manifest as a reaction to you that often seems totally out of character. In social settings, you’ve probably never seen them bully others, and they might even treat you cordially. However, you might also notice that a switch flips when others shower you with attention. As everyone else enthusiastically compliments or congratulates you, they suddenly appear…

Araya Baker, M.Phil.Ed., Ed.M.

Araya Baker is a counselor, suicidologist, and policy analyst.