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Jealousy Doesn’t Have to Ruin a Friendship

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When Bob Bergeson’s friend invited him to a Denver Nuggets basketball game with some new pals, he was excited to join in. Sure, the evening would cost him nearly $400, an amount he wouldn’t normally spend. But Mr. Bergeson’s splurge didn’t reflect a slavish devotion to basketball; he opened his wallet because he felt insecure about his languishing relationship with his friend, who he perceived to be getting closer to a new group of people.

“He started hanging out with the dads on his daughter’s soccer team and talking about them fondly and I thought, ‘Oh, man he’s kind of got some new friends,’” Mr. Bergeson, 42, a business consultant in Denver, said. “I needed to insert myself to make sure I still mattered to him.”

Just like you can lose a romantic partner to another person, “friends can also lose their slot in the best friend hierarchy,” said Jaimie Krems, a friendship researcher and assistant professor of psychology at Oklahoma State University. This fear of being replaced is often borne out of jealousy, Dr. Krems said. And one way to cope with it, she added, is by doing something social scientists refer to as friend guarding — actions like excessively praising a friend or cutting down a new rival, for example — to maintain a threatened relationship.

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https://static01.nyt.com/images/2022/03/15/well/04well-jealousy-friendships/04well-jealousy-friendships-superJumbo.jpg?quality=75&auto=webpOhni Lisle

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