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Are you envious of your friends with money?

Women used to be competitive over looks, but now they're concerned with pay checks. Dr. Gail Saltz gives tips on dealing with the green meanies.
/ Source: TODAY

In the new comedy, "Friends with Money,” Jennifer Aniston plays a money-challenged housekeeper, surrounded by friends with lots of bling bling. In the movie, this creates problems for her. Unfortunately, many women share the same problem. These days women are more apt to judge each other by their size of their bank accounts. Dr. Gail Saltz, a “Today” contributor and a psychiatrist, tells us why this is so, and gives us some tips on how we can control our envy — and keep our friends.

One of the most difficult and, therefore, seldom spoken of issues with your friends is the subject of money. Why? You are dealing with feelings of being competitive and envious. Telling people what you have and what you make leaves you vulnerable to comparison. You open yourself up to either feeling envy or being envied, and neither is particularly enjoyable.

It used to be that women tended to be more envious over appearances, and men tend to be more competitive over money. This had its underpinnings in biology where women had to compete for a mate with their looks, their health, and their fertility, in a time when the number of mates was limited. Men had to compete for a mate on his ability to provide things like security.

Today however, women are finding out they can provide for themselves. So women now feel envious about their salaries and their husband's salaries, with the overall picture of who can have more material possessions.

Interestingly, studies have shown that most women would rather have less money as long as their peers had the same amount, rather than have more money, if everyone around them had a lot more than them. This just demonstrates the impact of envy.

Competition and envy are not all bad. It is the competitive edge that gets stirred and it pushes you to ultimately dig in, work harder, and strive for success. BUT when envy becomes too great, it may cause you to be isolated, rejected and, in some instances, lose friends. So the trick is how to be aware of your envy and use it to further yourself, but not let it consume you so that it ultimately results in your failure.

Friends with money tips:

Choose your pond.As the above research suggested, you may be happier and more satisfied if you choose friends who are in a similar financial situation. If swimming in the big pond of people with a lot more money/status makes you feel terrible all the time, consider making some friends who are in the same pond as you are. It may be better to be a big fish in a small pond for you.

Excel in your own domain.If you feel envious of others who make a lot of money, look for the arena that you have "riches" in. Perhaps you are very artistic and creative, or a real social animal. Look at your strengths when the green-eyed monster shows up.

Use envy to motivate.If you want to make more like she does, then crank your work up a notch and creatively think how you can move ahead.

Be Gracious.If you fear being envied, be empathic and gracious. People may try to put you down in order to diminish their own insecurities. If you are extra gracious they are more likely to decide you are worth befriending and to have you as an ally.