My friend J is by all accounts extremely pretty, and whenever we go out she gets tons of attention from guys. I used to have a running joke with my friend M that it wasn't a night out unless J got hit on. Lately I've had more and more nights out where it's just J and me and one of J's guy friends, who happily runs interference for us and keeps unwanted male attention at bay. Most of the time, I don't mind all the attention J gets, but sometimes a part of me--a petty, unreasoning part of me--doesn't enjoy being relegated to the role of Less Attractive Friend all the time.
Envy is an unpleasant feeling and not one I imagine many friends openly admit to. What's worse is that J is one of the sweetest and most genuine people I know; she's a true friend and a kindred spirit, and it's not her fault that guys are drawn to her like UVic bunnies to human food. When your friend is as loyal as J is to me, are you a bad person for feeling envious of her sometimes? It sure feels like it, which leads to a downward spiral of self-loathing if you're not careful.
All of this hit home with a recent experience, where a guy I was interested in met J for the first time. Although I thought it was inevitable that this guy would try to hit on J somehow, when it happened, the experience still hurt. To J's credit, she behaved impeccably: she refused him and told me about it as soon as it happened, even though she was afraid I would be mad at her.
Afterward, J and I talked about what happened, and I admitted to my Less Attractive Friend Envy and being disheartened sometimes by how often guys zoned in on her and paid no attention to me. She in turn was very surprised as she had no idea this was how I felt, and then--this is the most amazing part--confessed that she felt Less Attractive Friend Envy in relation to one of her friends. So, perhaps Less Attractive Friend Envy is more common than I had thought, and more human than I thought.
So what do you do with Less Attractive Friend Envy to keep it from poisoning your friendship? Well, if you're like J, you learn to accept it, and you learn that beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder. She has since met guys who weren't attracted to her friend for some reason or another: a girl may be gorgeous, but that doesn't mean she is always adored. If you're like me, you use your friend as some sort of litmus test for potential relationship material. I still remember when my second boyfriend met J for the first time; this was before we began dating. He was friendly and warm because J was my friend and it was her birthday, but in terms of romantic attention it was all eyes on me that night. As strange as this sounds, that was how I knew he was a keeper. I'm sure other girls have found other ways of dealing with Less Attractive Friend Envy, and as time goes on I'll probably find more for myself as well.