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A few years ago, my best friend Naya got engaged to her current husband and a friend of mine had a complete meltdown. Instead of saying she was happy for Naya, she instead said that it wasn’t fair and that she couldn’t be happy for Naya because she hadn’t been proposed to, yet.

During this brief conversation, several red flags were raised and I side-eyed her ’til my eyes hurt. And although I understand engagements, weddings and babies can trigger people to become depressed or grief-stricken, these events happen constantly in my family and circle of friends, so I never understood people who remain in a rut or angry at others for their life milestones. Until now.

New York City Psychotherapist Katherine Schafler told Glamour : “It’s very common, not just with an engagement, but with seeing a baby—even if you’re not in a relationship—or seeing somebody who just landed some sort of milestone. I call them ‘adulthood stamps.’ They trigger the desires and the wants that you have but, for whatever reason, might not have realized yet.”

Schafler also noted that people, especially women, shouldn’t judge themselves for feeling initial emotions of jealousy. “Reactions are emotionally reflexive things that we don’t do on purpose. If someone threw something at you, you’d have a physical reflex of dodging it,” she explained. So to work through your emotions when you learn someone has reached a milestone, Schafler recommends you “give yourself some space” before criticizing your thoughts. She also also notes that your reaction serves as a personal reminder that you want to achieve similar goals and that’s a good thing. Your reaction may also be a sign to you to make changes in your own life. This may mean that you need to end the relationship with your current partner, go back to school or stop holding off from family planning.

Although I do agree with Dr. Schafler’s advice, I believe some Miserable Marys may skew it to justify being selfish haters.

Do you agree and how have you handled friends getting engaged (or reaching any other milestone) before you? 

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