It’s easy to mistake envy for attraction.

Envy, unlike attraction, leads to controlling behavior.

Too often, when I see a relationship end, I find myself saying that the two people “never really liked each other.” What do I mean?

If you think you like someone because they are intelligent, good-looking, rich, young, experienced, confident, cool, extroverted, ambitious, optimistic, happy, artistic, athletic–then, believe it or not, perhaps you don’t like them at all. Maybe you just want to be intelligent, rich, confident, happy, etc. You just want those traits.

You might want those traits almost as if they are objects to be possessed or consumed.

When you really like someone, you like the way they treat you. You like how they talk to you, how they argue with you, how they say no to you.

And you like how they treat others. (If you only like the way someone treats you, but not how they treat others, then you are being love-bombed.)

If what you like about someone are a set of traits, then it is likely that you are merely envious. And if you are merely envious, then you will eventually become controlling. Because everyone tries to control the things they want.

But a person is not a thing. People should not be used.

If you find yourself becoming controlling or even abusive, ask yourself honestly: Did you ever really like the person? Or did you just want their positive attitude, their good looks, their intelligence, their youth, their wealth?

If you find yourself being controlled, ask yourself: Did you ever really like the way you saw this person treat others? For instance, did you like the way they talked about their ex? Would you have wanted to be talked about that way?

Because if someone is envious of you, but they think they are attracted, then the first thing they are going to do is put you on a pedestal. They will love-bomb you. They will degrade their ex and tell you how great you are in comparison. If they want you for your youth, wealth, or optimism, then they will idealize that. But the problem is that you can’t make them young, wealthy or optimistic. So you will inevitably disappoint them. And then they will become resentful.

Here is one final hint.

Every time I have mistaken envy for attraction, it was envy at first sight. Of course, at the time, I thought it was love at first sight. But love is often slow. After all, it takes a while to see how someone treats others.