Why Do People Try To Thwart Another Person’s Happiness?

Imagine this: Your long suffering girlfriend who can never seem to find a man, finds a man. She’s happy, he’s happy… by God they have managed to hook up. But then you notice the phenomena. People begin to attack this gal. They undermine, thwart, block, you name it. So why is that? Whyyyyyyyyy?

Follow ups…

My Uranus transit and the slaves newly freed
My theory around freed slave and people who begrudge their happiness


Why Do People Try To Thwart Another Person’s Happiness? — 79 Comments

  1. Interesting, Elsa. I recently was reading a blog by a woman I don’t know. Her story is that she was married and had a child and grew unhappy in the marriage. She cheated and . . . anyway, now she got a book deal (she wrote about all this on her blog) and is getting married to some guy and . . . I feel like, it’s hard to be happy there. Maybe I’m a jerk, but I don’t have a problem being happy for people who seem like good people and deserve good things, but she seems kind of selfish and behaves badly, yet she gets rewarded for it? That, I don’t get.

    But that’s like the only situation I can think of when I’m not really happy for someone.

  2. I imagine some of it is envy or jealousy, but it seems to me that a bigger part of it is that there are some people who tend to put other people in categories, and if you’re bold enough to ignore their category for you, you’re punished in some way for it.

    For example, The One Who Is Never Partnered finally finds her soul mate? Her friends immediately start talking him down, talking the relationship down, planting doubts about everything in her mind.

    The One Who Copes suddenly hits something she can’t cope with? People are shocked. SHOCKED! That you would cry in front of them, ask for help, ask for support. And then they start talking about how you’re selfish to need their time and energy. (do I sound bitter? this happened to me recently, and I’m still angry about it.)

    Another one that also happened to me: The One Who Is Fat loses 110lbs, and suddenly people are talking behind her back and in front of her back, for that matter, about how she’s become vain and stuck-up and behaves like a diva.

    People, some of them anyway, don’t want change. They want everything to stay just like it was, and if you dare to change or challenge something they had in a tidy box, they get angry and defensive, which makes them go on the offensive…thus the cockblockers of the world.

    my .02.

  3. A couple of things come to mind. I agree with Ronda in that I think a lot of it is unconscious jealousy. Because people can’t admit that they are jealous of something another person has, it comes out in petty meanness.

    Also, you know the old adage, “Misery loves company.” Well, it does.

  4. Ronda’s got it. Also, some people seem to live with a scarcity mentality – that there’s only so much happiness to go around, and if some other person gets a piece of that, there’s less in the kitty for you.

    Watching someone achieve a dream also shines a light on what YOU haven’t done to make your own dreams manifest, and I think it makes people uncomfortable… it’s so much easier to begrudge someone a success than get your act together and claim your own.

    And then there’s a perceived nobility in suffering. I do this: There’s an acquaintance of mine whom I cannot stand. She’s a conniving bitch and she wrecks lives as a hobby (pursuing married men exclusively, conning people to loan her money and then never paying them back). And I watch her flit across the globe – she travels a lot – and it’s painful to me that she gets to go to an ashram in India or go to cooking school in Paris, and I stay here taking care of my kid, going to work and spending what little income I have on necessities. I haven’t had a real vacation in years! But her life is one big vacation and in my mind, she doesn’t deserve it. So, not being happy for her makes me feel better about the sacrifices I’m making.

    That’s not very evolved of me, as intellectually I can see that everyone deserves their brand of happiness. Anyone else but her? Their joy is my joy.

  5. Avery,

    That’s exactly what I was talking about. This is changing the subject of Elsa’s post, but I wonder if she can comment on that phenomenon – or even creat a separate post about this, because it always leaves me wondering. Do people get what they have coming to them?

    I remain single because I’ve had a lot to learn about love. But there are other people who just act plain selfishly, needily, desperately, and it seems they always get stuff handed to them – like this woman you’re talking about. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like you should be dealt a break – but why does that woman get what she gets?


  6. (I should watch my language – I use the collective “you” a lot but it sounds so accusatory, should probably use “one” or heck, since I do it, “I” 🙂 ). No offense, y’all!

  7. Actually I think Elsa did have a post about the getting-what’s-coming-to-them thing but I think it was phrased as are there get-out-of-jail-free cards in life?

  8. As someone who has devoted the better part of her life to encouraging other’s joy in themselves and their hopes & dreams, it always shocks me to see this type of behavior. My gut feeling is it has to do with an emptiness within and a meanness of spirit eating away the individual from inside out. I watched this type of behavior in my family for years . . .

    Astrologically? Saturn square Moon? Moon aspected by Pluto? There are examples in Judy Hall’s book, “The Hades Moon” similar to what you are discussing. For what it’s worth, my Moon is conjunct Neptune (empathy), sextile Saturn/Pluto and trine Uranus plus my Sun & Moon are in the same sign – all contributing to a emotionally stable personality.

  9. Hi Grace. Yes, you’re right, but I always wonder about people who continue to act outside the laws of the universe. Like they try to control everything or they are selfish, greedy . . . yet, things turn out for them.

    I’d love to hear Elsa’s thoughts on that.

    Though, sometimes I wonder if it just may *appear* this way for a certain amount of time, but then things really do fall apart.

  10. Good Luck Elsa. HW, I know what you mean. I am waiting for a particular someone’s spectacular downfall, and I am not ashamed to say it! Meanwhile I can’t and wouldn’t do anything to bring it on, I want to see what if anything the Universe will do about it.

  11. Ronda, when people are unkind to you remember these words from Marianne Williamson:
    “Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

  12. Hi Neith:

    Let’s not blame Saturn here unnecessarily. I’m a Saturn square Cappy Moon person, and I don’t do things like this to others. Yes, other people’s success can depress me, but I’m far more likely to beat myself up over it for my own inadequacies than lash out at the lucky person. As an adult I try to allow myself to feel happy for others and not immediately retreat to my dark place, but it’s always a struggle. I’d look to Pluto for that meanspiritedness.

  13. Tam,

    I’ve always loved that quote, although for years I thought it was by Nelson Mandela. Turns out it was one of those great things he never said. 🙂

  14. Tam,
    I’ve heard that again and again and I just love it. Thank you.

    As for people who can’t be happy for other people, I’ve said it before: this person lacks creativity. Dream up your own life and don’t begrudge people who do!

  15. Hey Elsa, love your blog and these neat video entries.

    From what I’m perceiving, this girl has recently hooked up with a man and now wants to have a baby. Okay, so my intuition is telling me that she’s so inexperienced to happiness that she is probably a little unware of how obnoxious she may look to others. You know those people, they did not come across happiness for a long time and when they finally get it, they exploit it as much to the public as possible. That’s my first impression. I’m not saying she’s undeserving, but that may trigger some people to be reactive towards her negatively.

    Second, like someone mentioned above here, people who seem to be disgustingly, genuinely happy may not deserve it. But you and I know that maybe those people aren’t genuinely happy but creating a phony image to the outer world, when one (or both) of them are truly not happy at all. People pick up on that too.

    Thirdly! It’s all about etiquette.

    I am happy in my relationships but I never make it a public spectacle of it by telling everyone details of our lives. This to me is more publicity than decency for the relationship. There are people who display their happiness just a bit too much that it becomes downright obnoxious for others to know, who don’t even WANT to know and don’t care to know. It’s not that we can’t be happy for others, but some people rub others the wrong way like this. Most who are on the quite conservative nature!

    Happiness thrives when you can quietly keep it to yourselves and not brazenly show it off to the rest of the world. It is as if couples make it a spectacle of their love. This may come off as very phony rather than being genuinely happy.

    There is a very delicate, thin veil there, even the smallest amount of happiness known to others can cause a great reaction of disgust and hatred. This is just human nature, I’ve observed. Being happy for someone is genuinely hard to come by when we’re busy trying to be happy for ourselves.

  16. Hi Stephanie,

    I apologize for not being more clear because as I see it the natal chart is only a map. It doesn’t show us the results of a person’s choices. It’s obvious you are making the sound choices typical of Capricorn and will end up a better person for it.

    In fact, I’d say most of the people who stop by and read Elsa Elsa are here because they are aware of what’s going on inside and wish to keep moving forward. It’s the awareness that is so important – we can’t address issues we keep hidden from ourselves. The most amazing thing to me is we CAN move past old behavior patterns and those of us with Saturn/Pluto in irritating aspects to personal planets have the capacity to do so. Saturn gives us patience to do it step by step and Pluto is often the source of the pain and the fuel for transformation.


  17. Lisa – just for the record, as far as I know there is no one who is not happy for the pregnant woman.. she has been married some years. I was just using that as an example, how ludicrous this reaction seems to me.

    I also disagree people should not broadcast happiness. I must since I do it about 350 of 365 days a year. Though I can see your perspective re: gloating is not polite??? I am also pretty sure that happiness breeds happiness, at least this is what I have witnessed as a smiling person. I tend to smile at people and they tend to smile back.

    I do get you though (I think). I am sure I am considered beyond obnoxious by plenty! However I am pretty much screwed on this front by virtue of being born Italian (with Venus in Leo) in the first place. 🙂

    Personally I love happy people. I thank God for them. But I tend to go up with any stimulus so that probably explains that.

  18. Why begrudge anyone happiness? Mind your own effen business and get moving on something that makes YOU happy. How hateful, small-minded and icky–it’s like when they say that the things that bother you about other people are what you lack or wish you had or perhaps, what you struggle to express. So not just simple jealousy of that thing, but of the freedom to have it, enjoy it, own it undeniably and unapologetically. You never see loving and expansive people act or think like that. It’s always the people who feel screwed by life, they have a chip on their shoulder and feel that THEY TOO deserve that but something (out of their control, naturally) is preventing them from having it.
    Please. Stop wasting time worrying about other people and get a life, seriously.

  19. Funny, I was thinking the other day how it makes me happy to see other people doing things to make themselves happy. Even something as simple as seeing them eat something they really enjoy or get a good night’s sleep.

    I would say Pisces moon places myself in their shoes and thinks to herself, “Yes, I like eating nice meals too! How nice they must feel!” and I get a little boost.

    Conversely, people who are depressed and negative make me feel trapped.

    The mother of a boy I used to date more or less embodied everything I despise: surrounded by ugly furniture, television (but no music!), bland and/or frozen food, closed minded, with a horribly ugly car that she made even more ugly by hanging bedsheets all over the seats. She was exactly the sort of person who would tear others down and I have to say I didn’t get it then and I still don’t now. She must have, at one point, been optimistic and hopeful, and I don’t know where it went. It is not easy to be bitter like that.

  20. Yes, it’s envy and jealousy and misery not wanting to be alone. All of that and insecurity.

    Usually the people that try to bring you down when you’re happy are people that aren’t happy themselves. And when someone feels like a failure or helpless and sees someone who was also in that category (as Ronda says) seems to somehow make it and progress…well, then the person becomes an even bigger failure.

  21. It’s important for the happy one not to get caught into the jealousy of other’s, that also helps the jealous to find their (lost) boundaries. This is important when the jealous is a relative or friend, because otherwise, who cares? I have a 3rd house Pisces, so I never get what other people talk about me, it’s such a blessing 🙂

  22. i think perhaps it’s really challenging to see someone following they’re bliss when you’ve settled for something less. people who don’t listen to their needs feel threatened by those who have because it triggers all the things they haven’t addressed in themselves and that _hurts_.
    and they’re too scared to face it, so instead they focus on what’s provoking the awareness rather than fixing their own problem.

  23. When GWB became president, I was not at all happy for him. Either time. It appeared to be what he wanted. And a great opportunity for him to learn things about the government. It pleased him, yet frankly I begrudged him that. Unfortunately there are times when what makes some people happy just does not work well for others. (Which has nothing to do with the original post but at one point this thread took a detour into when some people seem to get away with things.)

  24. Piya…o my heart hurts. That woman sounds like she was living in a world of pain. Sadly some people are born in it 🙁
    Bless them and send the intention that they may be released to their higher good, that’s all you can do for some, I think.

  25. Elsa – sorry I didn’t mean to come off as a Scrooge here. I personally love happy things: laughing children, puppies playing with kittens, elderly spending a glorious time in the park like they were born yesterday, friends getting success, I love all of that.

    I am always constantly thriving off the energy of happy people. I just think some people do it in a weird, public way to convince others they are happy that doesn’t seem so natural. I mean I’ve known people who use “happiness” to elicit jealousy from others. I must be thinking the wrong kind of happy-people here! 😀 Go figure (Merc. sq. Neptune)

    But yes, now I understand the issue better: I don’t know how this phenomena could be possible. I couldn’t deal with it myself, if I were to be happy and I wanted to rejoice it out to the world. People, keep your jealous monster at bay!

    XOXO Elsa!
    (btw, I LOVE Venusian Leonines. Talk about being the epitome of a happy woman!)

  26. I would say it is due to scarcity thinking. People think happiness is a zerosum game. What you get I don’t get. Also, I think seeing happiness confronts people with their own unhappiness.

  27. Exactly like Amber says – “people think happiness is a zerosum game.” I work with several women my age (early 30s) who are single and desperately unhappy about it. Whenever there is an engagement party or baby shower at work, you can hear them gritting their teeth and trying to suppress their bitchy comments.
    When I see a happy couple on the subway, it warms my heart. I’m a sappy Cancer with Venus in Leo. And I have Moon square Saturn, but it mostly makes me hard on myself, not others.

  28. I have a bumper sticker that really hits home for me. It says, “People who have abandoned their dreams will discourage yours.”

    I’m the sort of person who will take a chance on something, try to succeed even if the odds look like they may be against me. I figure it is better to try and fail than to stop trying.

    I know a lot of people, however, who have given up trying. Like someone said before, misery loves company. Whenever I am trying something new there are always people who want to diminish it and tell me that I will fail. When it seems to be working out I get a lot of negativity from them, and when I seem to be down people will try to kick me.

    If I were content to work at some boring job that I hate and be miserable I would still be getting the same vibe because of some other part of my life that is going well, so what?

    I try not to spend a lot of time around people like that. There are a lot of them though, and sometimes they are very hard to avoid. It must be really miserable being like that.

  29. I dare not put my story into this one, on the off-chance someone involved in the story finds it… But I think there are a lot of bitter, jealous people in the world who can’t stand to see other people happy. It’s the older, divorced woman who’s leaning toward hating men who picks apart a younger woman’s happy relationship because the younger woman has what the older woman could never find. People are ugly like that sometimes.

  30. yes, some people definitely treat happiness as a zero sum game. It is too bad…especially since happiness is so easy to share.

    Amethyst – “People who have abandoned their dreams will discourage yours.” Can’t tell you how many times I have seen this happen. I can’t stand being around this. It’s depressing.

    I like what Piya said about experiencing happiness by seeing happy people. Watching someone else reach a dream, overcome something, or just enjoy themself makes me somehow feel like I get to share a small part of it too! Their success opens up so many possibilities for others to do the same. Vicarious happiness I guess. I love it when strangers smile at me on the street. Can’t help but want to smile back 🙂

  31. Astrologically, I would think she had some Pisces or Capricorn energy conjunct her Venus that always had to “suffer” in some form.

  32. Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Uranus in Scorpio… Moon conjunct Pluto.
    No hard aspects to any of this otherwise.
    I’d have thought you could breathe on her and she’d be pregnant…

  33. Seekingzen: I’ve seen it. I see it to a lesser degree in other ways. I move to a new place in a ‘cool’ neighbourhood, people warn me to lock my door etc.
    I’ve got amazing relationships. Really, I’ve been blessed to the max. I never begrudge people their happiness. It’s a no-brainer to me.

    People love being around people who’ve made an investment in their happiness…that’s what I see from my angle. Must be my Venus/Mars conjunction. I have a pal who yelps “LOVEMELOVEMEHUGMEHUGME!” when we see each other (Pisces) and it makes me laugh (and oblige) every time.

    You want a relationship? Be the person you want to be. You want love? BE LOVE!
    Some of the people close to me in my life have seen pain that beggars belief. Of course I’ll love them. Why the fuck NOT!

  34. Sometimes well meaning people will try and put a damper on the joy of someone close to them because they’re afraid for them – they’re afraid that some big disappointment may come after the happiness, especially if the happiness is perceived as excessive. They start imagining potential flaws and pitfalls and may want to warn the happy person. It’s a well intentioned protective attitude, but often it’s also a controlling issue – needing to control the happy person, who is perceived as literally out of control.

  35. Oh I just saw that you linked back to my Christmas Video.

    I have to say, this time no one has tried to put me back in chains. I’ve been chained and freed so many times I think they’ve given up. When I left my first husband more than ten years ago my family was in a real hurry to get me back in chains. I went through a series of relationships and jobs trying to find chains that fit better.

    Now I have a man who makes me more free and a life that I love. I don’t think anyone will even bother to try and get chains back on me this time and god help them if they try.

  36. I’ve had trouble with younger women “trying” to block my happiness (I’m a Sadge and it just ain’t gonna happen). When I was 32 I married someone 10 years younger and a mutual friend made a snide remark about him being with me because I reminded him of his mother…?

    Then I divorced him and remarried someone 14 years younger than myself (Libra Rising/ Aries on the Descendant). A co-worker of his[my husband] whom I became acquainted with would find every opportunity to ridicule me and bring up my age. She was engaged to this guy from Spain (my husband and he were both imports)who was 10 years younger than her. He was not interested in being a step-parent so he broke off the engagement. She was a few years younger than myself and could not understand why my man was still with me while hers was busy impregnating a stripper from Mexico.

    She was really cute and in good physical shape so I thought that she’d find someone in no time and leave me alone but she was relentless because of her unhappiness. I realized that women like this have the proverbial “ugly step-sister” syndrome.
    They just refuse to do the work to make themselves attractive from the inside out….rather than the other way around.

    People block another’s happiness because they they just refuse to do the work to attract this state of being. My life and the state of happiness did not just fall into my lap…I manifested it through working on myself.

  37. Jamie…you’ve just given me another reason why I eliminate these people out of my life as soon as they are in it and I can see where they’re trying to take me!

    It’s SO TRUE: inside before out…inside before out!
    I’m glad for you!

  38. Thank you, kashmiri. Funny thing is that I do not eliminate them but rather they eliminate themselves. 🙁 I took care of that woman’s daughter until my illness would no longer allow it. ( The kid did not do anything to me is how I saw things.)
    She was so very tired of not getting a reaction out of me that she just gave up and went away with her miserable self.

    I have to tell you that from my experience that it really does not matter how much water you put in your breasts, lipstick on your mouth, or how tight your kegel muscles are….if you suck at being a human then you will repel everything good that is within spitting distance.

    I’m 45 my hubby is 31. Can you just see the chart on this one! Saturn oppossition Saturn…EEK! But like Elsa said in one of her Merc retro posts, “Some things just trump others”. We have 5 planets conjunct in the 11th House. It can’t get any better than this I tell you. I get to sleep in the arms of my friend…..when I’m not hot-flashing and sweating.

    I’ve read your posts about your man, kashmiri, and it seems you’ve found bliss in partnering as well. I really enjoyed your perspective on his personality traits and how you really focus on the good rather than the “bad”. That is really beautiful.

    We are happy with ourselves and that is probably why it would never occur to us to “block” someone else from being happy.


  39. I think there are several reasons for this in different situations. Some, other commenters have mentioned. Disruption to the “established system,” negative comparisons to the self, etc.

    At root of most of them, I believe there are insecurities and self-esteem issues. If I am not happy and don’t feel quite good enough because of it, then when you’re unhappy with me, it makes me feel less like a failure. Or I may be able to find ways that I compare favorably to you, and thus feel better about me. (Speaking in general here-that’s not how I personally think.) But if you’re suddenly incredibly happy, that whole balance has shifted and i have to look back at myself to see where I am lacking. Even people who care about you and have your best interests ultimately at heart can find that process unsettling at first.

    Sometimes, other are also hesitant to “endorse” delirious happiness because they worry about their friend or whoever getting let down. They don’t trust the source, and therefore don’t want to over-encourage it. To me, that’s also a mistake, because happiness is a gift, whenever it visits and for however long, but I at least understand the sentiment better.

    Also, I think people develop explanations for situations. When things shift up, it can disrupt their worldview and leave them feeling unsettled and upset.

  40. The whole thing is about insecurities! (plural). When people are feeling solid, stable, confident, strong etc. it is really easy to share and support anothers bliss and happiness.
    However, when people are insecure, feeling weak, low in self-esteem they just don’t have it in them to share/support anothers happiness…they are threatened by happy people.

  41. Jamie-I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but my partner and I have a large age gap as well. Thank you for your support 🙂
    I agree with many of the posters here that self-esteem (lack of) and self-loathing prevents people from being happy for others.

    Still, I eliminate these people. I’m sure many people here can relate: I simply DO NOT HAVE TIME to spend with people who are like this. I’m doing my best to live by example. If you don’t understand it, I’m sorry. I can’t explain to you why you should choose gratitude over resentment.

    I spent many years in a friendship with someone who undermined me. She was the kind of person who has suffered greatly in this life, and I wanted to love her to death. I still love her…but I ‘broke up’ with her. My tolerance and patience got beaten down by the snide remarks and back-stabbing. It was extremely difficult, and I felt like a failure.
    (Can’t you see how much I love YOU? Can’t you see that being happy for other people is WORTH it?)

    To me, it’s like being in a relationship with someone who physically abuses you. Why stay in an emotionally abusive relationship out of loyalty??

  42. Kashmiri (are you really from Kashmir?) 🙂

    You just reminded me of a long-time friend who I broke up with when I left my long-time abusive relationship with my ex. She was going through a divorce (a stunning and painful one) so the guilt was high for leaving when I did, but I couldn’t take the remarks anymore.

    I still miss her and love her and wonder how she is, but her world (back then) was tumbling down.

    She used to make such little passive aggressive remarks because . . . I don’t know, she was jealous? Don’t really know why. Just to diminish me.

    Recently, a family member saw her somewhere. This family member feels sorry for what happened and wishes we’d make up (I’ve had to tell family member not to meddle in my affairs, though he means well) . . . and do you know what she told him? “I still don’t know what I did.”

    UGH! Some things never change. I spelled it out for her three times. She just wants to be the victim, still. It’s obvious. So, oh well. I lose my friend.

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