Tim Bornholdt

It’s Your Friends Who Break Your Heart

Whenever I mentioned to people that I was working on a story about friendship in midlife, questions about envy invariably followed. It’s an irresistible subject, this thing that Socrates called “the ulcer of the soul.” Paul Bloom, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, told me that many years ago, he taught a seminar at Yale about the seven deadly sins. “Envy,” he said dryly, “was the one sin students never boasted about.”

He’s right. With the exception of envy, all of the deadly sins can be pleasurable in some way. Rage can be righteous; lust can be thrilling; greed gets you all the good toys. But nothing feels good about envy, nor is there any clear way to slake it. You can work out anger with boxing gloves, sate your gluttony by feasting on a cake, boast your way through cocktail hour, or sleep your way through lunch. But envy—what are you to do with that?

Die of it, as the expression goes. No one ever says they’re dying of pride or sloth.

This is one of those articles that is hard to pull one single quote from, because it’s just so damn good.

The whole piece hits me right in the chest, and I’m sure you, dear reader, have someone you should be reaching out to after reading this too.