St Augustine once said “he that is not jealous is not in love”, and while I don’t like to believe it, my previous experiences in my own and others’ relationships have led me to consider him correct.
We’ve all experienced an encounter with the green-eyed monster. Whether it’s been envy, which tends to be targeted at others for what they have which we do not, or jealousy, which is formed by our own emotions. Jealousy is an ugly but powerful combination of fear, anxiety, anger and a lack of control, and is usually fuelled by our own insecurities.
When it comes to relationships, both envy and jealousy join forces. We’re jealous of the fact that our partner is receiving attention from somebody else and we’re envious of the person devoting their attention. We become envious of everything about this person, and it would appear most of us have experienced this. A survey among cupid.com users suggests that most people experience jealousy in relationships from time to time. Thankfully, it’s believed that in moderation, a little jealousy can be a good thing.
The Psychology of Jealousy
Good old Sigmund Freud, King of the Oedipus Complex, believed that jealousy in relationships is not only normal but desirable. He greatly explored jealousy in children and believer that from the age of three, children become jealous of the parent of the same sex and begin to compete for the attention of the other parent.
This tends to move on to sibling rivalry throughout childhood, followed by jealousy regarding friendships during adolescence. A Developmental Psychology study found that teenagers who suffer from low self-esteem are particularly likely to worry about the possibility of others threatening their friendships. As we get older, our jealousy rears its ugly head in on our relationships; romantic jealousy being the most common form of Mr Green Eye.
Jealousy is usually a simple indication that something isn’t right, whether it be in our relationships or our own insecurities. Jealousy over the thought of someone else capturing your love’s attention often reflects your insecurities and we experience a fear of losing control, a fear of change.
It’s believed that women are more inclined to feel jealous and that women are also more likely to compare ourselves to others, creating that dangerous mix of jealousy and envy. Our jealousy tends to directed at the rival rather than our partner; we feel threatened by whoever it is that seems to want what we have.
How to Cope with Feeling Green
If you’re feeling a little green, you needn’t worry. Your jealousy is a reminder of how much you care for your partner, so rather than waste your time hating on someone they’ve recently befriended, use your energy on building a stronger relationship.
If your new rival really seems to have gotten under your skin, think about why you’re so envious of them and use it to your advantage. Jealousy over others can actually be a great way to motivate yourself to achieve more and change what you’re unhappy with.
I’ve seen jealousy at its worse and all I will say is don’t ban your man from seeing a good female friend.
Here are my collected lessons of jealousy do’s and don’t’s…
DO understand that your partner is attractive and therefore likely to get attention. Enjoy this, don't sulk about it. You’re the one going home with them.
DON’T ask to see their phone. Or check it when they leave the room.
DO carefully approach the topic with your partner if you really are concerned, but choose your words wisely. Don’t imply that they’ve done anything wrong; this is your problem, not theirs. Approach the issue once and then drop it.
DON’T insist on joining them when they go out with friends.
DO watch for the legitimate warning signs that they’re cheating. Don’t be paranoid and jealous, but don’t be naïve either.
Rather importantly, remember that everybody likes to be reminded that they’re attractive and everybody enjoys a bit of a flirt. A minor attraction to somebody other than your partner is both normal and harmless, granted that it stays that way. Few of us can honestly say that a thought similar to “if I was single…” hasn’t crossed our mind when passing an undeniably gorgeous being in the street.
What’s your own personal experience with jealousy? Do you think it’s healthy or the path to a ruined relationship? And, just for fun, what’s the craziest thing the green eyed monster has encouraged you to do? I once spoke to a male friend over IM for half an hour before discovering it was his girlfriend impersonating him. And I was not nice about her.
Image via X-Ray Delta One's Flickr