Jealousy

October 30, 2014 § 1 Comment

Admit it; you would be lying if you said you’ve never experienced jealousy. Everyone has. As someone who has been on both ends of jealousy’s painful grip I thought it might be useful (and perhaps cathartic) to analyze jealousy. What drives it? What causes it?

I’m not going to pretend that this is a fully scientific analysis. Not only will my analysis focus solely on jealousy in relationships, but I’m not going to even consider the scientific explanations for jealousy that can be found with a quick google search. Instead I’m going to just barely scratch the surface and examine what type of psychological forces might be at work. Sure, human beings have evolutionary reasons for being overly protective. But I’m just going to examine things from the perspective of an everyday person trying to better understand their experience on this giant space rock we call earth as it flies through the cosmos toward likely oblivion (a heartwarming thought, I know).

So to start, I think jealousy can be most easily broken down into two groups: “rational” jealousy and “irrational” jealousy. The terms are somewhat arbitrary and I realize I’m taking some liberties with the language here, but just let me explain.

The first group is “rational” jealousy. Someone suffering from this form of jealousy has been previously lied to in their current relationship. These people at least have some justification for being skeptical of their significant other. Granted, this doesn’t make their jealousy literally “rational” but it’s certainly more rational than the second group.

“Irrational jealousy” is characterized by an inability to trust a partner despite them giving no reason for that to be the case. Often people suffering from this form of jealousy either been previously hurt or simply have trouble trusting others.

The first group’s behavior has a pretty clear explanation. They have had their trust broken and may need to consider the viability of their relationship in the first place. The second group is a bit more complex. What exactly causes people to fear being hurt when they have been provided with no reason?

I think there’s really only one explanation: fear of inadequacy. Those who can’t trust others can’t help themselves. They fear that their partner is going to find someone else to fill whatever void is left by their own perceived inadequacies.

Most importantly, unless the jealousy is leading to physical violence or nasty behavior, a serious partner should always do their best to stand by their jealous partner. There may come a point when it’s clear that the jealousy is simply too much and the relationship cannot be salvaged. However, otherwise healthy couples should do their best to work through their issues. Often these bouts of jealousy are merely phases. That’s just my advice anyway.

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