“O! beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” William Shakespeare, Othello
Jealousy is not to be confused with envy. Let me enlighten you on the difference between the two. Jealousy arises when a relationship is threatened by a rival in order that they may take away something that is in a sense rightfully yours. Envy comes from the comparison between what another person possesses (an object or trait) that you want, and results in feelings of discontent, inferiority and frustration.
Is jealousy good? Jealousy was born of necessity far back in our evolutionary past to assist in maintaining intimate relationships and ultimately the survival of our species. It is an intense emotion (a mix of fear, abandonment, anger, betrayal, loss, envy, humiliation and sorrow) that cannot be diluted; it overrides rational thought, causes a person to think the same thoughts over and over and sets off behaviours that push away the very person it wants to keep around. Because emotions have an illusion of certainty, the jealous person becomes convinced that his perception of the situation is fact. It is the delusion that a loved one has committed an infidelity when none has occurred. Jealous people blame their discomfort on their partner, but evidence has shown that the more insecure the person, the more unrealistic are the perceived threats. Insecure people are most likely to destabilise relationships and make them insecure because the pain a jealous person feels is very real. The insecurity is not limited to love relationships but any relationship that takes attention away from them (this can include friendships and family relationships).
It often starts off seemingly innocuous. Ah, yes, being love struck has its own set of quirky behaviours often excused by each other – the constant phone calls, the checking of social media, the constant flow of gifts and follow ups that ensue can seem charming at first. Its only when your new love throws a tantrum or exhibits negative behaviour towards you when they don’t receive reassurance in some form (e.g. being at your desk when they phone or needing to hear your room-mate’s voice in the background to make sure you are at home when you are not with them), the romance may start to feel more like a prison than a mutual agreeable relationship because these behaviour usually drives partners away. It is rare for jealousy to show up on full display when one enters into a relationship, it shows itself over time usually beginning with emotional manipulation which escalates exponentially.
Unfortunately jealous people try to quench their discomfort by trying to control their partner, going through their belongings, cell phone call logs and making accusations or insinuations. In a study conducted in Spain, jealousy has been positively associated with neuroticism or emotional instability. The higher the level of instability, the more a person is prone to jealousy. Neuroticism is not a very appealing attribute in a mate and it lowers a person’s ‘mate-value’. The more emotionally stable a person is the higher your ‘mate-value’. We can therefore conclude that jealousy says more about us than the deeds of our mate.
How much jealousy is healthy? I want you to answer the following this weekend and you will find the answer: Do you find yourself overwhelmed with feelings associated with distrust towards your partner? Does your behaviour substantiate it i.e. Do you secretly check up on your partner in order to stop that gnawing feeling inside, do you eavesdrop on conversations they have, do you question them about their relationships with friends, pay unexpected visits to their workplace or the gym, do you limit their interaction with friends and family?
Pangs of jealousy can be a sign that there is work we need to do within ourselves. We need to find the root of that insecurity and deal with it. Do we feel inadequate because we look to others for validation instead of working on our own self-esteem? We must delve into what it is that shatters our self-esteem and ask ourselves what our jealousy is covering up – is it that we have ignored a part of ourselves that needs nourishing? Something inside that we have not yet acknowledged that needs some work?
We all I am sure, have experienced ‘the Green-eyed Monster’ at some point. When HE rules instead of US ruling HIM, we need help!! Reality is that we have to realise what we stand to lose because of it and weigh up its worth in our life.
Shockingly in today’s world, jealousy is the leading cause of homicide and physical abuse in families.