What’s So Bad About Jealousy?

jealousy-possessiveness

Jealousy in relationships has a bad reputation. It’s something to be avoided, we’re taught. If you trust your partner, there is no need to be possessive, and there is certainly no need to be jealous about their interactions with other people. Showing jealousy or possessiveness over your partner indicates that you’re insecure. It’s even been branded a relationship killer.

No one wants to be considered insecure or be the cause of their relationship failing, so those who have feelings of jealousy –nearly everyone– spend much time trying to suppress their feelings. But why should they? If many people struggle with these feelings, could it be that jealousy is a normal human emotion, and not one that needs to be rid of or overcome? Maybe jealousy is not such an undesirable trait.

Jealousy, like everything else, can be harmful when taken to extremes. Acting out in destructive ways towards your partner or others due to your jealous feelings will not solve anything. On the other hand, jealousy in moderation can be beneficial. Acknowledging jealous feelings can allow a person to realize the importance of their relationship and assess how much they are willing to invest in it.

“Jealousy shows you care” may be a clichéd remark, but it may be one with some truth to it. Jealousy occurs as a result of a perceived threat to a relationship. The jealous person feels deeply committed to their relationship and doesn’t want anything coming between them and their partner. Constructively sharing jealous feelings with a partner can strengthen the relationship and re-confirm the commitment that both have to one another.

Jealousy has it’s downsides, but jealous feelings are not without their positives. Thus jealousy is not something that needs to be erased or be ashamed of, but acknowledged and accepted as a natural human tendency.

Which side are you on? Is jealousy in relationships such a bad thing? Should a person accept their jealous feelings or try to change?

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28 thoughts on “What’s So Bad About Jealousy?

  1. I think jealously is normal, and while not desireable it is also not something to try to destroy like weeds. Jealously is an emotion, a feeling, and it’s never good to brand your own feelings as a bad thing. Instead, people should look at what they’re emotions cause them to do. What do you because of how you feel is far more relevant in a relationship than just your feelings alone.

    So if my partner is jealous/gets jealous, I don’t say don’t be jealous. Instead, I ask why they’re jealous. I ask (if it comes up) if why they’re acting/behaving in a certain way is a result of being jealous?

    Those questions are more important than condemning someone for their personal feelings.

  2. I don’t think jealousy is bad at all, though I do think jealousy + anger/control can be a bad combination. I think most people would be worried if their partners never got jealous, because it might suggest they didn’t care, in a way, e.g., maybe your partner doesn’t think anyone else would be interested, so you have no where to go anyway. (Is this even making sense?) My point is, I think jealousy is normal and healthy in relationships, since it can be an indicator of investment in the relationship, like you said.

  3. Jasmin,

    “I think most people would be worried if their partners never got jealous, because it might suggest they didn’t care, in a way”

    That’s what I thought, but I’ve come across some people who are worried if their partner ever gets jealous. They don’t think it shows the person cares; more like it shows they have insecurity and/or control issues.

    “(Is this even making sense?)”

    Yes. 🙂

  4. ^^^I love how you talk about me as if I’m hypothetical. 😛

    Alee,

    They don’t think it shows the person cares; more like it shows they have insecurity and/or control issues.

    I think that’s true of unprovoked jealousy (I have a friend who’s boyfriend flips out at the thought of her doing group projects with males), but not of casual jealousy. Z got jealous when I gushed over James Marsden in Death at a Funeral, but it’s not like he forbade me from watching the movie or threw a hissy fit. And I’ve gotten jealous when he’s drooled over Natalie Portman (who’s overrated, btw :-P), but it’s not like I stomped off in anger. People try to paint jealousy as this violent rage, when it’s usually more like a fleeting irritation (for me, at least).

  5. zek,

    “So if my partner is jealous/gets jealous, I don’t say don’t be jealous. Instead, I ask why they’re jealous. I ask (if it comes up) if why they’re acting/behaving in a certain way is a result of being jealous?”

    That’s a good way to discuss jealousy that actually helps your relationship to become stronger and helps you and your partner to become closer. More people should try this.

    Jasmin to zek:

    “I love how you talk about me as if I’m hypothetical.”

    LOL.

    Wait… you’re real? 😛

    “People try to paint jealousy as this violent rage, when it’s usually more like a fleeting irritation (for me, at least).”

    Yeah, it’s like a sting.

    I wonder why people do that — mention people they find attractive in front/to their partner. I don’t see much good coming out of it. I try not to do that with AJ, but of course, sometimes I fail…

  6. I wonder why people do that — mention people they find attractive in front/to their partner.

    It doesn’t really bother me, since none of the people Z or I mention are people we actually know (celebrities and such), and it doesn’t happen very often (occasionally during a movie or something, but that’s about it). I think it would be annoying if it were people we knew, it happened quite frequently, or the only people we mentioned finding attractive were people who had nothing in common (physically) with the other person. (He rolls his eyes, but I know he likes it that I find plenty of Jewish men hot. :-P)

  7. Jasmin,

    I know some people who are always like “Oh, s/he’s hot/sexy” when their partner is around. I just look at them like 😕

    But I’ll admit, even it’s a celebrity, I think I’d get jealous if AJ mentioned a woman over and over again. Once, fine. But 10 or 20 times? *green-eyed monster*

  8. Alee,

    I think I’d get jealous if AJ mentioned a woman over and over again. Once, fine. But 10 or 20 times? *green-eyed monster*

    Good point, and I think even the words “hot” and “sexy” are kind of charged–they take it there in a way “cute” doesn’t. Out of Z’s two great crushes, one is engaged and pregnant, and the other one is with Dwyane Wade, so he doesn’t mention them too often. 😛 I don’t think either of us have any celeb crushes we are that invested in though, so it works out.

  9. Jasmin,

    “I don’t think either of us have any celeb crushes we are that invested in though, so it works out.”

    AJ might have been worried about Kanye replacing him ( 🙂 ), but Kanye’s doing a great job of X-ing himself out.

  10. I think it’s healthy to have a bit of jealousy in your relationship. You pretty much summed up my feelings.

    It’s one of my faults really that I can be very possessive of my husband even if I do trust him 100%, it’s the other women I don’t trust *sharpens my iKlwa* LOL .

  11. Nkosazana,

    I do think it’s healthy. It’s probably debatable, but I think jealousy, because you’re afraid of losing the person, shows that they mean a lot to you. Unless of course you’re just a jealous person in general.

    “It’s one of my faults really that I can be very possessive of my husband even if I do trust him 100%”

    I can be pretty possessive at times too. It’s just instinctual. But I don’t see it as a fault, simply an endearing quirk. 🙂

    “…it’s the other women I don’t trust *sharpens my iKlwa* LOL .”

    😀

  12. I am jealous. I don’t have a reason to be, but I know it’s inside me. In my case, I DO think it’s because I’m an insecure person. But I am not really jealous in real life situations: I just know I have this trait. Or maybe I’m possessive. Just a little.

    I don’t think these things are as horrible as people present them to be. I mean, it’s not like it’s the worst thin in the world. Even if your partner is insecure… Is that SUCH a crime? I thought being a cheater, or not being loyal, or not loving and caring were far worse. I’m not saying this because I’m insecure. Ok, I probably do, but I seriously don’t find that to be such a huge problem.

    As for “rules”, my husband and I don’t discuss real life people at this manner. I don’t really notice real life men, not in a way I get attracted to any of them. As for celebrities (and porn, for that matter), we agreed it’s just fiction and not real. So yes, he does tease me about Johnny Depp and what not, but I don’t think he’s jealous (more bored with the subject?)

    PS- Natalie Portman is ok, but that’s all. I never got the appeal of women with such strong jaws.

  13. Mira,

    “Even if your partner is insecure… Is that SUCH a crime?”

    No and most people are insecure about something. But I think it’s just the “in” thing to behave like you’re aloof, independent, and don’t need anyone or care about anything. That’s why insecurity, being jealous and/or possessive is vilified.

    “Natalie Portman is ok, but that’s all. I never got the appeal of women with such strong jaws.”

    She is pretty. She is unique-looking. But I agree with Jasmin that she is overrated.

  14. Natalie Portman’s beauty is unique and yes, I do find her more attractive/interesting than those generic girls. Still, men seem to like the generic girls, and the strong jaw thing is considered “mainstream beauty” these days.

    Also, she is a good actress… But a bit overrated.

    Still, if your partner needs to have a celebrity crush, it’s better to be Natalie Portman than, say, Megan Fox. (Sorry, I just don’t get that girls’ appeal). If nothing else, Natalie seems intelligent.

  15. Mira,

    “the strong jaw thing is considered “mainstream beauty” these days.”

    It is! And I don’t get it.

    Some time ago AJ and I were debating whether Gisele Bundchen is attractive or not. We had to agree to disagree. He think she’s very pretty and I think she looks like a guy. Her jaw (and whole bone structure) is quite strong. I just think she is branded hot and guys buy into it because she’s a VS model (VS model = hot no matter what, I’ve noted) and Brazilian (i.e. “exotic”) yet familiarly blonde with light eyes.

    “Still, if your partner needs to have a celebrity crush, it’s better to be Natalie Portman than, say, Megan Fox. (Sorry, I just don’t get that girls’ appeal).”

    I agree.

    Honestly, I am annoyed by guys who go on and on about Megan Fox. It reminds me to never take them seriously when they say they want a “natural, smart, down-to-earth” woman. Puh-lease.

  16. Gisele Bundchen is… Ugh. A VS model. I am sorry, but I don’t see her as particularly feminine. Not at all. She’s almost androgynous, but it her case, the features don’t work as well as with Cillian Murphy, if I may to add.

    Then again, I admit, I am a short, curvy girl and maybe my insecurity/jealousy prevents me from getting Gisele’s appeal. But she looks so… Once again, I must use the word: generic.

    As for Megan Fox, she somewhat looks like my husband’s sister, so I won’t trash her completely!, but I really don’t get her appeal. Basically, she’s a crappy actress, and she doesn’t seem particularly bright. (She might be bright, she just doesn’t seem so to me).

  17. ^^^Sorry, but Gisele is not cute. I have a male friend who’s really into models and fashion, and I would say the way he looks at Gisele (and other models) is very…clinical. But oddly, that makes more sense to me than seeing her as a sexpot. Her face to me is just awkward.

    Bleh, Megan Fox. I’ll admit, in my mind she’s in the “tarted up regular girl” category. Meaning that she’s average-pretty in some slutty clothes, and suddenly that makes her “hot”. Celebs who have a certain pose (in Megan’s case, the open mouth look) always strike me as not very attractive, since it seems like their image is crafted off of makeup and specific angles.

  18. The problem with both Megan Fox and Gisele is that I fail to see what’s so special about them. But I don’t want to make this a case of women trashing other women… I can say the same about many guys that are considered gorgeous. I often don’t get their appeal.

  19. Jasmin,

    “Celebs who have a certain pose (in Megan’s case, the open mouth look) always strike me as not very attractive, since it seems like their image is crafted off of makeup and specific angles.”

    *cough*Adriana Lima*cough*

    🙂

    Mira,

    “The problem with both Megan Fox and Gisele is that I fail to see what’s so special about them.”

    A lot of hair and make-up? I think if a woman wears her make-up correctly and has long, flowing hair, she has a good chance of being seen as “hot” by men if she is decent-looking. Megan also has the dark hair/pale skin thing that appears different. And plastic surgery to help. Gisele is very plain without the hair and make-up.

    I’ll say that when I had really long, straight hair (to my waist) and wore a bit of make-up, everyone thought I was just so gorgeous. When I cut my hair and stopped wearing the make-up, the “oohs and ahhs” subsided substantially.

    “But I don’t want to make this a case of women trashing other women…”

    I don’t trash other people; I just tell the truth. If I think a woman is pretty, even if she is hyped, I’ll still say she is pretty. But if I don’t agree, I don’t agree. I hate when people try to make it out as if you’re hating on a woman if you say that she’s not all that.

    “I can say the same about many guys that are considered gorgeous. I often don’t get their appeal.”

    Like Brad Pitt! He’s so average. I see better looking guys every day.

  20. I hate when people try to make it out as if you’re hating on a woman if you say that she’s not all that.

    Agreed. Especially when it turns out that being White and average-looking is enough to propel you to stardom.

    Waist-length hair? Wow, I can’t imagine the upkeep!

    LOL, Brad Pitt is so scraggly. I don’t know if it’s because there are so many of them, but I feel like you are much more likely to find a good-looking White guy on the street than you are to see one on TV. Or maybe it’s because the standard of attractiveness is so much higher for non-White actors/actresses.

  21. Jasmin,

    “Waist-length hair? Wow, I can’t imagine the upkeep!”

    The upkeep was ridiculously crazy. Especially since it wasn’t naturally straight: it would become a beast in any type of water. But I am in the process of growing it back; I miss my hair.

    “I feel like you are much more likely to find a good-looking White guy on the street than you are to see one on TV. “

    I feel that way too! Besides a few (like Lasse Larsen, Chili’s boyfriend… *faints* Swedish men are the bestest, that’s why I got one of my very own), I don’t see what’s so great about most white celebrity men. With all those “hottest men” lists I’m like “Huh?” The men are just average.

    “I don’t know if it’s because there are so many of them…Or maybe it’s because the standard of attractiveness is so much higher for non-White actors/actresses.”

    Probably a combination of both. I see what I would consider unattractive white men around too, but I see a larger proportion of good-looking men as opposed to average.

    I don’t know how high the standard of attractiveness is for Asian or non-black Latino men because there are so few of them in mainstream media. I don’t feel like the standard of attractiveness for black men is that high. People place more emphasis on their personality. And I see a few men I don’t consider very attractive being gushed over by women (e.g. Djimon Hounsou, Taye Diggs). Now for black women — she’d better be gorgeous.

  22. Alee,

    Oh my goodness–how long did it take for you to get it done? (Or did you only do it yourself?)

    I have been seriously sleeping on Swedish men–from what I hear, they are awesome. 😛

    I don’t feel like the standard of attractiveness for black men is that high. People place more emphasis on their personality.

    I agree, but I think they have to be more “put together” than White men. I don’t think the “scruffy, lovable loser” trend would have caught on if it were Black men who were leading it.

    Taye Diggs looks like a frog (but I don’t mean it in a bad way). And Djimon Hounsou looks slightly lupine.

    Now for black women — she’d better be gorgeous.

    Yep, you rarely see Black women who are less than “8s” on TV, unless she’s being played for laughs or portrayed by Martin Lawrence and the like.

  23. Jasmin,

    “how long did it take for you to get it done? (Or did you only do it yourself?)”

    Several hours. The first time I went to a salon, I got in early in the morning and left at around 8/9 o’clock at night. But they did so many things — relax, wash, condition, blow dry, flat iron, curl… sometimes I would do it myself, and I do my (shorter) hair myself now. Washing it myself wasn’t so bad, as long as I put it in a few braids beforehand. It was when others washed it that the beast came alive.

    “I have been seriously sleeping on Swedish men–from what I hear, they are awesome.”

    They totally are awesome; Scandinavian men in general are. I (and Nkosazana, wherever she’s hiding…) can vouch for that. Tall, handsome, sweet, devoted. A dream come true.

    “Taye Diggs looks like a frog”

    Exactly! I always thought he looked like Kermit the Frog.

    “Yep, you rarely see Black women who are less than “8s” on TV, unless she’s being played for laughs or portrayed by Martin Lawrence and the like.”

    Or playing a mammy/”strong black woman” role.

    We’re slightly off-topic, but I like this discussion. 🙂

  24. Alee,

    The first time I went to a salon, I got in early in the morning and left at around 8/9 o’clock at night.

    There are no words…Can we get a picture? Pretty please?

    We’re slightly off-topic, but I like this discussion.

    Ditto. 🙂

  25. “They totally are awesome; Scandinavian men in general are. I (and Nkosazana, wherever she’s hiding…) can vouch for that. Tall, handsome, sweet, devoted. A dream come true.”

    Oh hai 🙂

    Yup they are great, just vet a bit and find a good man and from what I have seen and experienced, they are very faithful and loving (of course there are rotten eggs here as well, they are still human lol). They seem to have no problem helping you with the housework as well (Good look getting a SA man to do that, that’s woman work).

    Some might find this a turn of and some might not, but from what I have heard from my girlfriends they are super shy when they are interested, preferring to trying to make eye contact with you before approaching you to see if your might be interested. I find it super cute. Though my husband was not that type.

  26. Jasmin,

    “…Can we get a picture? Pretty please?”

    I rarely took pictures at that time. For most of my life before high school I wore long braids, so most pictures show me with that. I do have some pictures, but they are all taken with my ex-boyfriend (he had a digital camera and I didn’t), and I have no idea where I put them.

    When I grow my hair back out, I will take pictures. Should only take another year or two. 🙂

    Nkosazana,

    Hai. 🙂

    “They seem to have no problem helping you with the housework as well”

    I’ve heard. That’s great.

    “(Good look getting a SA man to do that, that’s woman work).”

    That’s what my father says: “Cooking and cleaning are a woman’s job.” He just thinks that’s the natural order of things.

    “from what I have heard from my girlfriends they are super shy when they are interested, preferring to trying to make eye contact with you before approaching”

    That is cute. I like shy guys.

  27. There are profound differences between normal jealousy and pathological jealousy. Pathological jealousy is the only bad one.

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