Jealousy & its effect on Relationships

Jealousy has a destructive effect on ALL relationships

Jealousy is an interesting emotion. It can strike anyone at any time, regardless of age, background or orientation. It is typically described as a sense of threat or insecurity brought about when a treasured relationship is seemingly jeopardised by the introduction of a third party.

What’s striking about this nasty emotion is that this perception need not necessarily be real. It could easily be imagined. Jealousy commonly occurs in terms of romantic relationships, but is not limited to them. Siblings jockeying for parental affection may fall foul of it, as could competing co-workers or students.

Envy and jealousy are often confused. It is easy to see why as they are closely related. However, envy means to yearn for something which another person has achieved or been awarded, whereas jealousy is depicted more as feelings of resentment that another person has seemingly gained something which they rightfully consider to be theirs.

As explained above, this emotion also relates to feelings of anguish brought on by the fear that someone or something precious could be lost to someone else.

As unpleasant as jealousy is, most psychologists strongly advise against trying to ignore or suppress these feelings. Rather, jealousy should be tackled head-on, the potential causes should be considered and analysed and from there ways should be uncovered of vanquishing it.

Some even argue that jealousy is a necessary emotion in order to keep friendships and relationships intact if they appear to be in peril. Examples of when this could be the case include a partner or a loved one being seduced by another person. The trouble with jealousy is that it often cloaks its root causes, including feelings of insecurity, inadequacy and shame. It is these which need to be identified and confronted if your jealousy is to be defeated.

If left unaddressed, jealousy can quickly morph into paranoia, constant monitoring of the other party, psychological pressure and in some cases even violence.

One of the most important steps in addressing this issue is acknowledging you have it. Accepting that you harbour jealousy can help to ward off further such feelings in the future or it can spur you to take necessary steps in resolving whatever the causes are.

Honesty is an important policy. If you are honest with the other party about how you are feeling and discussing what may have brought it on and what can be done to change it the results can potentially be very productive and even sufficient to calm the situation by themselves.

What needs to be in place for jealousy to arise? Several factors can be considered here. The first is low self-esteem. If you suffer from jealousy, you may have a very low opinion of yourself and believe that anyone else would be better than you. Coupled with feelings of insecurity and possessiveness, these can form a potent combination from which jealousy can arise. You may

be especially prone to jealousy if you have a tendency to be moody, anxious or otherwise unstable emotionally. A jealous person may also have what is known as an anxious attachment style, meaning that they live in constant fear of being left or of not being loved enough. All factors that relate to people being jealous concern the insecurities of that person, not about the quality of love they have.

If you suspect that your partner is exhibiting signs of jealousy, remember that it isn’t about you personally, but about your loved one’s own insecurities and worries. Talk to them and gently reassure them that you love them.

Find out why they have developed these feelings and see if there is any way you can work together to remove them. Likewise, if you yourself suspect you are jealous, don’t be afraid to share your worries. Work on building up your self-confidence and your faith in your relationship.

Be mindful, though, of how you share your worries. Avoid speaking in a suspicious or hostile tone, as this could inflame tensions between you and your partner. Be honest and upfront, but take your time and remain calm. Remember that trust is an essential element in any relationship.

Remember also that jealousy can be a way of letting you know that something isn’t right. You have every right to feel pangs of jealousy, for example, if your partner is genuinely seeing someone behind your back. It’s how you react to those feelings that is most important.

Although real jealousy is an unpleasant and unwanted emotion, many artists and writers have approached the subject in their works to great success.

For instance, in One Thousand and One Nights, it is the explosive jealousy of Schahriar that results in Scheherazade’s great outpouring of stories. William Shakespeare tackled the subject of jealousy in A Winter’s Tale. Other acclaimed writers such as Charlotte Bronte, Anthony Trollope, Leo Tolstoy and Marcel Proust have used jealousy as a central or supporting theme in one or more of their works.

In art, Edvard Munch frequently portrayed jealousy from the perspective of the husband with the unfaithful couple placed behind him and Gaston de La Touche opted to take a more light hearted approach in his work Jealousy or the Monkey by depicting a monkey interrupting an act of love by pulling the woman’s dress. Jealousy also appears in many forms of organised religion, with the story of Cain and Abel being among the most famous.

Jealousy has the potential to destroy friendships and relationships, leaving those involved very much the poorer as a result. Therefore, it is vital to combat it as soon as it begins to manifest itself.

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