We’ve all been jealous one time or another, I know I have. I remember feeling jealous when my boyfriend started talking to a girl friend (not girlfriend, because that’s me) at a bar. Jealousy is an emotion so powerful that it can make you question the strength of your relationship.
What is jealousy? We’ve felt it before, but do we really know what it is? “Jealousy is a complex emotion that encompasses feelings ranging from fear of abandonment to rage and humiliation,” says this Psychology Today article.
Both men and women feel jealous. People in romantic relationships aren’t the only ones exposed to jealousy; siblings, coworkers, and friends can all feel the sting of it as well. Ever heard of sibling rivalry? That’s one sibling being jealous of another sibling for getting more perceived affection.
There is a difference between jealousy and envy which we need to be conscious of when we evaluate how we’re feeling. According to this Psychology Today article, jealousy is when something we already possess is threatened by a third person, while envy is when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by another.
Another way to put it is that envy is a reaction to lacking something; jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing something (usually someone). So most of the time, we attribute jealousy to relationship distress.
Let me just say that it’s normal to be sometimes jealous, at least a little bit. Some evolutionary psychologists say that being jealous serves as a sign that a relationship is in danger and it’s time to take action to protect it. But other times, we get eaten up by the ideas of our friend or lover or coworker receiving affection from someone else, which isn’t healthy at all.
There are healthy ways to deal with jealousy. While we can take the route of unhealthy behavior by obsessing over our friend or partner and monitoring them, this is probably the worst thing you can do for your sanity and your relationship.
The first healthy (and necessary, honestly) step is to acknowledge and talk about your emotions. While it may feel awkward, it’s the best way to create a clear channel of communication. Speak calmly about how you feel; accusing, angry, and sarcastic tones are destined to make the situation worse.
Once your feelings are out in the open, unnecessary and resentful arguments are less likely since you both have an understanding of each other. You’ll feel more satisfied getting your jealousy off your chest as well.
Avoid situations that arouse false suspicions. Why freak yourself out over nothing? Whether a real threat or not, jealousy finds ways to make us question everything. Be careful on social media. One study showed that the more someone snooped on their partner’s Facebook, the more “evidence” they found to worry about, only fueling the jealousy fire.
Build up your self confidence. By working on your self confidence and the confidence in your relationship, you’ll feel so secure that you won’t even have time to think about being jealous. There have been studies that have shown that people with lower self esteem and feelings of insecurity and possessiveness tend to be the most jealous.
The green eyed monster of jealousy is a necessary emotion. While we may hate that we feel it, it helps us prioritize which relationships are important to us. But if you do feel like jealousy might be taking over too much, be sure to talk about your feelings, don’t psych yourself out, and remember you’re awesome.
Also published on Medium.