In what has become a staple question of relationship articles in rag mag’s, the question of whether it’s right or wrong to be the jealous type has been answered with a predictable response that sounds something like: “One shouldn’t be possessive but if they aren’t jealous in the least than there is something wrong.” A response like this usually comes with follow-up commentary on how the completely non-jealous type is without feeling or without passion and generally indifferent. But let’s walk through what we’re really asking here by talking about what jealousy is and under what circumstances one may be in a position to react in a potentially jealous manner.
First things first. To be jealous is to be fearful or wary of being supplanted; apprehensive of losing affection or position. Or, resentful or bitter in rivalry; envious: jealous of the success of others. Or, inclined to suspect rivalry. Or finally, having to do with or arising from feelings of envy, apprehension, or bitterness.
Under any of these definitions, is jealousy healthy in a relationship? Does a lack of jealousy mean that someone doesn’t have a pulse or is indifferent? Let’s put it into practice.
Is Jealousy Healthy?
Mark is at a bar with his girlfriend Tara. She is sipping on a drink and they’re sharing an appetizer. One of Tara’s guy friends from work strolls in, says her name with excitement and she stands up, gives him a hug and introduces him to her boyfriend. Should, under this circumstance, Mark feel a rivalry or be bitter about what just happened? Should there be any feelings of him losing her affection or his position in the relationship? Yay, I didn’t think so either. Moving right along.
Maria and Ted are at American Eagle looking at clothes. She goes to the women’s side of the store and he is looking at hats. A female employee comes up to ask if he needs any help and he asked her what she thinks of a particular hat. When Maria glances over, she sees Ted and the employee in a conversation, though it’s too far from where she stands for her to hear the words. She then sees a smile on his face and a giggle from the employee’s mouth. Should, under this circumstance, Maria be envious or apprehensive? Yay, I didn’t think so either. Moving right along.
Under the above two circumstances, having jealous tendencies means that there were deeper questions of belonging in the relationship. To elicit envy, bitterness and a sense of rivalry to whomever the attention was paid in the moment isn’t a thing of impulse. If I, for instance, get jealous because my significant other is talking to someone else, I either don’t trust our relationships strength, don’t trust my significant other or have low self-esteem. That’s the bottom line. And because of this, I never see an instance where jealousy is okay. Let’s take some more extreme cases shall we?
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Maria is intentionally flirty because she isn’t getting the attention she wants in her relationship and she is pleading for her significant other to show some passion. She’s dancing closely with someone or holding her drink close to her mouth as she sip’s through the straw and looks him closely in the eye. Should, under this circumstance, Ted by jealous? Yes but that doesn’t make it healthy. Why? Because despite her mannerisms and intentional desire to flirt, his jealousy, by definition, breeds distrust, uncertainty, apprehension, etc. and no relationship should exist under those circumstances.
Mark is overly confident and oogles but sees nothing wrong with it. He also has a lot of girl-friends, a couple of whom he’s dated before. If Tara is jealous than the relationship is damaged. If she doesn’t like that he’s friends with ex’s, she should address with him and, if not resolved, should end the relationship. I’ll even take it to the extreme and say he may have cheated on her before and thus she’s wary and easily jealous. While both of these may be arguably warranted, that doesn’t make them healthy and that’s really what we’re talking about here.
Going back to the front, it’s become a popular position to recognize a little bit of jealousy in someone as healthy and the complete opposite of it being lifeless, indifferent, etc. To this, let me say the following: If one side of the couple is just the flirtatious type or they like to wear accentuating clothes than the other side needs to decide if they can deal with this and not stew with jealousy.
Jealousy is a bad tasting stew of mistrust and low confidence. And there is absolutely nothing healthy about that, even in small spoonful’s.