There is the tendency for every human being to be jealous. Jealousy is human nature, but stories abound to show its deadly consequences when it is not properly handled. People have broken their marriages, even killed out of jealousy. But is there a justified jealousy?
Jealousy is a far more complicated emotion than the simplified stimulus–response case of seeing a spouse with another person and flaring up.
In the explanation of experts, jealousy is an emotion, and the word typically refers to the thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and anxiety over an anticipated loss or status of something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection.
A classic example of jealousy is a man walking happily down the street with his spouse, then all of a sudden he notices someone of the opposite gender giving her “the eye.”
“That person is attracted to my spouse,” he thinks.
As this thought runs through his mind he feels his breath quicken, his stomach tighten, and then a feeling of the overwhelming impulse to pull her a little closer to him, just to make it clear that they are a couple – and the intruding third party should keep off.
A lot more of this happens on the phones and social media these days.
Threats of intrusion invoke jealousy. Just natural! What makes it good or bad is our reaction to the threat.
Experts have proposed several models of the processes underlying jealousy and have identified factors that result in jealousy. Below are some common causes of jealousy, rooted in insecurity, fear and competition.
Insecurity: Feelings of insecurity usually arise when one member of the relationship questions the feelings of the other. Insecurity often has roots in low self-esteem but can also stem from a lack of attention from one’s partner. If one partner has low self-esteem or little self-confidence, feelings of jealousy become easily triggered by seemingly harmless stimuli, such as one’s partner talking to a member of the opposite sex or glancing at someone who passes by on the street. People who compare themselves to others or constantly try to live up to unrealistic expectations of themselves may find these feelings arise frequently.
Fear: The fear of losing one’s partner remains a main trigger for feelings of jealousy. Sometimes feelings of jealousy can prove natural and can encourage a couple not to take each other for granted, but not when this feeling of fear becomes obsessive or irrational. People may fear that their partner want to replace them with someone “better” or more desirable. Providing or seeking reassurance can help to assuage some of these fears.
Competition: Feelings of competition are normal human emotions from which jealousy can stem when felt on an extreme level. One expert points out that many people suffering from jealous feelings waste energy trying to be better than others instead of trying to be their “best” self by becoming unique individuals. They may constantly compete with others and they may view anyone as a potential threat. Competitiveness can sometimes help one to do one’s best, but can result in constantly questioning oneself, wondering what others have that they don’t.
So, is there appropriate or good jealousy? Conventional wisdom shows that jealousy is a necessary emotion because it can preserve social bonds.
A pastor takes a religious view of that. He says appropriate jealousy is a dimension of passionate love. To be jealous of a business rival or of someone considered more attractive is actually to covet, and therefore a violation of God’s commandment. But if a third party intervenes in a marriage, the offended individual will be jealous, if love is present. Jealousy allows for no rivals in intimate relationships.
All things considered low-level jealous feelings or controlled jealousy is not a bad thing. It is a testimony of how much one values a relationship and want to keep it. So it can actually be a good sign for your marriage. It means you have a healthy desire to protect your relationship, and that is a good thing. But like in all other emotions, too much of it or uncontrolled jealousy is bad. It is destructive.