“I don’t get jealous”, he said. “I’m not a jealous person.” We were in a bar a few years later, and I nearly took my phone to the toilets. Realising the suspicious nature of not leaving my phone with him, I stopped and placed it back on the table. After as I sat beside him again, he casually says, “Your phone went off and a message appeared. Why are you texting him on our date?” The “him” was my friend and the message was sent earlier, left unread. My phone was actually on silent. Jealousy in relationships makes us do the craziest things.
Like stalking an Influencer who poses in bikinis with her butt tilted to the side and a big smile on her face. “Is this the girl he dreams of when we’re together? Why does he like each photo she posts?” Countless Google searches on boyfriends looking at other females on Instagram suggests we’re jealous enough to let an online heart button affect our relationships and self-esteem. Although women and men both face the “green-eyed monster”, women have a “jealous girlfriend” stereotype.
For me, this label is sometimes true. A long-distance relationship was beginning to buckle and collapse due to living too far apart. He seemed content, gradually embracing life alone with parties and crowds of female friends. I was at home trying to figure how to prioritise myself and move on from a hopeless situation. Partly moving on from the aspirations I pictured for us, all those dates and future memories falling like autumn leaves. His WhatsApp image changed one day, a picture of him holding a girl in his arms. Only, it wasn’t him. I unleashed months of dating frustration on a photo he sourced from the internet.
So, is Jealousy in relationships Healthy?
The word can lead us to crazy acts and obsessive thoughts. It can crumble relationship trust and make us lie to cover up our wild antics. To some, jealousy is a sign of passion. It’s a sexual anger you unleash before a manic panting fest, ripping off clothes and shoving each other against walls. The relationship cliché: “If a couple never fights, they must be boring”, adds fuel to idea of jealousy being a component for passionate love.
I always thought the best kind of love was a version of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. A U2 “With or Without You”. Something so exciting and thrilling, it wasn’t sustainable for typical white picket fences and domestic neighbourhoods. Jealousy in relationships is complex because most of us want a degree of it. We don’t want a partner stalking our exes on social media, but we do want some reaction to a hot person giving us attention. It lets us know we’re wanted enough to trigger a protective/fearful response.
An NBC News article suggests some jealousy can be useful. The emotion can encourage us to address feelings we haven’t communicated. For instance, your partner may unknowingly be flirting in a way that makes you uncomfortable. If you feel jealous, you’re likely to express how their behaviour is affecting you. The piece also notes that jealousy reminds us to appreciate our partners. As the saying goes: “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”
Other than that, it’s not healthy
A Psychology Today article says jealousy is not a sign of love. Instead, the traits surrounding it, “Low self-esteem”, “Feelings of inadequacy”, and “Dependence” on a partner, cause relationship problems. These are not desirable traits, so the next time you want your partner to be jealous, maybe reconsider. Jealousy in relationships is usually about a person with self-esteem issues inflicting their low confidence on a partner. Whether that’s from childhood or past dating experiences, it’s often detrimental to relationship stability.
Occasionally, the jealousy is created because of a toxic partner. An ex of mine use to openly talk about how beautiful other women are (in my presence) and kept a peculiar mystique about his phone and whereabouts. Granted his actions didn’t portray love, yet I myself didn’t have adequate self-love to confront him. Whichever way you look at it, jealousy in relationships is about an individual’s insecurities within.
Hollywood is known for romanticising emotional abuse that stems from jealousy. Website The Mighty illustrate this point with examples such as Twilight’s Edward and Bella. Not only does Edward watch Bella as she sleeps without her knowing (super creepy), he always wants to know where and who she’s with. Why did my teenage-self think this was sweet? Another example mentioned in the piece is Christian Grey and Ana. The 50 Shades of Grey franchise narrates a powerful man manipulating a naïve girl – somehow a successful form of sexual escapism. No wonder we link jealousy to love.
What if you or your partner is jealous?
For the most part, reassurance helps a person feel more secure. Listening to a partner’s feelings without getting defensive can be a step towards progress. If you respond to jealousy concerns by accusing a partner of overreacting, they may begin to fester frustration and further insecurity.
If you are the one with jealous thoughts, you may want to open up to your partner, and conversely work on yourself. Whether that’s learning how to love your personality or figuring tips on how to build confidence.